With Cobalt Blue Out, Make Way for Teuflesberg

By John Scheinman
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, May 2, 2007

LOUISVILLE, May 1 -- The stress of not knowing whether her horse, Teuflesberg, was in or out of the Kentucky Derby finally started to show Tuesday morning on the face of trainer Jamie Sanders. Her colt, fourth in the four-way photo finish in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 14, sat a precarious 21st on the graded-stakes earnings list, and the Derby field is limited to 20 starters.

Sanders, who co-owns Teuflesberg with her fiance, Donnie Kelly, needed a defection by someone ahead of her before final entries Wednesday. The owners of Xchanger, the likely candidate, were taking their time making a decision while holding out hope for finding a buyer infected with Derby fever and willing to write a check for more than $1 million.

"It's been terrible," said Sanders, 46, a former assistant to trainer Nick Zito. "It's been a great experience just getting this far but stressful not knowing what you're doing. Keeping everyone else in limbo is not a preferred way to do it."

Sanders called Domenic Zannino, the Baltimore developer who co-owns Xchanger, and left a message on his answering machine. "I said, 'Domenic, it's Jamie Sanders. I'm Number 21. Let me know what you're doing.' "

Zannino never called back, but Sanders did get a call in the afternoon from trainer Doug O'Neill, who told her he was pulling his long shot Cobalt Blue, a colt owned by Merv Griffin that hasn't trained well since his seventh-place finish last month in the Illinois Derby.

"Doug O'Neill called me and said I was the first person he called; I appreciated it a lot," Sanders said.

O'Neill still has Great Hunter and Liquidity in the Derby.

"I had the fortune to meet [Sanders] the other night with her fiance, and you talk about cool, down-to-earth people," O'Neill said. "I told her if she beats me by a nose, I'm going to be kicking myself."

Later in the day, trainer Mark Shuman called Churchill Downs racing secretary Ben Hoffman and told him Xchanger would skip the Derby and point toward the Preakness Stakes. That opened the door for long shot Imawildandcrazyguy to get into the Derby field, too.

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