Broad Brush, the Maryland-based colt who won Saturday's Wood Memorial, probably will race in the May 3 Kentucky Derby, trainer Dick Small said today.
"There's a pretty good chance we'll go down there," Small said in his Pimlico barn. "It's not carved in stone, but I'd say it's very likely."
His defeat of Mogambo and Tasso in the Wood certified Broad Brush as a legitimate Derby contender. The victory was his fourth straight and pushed his 1986 earnings to $523,108 for owner Robert E. Meyerhoff of Phoenix, Md.
But despite the success, Small is approaching his first Derby with trepidation. He knows a trainer's bright hopes rest on a horse's frail legs.
In 1978, his brilliant 3-year-old filly, Caesar's Wish, was the 4-to-5 favorite in Saratoga's prestigious Alabama Stakes. After setting the pace, Caesar's Wish was pulled up, collapsed and died.
Eight years later, the public eye again is focused on the camera-shy Small, who has prepared Broad Brush superbly -- developing him slowly, spacing his races, taking every precaution.
Said Small, "You don't really get a feeling for how a horse came out of a race until you start training for the next one. We have to evaluate our horse and make sure he's coming up to the Derby just right.
"Sure, we have plans, but so many things can happen between now and then. People don't realize that. This is not a piece of equipment we're talking about . . . I think there's a pretty good possibility we've got the best horse. He has a very strong pedigree by Ack Ack, out of Hay Catcher . But in the Derby, you have a lot of traffic and a carnival atmosphere. That is very worrisome."
Small was more concerned with that than with Broad Brush's unimpressive time of 1:50 3/5 in the Wood.
"Time doesn't mean all that much," he said. "I expected a much faster pace, but I think the result would have been the same with a faster pace."
Small said he probably would ship Broad Brush to Louisville next Wednesday but was unsure whether the bay colt would gallop over the Churchill Downs strip before the Derby. Jockey Vince Bracciale, who is four for four astride Broad Brush, would be assigned the mount.
Bracciale, who today began serving a seven-day suspension for an April 17 riding infraction at Pimlico, said of Broad Brush: "Every race is the same. He makes the lead at the top of the stretch, waits on competition all the way through the stretch and then holds them all off.
"I don't know why he does it. I've tried everything I can think of. Some horses are just that way. But what's the difference between winning by one and 10 lengths?"
Broad Brush's only race in Kentucky was March 22, when he defeated Miracle Wood by two lengths in Latonia's Jim Beam Stakes. A Derby start would match him against Snow Chief, the nation's richest 3-year-old with career earnings of almost $1.5 million.
"If I didn't think I could beat him," Small said, "I wouldn't be going down there."
In addition, Broad Brush would face a rematch with Fobby Forbes, whom he defeated by a nose in Pimlico's Federico Tesio Stakes March 1. After Fobby Forbes won the Garden State Stakes Saturday, owner Robert Brennan said he would take his horse to Kentucky.
Country Recital circled the field, caught Tulindas in midstretch and went on to a two-length victory in today's feature race at Pimlico. Ridden by John Jenkins, Country Recital covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:46 3/5 and paid $27 to win. No one selected all six winners in the Pick Six, producing a carryover pool of $68,241.