Sports Betting

Pitts not out of Derby running just yet

Helen Pitts was down but not out when a partnership of owners took Curlin out of her care to put him with trainer Steve Asmussen.

She lost a good horse. Curlin, who won his first career start for Pitts in February, would go on to win the Rebel Stakes for Asmussen.

But you shouldn't count Pitts out till it's over. She no longer has Kentucky Derby hopeful Curlin, but she might have another prospect, depending on how he races Saturday at Turfway Park.

The new hopeful is For You Reppo, a son of El Corredor and 10-1 in the field of 12 entered for the $500,000 Grade II Lanes' End Stakes.

The caveat about this colt is that he has won only one race -- and not on Turfway's synthetic surface. Moreover, he'll come into the Lane's End with only $38,152 in earnings, thus he needs graded-stakes money if he's to go forward on the Derby trail.

But in his favor, For You Reppo has raced three times at the Lane's End distance of 11/8 miles.

"He's got the turn of foot (for speed) and the style to go the distance," said Pitts. "He's the type that the further he goes, the better he gets."

So, forget the past and Curlin. Bring on For You Reppo. Recall the 2005 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland, and you'll remember why Pitts should not ever be counted out.

Pitts, who opened her stable in 2005, emerged the winner of the Queen Elizabeth from an impossibly tight, three-way photo finish.

Her Queen Elizabeth winner, Sweet Talker, gave Pitts her first graded-stakes win -- and in no less than a Grade I race. Finishing third among those three equine noses that almost simultaneously hit the finish together was the brilliant racemare Gorella.

Pitts has not previously trained a Kentucky Derby starter, although she galloped or worked around some well-regarded 3-year-olds, including Harlan's Holiday and Repent.

Her longtime tenure as assistant trainer to Ken McPeek, when he had Harlan's Holiday, Repent and Spinster Stakes winner Take Charge Lady, exposed Pitts to major-stakes winners.

Going through the Kentucky Derby campaign with Harlan's Holiday and Repent gave her the experience that "makes you realistic" about Derby prospects, Pitts said.

Consequently, For You Reppo will have to run a huge race in the Lane's End for Pitts to send him farther down the Derby trail.


The 5-2 Lane's End favorite, Hard Spun, will start from the No. 10 post position in the field of 12. His regular jockey, Mario Pino, will fly in to ride.

Kent Desormeaux, who will ride For You Reppo in the Lane's End, will also ride Trust Your Luck in the Rushaway Stakes.

The Rushaway and Lane's End head a stakes program Saturday that also includes the Bourbonette Breeders' Cup, the Hansel Stakes, and the Queen Stakes.

Trainer Todd Pletcher will have two in the Lane's End: Bullara and Twilight Meteor. Pletcher won this race in 2001 with Balto Star and in 2005 with Flower Alley.

The surprise of entry day was trainer Eric Reed's decision not to enter Catman Running, winner of the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway.

"After I worked him the other day, he was still too sharp," Reed said. "The 20 days between races just wasn't enough time."

Reed will consider either the Illinois Derby or the Lexington Stakes, the latter at Keeneland, for Catman Running's next start.