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Brother Francis Ready for Santa Anita Derby

A “maiden,” in racing parlance, is a horse that has never won a race. A Grade I stakes is the apex in class, attracting the game’s best runners.

 

Thus it will be somewhat quixotic when trainer Jim Cassidy runs the maiden Brother Francis in the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 7. The nine-furlong classic is the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 5.

 

In four starts, Brother Francis has two seconds and two thirds, one second coming in the Grade III Hollywood Prevue Stakes and a close third registered behind Santa Anita Derby contender Liaison in the Grade I CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park last Dec. 17.

 

Owned and bred by Norman Cheng of San Gabriel, Brother Francis was third by a head after leading into the stretch on March 10, in a one-mile maiden allowance race on turf.

 

“He’s training really well,” Cassidy said of the Kentucky-bred son of Lion Heart, who was second in the 2004 Preakness. “He’s been so close in all his races, it’d be a shame not to run him. We tried to break his maiden last time, but a bit of a slow break cost us the race. Other than that, he ran great. I think the mile and an eighth of the Santa Anita Derby will suit him.”

 

Take it as a plus that agent Tony Matos has booked two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Garrett Gomez to ride Brother Francis.

 

“I don’t look at the fact that he’s a maiden,” said Matos, who has represented Hall of Fame greats such as Angel Cordero Jr., Kent Desormeaux and Laffit Pincay Jr. during a span in which they won the Kentucky Derby five times: with Cannonade, Bold Forbes (Cordero), Real Quiet, Fusaichi Pegasus (Desormeaux) and Swale (Pincay). Matos also was agent for Victor Espinoza for 15 years. They won the Kentucky Derby in 2002 on War Emblem.

 

“I look at the horses he’s been running with and how he’s been running,” Matos said. “He’s a fresh horse and a horse that‘s got a chance to move forward.”

 

In other Santa Anita Derby news:

 

Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner I’ll Have Another worked seven furlongs Friday on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track in 1:26.

 

“It was exactly what we wanted,” trainer Doug O’Neill said of the Flower Alley colt owned by J. Paul Reddam. “He galloped out a mile in 1:39 and change and cooled out fine. We’re excited about running next Saturday.”

 

At Santa Anita, San Pedro Stakes winner Midnight Transfer worked six furlongs under Mike Smith in a bullet 1:11.80 for Carla Gaines.

 

Probable for the Santa Anita Derby: Brother Francis, Garrett Gomez; Blueskiesnrainbows; Baby Blake; Creative Cause, Joel Rosario; Liaison, Rafael Bejarano; Midnight Transfer, Mike Smith; I’ll Have Another, Mario Gutierrez; Longview Drive; Paynter; and Senor Rain.

 

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Older Comments about Brother Francis Ready for Santa Anita Derby...

What has happened to Brother Francis? Looked like he had so much potential but since November 2012 i have seen nothing of him!!!!!

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