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Venomous Rates Look in Oak Tree Derby

There were 15 horses nominated to Saturday’s Grade II Oak Tree Derby at 1 1/8 miles on turf. Fourteen were entered, including leading contender Midnight Interlude by Bob Baffert for owner/breeder Arnold Zetcher.

“You know what? I’m just glad I scared everybody off,” Hall of Fame trainer Baffert said on a hot Thursday morning at Clockers’ Corner, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “That’s what I’m mad about. It makes me feel really confident that I scared everybody off; he’s a horse to reckon with.”

Midnight Interlude won the Grade I Santa Anita Derby in a 13-1 upset last April, but has made his last three starts on the grass. The son of War Chant lost by a nose in his most recent outing, the Grade II Del Mar Derby on Sept. 4.

Meanwhile, Leonard Powell hopes to win a stakes race with an English-bred colt named Venomous “right off the plane,” as the expression goes. The 35-year-old trainer has had his hands on the bay colt less than two weeks since the son of Red Ransom arrived from trainer Tony Clout (pronounced Cloot) in France.

Venomous makes his U.S. debut in the Oak Tree Derby. After the race, Venomous will remain with Powell in California.

“He came out of quarantine (at Hollywood Park) on Monday, went to the track there on Tuesday and will ship to Santa Anita the day of the race,” Powell said. “He looks great. He shipped very well and has a good appetite. His last work was at Chantilly in France last Wednesday (Oct. 5).”

The field for the Oak Tree Derby, the ninth of 10 races. Great Warrior, Omar Berrio; Northern Causeway, William Antongeorgi III; Venomous, Joel Rosario; Arraignment, Daniel Vergara; Dreamy Kid, Martin Garcia; Thirtyfirststreet, Patrick Valenzuela; Lil Bit o’ Fun, David Flores; Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza; Akkadian, Brice Blanc; Theresmyeverything, Aaron Gryder; Cozy Kitten, Alonso Quinonez; Cloud Man, Mike Smith; Midnight Interlude, Rafael Bejarano; and Surrey Star, Chantal Sutherland.



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