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Dance With Fate prepares for Kentucky Derby

By Gary B. Graves
May. 1, 2014 3:13 AM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - For several days this month, Dance With Fate's Kentucky Derby destiny hung in the balance.

The black colt earned a place in the gate for Saturday's 140th running at Churchill Downs by winning the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 12. Despite vaulting to third place on the Derby points leaderboard with the victory, trainer Peter Eurton and Dance With Fate's ownership mulled whether he could make the three-week turnaround between that race and the Triple Crown's marquee event.

They decided the Florida-bred could.

Dance With Fate has shown enough energy and promise in workouts this week that Eurton and jockey Corey Nakatani believe he can overcome his early 20-1 odds and be a factor in the Derby. He drew the 12th post position Wednesday.

"I'm pretty happy," Eurton said. "It's a great draw outside of a lot of speed. I think it's a good spot, just a great place to be."

But it will be a test for Dance With Fate, who will make just his third start on dirt after building an impressive resume on turf and synthetic surfaces. He has three wins and three seconds in eight career starts, the latest of which suggested to Nakatani that he's just scratched the surface of his ability.

"He's earned his way here, that's half of it," said Nakatani, who will ride Dance With Fate for the second time. "The other part is, I like his running style. He's showing me he's got the credentials to win the race.

"Hopefully, his energy level stays the way it is. Traveling didn't seem to bother him, and I'm pretty confident in his ability to go out there and give his best. That's what we're looking forward to."

Bolstering Nakatani's and Eurton faith is Dance With Fate's knack for performing when the stakes are high. He preceded his Blue Grass triumph with a runner-up effort in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in California and posted consecutive seconds in Grade 1 races at Del Mar and Santa Anita last year.

Already impressive as a speed horse, Dance With Fate raised his profile even more in the Blue Grass by rallying from deep in the pack to fly past Pablo Del Monte and favored Bobby's Kitten to win. Just like that, Dance With Fate became a Derby contender, at least points-wise.

But because that win, like Dance With Fate's wins out West, were achieved on synthetic or turf, the question is whether he can run as well on dirt.

His Derby odds somewhat reflect that doubt, to say nothing of the hurdle Dance With Fate already faces in a 20-horse field led by streaking California Chrome. He was made the 5-2 early favorite and will start from the fifth post position.

On the one hand, the surface might not matter because two of Dance With Fate's runner-up finishes came on dirt at Santa Anita. But that track also was the site of his eighth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, where he was squeezed at the start and never was a factor.

Eurton believes his horse will make the transition to dirt, partly because he has seemed livelier in workouts, including in the slop Wednesday. If anything, Dance With Fate appears eager to build on the momentum from his Blue Grass win.

"I believe there are horses for courses, that old saying goes," Eurton said. "But he's amazingly aggressive and nothing really bothers him. I didn't think there'd be a big process of him getting used to it.

"I just hoped he liked it like other tracks we've shipped him to. I don't think he'll have a problem."

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elizaanne.lynne May 01 2014 at 7:48 AM

It's nice to see thoroughbred horse racing getting some coverage. It's a noble sport.

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1 reply
MGatt12 elizaanne.lynne May 01 2014 at 8:34 AM

I agree--too bad racing gets a bad rap. Horses are magnificent creatures. Born to run!

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dixiedare@verizon.net May 01 2014 at 5:47 PM

I really love the Kentucky Derby. It is so exciting and leads to more excitement with the other two races to come; hoping for a Triple Crown Winner. I love all the Pomp and Circumstance!

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willowygoldengrl May 01 2014 at 4:25 PM

For Shame. Look up the death and mistreatment of horses in horse racing. HORSE racing is an abomination.

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3 replies
dimag56in41 May 01 2014 at 3:07 PM

I think Seattle Slew with beat out Secretariat at the wire

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Sue May 01 2014 at 2:12 PM

I grew up riding a retired race horse. They are NOT sold to be slaughtered. The Peta people who pushed for the law to stop the sale of horse meat for public consumption only made it worse for those horse who were crowded into trailers and shipped to Mexico where there are no laws as to the treatment of such animals. When people couldn't sell their horses, they shot them in the fields or turned them out on the roads. DAMN THE IGNORANT PEOPLE OF PETA!! They caused more mistrearment of horses and donkeys than has ever happened befotre in this country. I call them the 'my pretty pony people' who have never been around horses in their lives but think that they know ALL about them. All my horses love to run.

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4 replies
susanht May 01 2014 at 11:57 AM

They are born to run but not pushed as they are at a young age, legs are ruined on most of the man made tracks. Look at the stats of the many horses that are injured or have to be put down because of horse racing. Also, many are sent to the meat factories if they don't make it or as soon as they stop earning money they are sent to Mexico or Canada. It is all about the money and prestige and not about the horses health and welfare.

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3 replies
lyleva May 01 2014 at 9:33 AM

Lots of good horses in the Derby. I'd be careful with Dance With Fate.

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Iris May 01 2014 at 8:47 AM

Such beautiful animals to watch run, anywhere
Here's much luck to all

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Larry May 01 2014 at 10:46 AM

He has as good of a chance as any horse in the race ,And his sire ran on multiple types of surfaces ,two step salsa is a great sire that stands at Get Away farm in Lowell,Fl

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souperrun101 May 01 2014 at 9:05 PM

Colonel Jack loves the Derby. He married his first Derby date, just four months later, September 1, 1973. Yes, Secretariat was the best ever. We had five dollars on him to WIN.

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