The robust bay colt coming head on at you in the center of the photograph Is Ridan, winning the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland last week and now the horse to beat in Saturday's Kentucky Derby. The Blue Grass was Ridan's most impressive race as a 3-year-old. On a fast track he pulled away from his field easily and won the mile-and-an-eighth race by four lengths. He won all his seven starts as a 2-year-old but was disappointing earlier this year, when he was beaten twice by Sir Gaylord and once by Prego. Many experts felt that he was only a sprinter and would not race well at the Derby distance of a mile and a quarter. But then the fine young jockey, Manuel Ycaza, took him firmly in hand. Under Ycaza, Ridan won the Florida Derby in March and then the Blue Grass, demonstrating that he could be rated in a distance race and that he had the stamina for a strong finish.
Ridan is a big horse (he weighs 1,050 pounds). Power and speed have been his assets since he first went to the races. He was purchased as a yearling by Moody Jolley from Steel Magnate Tom Girdler for $11,000 and has won $446,534 to date. At Churchill Downs his two prime fears will be Sir Gaylord, another brilliant colt, and the possibility of heavy rain before the race. His handlers believe that Ridan, like Sir Gaylord, does not like to run on a muddy track. Praying for clear skies and racing luck, they hope to see roses round his neck.
UNGERER'S DERBY PAINTINGS: PAGE 36
TOWER'S PRERACE ANALYSIS: PAGE 43