Friday, April 22, 2011

SPORTS>>Archarcharch preps for Derby

Leader sports editor

Archarcharch has already proven he likes to run.

The challenge between now and the Kentucky Derby on May 7 will be holding him back.

The colt, owned by Jacksonville’s Bob and Val Yagos, beat Nehro by a neck in last week’s Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs.

The victory vaulted Archarcharch, who went off at 25-1, into the Kentucky Derby at Louisville’s Churchill Downs next month. He was shipped to Louisville early in the week to prepare for the race, the first leg of the Triple Crown, but Yagos promised that trainer Jinks Fires, of Hot Springs, wasn’t going to overdo the training.

“He’s in top condition,” Yagos said. “We just need to keep him there.”

While reporters in Louisville were clamoring for a workout to give them material, Yagos said Fires would stick to a regimen of daily distances at 1 ½-2 miles at minimum speed.

Archarcharch will most likely extend himself in midweek, half-mile runs, weather permitting.

Archarcharch would probably like more work than that, Yagos said, but the goal is to have him fresh for Derby day.

“This horse does not like to be kept in a barn,” Yagos said.

In a sport like horse racing, in which colorful names are the norm, Archarcharch still stands as something of a mouthful.

But Yagos said he wanted a name that was distinct and also paid tribute to the colt’s sire, Arch.

“We just tried to pick a name that people would remember and the announcers would have fun with, just something catchy that people wouldn’t forget,” Yagos said.

Horse owners have to submit the names of their animals to the Jockey Club for final approval.

“You have to send in four or five names and they pick which one you get,” Yagos said. “Quite a little bit of thought goes into it.”

Archarcharch has made a name for himself as a fast closer who likes to run off the pace. The colt won the Southwestern Stakes, and Yagos was surprised he went off at 25-1 in the Arkansas Derby, though his troubles in the gate that cost him in the Rebel Stakes may have had something to do with it.

“The oddsmakers, they look at these California horses and these Florida horses and they get so much more respect than these local horses,” Yagos said. “Local horses get overlooked.”

After getting out of the gate badly in the Rebel Stakes, Archarcharch wanted to go hard after The Factor, which is not his style, and jockey Jon Court had to fight him some to hold him back.

At the Arkansas Derby, The Factor, the oddsmakers’ favorite, finished out of the money while Archarcharch made his push in the final 16th to close on Dance City and Sway Away.

“There was so much money bet on The Factor to win and that kind of played with the odds on everybody else,” Yagos said.

Kentucky Derby odds haven’t been posted yet, but Yagos expects Archarcharch to be between 6-1 and 8-1.

“We’ll probably be a third or fourth choice,” he said.