Souvenir Copy won the Derby Trial on Saturday on opening day at Churchill Downs, but his disappointed owner was not on hand to watch.
John C. Mabee, who owns the colt with his wife, Betty, had planned to attend the race, but he flew home to California on Friday after his unbeaten Kentucky Derby contender, Event of the Year, sustained a slab fracture of the right front knee during a workout.
Event of the Year, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, had surgery Saturday at a veterinary hospital at Versailles, Ky.
Souvenir Copy, a slight favorite over Yarrow Brae, made a big move on the turn, took the lead in the upper stretch and won by 2\ lengths over Yarrow Brae in 1:35 4-5 for the mile under 122 pounds.
The winner is trained by Bob Baffert, who won the 1997 Kentucky Derby with Silver Charm and who will try to win the 124th Derby on Saturday with unbeaten Indian Charlie or Real Quiet.
Souvenir Copy, ridden by David Flores, paid $6.40, $3.60 and $2.60 and earned $70,240 from a purse of $113,300. Yarrow Brae, ridden by Jerry Bailey, returned $3 and $2.60 after finishing three-quarters of a length in front of Black Cash, ridden by Shane Sellers. Black Cash paid $3.60.
CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP?: The Kentucky Derby is a monument for purists: It's the biggest event in the United States where the main participants are untouched by corporate sponsorship.
One of the most powerful horse-racing officials in the country wants to change that.
The new commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Tim Smith, said he'll consider allowing companies such as Nike Inc. and Microsoft Corp., to pay to attach their names to horses _ as long as the animal's earnings are donated to charity. The move would change a rule that's at least 50 years old that bans commercial tie-ins to horse names.
"What if employees at Nike wanted to name a horse "Swoosh?' " Smith asked. "I think that would be fun."
It would be potentially profitable for the company, too. While Smith's plan won't permit a business to reap any reward from the horse's performance, sponsorship could be a boon to a company's bottom line.
A horse running in this year's Kentucky Derby would generate at least $1.2-million in advertising through television and print mentions, said Eric Wright, a vice president for Joyce Julius & Associates, a firm that estimates the value of advertisement contracts for companies. That figure could go as high as $5-million for a Derby winner, Wright said.