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Frankel has 'High' Derby hopes

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- At this point in his Hall of Fame career, it's hard to believe Bobby Frankel still is missing a Kentucky Derby victory.

The 63-year-old trainer is gearing up for another try with unbeaten High Limit, the favorite in today's $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland -- a race boasting perhaps the toughest field of all the Derby preps.

"I was fortunate to get this horse," Frankel said. "We'll let him break from the gate and see how it all comes up."

What's come up so far is that in each of his races, High Limit has shot to the lead under Ramon Dominguez and never trailed, winning his three starts by a combined 22 1/2 lengths.

"It's not his fault if he's been outrunning other horses easily," Frankel said.

The 3-year-old bay colt romped in his first two starts at Delaware Park for trainer Tony Dutrow. Owners Gary and Mary West then sent the colt to Frankel, who brought High Limit to Florida.

About 4 1/2 months later, after recovering from a minor foot problem, High Limit won the Louisiana Derby by 4 lengths.

Now comes the next step for the only top Derby contender with a perfect record: A 1 1/8-mile test against the strongest competition yet. The field of seven includes Tampa Bay Derby winner Sun King, San Felipe winner Consolidator, San Rafael winner Spanish Chestnut, and Holy Bull winner Closing Argument.

"I'd just like to get a good race in my horse," Frankel said. "Hopefully I can win it because there's still $750,000, and hopefully he's still healthy going into the Churchill Downs race in three weeks."

Frankel won the Blue Grass in 2003 with Peace Rules, who finished third a few weeks later in the Derby. He also has five Eclipse Awards as the national's top trainer, and his horses have won nearly every race imaginable -- except the Derby. Frankel is 0 for 7 in the Derby with two second-place finishes -- Aptitude in 2000 and Empire Maker in 2003.

The biggest question surrounding High Limit is whether he can run behind horses. No one knows, but Dominguez doesn't think it will be a problem.

"I get the feeling he doesn't always need to be in the lead," the jockey said. "Who can say how he'll react? But I have all the confidence in Bobby and the way he's trained the horse."

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