Cecil needs fast exit for Eltish

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America's Triple Crown will be the target for Newmarket-trained Eltish if he can defy the statistics and 18 rivals to win the 121st Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs tonight (10.30pm BST), writes our correspondent in Louisville.

"He has permission to stay in the States until after the Belmont Stakes on 10 June," Henry Cecil, the colt's trainer, said, "and if he runs a good race and it is best for the horse, that's what he will do."

After cantering half a mile under big-race rider Eddie Delahoussaye yesterday, Eltish was attracting increasing attention from American horsemen.

"He showed with his second to Timber Country in the Breeders' Cup that he could go on this track," the veteran jockey said, "and he went great on it this morning. We've got a good draw, seven, and I'm hoping for a quick break so the options will be open as to how I ride him. I like the horse.''

Citadeed, the other British challenger, will run unsupported by trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam, busy at Newmarket, or owner Ivan Allan, who has runners in Hong Kong. They have probably done well to save the air fare because Citadeed is drawn 19, the most disadvantageous position of all.

Timber Country, who beat Eltish here in November, looks magnificent, but he was beaten recently in California when the fast surface was against him, and the Churchill Downs track has been re-laid over the winter on similar lines.

Wayne Lukas, his trainer, also runs the only filly in the race, Serena's Song, in an attempt to follow his Winning Colors, who in 1988 was only the third of her sex to capture this event.

BETTING: 5-2 Serena's Song & Timber Country (coupled), 7-2 Talkin Man, 5 Afternoon Deelites, 12 Knockadoon, Lake George, In Character, Ski Captain, Mecke & Citadeed (combined as the field), 14 Jumron, Eltish, Suave Prospect, Thunder Gulch, 16 others.