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Welcome New York Times Readers

The New York Times seems to have caught Derby Fever in a big way. Not only did they have a feature article on Big Brown (more on that below), they’ve launched The Rail — a blog headed by Joe Drape with a variety of interesting contributors (and some nice TBA links on their blogroll – thanks, guys!). I particularly enjoyed today’s Jim Squires entry.

Last weekend’s results were disappointing to me (and I’m fairly agnostic on the Polytrack angle in this instance), since I’d much prefer to see Tomcito in the Derby over a large group of horses whose abilities at a mile and a quarter are questionable at best (and some of those who are bred for the distance scream ‘turf’); I did enjoy the quick segment with Eight Belles (perspective notwithstanding, she’s clearly a big girl) and Proud Spell as potential Derby entries. The word at this point seems to be that both will definitely be entered, although neither seems a lock to go to the gate Derby day:

“We’re going to enter both fillies in the Oaks,” Jones said by phone from Delaware Park, where he was running horses Monday. “I’ve been told to enter Eight Belles in the Derby. If Eight Belles draws a good post in the Derby, and a crappy post in the Oaks, she’ll probably run in the Derby. If she draws a crappy post in the Derby, and a good post in the Oaks, she’ll probably run in the Oaks. I’d say it’s a 50-50 chance. I do know Mr. Porter wants to run in the Derby if she draws a good post.

“Proud Spell, if she draws a really crappy post in the Oaks, we might cross-enter her in the Derby. But I’d say that’s only 15-85.”

I’d like to see Eight Belles in the Derby, although the obvious knock on her is that she has not faced colts before. At least the defection of War Pass makes a spot available for someone else, and further dropouts could make more space for Denis of Cork, who continues to train toward the Derby despite his current low ranking on the graded earnings list; in my ideal world, a few more would exit the picture to ensure that he, Big Truck and Tomcito (who is training for the Derby, just in case) all get in the gate (which makes the Eight Belles dilemma all the more problematic).

Pyro and Z Fortune had slightly mysterious works in thick fog on Monday; naturally, that did not serve to answer any questions about Pyro’s readiness after the Blue Grass debacle. Adriano has been hard at work as well, but I still can’t get on his bandwagon, despite being a big fan of Graham Motion. Tomcito worked a bullet on Polytrack only to handle it poorly in a race (maybe?), so I’m not convinced a decent work over the Churchill Downs track can be given as much weight at a race over real dirt — and we know that didn’t work out well last time.

Speaking of synthetics, Colonel John continues to train at Santa Anita; I’m curious to see how he takes to the Churchill Downs surface next weekend.

Of course, I’ve only briefly touched on Big Brown; while his feet and lack of experience have been rehashed a number of times, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Times article about him and his connections is the structure of majority owner IEAH — they plan to go public shortly:

Since its inception in 2003, I.E.A.H. has raised more than $40 million from more than 80 investors and has formed partnerships to own various horses. The hedge fund model will supplant this arrangement; partners will own a part of all I.E.A.H. assets, from its 80 horses in training to its 15 broodmares and its future stallions, including the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Mile champion, Kip Deville; Benny the Bull, winner of the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen; and Big Brown.

Each financial quarter, an independent auditor will assess the fund’s value, and investors will be able to decide to buy into the fund or sell their positions. “What we’re offering are liquidity and options that people in the horse business have never had before,” [IEAH president Michael] Iavarone said.

Considering that the IEAH team has already won over $3 million dollars this year (25% winners, 56% in the money), they must be doing something right. I look forward to seeing what sort of investment levels they set over the next year. Check back later for an updated Superfecta Derby Top Ten…

Bet on the Kentucky Derby

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