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Road to Baltimore

Yesterday, I suggested we wait and see where Mine That Bird will fit in Kentucky Derby history; today, however, it’s time to recap the weekend’s racing and in that context, his Derby victory is still something to puzzle over.

It goes without saying that there was no greater spectacle in racing than Rachel Alexandra’s utterly dominant (and utterly effortless) performance in the Kentucky Oaks. Her twenty-and-a-bit length victory was all the more awe-inspiring since she looked like she was out for a stroll – there was never the least sign of exertion, and Calvin Borel had plenty of time to pat her neck and celebrate in the stretch. Imagine what she could be capable of if actually asked to run – it’s an exciting thought. While her owner has ruled her out of other Triple Crown races (despite the fact that those showcases for ‘future stallions‘ are now headlined by a gelding), I wonder if we could perhaps see her in the Travers or the Whitney – I’ve already said I’d love to see her face Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (although that’s also the goal for my beloved Einstein).

And so to Einstein – his repeat victory in the Woodford Reserve on Saturday was thrilling – why NBC couldn’t show that rather than a trickle of D-list celebrities is beyond me (and for some reason the Guardian is praising their coverage, which veered from ‘nothing special’ to ‘downright irritating’). What they missed out was a fabulous stretch duel between Einstein and Cowboy CalEinstein clearly didn’t love the soft turf, but he was equally clearly not going to let Cowboy Cal pass him. It was yet another memorable performance – if it’s still the legal issues keeping him in training, may the litigation long continue. After the race, trainer Helen Pitts-Blasi remarked:

“I’m not going to say he’s the best horse in the country,” Pitts-Blasi said. “I’ll let you know on Nov. 6. The Breeders’ Cup Classic is a possibility. He loved that track at Santa Anita, and with the Breeders’ Cup being there, it’s worth a shot.”

Sounds like a plan.

Finally, there was the Kentucky Derby itself. We attended a Derby party that involved fantastic tacos, newborn foals (including a filly born early that morning to former reality TV star Sharp as a Fox) and a betting pool. We’d placed actual bets on horses including Musket Man, Friesan Fire, Pioneerof the Nile and Papa Clem, but also took turns picking some for the aforementioned pool. By about the second time around the room, pickings were looking a little slimmer, so Mr. Superfecta started going by jockeys – and picked Calvin Borel.

While everyone agrees the call was not Tom Durkin’s finest hour, we weren’t doing much better – we all spent the last 40 seconds or so of the race shouting, ‘but who is that on the rail?!?’

Stunned, we took home the pool.

As I’ve mentioned already, I’m going to wait to see how the Preakness and Belmont turn out for Mine That Bird before making a decision about where he ‘belongs’ – but there were certainly plenty of excuses to go around. Desert Party came out of the race with an ankle injury that should keep him out until next year and Friesan Fire grabbed a quarter while getting his legs sliced up a bit – but he could be back in time for the Preakness. For the top finishers, including Pioneerof the Nile, Musket Man and Papa Clem, the surface is the obvious go-to – but it’s likely we will see all three of them in Baltimore on the 16th. Late scratch I Want Revenge may appear at the Travers, but that would be the earliest he might rejoin the fray.

And as for Mine That Bird himself, I’ve always had a soft sport for the little horses (like his daddy Birdstone, or speedy mare Megahertz) who prove you don’t need to be a 17 hand monster to win in this game – if you want to get in on the action, his half-brother is a late addition to the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale.

So it seems all roads lead to Baltimore (or at least Timonium)…

3 comments to Road to Baltimore

  • dana

    nice to see that they plan on bringing Desert Party back as a 4yo if all goes well with his recovery.

    and way to go taking home the pool & and in the Brooklyn Backstretch RTTR contest!

  • Superfecta

    Thanks – I’m not sure how that happened!

  • belles forever

    i want revenge off the trail..maybe a long lay off.thank god they had the smarts to pull him out of the race.hope he heals..another one..too many a mosh pit

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