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Edging Closer to the Derby

Lookin At Lucky

Blinkers? Feh!

We finally have a better sense of the Derby field as the contenders begin to move into Churchill Downs in earnest; Lookin At Lucky seemed to enjoy the track, working a bullet this morning. Trainer Bob Baffert has buried the hatchet with jockey Garrett Gomez (you will recall he was not thrilled with his ride in the Santa Anita Derby) and taken a bit of advice from the rider – Lookin At Lucky will contest the Derby sans blinkers.

Eskendereya is also getting used to his new surroundings – he arrived in Louisville yesterday and stretched his legs a bit.  Now that he’s officially on the block, one wonders whether he will be sold before or after the Derby – but which side wants to be the big gambler in this situation?  Apparently not Todd Pletcher, who may further spread his Derby risk by entering filly Devil May Care.  While a decision won’t be made immediately, I enjoyed this comment from Pletcher:

“She acts like she wants to run beyond a mile and an eighth,” Pletcher said.” That is the main reason. We’ve worked her with a number of our colts who are being considered (for the Derby) and she has worked as well or better than most of them. But there is a lot to consider, including running in a field of 20 and things like that. We’ll just wait and see after she works.”

As I cannot say I’m terribly impressed by some of the ‘other’ Derby colts in Pletcher’s barn (i.e., most of those who are not Eskendereya or Rule), she is probably a better candidate than many – but the filly I’d most like to see in the race is still Blind Luck.  Still, if nothing else, by entering as many horses as he possibly can, Pletcher also ups his chances of finishing last (again).

Noble’s Promise has been considered questionable for the Derby after a rough race in the Arkansas Derby and a subsequent lung infection, but things looked encouraging after his bullet work yesterday.  Kenny McPeek is still erring on the side of caution and is not committing his horse to the race, but I believe he’s worth watching; hopefully he will make the starting gate.

The usual pre-Derby jockey-change shenanigans have been afoot – Jon Court, who got longshot Line of David into the winner’s circle for the Arkansas Derby, has been replaced by red-hot Rafael Bejarano.  In this case, it’s not a simple matter of creating bad karma; Bejarano had ridden the horse before, in California, and his Derby horse, Setsuko, probably will not make the field.  It’s still no fun to see Jon Court sitting out the big race again, though; one suspects that Bejarano might have easily picked up another last-minute mount (presumably knocking off another lesser-known jock) – and so it goes on.

In more unpleasant news, Tiz Chrome broke down while working toward the Derby Trial; he was put down on the track.  Also aiming for the Derby Trial (so far, with better results) is Eightyfiveinafifty – and a win there could send him to the Derby, which would really be kicking it old-school – Tim Tam was the last horse to win both back in 1958.

There was sad news from across the Pacific as well; 2008 Melbourne Cup winner Viewed died as a result of a twisted bowel. The 6-year-old (by Southern Hemisphere standards) stallion had been in training and was aiming to re-take the Cup before retiring to stud in another year or two – his interesting pedigree and proven staying ability are a loss to the breed in Australia (and could have been of great use here, as well – although commercial breeders would have disliked the notion).

Fortunately, across the Atlantic, Raven’s Pass seems to be recovering well after colic surgery; he will be off work for a number of weeks, but the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner should be able to return to action (as it were) shortly.
Finally, if you’re an experienced curator looking for a terribly badly-paying job, why not consider becoming Curator of Collections at the (re-opened) Kentucky Derby Museum? While the collection will be great, it’s either rather impressive or disturbing to know that there are cultural institutions that pay even more badly than my own…still, it’s a job (for someone else)!

Check back later for more Kentucky Derby Betting thoughts!

3 comments to Edging Closer to the Derby

  • Deborah L.

    $30,000.00 a year with benefits for Curator of Collections@ Kentucky Derby Museum…better than what I make a year as a bottom feeder substitute teacher or 1st year teacher in WV! Mmmmm… sounds tempting not!

  • Love the “Pletcher enhancing his chances to finish last” jab. The poor guy is such a good trainer yet he’s got the biggest monkey on his back possible for such a high-profile trainer with his terrible Derby record.

    I like that Lookin At Lucky is losing the blinkers again for the Derby, it didn’t seem to help him in his last two starts. He looks like the horse to beat right now and his bullet work was very impressive.

    I would love to see Devil May Care in the Derby against the boys and I think she would do pretty well too. But if she enters that would probably slam the door on horses like Jackson Bend or Backtalk that are waiting to get in, so overall I hope she runs in the Oaks. The filly I would most like to see in the Derby is also Blind Luck. With her closing running style and all the speed in the Derby this year she might have received a perfect trip.

    Who is your Derby horse right now?

  • Rufus Y.

    I agree with you Brian that it would be a pity to leave out Jackson Bend considering how consistent he is. And now, with the scratching of Esky, the race seems to have opened up considerably. Still, getting beaten 14 lengths by American Lion (who isn’t that well fancied) is hardly a great argument for inclusion in the field over a horse like Devil May Care (she also had a great work yesterday). Sure, the pace didn’t suit Backtalk, but still, he lost 8 lengths in the straight.

    The horses who really shouldn’t be in there are Homeboykris (Dutrow can be so annoying) and probably Dean’s Kitten (who’s only start on dirt was absolutely miserable). I’d like to see the three or four best fillies in the field every year; there would always be more of a chance than #s 17-20 of the boys. This year we’d have Blind Luck and Tidal Pool (who now own the top two route Beyers after Esky), Devil May Care, and Amen Hallelujah. They would all have to be given a better chance than most of the boys running.

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