Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Shaken, Stirred and on the Rocks

Posted by Brian Appleton on April 14, 2010

A lot has happened over this past weekend in relation to the Kentucky Derby scene which has been drastically re-altered due to some very surprising race results. It seems like the line-up of horses with graded earnings for the Derby has been shaken, stirred and many contestants tossed out onto the rocks. I have had a busy weekend and beginning of the week so I wanted to just be able to step back and absorb everything before I jumped in and wrote about it all.

Stately Victor

The Toyota Blue Grass Stakes produced the biggest shocker of the weekend and what’s even more shocking is that it looks legitimate. Stately Victor, who entered the Blue Grass with only 1 win in 7 lifetime starts and his last five starts resulting in off the board finishes, showed a sustained drive in the stretch to win at odds of 40-1. If this race had been on dirt and not polytrack this son of Ghostzapper would probably be much higher on people’s Derby lists than he is right now. He currently ranks number 9 on the graded earnings list after his Blue Grass victory. Paddy O’Prado finished second to Stately Victor which gave him enough graded earnings to put him right at number 19 on the list. Finishing third in the Blue Grass was First Dude who stands zero chance of making the Derby with earning of only $97,500. Almost any other year that would have been sufficient but this year seems to be running under a full head of steam and there is no room for any competition error at this point, time is almost up.

The three top choices in the Blue Grass, Interactif, Pleasant Prince and Odysseus all finished off the board with Interactif securing 4th place. Pleasant Prince finished 7th, and Odysseus finished last of 9 after helping set a brisk pace throughout the race. It was discovered after the race that Odysseus has a bone chip in the back of his left knee which has effectively knocked him off of the Derby trail. Hopefully we’ll see this guy come back later in the year as I strongly believe we didn’t yet see the best of his talents.

The Arkansas Derby was almost as surprising as the Blue Grass Stakes, but in

Line of David

the end the results seemed to make much more sense. Front-running Line of David, making his first start on dirt led a highly-touted field of three year old colts on a merry chase around the Oaklawn Park oval to win gate-to-wire.

Entering the stretch in appeared the 17-1 shot was finished as big guns Super Saver and Dublin were breathing down his neck to the outside. Instead of folding as it appeared, Line of David fought back fiercely on the inside and maintained a neck advantage the length of the stretch over Super Saver who was neck ahead of Dublin. Those three hit the wire in exactly the same positions with Uh Oh Bango finishing fourth and race favorite, Noble’s Promise finishing 5th after a nightmarish trip. In winning the richest Derby prep in the country Line of David increased his earnings by $600,000 vaulting him to number 6 on the graded earnings list. He has now won three consecutive races, the two previous to the Arkansas Derby coming on the turf at Santa Anita. His winning streak began when trainer John Sadler decided to add blinkers to his equipment.

Fourth place finisher Uh Oh Bango fractured his left front cannon bone in the running of the Arkansas Derby and is now off the Derby trail. Aside from Buddy’s Saint and now Odysseus and Uh Oh Bango there have been far fewer injuries this year than there were last year when it seemed high-profile contenders were dropping out each week or two with an injury.

Noble's Promise

The Derby status of Noble’s Promise, who currently stands at number 2 on the graded earnings list with $738,000, is undecided. He exited the race with several cuts on his front legs and a lung infection was discovered later. Trainer Kenny McPeek seems to think he is doing much better now but will not say he is definite for the Derby yet although he is headed for Churchill Downs.

With the Coolmoore Lexington Stakes being run this weekend, more horses could be casting their lots into the earnings picture which would reshuffle the picture yet again. As of now trainer Todd Pletcher is doubtful that Interactif will make the Derby field which will make room for Jackson Bend to enter unless someone gets an earnings boost with a win in the Lexington Stakes this weekend. If a horse like Homeboykris who is undeserving of his #20 placing were to be removed that would free things up nicely. We will just have to see how things pan out this weekend and go from there.


6 Responses to “Shaken, Stirred and on the Rocks”

  1. As usual, a great recap of the weekend events.

    But…now you’ve jinxed them. The injuries will start mounting because you’ve typed it ;-)! Just kidding.

    WINSLOW HOMER was also injured after his impressive G.3 HOLY BULL win. To a lesser degree TAKE CONTROL, the Baffert-trained son of A.P. INDY and AZERI, won a route maiden special weight early on at Santa Anita and got a ton of buzz. However, he was injured shortly thereafter and hasn’t raced since.

    As for the prep races, in the Arkansas Derby did SUPER SAVER and DUBLIN hang or did LINE OF DAVID re-rally? I think SUPER SAVER learned a lot in the race and nearly won the thing. He may still get caught chasing a fast pace which will do him and the other pace runners in. DUBLIN just doesn’t put out…I wonder if he’s hurt? He stumbled pretty bad in the Southwest and I believe he’s finished as well as he has in the last two on talent alone. Considering his style and the pace, DUBLIN should have run right on by.

    In the Blue Grass, did STATELY VICTOR improve leaps and bounds or did he get a contentious/favorable pace and PADDY O’PRADO bounced a bit off his big turf effort? With two bad dirt finishes and wins on turf and Polytrack, STATELY VICTOR is a toss out for me. PADDY O’PRADO will be in the 40-1 range, perhaps as high as 50-1, and I’ll take all of that to save over and under LOOKIN AT LUCKY.

    These two weeks are gonna fly by!!!

    • I completely forgot about Winslow Homer, he was a big one and I loved Take Control. Still hoping he can come back from his injury and continue to improve on the track. His breeding alone makes a great story.
      I’m not sure about Dublin anymore, he has been very consistent but still hasn’t shown the “wow” factor this year that D. Wayne Lukas seems to think is there. It could be possible that Lukas doesn’t yet have him cranked up for his best effort but I doubt it. Super Saver proved to me that he is a very talented runner and not as one-dimensional as I originally thought. I don’t expect him to win the Derby but wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a piece of the action.
      The Blue Grass is the hardest race of all to read and Stately Victor’s effort also. I tend to think he really did improve that much going by just what I saw. He was visually very impressive and it didn’t look like a fluke performance to me, but it’s hard to say with the strange surface and all.
      Nice to see you’re still sticking by Lookin At Lucky, I’m convinced this guy is going to be “the” horse this year, for the 3 year olds that is.

  2. Great recap, Brian. I think the Arkansas Derby and Bluegrass served to confuse my handicapping efforts more than usual at this time of year. 🙂 (Who do you like for the Derby at this point?)

    • Hi Jennifer,
      I agree, I was completely off with last weekends preps…except that I did chose Dublin to finish second and Super Saver to finish third in the Arkansas Derby which they did, but Noble’s Promise missed the memo. He was supposed to finish first not fifth. 🙂

      At this point I think Lookin At Lucky is going to win the Derby and I like that they are taking the blinkers off again. Eskendereya always looks great with his sparkling 2010 record, but I’m counting on Lookin At Lucky being more talented and accustomed to traffic. I think in all likelihood they will finish 1-2. I also still like Jackson Bend, if he gets into the Derby I’ll take him for third. Somewhat of a sentimental choice, but I do think he has the ability to get into the top three.

  3. suebroux said

    I believe that possibly you could be the first person to mention that Stately Victor could be legitimate … and after watching the Blue Grass a few more times, I very well may be leaning in that direction. He beat a nice group of horses; and he beat them with authority in the stretch. Now the question: Is it all about the surface?

    • Hi Sue,
      Your right, it’s very hard trying to pinpoint if Stately Victor’s win was the fact that he is quickly improving and understanding the game or the surface he ran on. The way in which he won certainly looked convincing and his acceleration to the wire was wonderful. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Maybe if they work him on the Churchill Downs dirt we can get a better idea of his condition. My overall opinion is that he still isn’t good enough to win the Derby, but looks like he will continue to improve.

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