Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

A New Favorite: Changing Scenes

Posted by Brian Appleton on April 25, 2010

Though Saturday’s running of the Derby Trial produced no change in the Kentucky Derby graded earnings standings,


one thing has changed the picture drastically. Derby favorite Eskendereya has been removed from race consideration because of a filling in his left front leg. The news came folowing days of speculation which started after several works for Eskendereya were cancelled. Eskendereya is the second winner of the Wood Memorial to be removed from the race after injury, following last year’s I Want Revenge.

Now jockey John Velazquez finds himself without a Derby mount but that will probably change seeing as he is the regular rider for filly Devil May Care. With trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Greathouse seriously considering entering the 3-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon against the boys in the Derby over the girls in the Kentucky Oaks, he could find himself riding another strong contender.

Eskendereya was coming into the Derby off three consecutive victories this year, the last two coming in the Fountain of Youth Stakes by more than 8 lengths and the Wood Memorial by an over powering 9 ¾ lengths. Those two efforts accounted for the two most impressive Kentucky Derby preps of the year and solidified his status as the horse to beat on the first Saturday in May.

With Eskendereya’s defection from the race Lookin At Lucky is once again taking on the role of race favorite for trainer Bob Baffert after losing it to Eskendereya earlier in the year.

Hurricane Ike took the Derby Trial by storm Saturday and make absolutely certain the race would have no affect on the overall picture of the Kentucky Derby field. By winning the Derby Trial Hurricane Ike and jockey Calvin Borel destroyed any hope the connections of Eightyfiveinafify and Pleasant Prince had of entering the Kentucky Derby starting gate. As the race favorite Eightfiveinafifty yet again showed greenness and immaturity while running down the stretch and drifting very wide across the track to finish a dull fourth. Pleasant Prince fared little better in the finish, coming home 6 ¾ lengths behind second place finisher Aikenite in third. Calvin Borel owned the day at Churchill Downs Saturday, finishing the day with five wins, the last coming in the Derby Trial aboard Hurricane Ike.

Though the loss of Eskendereya to trainer Todd Pletcher’s stable is immense he will still be entering the Kentucky Derby holding the most powerful hand of any one trainer this year. With colts like Super Saver, Rule, Discreetly Mine and Mission Impazible entered and Interactif also being considered for the race Pletcher still has a power-house, and if Devil May Care is entered as well his chances are about 6 in 20 of winning the Derby.

Rachel Alexandra is poised to make headlines yet again. On Saturday owner Jess Jackson announced the reigning horse of the year would make her second start of the year in Churchill Down’s La Troienne Stakes (gr.2) on April 30th.

Rachel Alexandra

Speculation has been running rampant that the La Troienne would be Rachel Alexandra’s next start, but true to form Jackson failed to make a decision until the last minute. In the La Troienne Rachel Alexandra will be facing Zardana again after finishing second to her in her 2010 debut and also the fleet-footed filly Careless Jewel. Last year Careless Jewel was the second best 3-year-old filly in the land only to Rachel Alexandra. Their meeting will be very anticipated as well as Rachel’s second show-down with Zardana. If works are any indication then Rachel Alexandra is closer to her old self than she has been the entire year and looks ready to run back to her spectacular 2009 form. A victory here would be her launch to hopefully yet another chance for a match-up with the great Zenyatta.

I will be attending the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks for the first time ever this year, something I have wanted to do since I was 11 years old. Living in CT doesn’t make Churchill Downs the most convenient location but the drive is well worth the reward. I know using exclamation points is supposed to be like “laughing at yourself” when you’re writing but I can’t resist this one time; I am excited!


6 Responses to “A New Favorite: Changing Scenes”

  1. Great article, Brian. I was really surprised to see that Eskendereya is out of the Derby. However, I respect that Todd Pletcher is looking out for the welfare of his horse. Do you think Devil May Care will run for certain the Kentucky Derby? (It’s starting to look like it.)

    • I’ve actually earned a new respect for Pletcher this year. In opting to keep Aikenite completely out of the Derby even though he has enough earnings he showed he’s putting the horse before his desire to win the Derby.

      Yes, I definitely think that Devil May Care will enter the Derby. I like the idea of her running in the Derby but I would rather see Jackson Bend in so I’m hoping to see Interactif drop out in order to give Jackson Bend a chance.

  2. Brian,

    I’m really jealous…have enough fun for me, too! My advice: make your wagers early so that you can take in the sights and sounds. I was lucky to attend the Preakness S. back in 1998 and did what I’m advising. At the end of the day, REAL QUIET was my favorite and came through for me keying a decent exacta but a better tri! My wife and I ate well that night!

    Great post and great pics…where do you get them? Take them all yourself? I sure would love to get a press pass someday to go backside.

    As for RACHEL, I’m so done with Jess Jackson. I couldn’t care less if she wins or loses. Terrible, isn’t it? How can I let one egomaniac owner sour me on a great filly? Maybe if she wins impressively, running down a fresh and stubborn CARELESS JEWEL while holding off a charge from ZARDANA…maybe I’ll feel different, maybe.

    So are we lookin at ‘LUCKY-ICE BOX-PADDY? That’s where I’m leaning right now. Personally, I’m hoping against hope that HOMEBOYKRIS, AMERICAN LION, or SUPER SAVER somehow finish 2nd to ‘LUCKY to make good on future pool exactas. I’ve also got smaller-paying SIDNEY’S CANDY and ICE BOX exactas alive w/ ‘LUCKY on top. My ‘LUCKY to ESKENDEREYA pool 1 payoff of $309.80 is kaput! C’est la vie!

    • No problem, if there is one thing I know how to do at a horse race it’s have fun! 🙂
      I usually get the pictures from the Bloodhorse and link them back to their website. I’ll be bringing a nice camera to the Derby when I go so hopefully I can get some good shots of some of my favorites.

      I understand your frustration with Jackson, he isn’t exactly fan friendly these days but it’s very sad you can’t enjoy seeing her run anymore. I’m hoping that changes and from the way she’s been preparing for this race I expect her to run “lights out” and destroy this field, so try to be prepared to enjoy Rachel this weekend! 🙂 Plus the red-hot Calvin Borel is on her and seems to be relishing riding back at Churchill Downs.

      Now that Noble’s Promise and Jackson Bend are both going to the Derby my first pick for a top three finish would be Lookin At Lukcy, Noble’s Promise and Jackson Bend in that order. I’d also have to make some options with Sidney’s Candy, Ice Box, Endorsement (possibly)and Paddy O’Prado. There is amazing potential to make some serious money on this race if you can hit the exacta or tri correctly. Sounds like you’ve got a pretty good set-up with your exactas.

  3. Nancy said

    Jackson made the decision at the last minute? That’s a huge overexaggeration.

    BTW…Rachel is “reigning” HOY, not “reining”.

    • A little negative aren’t we? 🙂

      My reason for stating that Jackson made the decision last minute is this: We all knew they were targeting the La Troienne, but instead of simply stating that they were considering the race, the entire Rachel camp kept absolutely quiet until one week before. For a fan like me who holds a full-time job, lives way out of state and has other responsibilities to attend to each week it is simply too short a notice for any chance at being able to attend her race. Fortunately I had already planned on going to the Oaks so I get to see Rachel Alexandra anyway. Jess Jackson isn’t about the fans, he’s about what makes himself and his horse look best.
      Thanks for the spelling catch, I corrected it!

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