Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Derby Works and Frankel

Posted by Brian Appleton on May 1, 2011

The first Saturday in May quickly approaches, racing enthusiasts have just one week left and the wait is over, America’s next Kentucky Derby champion will be crowned. Amidst the flurry of Derby activity that takes place over the Churchill Downs dirt track in the week preceding the race itself, contenders come out in droves for their daily gallops and last minute works.

On Friday Archarcharch solidified his status as one of the biggest Derby threats when he blazed five furlongs in :59 2/5, tying with three year old filly Arienza for the fastest time of 58 horses working the distance. Trainer Jinks Fires described the work as “perfect” and “super”.

On Saturday Florida Derby (gr.1) runner-up Shackleford burned up the track with a :58 4/5 five furlong move, easily earning the bullet as the fastest of 36 horses working the distance. Trainer Dale Romans was very pleased with the move, especially after seeing his trainee gallop out six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 and continue pulling hard on his rider.

Mucho Macho Man also turned in a solid five furlong move on Saturday, though much more conservative than the moves posted by Archarcharch and Shackleford. With jockey Rajiv Maragh up, the son of Macho Uno went five furlongs in 1:00 2/5. According to trainer Kathy Ritvo her star pupil gallops at least two miles a day so fitness will be absolutely no concern with this colt.

I personally can’t wait to see what kind of work Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty turn in for their joint venture on Sunday. Both colts seems to be thriving in Kentucky.

Frankel - Trevor Jones

Enough of the Kentucky Derby for now. I have become an ardently admitted Frankel super-fan. It started after his powerful romp in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Royal Ascot on September 25th last year, a race which he won by an astounding 10 lengths without being asked to run a single step. On Saturday Frankel stepped into the realm of super stardom when he powered home to win the QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-1) at Newmarket by six lengths.

After finishing his juvenile season undefeated in four starts and earning honors as co-champion juvenile male, Frankel began 2011 with an easy win in the 7 furlong Greenham Stakes. He entered the Two Thousand Guineas as the lowest priced favorite since 1970 and proved his heavily backed favoritism was well grounded. Breaking from the gate Frankel was fastest into stride, opening up most than a length on the field within a matter of strides. From there the visually impressive spectacle only got better. Throughout the 1 mile journey Frankel continued to pull away under jockey Tom Queally, opening up more than 12 lengths on the field at the halfway point while under tight restraint. In the final furlong Queally finally released his mount and under a vigorous hand ride Frankel waltzed past the line, the winner by six lengths. Dubawi Gold and Native Khan made good runs to get up for second and third, finishing about 12 lengths clear of the rest of the field. The ease with which Frankel won the Two Thousand Guineas makes it almost laughable to call the prestigious event a race, it proved little more than a public display of pure dominance and speed for the Champion. The big question now is whether or not trainer Henry Cecil and owner Khalid Abdullah will send Frankel on to the 1 ½ mile Epsom Derby (Eng-1) June 4th. Up to now the three year old Galileo colt has never raced farther than 1 mile in distance and I have a sneaking suspicion that he might not be able to run his best at the classic distances. He has shown absolutely no weaknesses so far and “nothing gained, nothing ventured” so I kind of hope they take a chance and send him anyway. 

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