Conformation buffs, unite! Normandy Invasion was a big “downhill” yearling.
Sure Todd Pletcher has an excellent shot at winning the Derby this year. He always seems to have the best two and three-year-olds leading up to the first Saturday in May, and Verrazano looks to be the best horse in his barn. The hunk of muscle by More Than Ready is following the same path as past Pletchers Super Saver and Bluegrass Cat running in—and winning— the Tampa Bay Derby (II) in style.
But, where there is a favorite there is often a price. Past readers of my blathering know that while I acknowledge Verrazano’s brilliance, I do not like him as a Derby horse. I do however like Normandy Invasion a great deal.
Naysayers (neighsayers?) and doubters have showed up already to shake their heads at Normandy’s three-year-old debut in the wonky Risen Star (II), which was won by Ive Struck a Nerve at 135-1. The race was very weird, with many top horses suffering bad trips or off performances, and the winner certainly took advantage of a fast pace to lock up the win.
Examining the race again, Normandy stumbled out of the gate and was off to an awkward start. The first turn, like many of this year’s preps, was crowded and hectic, forcing him 5-wide to an even greater disadvantage. He was 6 or 7 paths wide by the time he hit his stride in the stretch, and by then it was too late. A snap shot of his loss margin:
Really, it wasn’t a bad loss, but a bad trip. Racing wisdom also dictates that the gallop out is pivotal, especially for horses who look to stretch out in the future. Let’s look at the Risen Star gallop out:
Looks like he was rolling pretty well late! Both Normandy and the #10 horse Oxbow ran better than the winner in the gallop-out, and Oxbow ran a winning race next out in the Rebel. I consider Code West and Oxbow to be pretty good horses at minimum, so with this and a few other things, I think Chad Brown can bring home a great contender at Aqueduct in the coming weeks. Watch the full Risen Star race
- Sire Tapit won the Wood Memorial.
- Off a long layoff, Normandy Invasion lost the Risen Star, which was won with a BRIS speed figure of 99. His close Remsen runner-up was a 104, and his maiden win before that was a 92. He could very well power off that loss.
- The Risen Star is beginning to look even wonkier and dismissable after Oxbow’s head loss in the Rebel Stakes (II) this past weekend. Oxbow was the pacesetter for the Risen Star and went wide like many others did into the first turn. Both Normandy and Oxbow broke from disadvantaged outer posts.
- Jockey switch from Jose Lezcano to Javier Castellano, a very wise move indeed.