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I'm loving your Derby Dozen updates, but both Orb and Verrazano's jockeys are listed as finishing fourth in last year's Derby. Wasn't Rosario third? Keep up the good work and congrats on "Exterminator's" second birthday.

Asked by classic-like-a-penguin

Thanks much for the kind words, I’m glad you’re enjoying them so far and I hope you find them at least somewhat useful!

And thanks for noting the typo I knew I had but forgot to fix! Rosario was 5th with Creative Cause actually (I thought he was 3rd or 4th too, but then remembered Dullahan and Went the Day Well).

Weekend Stake Tip: All About Vyjack

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I didn’t bet yet again this weekend (I seem to like doing other things/homework on Saturdays and by Sunday I’m like “eh”), which I suppose was a good thing. The Gotham (III) yet again didn’t go my way as Escapefromreality got booted around, although I do not think anyone could have beaten Vyjack that day. What is with these weird Derby preps? I realize that these are the cake preps being only 1 1/16 miles but why are the super longshots getting away with making the top 3, and even winning? Now that it’s March, we’re running out time before we see any new faces that might break this cycle of speedy horses winning the point races…

Something I’ve noticed… a lot of our “class” Derby contenders have been getting really crappy races due really cruddy post positions and trips. Are the two related? Are our favorites too weak to recover from their handicaps, or perhaps do they need more running room? More time? Are we looking at the right horses?

Aside from that losery attempt at handicapping, I was bursting with pride at Game On Dude's emphatic win at 10 furlongs and Rydillic who won the Palm Beach Stakes looking like a champion. I didn’t handicap either race; I liked Rydillic best of the bunch because of his European lineage and Gary Contessa just has it goin’ on. Not really the type of analysis that would eke dollars out from me, but it’s fun knowing I was right on about SOMETHING this weekend. My virtual stable took a beating as So Many Ways had a bad first start, Went the Day Well made a shoddy return (he may have flipped his palate), Lucky Chappy [IRE] dragged despite a class drop, etc. etc. too many to list.

With Vyjack establishing a 3-for-3 4-for-4 record, Violence off the trail, and an increasingly “wide open” feeling for the Kentucky Derby, I would like to touch upon the early wager pools you can take advantage of if you’d like. I might be revealing my March Derby Top 10 soon, and you might be able to figure out some of my top choices by the odds I think are downright ridic:

  • Verrazano (9-1) is at much lower odds than Super Ninety Nine (closed at 17-1). Really? REALLY?
  • Code West was a steal at 28-1. He’s an improving Baffert trainee who almost won the Risen Star (II) with the potential to keep on going.
  • If Reinier is right about Titletown Five, he’s another one at a shocking 61-1
  • Treasury Bill, a closer with some impressive classic pedigree and a nice late kick, closed at 28-1
  • Stakes winner who will be forwardly placed should all go well, Lion Heart colt Falling Sky is at 79-1

Early spoiler alert: Vyjack probably still won’t make the Top 10 list and probably won’t be at acceptable odds should he go to the Derby gate.

Racing Beat: March 3

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I just got done learning about the Pareto Principle in message design class the other day, also known as the 80-20 rule. It states that you spend 80% of your time/money/energy/other output on 20% of the same people, while the other 20% is spent on the other 80%. Sounds about right for this blog… I give 80% of my energy spent on this blog to text posts which satisfy only about 20% of you, though I think that 20% is a generous estimate. /photo whores

There should be a Midnight Lute named Midnight Loot. I’d like that.

Ok, Vyjack deserved to win the Gotham, but like I said, this Derby trail is largely empty and we don’t see anything until mid to late March when those distances start getting longer. I’ll have more to say once my thoughts settle and I look at my Derby list again this week, but to end things with just a few small words: I hope a gelding wins the Derby.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m waiting with bated breath for the Tampa Bay Derby (II): Purple Egg, Java’s War, Verrazano.

Hooh Why had a date with Leroidesanimaux the other day. Future UNF grass racer.

Another one of my Saratoga ponies wins!: Gunderman won a 9-furlong Gulfstream allowance race yesterday. He finished last in the Palace Malice maiden race at Saratoga in a field that also included Apex and Hightail. He definitely needed more than 6 1/2 furlongs.

Two horse racing tumbleloggers had their birthdays recently: thoughtsonracinglifeandmore (Reinier) and rememberruffian (Paige). Yey!

Derby contender Uncaptured has been looking good in his recent works after a funky little layoff. His qualifying race target? The Spiral. Of course… synthetic…

The only thing I liked about Ive Struck a Nerve handicapping the Risen Star was the fact that his breeder is Brereton Jones, breeder of Mark Valeski and Believe You Can. Pure class obtained without trendy pedigrees more often than not, and proved very well again last week. *Marks down a note* Now for Smitten to make some more magic happen!

Now that Orb has won, I think back to the day I chose to like Violence the best out of that one good Saratoga maiden race. I still like Violence better since I don’t like Malibu Moons. Nope.

Favorite claimer! 7-year-old $5,000 claimer Smarty Bull is set to return to the races under John Servis at Penn National on March 6! She’s the morning line favorite in Race 3.

Look out world, Ruler On Ice is looking fierce to start the year. Glowed in his winning debut allowance and just registered a whopping :57 and change work over Belmont’s training track. Here’s to hoping we’re in for another year of great geldings.

I’m okay with Revolutionary going to the Louisiana Derby (I) as a final prep. The Wood Memorial (I) is just too much bad juju for me to let him go there.

Went the Day Well didn’t run well in his return, but I still maintain that he could have won the Belmont had he not been injured.

Tweet o’ the Week: This should be posted on the wall of every business

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You said you didn't think this year's Derby was all that memorable, but what about this year's Preakness?

Asked by Anonymous

Good question, but one that is a little tougher to answer due to the fact I slept through the broadcast… or is it?

I wasn’t all that excited leading up to the Preakness, mainly because there just weren’t very many good horses going to the gate. I mean c’mon, there were 14 posts available and only 11 were filled with only 6 contenders from the Derby being involved. Went the Day Well and Creative Cause didn’t run as well as I thought they should, and Bodemeister set pretty easy fractions to prove it was not too tough a field.

The winner gave a great race, but I kind of still have to question his Belmont abilities since he really only got up to win in the final strides…

Out of all the Derby runners coming back to run in the Preakness, I’m probably going to wager some on Went the Day Well. If anything, I feel a headline coming about redemption for Johnny V and Team Valor.

Out of all the Derby runners coming back to run in the Preakness, I’m probably going to wager some on Went the Day Well. If anything, I feel a headline coming about redemption for Johnny V and Team Valor.

Bodemeister Seeks Vengeance in Preakness

Eleven horses complete the fourteen available slots for the second leg of the Triple Crown, with many saving steam for the arduous Belmont Stakes (I) in June while others will try to upset Derby winner I’ll Have Another and his punchy rival, Bodemeister. The chestnut champ has the record and strategy to win, but many have considered blaze-faced Bode to be the best horse overall. Adding to the pile, Creative Cause ran arguably the best race in the Kentucky Derby and there’s little room to suggest Went the Day Well won’t be a threat.

It all boils down to who you like… Shackleford led throughout last year’s Preakness to defeat a closing outside horse in Animal Kingdom. Rachel Alexandra also set a furious pace to win in 2009. Will Team Bode have its day or can the Cookie Monster roll right by again?

$1 million Preakness Stakes (I) - 3-Year-Olds. 1 3/16 miles on dirt at Pimlico. Post Time: Saturday, May 18 at 6:18pm EST

[Post Position, Horse - Jockey, Trainer - Summary, Opinion in italics]

1) Tiger Walk - Kent Desormeaux, Ignacio Correras - A horse with some “tinkering” problems this year, the Tale of the Cat colt managed to hit the board once in the Withers (III), and has had a bad habit of becoming distracted or just not properly engaged when it counts. He swaps riders with Dullahan out, picking up Desormeaux and the tricky rail slot. Works have been pleasing at Pimlico, and this horse is raring to go. Experience is a big dead weight against him.

2) Teeth of the Dog - Joe Bravo, Michael Matz - The Bluegrass Cat colt has been a focal point of mine lately, mustering a strong third in the Wood Memorial (I) at long odds. His owner insisted upon a ship to the Preakness over the Peter Pan Stakes (II) last weekend, and trainer Matz is lukewarm about his chances. While I dislike Matz’s opinion of his odds, this puppy has some bite behind his bark with improving speed figures every race and he is an ace at routing. Breezes have been good at Fair Hill and he’s never been off the board in 4 starts.

3) Pretension - Javier Santiago, Chris Grove - The hometown horse, the Bluegrass Cat colt beat a small field to win the Canonero II Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Pimlico, but a field that included the talented My Adonis. It was his best race this year after some very jumbled finishes in the Gotham (III) and Illinois Derby (III). The track win is nice, but he’ll have some big class hurdles. Bodemeister will probably want to haggle with him setting the pace.

4) Zetterholm - Junior Alvarado, Rick Dutrow - Silver Train babies have been doing super lately (ahem, Silver Max!), and this colt is no exception since switching over to the Dutrow barn. Winner of 3 of 4 starts this year, he won the mile-long Patsyprospect Stakes easily enough and has been training to stretch out. I like Dutrow horses… in New York. I also like newcomers… but not in G1 classics.

5) Went the Day Well - John Velazquez, Graham Motion - The Proud Citizen colt won the Spiral (III) easily enough, and then suffered a bad trip in the Kentucky Derby (I) but still mustered enough in the stretch to finish a very promising 4th. Cool connections and a rapidly rising improving cycle put WTDW at the top of the list. Can he keep on improving and get a decent trip? Probably, but I like this horse at a farther distance…

6) Creative Cause - Joel Rosario, Mike Harrington - Trakus figures catapult the Giant’s Causeway colt to winning the Kentucky Derby last out, where he was a grinding 5th. He appears to have recovered well from that race, but will need proper positioning and a far superior trip to win. I’d also like him more if the blinkers went back on…

7) Bodemeister - Mike Smith, Bob Baffert - The superstar of the Kentucky Derby may have run 2nd, but he was 1st in many minds. The Empire Maker colt will likely try to contain his speed a bit once again, but seems fresh as ever at Pimlico where he should by all means have another decent shot at beating I’ll Have Another. You’d be foolish to leave him out of the mix with a :59 3/5 bullet, especially considering the best horses beaten in the Derby often spring back to win the Preakness!

8) Daddy Nose Best - Julien Leparoux, Steve Asmussen - The 10th place finisher in the Kentucky Derby and winner of the Sunland Derby (III) springs back for redemption, this time trading jocks for Union Rags rider Julien Leparoux. Slow, short-spurt works and word of mouth place DNB at the bottom of the pile; he’s just not ready to give his best and I would be shocked to see him finish up front should that trend continue through Saturday.

9) I’ll Have Another - Mario Gutierrez, Doug O’Neill - The Flower Alley colt will seek to extend his incredible win streak to 4. He was a strong and happy winner of the Kentucky Derby, but usually enjoys a long layoff between his races so this will be his first big test on such short notice. Pimlico has been kind to IHA’s residency while prepping for the race, so he’ll have everything tailored to fit. He’ll need to catch Bodemeister once again, and he’ll have to do it from that leering outer post that has troubled so many Preakness starters.

10) Optimizer - Corey Nakatani, D. Wayne Lukas - Trading jocks once again, the English Channel colt finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby and has really only fired impressively once this year in a close 2nd in the Rebel Stakes (II). Works have been decent enough, but this is a puzzling horse to say the least.

11) Cozzetti - Jose Lezcano, Dale Romans - The coquettish Cozzene colt has some of the best speed figs of the newcomers, and Dale Romans is confident that he will run a big one— Romans also suggested that before his slow rallying 4th in the Arkansas (I), but I will rest my case. A :58 4/5 bullet at Churchill makes this gray all the more appealing. The outside and class test (best start of the year was a 3rd in the paltry Tampa Bay) are his biggest foes.

Top Picks in Order:

1) Bodemeister

2) I’ll Have Another

3) Went the Day Well

4) Teeth of the Dog

Value Pick(s): Went the Day Well

Racing Beat: May 13

The Racing Beat is back after a Derby-influenced hiatus! And Winter Memories won her first start of the year!

Reason #12000 why I would make a good horse racing spokeslady: I’ve been around Spanish communities and people long enough to know how to pronounce the jockeys’ names properly and understand their broken, heavily-accented English. It’s not Mar-tin Garcia, it’s Mar-teen Garcia.

The Derby broadcast was not as delicious as I felt it could possibly be. Couple that with the obvious lack of expertise by NBC Sports (camera pans to talk about a specific contender and films El Padrino getting his tongue tied) and I feel slighted.

I keep hearing that people supposedly all supported Union Rags because they thought he was the next Barbaro. Nope, not for me anyways. I supported him on paper, sight unseen, because I have such tremendous faith in Matz as a trainer. He doesn’t have a super popular pedigree i.e. Bernardini, A.P. Indy, Giant’s Causeway, Empire Maker. He was bred in Pennsylvania on a small-scale farm. He’s big, magnificent, and always tries hard. Barbaro had nothing to do with it.

I am absolutely crushed that Pluck is not returning to racing, even more so they’re sending him to stand in Australia.

GO BODE GO!

One more month until the mighty Belmont Stakes and I could not be more excited about going. Possibly Union Rags and AlphaDullahan… I really wish Team Valor had saved Went the Day Well for this specific race, as well.

Tweet O’ the Week:

Stanley Gold is back at his stomping grounds at Calder doing what he does best: winning! Great job to a horse who had a rough spring, Fort Loudon!

Mark Valeski has a new fan: me! Rosie’s going to have her best year yet with Larry Jones’ horses.

Yummy With Butter has some competition as the best racehorse name ever: Hastings standout Spaghetti Mouse.

I’m in the process of reading as much as I can about the usage of furosemides (Lasix/Salix) in horse racing. As of right now, I am all for a gradual pull-out from race-day medications, but would like to learn as much as possible as I continue to form a personal opinion on the matter.

Organizing the Drafts folder

And it’s amazing what you can find buried beneath piles of in-progress works you’ve fallen behind on. So much can happen in a week or two that if you don’t finish an article within 1-2 days, it becomes irrelevant… or so they say!

One of my Derby Watch drafts from early March on developing Derby nominees that deserved attention:

Not bad… I see I included Went the Day Well and Teeth of the Dog as well as Heavy Breathing. I still think Cop A Tude is going to be a good one once he gets going, and Scatman just needs a little time off and the right race. Wharton, I don’t know where in the hell you went! Big Screen and Teeth of the Dog will race again on Saturday in the Peter Pan (II).

Not bad, not bad at all…

Figures for the Derby

I’m not a huge stats person, but when one really wants to critique a race they do come in handy. Following the Kentucky Derby (I), just looking at the final winning time just doesn’t cut it in a race that has been run for 138 years— especially when it was run in such an unconventional manner with a top field.

Trakus, Brisnet, and Beyer figures have been released, revealing a little more about the Derby horses’ performances while shedding some light on what we can expect from the ponies participating in the Preakness (I) and or Belmont (I):

  • Bodemeister lost by 1 1/2 length in the final jumps, but traveled 41 feet less than I’ll Have Another being so close to the rail.
  • Union Rags ran the fastest final 1/16 in 6.37 seconds, ultimately finishing 7th after rallying from 18th. Fourth-place finisher Went the Day Well was a close runner-up with 6.4 seconds
  • Creative Cause was beaten only 3 lengths back in fifth, but traveled enough feet more than the winner that he could have won by about a half length had he been closer down to the rail! (He traveled 29 feet further total than I’ll Have Another)
  • Brisnet figures rate I’ll Have Another’s win as the fastest (111) since War Emblem's wire-to-wire win in 2002 (113). Animal Kingdom sported a 105 last year.
  • Beyer figures rate I’ll Have Another’s win as the slowest (101) since Giacomo's in 2005 (100). Andrew Beyer was much impressed with Bodemeister's performance.
  • A nice jump in Beyer figures from the Spiral: Went the Day Well improved in the span of one troubled start from an 92 to a 98!
  • Brisnet rates I’ll Have Another’s win faster than Groupie Doll's in the Humana Distaff (I). Beyer figures crown Groupie Doll over the Derby winner.

I guess it all boils down to which figures you like using…

The Morning After

Some decisions and opinions can be hardened with a good night’s sleep… or for me, a good day’s sleep. The 138th Kentucky Derby was held yesterday after months of heavy anticipation, and now we get to do it all over again with the now-two-year-old crop. The biggest question I had on my mind following the race wasn’t one I was expecting to have: am I going to consider this race memorable a decade from now?

This year marked the 10th year since I started watching the Derby, which is a pretty big milestone for a fan of any sport. It was also probably my most anticipated year yet, with so many favorites and excellent horses joining in the field. Yet, for some reason, I felt somewhat subdued watching Bodemeister set insane fractions and almost win, only to be stopped at the wire by I’ll Have Another. It was by all means a good race, but I wonder if it was good for the right reasons.

I think everyone expected Bodemeister to go to the lead, but not like that. He rocketed out of the gate out of the reach of speed horse Trinniberg, leading at every point of call until he was several lengths in front coming down that long stretch at Churchill. Oh shit, I had whispered, my hand covering my partially-agape mouth. No way… is there a way he can last? Can they catch Bode? The fractions were lightning, and while horses were reaching out to him late, only Dullahan seemed to be making quick work of making up ground.

The Derby this year reminds me an awful lot of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic: same track, same distance, and the best horse probably finished second. I wouldn’t be surprised that if Bodemeister goes, he will be the favorite to win the Preakness. Hell, I’ll Have Another beat out Creative Cause fair and square in the Santa Anita Derby (I), but that horse was still somehow ranked above him in most circles leading up to the Run for the Roses. I’ll Have Another is by no means a bad horse or an undeserving winner, but this is another year we have an oddball race that alludes to something deeper than a simple 1-2-3 finish. I’ll Have Another was first, but Bodemeister’s was a close second as a horse who is practically still a baby at the races while Dullahan came roaring from behind. Fourth place Went the Day Well had suffered a bad break plus being checked— and I do believe he is going to get better and better. Perhaps the best horse in the field Union Rags had a horrendous, pinched beginning while perfectly-positioned Hansen was probably inappropriately strangled back.

Now that everyone will be watching I’ll Have Another, they’re not going to let him get by so easily if they can help it in the Preakness. Should the Derby winner rebound back into his usual form, he should be able to grab the distance very well with his just-off-the-pace style, but, he is used to having a long layoff between races. The hot topic horse for the Preakness, much like in the 2010 and 2005 Derbies (Lookin at Lucky, Afleet Alex), is going to be a horse that did not win the first leg. Should Bode recover well and make the race, I have him tabbed for the Preakness while Went the Day Well or Union Rags can get the Belmont.

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Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.


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