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Monday, April 25, 2005

Bellamy Road as Lone Derby Speed?

- Steve Haskin of the Bloodhorse has arrived at Louisville, and if the past is any indication, for the next two weeks, we’ll be hearing from him and other correspondents about how virtually every entrant looks great, has filled out, is dappled out, worked great, pulled up strongly, etc., At least that’s my experience – when I read these pre-Derby reports, it often makes me want to bet every horse in the race. Just today Haskin comments that Bellamy Road is just an intimidating presence, Bandini is an amazing-looking horse, and that High Limit looked so good, that he will have to take a closer look at him and not hold his historical obstacles against him as much as I have been. I’ve learned to more or less ignore these reports, unless one says that a particular horse has lost a leg and came out of a workout huffing and puffing like Dick Cheney after cursing someone out on the Senate floor.

We’ve been reading a lot about all the supposed speed in the Derby, and how Bellamy Road will be so severely tested on the front end that it will be a closer that picks up the pieces as he and the others falter. First of all, we really don’t even know if he needs to be on the lead; he won his debut from off the pace. Haskin notes here that he has good sense and knows how to use that energy, which makes him all the more dangerous. I don’t know how he knows the horse has good sense; hopefully he had enough to avoid attending that little hatefest in Louisville Sunday evening. But I look at the list of the prospective entrants, and Railbird has a very helpful list of them today, and I think I’ll have some fun and throw out the theory that he could be lone speed.

In the Blue Grass, we already debunked the theory that Consolidator and Sun King would be challengers on the lead; it’s really just not either of their styles, and both are coming off poor efforts anyway. High Fly? He has fine tactical speed, but doesn’t run on the lead either. Ditto Bandini. Coin Silver is an allowance horse who caught an off track. Going Wild? Ha, we’ve seen how well he fared against Bellamy Road. Who else? General John B, whose owner was quoted as saying he'd be happy to split the field? High Limit is the most obvious candidate, but let’s take a closer look. He has two 2 turn races this year; in the La Derby, he went :47 1/5 to the half, setting a pace on a speed favoring track that everyone said was slow. Then, after hearing how he was going to relax behind the pace in the Blue Grass, he did just that when confronted with with the speed of Spanish Chestnut. Having done so with reasonable, though obviously not overwhelming success, does Frankel really want to see High Limit involved in a suicidal dual with the race favorite if the latter wants that lead?

In fact, does anyone want to see their horse do that, unless we see a genuine rabbit entered (and Spanish Chestnut, the last I’ve heard, is out)? Especially since, other than High Limit, maybe, where exactly is the committed speed? So, I would like to propose the scenario that Bellamy Road goes to the lead and has it to himself. I’m not saying he’s going to canter around the track ahead by 5 lengths going a :49 half; he’s going to be tracked closely as he was in the Wood, and by better horses than Going Wild. He may very well have to deal with mid-race challenges and with others gearing up on the final turn, so I think there’s a good chance we’ll see what he does when challenged. Will he laugh and skip away, or succumb as he did to Consolidator at Keeneland last fall, when he supposedly was injured (and aren’t we allowed to throw out any race at Keeneland that we don’t like anyway)? We’ll find out, but I personally just don’t see where he’s going to be facing some kind of all-out battle for the early lead, (and that’s if he even needs to be on the lead!).

- Survivalist is out. Works: 7 furlong works for Giacomo and Wilko in 1:23 4/5 and 1:26 4/5 respecitvely; Buzzards Bay went 6 in 1:12 at Santa Anita.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been grappling with the same question of who will actually run with Bellamy. I love Afleet Alex in the race, but unless someone softens up Bellamy, the rest may be moot. I'll offer up my hunch here: Consolidator will be the one to go with him. Listening to Lukas talk this past Saturday about how he likes horses that can dictate matters is part of my thinking. Watching how bad Consolidator flopped off the pace in the Blue Grass also suggests a change in tactics. Of course, if he does run with Bellamy, Consolidator will be destroyed in the process, but i can envision D. Wayne being willing to take the shot anyway. If nothing else, it might give the rest of the field a shot.