RSS Feed for this Blog

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Initial Impressions

- The Blue Grass was a bit of a disappointment, and not just because I liked High Limit. The race kind of just fell apart, with inexplicably poor performances by Consolidator and Sun King, as Bandini loped home in a :13.40 final eighth. Before the race, the ESPN microphones picked up Zito telling Edgar Prado to “make a left turn” and to “save some ground and see what happens.” In a post-race interview with Hank Goldberg, Zito was clearly frustrated that Sun King “never saved any ground at all”, and exclaimed in dismay “look, he’s 7, 8 wide” as he watched a replay of them turning for home.

The track was not fast and I’m sure they’ll be much debate about the time of the race, and the slow closing fractions. The last 3/8’s went in 39.60 seconds. By contrast, in the Arkansas Derby, Afleet Alex charged home in :11.74 and the last 3 furlongs in 36.02, wow! There were no other 9 furlong races to compare the race to, but I looked back at the other races and the track didn’t seem particularly fast. You could see the contrast between the two winners when ESPN showed them back to back with Randy Moss pointing out how Afleet Alex was striding out while Bandini was merely galloping. I guess Afleet Alex must have had something like a lung infection last time.

I think right now that Alex emerges as the main challenger to Bellamy Road, followed by Bandini, High Fly, Noble Causeway (and Bandini's win certainly raises the stock of the other two), and hmmm, who else? Wilko? Blues and Royals? Buzzards Bay? If today’s performances are to be believed, 3 of the horses being counted on to be major contenders - Greater Good, Consolidator, and Sun King - can no longer really be considered so. High Limit? It was only his 4th race, he sat behind a leader for the first time in a fairly comfortable pace, and was second best. Let’s see what excuses Frankel comes up with, but I’m willing to listen, and he's certainly eligible to bounce back and improve in 3 weeks regardless.

Rockport Harbor will try and make his case in the Lexington next weekend. Sweet Catomine is out; the Santa Anita contingent has been mostly discredited, the New York colony was devastated in the Wood, and none of the borderline entrants today, such as Andromeda's Hero and Wild Desert, made a big statement (nor earned enough money). Pletcher indicated that Flower Alley would go on after his 2nd to Afleet Alex, but why bother, really? Suddenly, the Derby doesn't appear to be quite as deep and wide open as we thought it would be a few weeks ago.

- Please feel free to email me with links, comments, or questions.