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Monday, April 18, 2005

Notes - April 18

- Keeneland has a select 2 year old sale Tuesday; it’s the last select sale of 2 year olds this year. Less than 200 horses will sell, after 67 withdrew.

The second and final under tack show attracted a large crowd, including representatives of Coolmore Stud and Sheikh Mohammed. Also on hand were New Jersey bloodstock agent Buzz Chace and California buyer B. Wayne Hughes.

"With the crowd of people here and the weather and the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) over the weekend – if this doesn't fire you up to buy horses, what does?" said Keeneland auctioneer Ryan Mahan. [Bloodhorse]
More on the sale at the Form here.

- Diboll Dilly took the Instant Racing BC at Oaklawn Saturday in only her third start, and first against winners. She’s by Theatrical (Nureyev) out of a mare by 1985 Preakness winner Tank’s Prospect. At Santa Anita, Chinese Dragon, an impressive 3 year old turf specialist that is bred along similar lines to Diboll Dilly, took the La Puente Stakes. It’s his 4th win in a row, 3 since coming to the U.S. from Ireland for trainer Robert Hess; he also won the Pasadena Stakes on 3/19. He closed for the win off a slow pace in a 5 horse field, getting the final 8th in 11.72.

Like Diboll Dilly, Chinese Dragon is by a son of Nureyev, in this case Stravinsky; and whereas Tank’s Prospect is a grandson of Raise a Native, Chinese Dragon's broodmare sire is his son Alydar, who did not quite win the Preakness. He did, however, take the Blue Grass in 1:49 3/5 beating horses named Raymond Earl and Go Forth.

Looking back here at Blue Grass results of the past, I don’t see a Derby winner since Strike the Gold in 1991, and you have to go back to Spectacular Bid in 1979 for the one before that. You don’t even see horses that finished in the money that won the Derby - you have to go back to Unbridled in 1990, and then Alysheba in 1987. It just doesn't seem like it's been a productive prep. Zito’s Strike the Gold won the race in 1:48 2/5, definitely in the upper range of fastest Blue Grass times over the years. Spectacular Bid’s time of 1:50 is roughly the same as Bandini.

Haskin in Bloodhorse says to forget about Bandini’s margin of victory because of the way the race simply fell apart (guess he’s been reading my blog).
What all this does mean is that the Blue Grass, as it often is, was a quirky race run over a quirky track.... Forget the margin, forget the fractions and final time of 1:50, and forget the performances of those behind him. That quirkiness is one of the reasons why no Blue Grass winner has won the Derby since 1991. Bandini could very well break that streak, but only because he showed he has fully recovered from a foot bruise and is now a more focused and professional horse. Not because he won this race by 6 lengths. [Bloodhorse]