RSS Feed for this Blog

Monday, April 11, 2005

Top Ten

- Here’s the Left at the Gate Top Ten of who I think will be making the headlines on and around the first Saturday in May:

1) Bellamy Road – Continuing his progression this spring, the Derby favorite wins by 21 lengths even though as he’s cruising down the stretch, jockey Javier Castellano this time does a hand stand, dismounts, and performs a brief medley from Man of La Mancha before finishing the race.

2) Consolidator – It’s hard to believe that Wayne Lukas is doing a Julio Canani impersonation in trying to rationalize Going Wild’s 41 length defeat in the Wood as just one of those things, and continuing on to the Derby. The SA Derby did not flatter Lukas’ better half either, but Consolidator's win in the San Felipe still stands to me as the second most impressive prep thus far.

3) Sweet Catomine – After insisting for weeks that she would not run for the Roses, Marty Wygod shows up in Louisville anyway, saying that the filly is doing just fantastic, bemoaning the fact that 19 colts had the nerve to show up to face her, and dismissing reports that the filly was seen being wheeled into the barn area on a gurney, attached to a feeding tube, and accompanied at all times by a priest.

4) High Limit – Drops a couple of notches with Vicarage’s poor showing in the Florida Derby; but he’s the only one with the untapped potential to outfreak the freaky top choice.

5) Greater Good – Still don’t know if he’s fast enough to compete here, but merits this ranking based on his consistency and closing style in a field packed with speed and pressers.

6) Senate Republicans – With the Senate shut down by the Democrats because the Republicans voted to change the rules on filibusters of judicial nominations, thus allowing a president elected with 52% of the vote to have a rubber stamp in appointing judges to lifetime terms, the GOP turns out at Churchill in force. But when they learn that the stewards have now ordered Sweet Catomine out of the race, they convene in the second floor clubhouse bathroom to pass emergency legislation to have a federal judge order her reinserted. In addition, they declare that the president can stay in office for “as long as he feels like it,” and release a cloud of white smoke after overruling the Vatican cardinals and anointing Rudy Giuliani as pope.

7) Noble Causeway – I hate the five weeks between races, but I gotta put another Zito horse on here, and I’m withholding judgment on Sun King until he runs on Saturday – Medigating, who drew alongside Sun King in Tampa, didn’t get anywhere near Greeley’s Galaxy in Illinois - and I still ain’t buying High Fly. If not for the layoff, I’d express much more confidence that he could build on his Florida Derby and be a real factor here.

8) Bandini – Been away for awhile, but I prefer him running this weekend over the original plan to run in the Florida Derby and wait 5 weeks.

9) The American Family Council and other conservative groups protest NBC’s telecast of the Derby, saying that televised horse racing features too many shots of men hugging each other after races. They also cite the presence of two Derby horses with the word “High” in their name, and claim that Nick Zito’s high voice makes him too suggestive of homosexuality. They’re relieved, however, by the scratch of Sweet Catomine, saying that her name is an endorsement of sex with felines.

10) Wild Desert – I have to have one longshot closer on the list, and since Don’t Get Mad crapped out on me in the SA Derby, this one gets the nod off of his impressive rally in the Lane’s End.

- Doing some damage control, Wygod transfers Sweet Catomine and several others from Canani to John Sheriffs.

- More on Rockport Harbor’s workout yesterday, one which convinced John Servis to hold him out of the Arkansas Derby Saturday:

Servis said he wanted Rockport Harbor to break off about 200 yards behind Pilfer [a 4yo stakes winning filly], and instructed Rose "to get her working" and act as a stalking target when the colt was within 70 yards.

But the plan went haywire when Pilfer had to hesitate while going around another horse on the first turn. Rockport Harbor zoomed past both on the inside with an: 11.99 opening eighth of a mile, according to clockers.

Rockport Harbor subsequently covered a quarter-mile in: 23.56, three-quarters of a mile in: 34.99, a half-mile in: 46.89 and five-eighths of a mile in: 59.52. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]
His final quarter went in 26.02. "He got a little tired," [Stewart] Elliott said. "With everything’s that happened to him, it was expected that he would get a little tired and he did."

- B Wayne Hughes may have had no hesitation in ponying up $200K to race Greeley’s Galaxy in the Derby, but the trainers who ran 1-2 in the SA Derby were watching as Bellamy Road made a joke out of the Wood.
"Our horse won today, but he's really going to have to step up if he is going to have a chance at the Derby," said [Jeff] Mullins, who nevertheless intends to take Buzzards Bay, a 30-1 winner on Saturday, to Churchill Downs.

[Roger] Stein, whose General John B. [who finished 2nd] was sent off at 64-1, said, "What I saw today from Bellamy Road - that might keep me home." [NY Times]