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Monday, April 04, 2005

Tough Jobs

- Writing a handicapping column at the Form can be a tough job. Besides the fact that they need to submit their articles days in advance, without being able to factor in things like weather, late scratches, or tote board action, it seems as if the headlines linger for days on the website, leaving their bad selections prominently displayed for all to see. A visit there today shows Byron King touting Vicarage in the Florida Derby, and Mike Watchmaker telling us that Wallstreet [Scandal] will come get them, and I imagine these will remain until next weekend, while the horses ran 6th and last respectively. In fact, King’s pick of Real Dandy in the Louisiana Derby (he may still be finishing), was up there for a couple of weeks, at least. I guess these guys need to be careful when they go on vacation! It’s bad enough making a public pick that doesn't work out, but mine at least get quickly buried beneath new posts!

- Rockport Harbor is now "maybe 50-50” for the Arkansas Derby, according to his embattled trainer John Servis, seemingly earning the retribution of the racing gods for his easy path to his first Derby win last year. I’d say that would seem about appropriate for the Derby in Kentucky at this point too…if even perhaps a bit optimistic. I think it’s time for them to forget about this, give the colt all the time he needs, and come back later in the year, don’t you?

Sunday marked the eighth day of training Rockport Harbor has missed since late February.
Servis said the blood clot is being combated with aspirin, penicillin, antibiotics and medication to prevent stomach ulcers.

A hot pack is being applied three times daily, then a poultice is put on the neck to help thin the blood, Servis said.

Servis said the lump on the outside of the colt’s neck, roughly the size of a baseball when first noticed, had shrunk to about half the size of a golf ball Sunday afternoon. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]
Yuck. Give this guy a break already. Even the Kentucky Derby isn't that important! (ha ha.)

- Afleet Alex, on the comeback trail for the Arkansas Derby, breezed a mile in 1:40.88. [ADG] What to do with him from a handicapping standpoint for the race will be quite the agonizing decision. It may be hard for a lot of bettors to let him go at the relatively generous odds he figures to be.

- Nick Zito hasn’t given up on Andromeda’s Hero; he’s headed for the Arkansas Derby. Zito has also dug into the history books to defend his decision to train High Fly and Noble Causeway up to the Derby.
"We've done some good things with layoffs….Stephen Got Even won the Donn [Handicap in 2000] off a 41/2-month layoff. Birdstone was off three months and won the Travers [last year].

"I know the Derby is a completely different race and everyone says you can't count it, but times have changed. In other words ... the environment, the tracks, the breeding. So it could happen." [Sun-Sentinal]
I’ve also seen him bring up the fact that his Strike the Gold became the first horse to win the Derby with a dosage over 4.0, an event that really upset my world at the time (his DI was around 9.0 at the time, but has since been revised to 2.6). Always quick to embrace any supposed “system” that definitively eliminates contenders, I would emphatically tell anyone who'd listen that I'd never bet such a horse in the Derby. It was still a full 7 years after that that I first bet a horse (Real Quiet) over 4.0 to finish first in the Derby, and I actually would have made a small fortune that year if I hadn’t left Victory Gallop out of all the exotics, as I had the 3-4-5 finishers Indian Charlie, Halory Hunter, and Cape Town in the exactas and triples….another tale of Derby handicapping woes past..