- Another flawless work by Afleet Alex today, 4f in :48 1/5 with a final eighth in :11 3/5. Left for dead just a few weeks ago after his Rebel fiasco, he’s starting to look like the solid second choice, if just for all the human interest stories involved. (Does anyone think there’s a chance he could be the favorite?) Jessica at Railbird has a nice collection of links to some of them, thankfully, since I’m not all that into that schmaltzy stuff, and my selection of Smarty Jones last year was based purely on my handicapping skills, as was my throwout of Lion Heart that prevented me from making any money. I do, however, want to highlight today’s Times piece on Alex’s breeder, who credits his long outliving the doctors’ prognoses of his cancer to his excitement about the colt. He’s making the trip from his home in Florida for the race despite the fact that he does not own a stake in Afleet Alex and has not shared in his earnings.
What he has received, however, is priceless: enduring memories, new friendships and an antidote for colon and liver cancer that cannot be found in any medical texts. [NY Times]There’s another article about him in the Louisville Courier-Journal; it’s a pretty amazing story. OK, so maybe I do like the schmaltzy stuff. The Head Chef almost rejected me when we first met because I sobbed uncontrollably at the end of Titanic ….come to think of it, I think it was during the trailer for it.
- Andy Beyer goes over all the Derby rules, particularly the 3-prep rule, pointing out that Horses who have tried to win the Derby with fewer prep races have lost in 55 of 56 tries since 1949.
Among the horses who went into the Derby with only two prep races were Victory Gallop (1998), Lemon Drop Kid (1999), Point Given (2001) and Birdstone (2004). All of them lost in Kentucky, but all came back to win another race in the Triple Crown series. [Daily Racing Form]Of course, Bellamy Road has only raced twice this year. Ed McNamara on ESPN piles on the reasons to bet against the favorite:
Bellamy Road has never been in a fight, and the Derby usually is a roughly run rodeo. Being battle-tested can mean a lot more than having the top Beyer Speed Figure. What happens if Bellamy Road breaks slowly, gets sandwiched leaving the gate or is bottled up and banged around in the inevitable traffic jam entering the first turn? His reaction might be: "Hey, nobody warned me about this rough stuff. This is no fun, and I don't want to play anymore." [ESPN.com]Well, the risk of being left at the gate is one that all 20 face, and how many horses can overcome that; what if Spanish Chestnut gets squeezed at the start? However, Bellamy Road may indeed have to rate, and that would be an experiment for him, at least in 2005.
Mike Welsch of the Form on the likely favorite's appearance this morning:
..Early birds did get treated to another outstanding performance from likely Derby favorite Bellamy Road , who maintained his customary 6:30 a.m. training schedule. Bowing his neck majestically, Bellamy Road galloped along at a slow, strong, comfortable pace while occasionally tossing his head in a futile effort to break exercise rider Carlos Correa's hold. [DRF]He also reports that Afleet Alex galloped out another furlong around the turn in an outstanding 12.86, the first sub-13 gallop posted by a Derby runner here this week.
- NBC will stay in the racing business with a new contract to carry the Derby and Preakness through 2010; Bob Costas fans rejoice. There were stories this morning about the Preakness possibly moving to ESPN.
- I think Martin Wygod should be happy that the CHRB botched their investigation and declined to even reprimand him for all his happy talk leading up to the SA Derby. Now, instead, he’s babbling about a “conspiracy to get me.” [Thoroughbred Times] He’s still threatening to leave the business; I think he should be shown the door; perhaps he can hook up with Mike Gill on a new business venture.