- Bill Christine of the LA Times is not concerned about the presence of a rabbit in the Derby.
The addition of Spanish Chestnut helps more than hurts George Steinbrenner's colt. Bellamy Road can sit off that rabbit until he folds and [he] should have enough to last through the long stretch.And Newsday's Paul Moran is undaunted as well:
There is one important advantage that Bellamy Road takes into the Derby. He is much faster than the opposition. He also happens to be bigger, stronger, has an awesome, long stride and has shown no evidence of flaw.
His record-shattering Wood Memorial was the most impressive Derby prep in many years, and the 17 1/2-length margin could have been bigger. Jockey Javier Castellano began celebrating about a furlong before the wire, and Bellamy Road was running faster on the clubhouse turn while galloping out than he was on his first tour of the course.
After running 9 furlongs in 1:47, Bellamy Road wasn't even winded. In a field of 20, he may be 5-2 in the win pool. Take it; you may never see a price so generous again. [Newsday]
Zito says of Spanish Chestnut's connections: "I can't tell them what to do with their property," he said. [NY Times] He's hoping that after the race, he's not instead saying this.
- There's been a lot of press about Afleet Alex's ownership group - this piece on delawareonline.com (via Albany Law School) is a good summary of this crew. One thing that distinguishes them from the Sackatoga group that owned Funny Cide is that the latter were together for eight years before they found their big horse, while this group, unbelievably, found it on their first purchase; and they know they're blessed.
"To be honest, this has happened too easy for us," said Chuck Zacney, the managing partner of the group known as Cash is King Stable, which should change its name to Luck is King before this experience grows any more embarrassingly wonderful.One thing that may come back to haunt them, however, is their decision to keep Jeremy Rose on for the ride, when there were more experienced choices available. These quotes by trainer Tim Ritchey give you an idea of their reasoning.
"This is the first horse we get," Zacney said. "Within months, we're in the Breeders' Cup. Within a year, we'll be at the Derby. It's not supposed to happen this easily. We know how lucky we are." [Delawareonline.com]
"This is a horse who's not trained by a Todd Pletcher, a Wayne Lukas or a Bob Baffert, and he's not being ridden by a John Velazquez or an Edgar Prado, so he's an underdog, and we like it that way."In other words, there is no reasoning, really, other than the sense that they're the underdogs, the little guys doing things their own way, and, as reader GH down in Philly has been telling me, because he's "one of the gang." It's a great story line - if it works. You know that if Rose makes one little false move that critics can point to costing him the race, they're going to take a lot of heat, and spend a lot of time second-guessing their decision.
"It's fate that Jeremy is riding this horse - And I don't want to be tempting fate." [LA Times]
- Zito also had Noble Causeway and High Fly work yesterday, and they were both visually impressive as well - though not in the same way Bellamy Road was with his effortlessness and his sheer physical dimension. Both worked in company and looked like race horses in disposing of their workmates in the stretch. High Fly had some extra company in an unidentified horse on the outside, and actually made a move between horses. Zito explains in the New York Post:
It was a godsend, I guess, because High Fly was finished with Last Samurai [his workmate] and took off again. He worked exceptionally well with Last Samurai. Then before his workout was done, this new player came in, so High Fly worked a really good last eighth of a mile.When High Fly won the Florida Derby, seemingly ages ago, many considered him the favorite. Since then, Bellamy Road, Bandini, and Afleet Alex have made him a bit of a forgotten horse. I've wriiten before that I'm not crazy about him, due to the fact he's never run outside of Florida, his weak come-home time in that race, and ideal racing conditions for his last two wins. However, now we're looking at a horse who will likely be no better than 4th choice and will be a square price.
That's why with the Derby, there's a lot of luck involved. If High Fly becomes lucky and blessed and victorious - he's obviously a worthy horse - you might credit a little thing like that. How did that other horse show up in the middle of nowhere? [NY Post]
I prefer Noble Causeway, who chased High Fly home at Gulfstream, in what was his first stakes race, and did so after being 5 wide on the second turn. Like Bandini, he's shown steady improvement - he's had 6 races and has improved his Beyer each time. He's a mid-pack closer who should be well behind whatever is going on up front, which should include High Fly being at least somewhere close. He showed athleticism and quick acceleration in his allowance prep for the Florida Derby, and confirmed that in his stakes debut, and in yesterday's workout. His sire, Giant's Causeway (Storm Cat) was the champion 3 yo in Europe, and missed by a neck to Tiznow after a stirring stretch duel in his first dirt race, the BC Classic. You can watch the stretch run of that race here (note that Fusaichi Pegasus was "toiling," according to Tom Durkin.) You can also watch one of his European wins, complete with that goofy music again. He's made more of a mark as a stallion thus far in Europe, where he was the champion freshman sire last year. He has Rahy as his broodmare sire, which brings the fantastic champion racemare Glorious Song into this pedigree.
Noble Causeway is out of a Seeking the Gold mare, and his second dam is multiple G1 winner (Alabama, Ashland, Gazelle) Classy Cathy, and she's a half to near-millionaire Sports View and other stakes winners.
With the time passed since the Florida Derby, one wonders how much higher in the odds he'll be than High Fly - and that five week layoff is what I dislike the most about him. In any event, I think he's a live, improving horse who should be a nice price to include on my tickets.