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Monday, February 06, 2006

No News Is Good News

- It’s always with a certain sense of dread that I click onto one of the racing news sites; there’s always the fear that they’ll be a headline like the one today about the injury that will keep Stevie Wonderboy out of the Derby. There’s rarely any good news, really. It’s all too often concerning injuries to horses and humans, retirements, scandal. Handle is down. Barn fire in Kansas. Top trainer at Tampa suspended for milkshakes. The Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands. Whatsmore, the bad news often gets worse. The initial reports on Stevie Wonderboy indicate, as Merv Griffin said, that the horse can "be back in training in 90 days, and we'll go for the Classic.....It's a hairline fracture. They'll put in a screw, they'll take it out, and he'll be back." [Daily Racing Form] But if you delve further into the article, you see that trainer Doug O’Neill talks about further tests to determine if any other damage has occurred. You never know; we’re still waiting for Rockport Harbor and Declan’s Moon to return!

Even the good news - Horses Entered [at Laurel], But Trainers Holding Their Breath – is tempered by the fear of what could go wrong. Or, it’s merely correcting something that’s horribly wrong, like the news of racetracks increasing their accident insurance for jockeys. It’s not like we’ll ever see anything like: Afleet Alex and Smarty Jones To Return; Plan Nationwide Series of Match Races. Heck, I’d settle for modest stuff like: Bellamy Road to Return Sooner Than Expected. Derby Winner Giacomo Returns in a Romp. New York State To Frank Stronach: Take a Hike. 23,512 At Aqueduct To See Achilles of Troy Waltz in Whirlaway. (OK, now I’m getting carried away again.)

Stevie’s defection makes a wide open Derby picture even more so. Yes, he may not have won around two turns, but at least he’s tried it; and run creditably at that. Compared to the other top choices in the futures pool, he was far more of a known quantity. First Samurai (7-1) hasn’t been around two turns; third choice Private Vow (14-1) has had a total of two workouts thus far; and then you have Bluegrass Cat (15-1) (no start yet), Brother Derek (16-1) (questionable pedigree), Barbican (18-1) (no stakes nor two turn races), Point Determined (18-1) (one win), and Barbaro (19-1) (and who the hell really knows if he can replicate his turf form on a fast track). Besides legitimate contenders like Cause to Believe and Keyed Entry who were held at much higher odds, you have well-bred horses like Music School and Jolted and Jostled yet to be tested for class, as well as all those others who haven’t even raced this year like Half Ours, Strong Contender, and Sorcerer’s Stone (back on the track with his first workout, a bullet three furlongs (out of six) in :35.80 on Friday. And though it may go against history for such lightly raced colts to win the Derby, don’t you get the feeling that almost anyone can jump to the front of the class with a dominating prep win?

- Achilles of Troy’s owner Ernie Paragello is touting another three-year old in his barn - Scanlon’s Song (Partner’s Hero), a debut winner at a mile and a sixteenth at the Big A at 29-1 (87 Beyer). "He's as good as any 3-year-old that's run.” [Daily Racing Form] He's a possibility to run with his stablemate in the Whirlaway on Saturday.

- Seems as if Bloodhorse is the only one of the major online trades to have fully bought into the new name for the Derby. Keyed Entry defeated First Samurai by 1 1/4 lengths when it appeared that the latter, a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I)....[Bloodhorse] . I wonder if they’ll change Haskin’s column to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands Trail. Or the Yum Trail for short.

- Keyed Entry got a 110 Beyer for his Hutchinson win. Todd Pletcher, noting how fast the race was, mentioned the March 18 Rebel at Oaklawn as a possible alternate for the March 4 Fountain of Youth if he feels the colt needs more time.

- Monday works: Hesanoldsalt, my favorite of Zito's prospects, got a half in :48.20 (9/45); Bluegrass Cat, five furlongs in 1:02.80 (47/60) after working a minute flat in his prior work; and Michael Gill's Travelin' Leroy, who he touts as the best horse he’s ever owned [Arkansas Democrat Gazette], worked five in 1:00.80 (4/64) at Oaklawn, preparing for his three-year old debut in the Southwest Stakes.


Anonymous said...

...i was just over @ the Santa Anita website, and i damn near fell off my chair...apparently, the Los Angeles Turf Club is offering a $5000 entry-fee handicapping contest (limited to 100 entrants) that pays $25,000 for first place, and $5000 for second, you have to beat 99 people in order to receive 4/1 odds???...and if you beat 98 people, you simply get your money back???...are you kidding me???'ll be interesting to see how many suckers, errr, contestants they draw...incidentally, they're forcing you to bet 14 over two days, at Santa Anita only...and we all know that good handicappers have plays on 80% of the card, right?...good grief...

Anonymous said...

...just for the sake of argument, let's say they meet their goal of 100 $5000 a pop, that's a cool $500,000...and out of that HALF-MILLION, they're only paying out THIRTY GRAND???...LOL!!!...sounds like a pretty sweet deal for the Los Angeles Turf Club (which i guess was the whole idea to begin with)...

Alan Mann said...

Walter man, I gotta tell you, I went to check out the Santa Anita website figuring that you just had to have misread this. But no!! They gotta be kidding!!! That's like a 94% takeout, lol!!!