- Brother Derek (Benchmark) certainly looks like the likely winner of the Santa Anita Derby; he’s undefeated around two turns, has earned three consecutive triple digit Beyers, and the “private” clocker report that was apparently leaked to the press said he was “sensational.” There’s little negative to be said about him. But at 3-5 morning line against some quality horses, let’s try. We can start (and end) with the fact that you could, I suppose, question what he’s beaten. Not that they’re bad horses at all, but a cynic could point out that Stevie Wonderboy has never won around two turns, and that AP Warrior and Bob and John have improved since losing to Brother Derek, and that Your Tent Or Mine lacked much experience at all.
Well, perhaps that’s a stretch. But we can try to beat him anyway; as I said, this is a pretty decent field, it’s his first try at the distance, and he doesn’t have to prove himself nor win to be purse-money eligible.
I’m going to go with Point Determined (Point Given). I loved A.P. Warrior’s race in the San Felipe, and his 101 Beyer is just a point less than what Brother Derek got in the Santa Catalina. He has a flashy pedigree, by AP Indy, and he descends directly from the dam of Storm Bird. Trainer John Shirreffs says that he “seems to have a real large lung capacity,” [Dallas-Ft Worth Star Telegram], though I doubt he can expel as much as hot air as what’s coming out of the White House. (Don’t worry Brad…much more where that came from) However, that was a huge step forward he made in what was his first race in six weeks – and watching the replay, he was a full four wide the entire far turn. It had to be a really tough race, and despite his sharp works since, perhaps he’ll regress just a bit.
Sacred Light (Holy Bull) closes consistently, but has never been first under the wire (his one win was by DQ). No doubt he’s a factor in the exotics, but I’ll wait until he’s 50-1 in the Derby to take a stab.
Point Determined, like Bob and John, is being brought along slowly but steadily by Bob Baffert, and definitely seems to be on the improve. "Victor (Espinoza) worked him the last couple times…..He didn't really like him much earlier in the year, but now I think he's really sorry that Balance is racing on the same day." [SGV Tribune] Well, we’ll see about that; but Point Determined improved to a 100 Beyer in his second place finish to AP Warrior in the San Felipe. He had a kinder trip than the winner, and mounted his rally after having what Baffert termed a “stop and go” trip through the stretch. I think he may be more likely to move forward here, and is taken to upset, as they say.
- Lawyers for the accused in the New Jersey harness scandal went on the offense, pointing out there is no evidence directly linking the medication found by state police to any horses.
"There is no evidence [vet] Dr. Witmer did anything to affect a race," said Donald Lomurro. "You had Aranesp in the refrigerator of a veterinarian who can possess it legally and dispense it."Oh, really now! Why would a horse vet, or any racing licensee possess the kind of quantities of a drug for anemia as were apparently discovered? ..The police testified that they found the drugs "all over the house" and in a garage refrigerator.
"There is no evidence that any outcome of any race was affected," [Seldon Ledford attorney Timothy Donohue] said. "I could have any of these things in my house and it would not be a violation of the racing regulations even if I was a licensee." [Newsday]
[State Police Detective Sgt. Brice] Cote said the searches netted substantial quantities of Aranesp. Troopers also seized various injectable foreign substances that were not labeled or identified, hypodermic needles, and syringes from the stable. [Asbury Park Press]Unfortunately, common sense is often not admissible in legal proceedings; though I imagine the threshold of necessary proof for a state racing board is less than that of a court; and Eric Ledford faces a possible indefinite ban. Bill Finley of ESPN.com points out that much more has to be done if the racing industry is serious about stopping illegal medication.
"The average drugging testing lab in America cost about $2 million, with equipment," said thoroughbred trainer Michael Dickinson, an anti-drug crusader. "There is one at UCLA that cost $4 million. Labs in England, Hong Kong and Australia cost $20 million. We have to do a lot more with research. We hardly do any research at all in this country. And we need more qualified people working on the designer drugs."
Dickinson also says it is imperative that racing begins to freeze urine samples, which would allow chemists to go back and take a second look, using updated methods, at tests involving suspicious trainers.
The question is whether or not the sport has the appetite to do the right thing, which would involve a costly and difficult fight that could inevitably bring down some of the biggest names in the sport. I'm not sure that it does. Please prove me wrong. [ESPN.com]