- Todd Pletcher will not be the decider as to whether Keyed Entry and Bluegrass Cat will run in the Derby until the Monday before the race, thus keeping other trainers who are hoping to sneak into the top 20 waiting until then. Thus, though he will not run Sunriver (#24) in Saturday’s Lexington, he may have a chance to control that colt’s fate himself if a couple others drop out. I’m starting to like Sunriver’s chances to hit the board more and more even as he doesn't run, and despite what will be a five week layoff.
A lot of people trying to get in will be rooting for Like Now (#20) in the Lexington, as he’s the only entrant who is already is assured a spot. With first prize money of over $200,000, anyone could leapfrog into the big race. David Hofmans would like to run Sacred Light in the Derby, but won’t run his closer in the Lexington for obvious reasons.
"Because of the horse's running style, even though he needs the money, it just didn't seem like the right thing to do, especially after watching First Samurai and Bluegrass Cat and Balance there." [Daily Racing Form]As for Like Now, don’t expect the already sizzling pace scenario to dissuade his connections to run him in the Derby if he does well on Saturday. Kiaran McLaughlin said "If he were to win the race like Sinister Minister [won the Blue Grass], the heck with being smart and thinking it's too much pace." [DRF] "The heck with being smart" is a big theme when it comes to Derby Fever. As far as McLaughlin himself goes, the more speed the merrier for his dead closer Jazil, a likely beneficiary if the race really falls apart.
Dick Jerardi in the Form may be making the same mistake I did last year by thinking that the pace won't be as hot as people expect because many of the contenders being projected as speed are actually pressers. Fool me once, shame on……we won’t get fooled again. Jerardi writes: And if the jockeys hear enough times how much early speed is in this race, you can be sure they won't ride too aggressively. It is human nature. [DRF, sub. only] I would respectfully disagree with that; to me, human nature dictates that in the biggest race in the world, the jockeys aren’t going to let anyone get away; and besides, like last year, when the jockeys also heard how much early speed there was, the stalkers could be too close to a too hot pace. (I’ll try not to say that again for a couple of weeks.)
One thing we know for sure is that Sinister Minister will not be rated, as Baffert reiterated:
”He just runs off. He's just a run-off. His mouth was wide open down the backstretch (in the Blue Grass) and he went in :22, :45 and 4/5. That's not control. That's called a runaway train.” [Bloodhorse]One horse who could definitely be within shouting distance of Sin Min is Sharp Humor. Churchill clockers got him today in 1:38 for a mile, but Dale Romans recorded him in 1:40.20.
Unbeaten Showing Up may be the favorite in the Lexington in just his third start, and Barclay Tagg is sounding a bit like John Ward before the Blue Grass: "He acts like he doesn't need much experience….He's a young horse, but he's very mature, very composed.” [Houston Chronicle] But like Strong Contender, he’ll be trying two turns and stakes company for the first time in just his third start; and though he’s not facing the same quality as Ward’s horse did in the Blue Grass, he still could be worth a bet against if he’s bet too low. Like Ward, Tagg is a guy who has a reputation for being cautious, but the heck with being smart. It's the Kentucky Derby.