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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blowout for Barbaro

- As if to rebuff his seemingly increasing number of skeptics, Barbaro capped a one mile gallop with a quarter mile blowout down the stretch. Haskin got him in 24 1/5 seconds.

[Assistant trainer Peter] Brette termed the workout "super" and said it is customary for the colt to gallop strongly before a "blow out" prior to a race. [Bloodhorse]
It was actually reported by Gary Stevens on the Derby telecast that the horse practically worked out on the morning of that race too. Our friends at Tim Woolley Racing report that he looked great picking grass an hour later as if nothing had happened.

Meanwhile, Jessica over at Railbird compiles some of the those nay-sayers who feel that, in the words of Bill Finley, he’s a 'bet against' on Saturday. In addition to the ‘bounce theory,’ Finley postulates that perhaps He’s a One-Race Wonder
Prior to the Derby, Barbaro ran just twice on the dirt and, though he won both times, he wasn't exactly dominating. He was more workmanlike in both the Holy Bull and the Florida Derby and looked nothing like the horse who destroyed the field in the Derby. In the Florida Derby, he had to work hard to get past Sharp Humor, who ran 19th in the Derby and was beaten 33 1/4 lengths. Maybe he just had a very good day in the Kentucky Derby. [ESPN.com]
And Gary West of the Dallas-Ft Worth Morning Star asserts that Barbaro simply enjoyed the most perfect of trips.

Well, I think that Finley’s one-race wonder theory is even more of a stretch than thinking that he’ll bounce. My opinion is that it’s far more likely that the Derby was a case of the horse improving in just his sixth lifetime start rather than it being a singular fluke. And as far as the “perfect trip” theory, I think that the horse made his own good luck in the Derby. He got good position because he had the athleticism to recover from a stumble out of the gate – a stagger that any other horse could have used as an excuse in itself – and had the speed to put himself there.

Do I think Barbaro is a lock? No. The two weeks off after the far more generous spacing is an unknown factor that nobody – even Michael Matz – can predict the effect of with certainty. And it’s also entirely possible that Brother Derek is the equal of Barbaro; as I’ve said before, I believe that if you thought Brother Derek was the better of the two going into the Derby, you should probably like him on Saturday. Finley correctly points out that he wouldn't be the first horse to rebound in the Preakness after a subpar Derby performance.

But having said that, I don’t really see where Barbaro is worth a significant bet-against in this race, at least with Brother Derek on top. For one thing, unless the betting on Sweetnorthernsaint is so far out of whack (again) as to make Brother Derek the third choice, there’ll be no value on him. More importantly, I feel that the pace scenario for the Preakness, like the Derby, does not serve either Brother Derek or SNS well. There’s plenty of speed, and I think that it’s possible that if Alex Solis tries to gun him to the lead, as Joe Drape reports in the NY Times that he’s likely to do, he’s going to have a fast and fresher opponent in Like Now to contend with. Remember, Brother Derek is coming back on two weeks rest too; many people seem to be ignoring that. His prior races were spaced seven, five, and four weeks apart. And I could argue that his race in the Derby was actually far tougher than that of Barbaro – he certainly covered more ground - and that just maybe, he could be the one that will bounce!

- The NY Times piece is currently the seventh most popular sports article of the day in terms of the number of times it was emailed. Ahead of it is a story on skiing, one on hazing in college sports, two on the final of the Champions League (that’s European soccer), and two on the Yanks. Not saying much for the Mets I suppose.

- As regular readers are well aware, I’m totally fascinated by the incredible sums of money that it’s taken to knock Sweetnorthernsaint down to favoritism in the Kentucky and Illinois Derbies. His trainer spoke about it at this morning’s ‘alibi breakfast,’ and he seems similarly impressed and surprised.
Michael Trombetta.... said he was "shocked" two weeks ago when his horse went to the post in the Kentucky Derby as the 5-1 favorite. "There were so many things going on, and when he was knocked down to the favorite, it was unbelievable. To this day, I still haven't figured it out." "There were so many things going on, and when he was knocked down to the favorite, it was unbelievable. To this day, I still haven't figured it out." [Bloodhorse]

8 Comments:

Walter said...

...you guys probably saw that i posted Preakness odds on here last week...those things have been dropping ever since, and they bottomed out after the draw yesterday when the morning lines were announced...Brother Derek is now 5/2, followed by SNS @ 3/1...even Barbaro is down to 5/7...keep in mind, there's no refund when betting into those numbers...for instance, if you bet Brother Derek and he scratches, you lose...i still haven't seen any matchups, though i expect some will come out today...

...more Vegas stuff...for those of you who like poker, i was in Bellagio last night and decided to play a little $4-$8 hold 'em...the table i was seated at was right smack-dab in front of the room where they play the "big game"...seated at the table were Phil Ivey, David Benyamine, Jennifer Harman, Barry Greenstein, David Grey, Eli Elezra, Minh Ly, and another guy who i didn't regonize...helluva game they had going there, eh?...then as i was leaving, i spotted Mike Sexton (not playing, just standing around talking)...also of note, occasionally some people would stop in front of the room (which is enclosed by a large glass window), and start pressing their noses up against the glass trying to get a better look...good grief!...i wonder if those guys ever feel like a puppy dog in a pet-store window?...lol...oh well, i guess they're probably used to it... 8^P

Walter said...

...i'm wondering how much speed Like Now actually has...looking at his PP's, i notice he's always on the lead, but he never seems to be going that fast...look at his splits in the Gotham:

23 1/5, 47 3/5, 1:12 1/5

...nothing too special there...also keep in mind that Keyed Entry seemed to be "experimenting" in that race, purposely being taken back to stalk the pace in his first route try...now, check out Like Now's splits in the Lexington (@ Keeneland, no less):

23 1/5, 46 4/5, 1:12

...big deal...this is the speedball who's gonna make the pace in the Preakness?...i think perhaps Solis let's Brother Derek roll up to the lead here...all the other speed is drawn to his outside, and i certainly don't think he's slower than Like Now...besides, if he decides to lay back and stalk Like Now, Barbaro and Sweetnorthernsainbt will likely be breathing down his neck, not to mention Bernardini and/or Diabolical...i think perhaps Brother Derek makes the pace and says "catch me if you can"...

Ruben Bailey said...

Ok....so what's the minimum odds to take on Brother Derek?

I'm thinking if he's 2-1 or better it's a good bet.

Curious to hear others'.....

Walter said...

...it's hard to back Brother Derek @ 2/1 against a horse who just kicked the shit out of him, bad trip or no...besides, i don't see him being 2/1 anyway...incidentally, this same question was posed to Randy Moss on the ESPN draw telecast yesterday (Kenny Mayne did the asking), and Moss said that Brother Derek would offer good value in the 7/2 range...however, Moss went on to say that he didn't expect Brother Derek to be that high...myself, i'd probably agree with the 7/2 assessment, though i'd be tempted to hold out for 4/1...it's not out of the question as Barbaro will no doubt be bet to 1/2 or lower, and it's possible Brother Derek might not even be second choice...hard to say if he'll take more money than Sweetnorthernsaint, though it's pretty likely...much more has been made of Brother Derek's bad trip than Sweetnorthernsaint's bad trip, and for what reason, i'm not sure...maybe because Brother Derek ran 4th...if anything, i think SNS suffered the worse trip, and i think that was pretty evident on the overhead isolation shots they showed on the ESPN telecast yesterday (GREAT camera-work, btw)...SNS got bumped and squeezed back leaving the gate, and was running 18th early...18th!!!...he was then rushed up thru the inside, eventually going on even terms with Barbaro...not surprisingly, he had little left for the stretch drive, though he did finish a not-too-shabby 7th...i definitely consider SNS a threat here, and barring another bumping incident leaving the gate, i'm sure he'll pose a much greater threat to Barbaro (or whomever) this time around...i rank he and Brother Derek pretty evenly right now, though i must give Brother Derek a slight edge...he just seems like a more willful, gutsier horse...he also has a flat-out sterling record around two turns, and i know from watching him that he gets even more gutsy when he's on the lead...he's a very tough animal to pass...i'll go out on a limb and say that if Brother Derek makes the lead here (and there's a pretty good chance he will), then Barbaro will find him MUCH tougher to pass than Sinister Minister was...i'm not saying he WON'T pass him, but he'll definitely have a fight on his hands...it may also be possible that Prado is a little overconfident off the easy Derby win, and will allow Brother Derek too much of a head-start...that'd certainly be to BD/Solis' benefit...the more i think about it, the more i think Brother Derek makes the pace here...perhaps not immediately, but i definitely think he'll be in front by the time they leave the backstretch...and i don't see him more than a half-length off Like Now at any point in time...

alan said...

Walter - I agree with you that Like Now is not what we'd call a blazing speedster, but I don't think Brother Derek is either. Check out some of his opening fractions; they're comparable to those of Like Now, and that's with BD running on California tracks. Like Now matches up with him on the BRIS pace figures too, especially in the first half mile. So I'm going to stick to my guns here; I think Like Now leads them going into the backstretch, and Brother Derek tries to get past him at that point.

Walter said...

...i disagree...Brother Derek has consistently been getting 1:10's in his route efforts...i don't see any evidence of Like Now being able to do that...i think he'll shake loose of Like Now without too much trouble...i think the real variable here is what Bernardini and/or Diabolical decide to do...not only will those two affect Brother Derek, they'll likely have an impact on Barbaro and SNS as well...btw, Moss mentioned on ESPN yesterday that there's avery short run to the first turn?...that should help a little, hopefully those two will be caught wide...

Walter said...

...when is the Dwyer?...i find it curious that Discreet Cat hasn't recorded a workout yet...he's been @ Belmont almost a month, hasn't he?...

...in a somewhat related matter, Latent Heat breezed @ Belmont yesterday...wouldn't be a surprise to see him turn up in the Dwyer...also, Your Tent Or Mine worked again @ Hollywood yesterday, his second drill since returning to the worktab...the Latent Heat breeze was also drill #2, btw...in other workout news, Fusaichi Samurai continues to train regularly...might be turning up in a race pretty soon?...and Meetmeinthewoods breezed a very slow 1:03 and change...not sure what to make of that, but she was likely just out to stretch her legs...i believe it was either her first or second drill since her loss to Balance @ Santa Anita...i still think that one will be an absolute terror sprinting, assuming she returns healthy...could knock heads with Behaving Badly and/or My Miss Storm Cat later this year...wouldn't be a shock to see either of those two in the BC Sprint, btw...each are quick enough to be a threat, i think, though Behaving Badly obviously does her best work in California...MMSC hasn't been out of the state yet, so we'll see...

Anonymous said...

Traditionally the Preakness is a front running, near the pace kind of race, not usually won with horses coming from deep on the racetrack. Having said that, the trainers and jocks know that too. Like Now has enough early speed to make Brother Derek (the horse that pulls his riders arms off) work going into the first turn and up the back side for a while. Brother Derek has two speedsters to his outside too, 3 or 4 horses going balls to the wall around the first turn, with Barbaro tucking in behind the early speed. Barbaro stalks, and beats tiring horses down the stretch. Thats the logical scenario. Once again, Brother Derek has "route speed", he's no Sin Min or Keyed Entry. Like Now has been first quarters in 22 on his PP's, BD hasnt. Nick