- Doug O’Neill reports that Stevie Wonderboy, whose presence, as I noted yesterday, is really sorely missed in this Derby, is still recuperating from his hairline fracture at Merv’s ranch in California. "It's kind of a bummer not being part of it…..It would have been really exciting to be there." [Albany Times Union]
- It seemed uncharacteristic of John Ward to shoot so aggressively with his lightly raced Strong Contender, and the same has been said of Barclay Tagg and his Showing Up, whose status we probably won’t know until tomorrow’s post position draw. Andy Beyer recalls how ill-tempered Tagg was during Funny Cide’s Triple Crown run, and concludes that we should perhaps take this colt seriously, despite all the historical red flags (no start as a two-year old, less than five career starts).
If another trainer said the same things, it would be reasonable to conclude that he was suffering from a typical case of Derby fever and trying to make a case for a colt who probably didn't belong in the race. But handicappers might have to adjust their assessment of Showing Up, when Tagg talks about him without sounding grumpy, grouchy, curt, pessimistic or grim. [Washington Post]- A couple of trainers that are non-participants this year spoke to the NY Post about their impressions on this year’s race. Nick Zito said "Physically, Lawyer Ron is coming up to the Derby as good as any horse I have ever seen." Bobby Frankel said "Bob Baffert is going to win it, probably with Point Determined or his other horse Bob and John….Those horses have the running style and the ability to win.”
Lawyer Ron’s trainer Bob Holthus said that Zito’s eyes did not deceive him.
"Lawyer Ron put on weight after he won the Arkansas Derby, which is always a good sign. I ran another horse in the race, Red Raymond, and he lost 20 pounds." [NY Post]- Most of us are anticipating the big speed duel, but what if racing luck puts one of the speedballs on the lead alone? In my opinion, it won’t matter if that horse is Sinister Minister. I just don’t expect him to stay the distance, and besides, he’s a prime candidate to bounce off his Blue Grass. But Sharp Humor is an interesting story here. He’s been training lights out for Dale Romans, who just exudes confidence in the NY-bred son of Distorted Humor, a sire who has already proven he can get a Derby winner. Romans told the Post: "I can't imagine any horse training better than he is.” He’s shown grit and gameness, batttling head and head with Noonmark in the Swale, and giving Barbaro everything he could handle in the Florida Derby. And Sharp Humor has class and stamina in his pedigree. He’s out of a mare by champion and Preakness/Belmont winner Hansel, and has inbreeding to Northern Dancer, Mr. Prospector, Buckpasser, and to the broodmare Continue. Amongst Continue’s descendents you’ll find stakes winners like Forty Niner, Brunswick, Shadeed, Chain Bracelet, and Zoftig, all of whom succeeded at a distance of ground. Sharp Humor has a dosage index of 2.64. While none of this guarantees he’ll stay ten furlongs, I think it does indicate that he’s more than just a one-dimensional speedball.
And despite Edgar Prado’s remarks that Keyed Entry was tired at the end of the mile and an eighth in the Wood (which Walter was quick to remind me of the last time I wavered about him), I still can’t completely get him out of my head. He caught my eye after his 2006 debut at six furlongs, after which I wrote a bit here about his pedigree. I liked his Gotham more than most, and you can certainly give him an excuse in the Wood (if you want to); there was no target for him to rate behind that day as he did in the Gotham, and he tired in the heavy going on the sloppy track, as did everyone but Jazil (who barely ran a lick in the early going). Pletcher told the Washington Post:
"Between the Gotham and the Wood was the shortest time between races for him….With four weeks rest now, he should be set to rebound. He's gotten two good works over the [Churchill Downs] track. He rated in the Gotham and the speed wasn't that fast that day."