- Looking back at the pre-race expectations for how the Derby would be run versus what actually happened, it seems like a mixed bag. The pace was fast, but not the fastest. There was uncontrollable speed, but it was Keyed Entry rather than Sinister Minister or Sharp Humor. The performance by the latter was perhaps the strangest of the race; Mark Guidry tried to rate just behind the lead.....But he said Sharp Humor fought him and tried to run full speed, which "just took away our chances." [Louisville Courier-Journal] Just a few days ago Romans was asking anyone who’d listen why he would possibly change the horse’s style at this time? Yet, that’s exactly what they tried to do.
But that really wasn’t a big factor; those horses all finished in the back of the pack anyway. The main thing that was supposed to happen but didn’t was the contentious second tier of pressers and not-fast-enough speed horses battling each other into submission too close to the hot pace. Brother Derek, Lawyer Ron, and Sweetnorthernsaint were all unable to stay close enough to be a factor at anytime other than the latter’s brief foray up the rail. This left Barbaro with little company other than Showing Up as he tracked the lead. With all the talk about how he would be facing a new experience with the big field and the anticipated pressure, he basically ran the same exact race that he has in each of his wins. One factor that I ignored to my detriment in my handicapping was the way he was able to establish position so effortlessly in the Florida Derby, despite breaking from the dreaded ten post. That’s proven to be almost an impossible task. Once Barbaro drew the favorable eight post for the Derby, it figures in hindsight that with the long run to the stretch, and with the other pressers drawn to the outside, he would likely have a strategic advantage going into the turn.
As far as the pace collapsing, it did, kind of. Other than Barbaro, anyway. Steppenwolfer and Jazil were able to mount their rallies, as did Brother Derek from much farther back than he’s ever been before. If you watch the stretch run and just focus on the horses in the second half of the field, it’s not a pretty picture. In fact, that’s what the entire field other than Giacomo looked like last year, when the final quarter was run in nearly 27 seconds; big difference between that and 24.34! Runner-up Bluegrass Cat benefited from a flawless, ground-saving ride by Ramon Dominguez to get the place spot, and the rider said "I couldn't get a better trip than I did today." [Delaware Online]
Here’s a couple of excuses from the west coast contingent, which didn’t fare that well this year – after Brother Derek’s 4th, the best finisher was Point Determined (9th).
"After three-eighths, he started moving nicely behind (Barbaro)," said Rafael Bejarano, rider of Point Determined (ninth). "But after he switched leads, he got tired."Even though he went off at higher odds than Point Determined or Bob and John, I’d say that AP Warrior was perhaps the biggest disappointment in terms of expectations vs. result, with Point Determined not far behind.
A.P. Warrior jockey Corey Nakatani, who finished 18th, said his horse "wasn't handling the track. He just didn't fire today." [Courier-Journal]
Mike Trombetta claims that Sweetnorthernsaint was stuck on a dead rail. "We knew it, thought about it but still wound up there in some way. ....My horse looked like he came back good and I would like nothing more than to take another crack in two weeks.” [Washington Post] As his horse gets ready to enter the gate for the Preakness, all eyes will be on the tote board to see if he gets slammed late again. Tom Hammond picked up on it right away on NBC. I had the odds on my computer screen, and thought maybe Hammond was mistaken; with all the money in the pool, how was that possible? But sure enough, SNS and Barbaro switched places at 5 and 6 to 1. And it’s not like SNS just slipped in; he was slammed all the way down to 5.50 to 1! That was a prodigious punch.
Bloodhorse.com has all the losers’ stories here.