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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Strong Hand for Baffert

- Caught Point Determined’s workout from Sunday, and wow, he looked fantastic. Five furlongs in :59 4/5, and Victor Espinoza never moved a muscle. The boys on The Works contrasted it with his prior workout, in which he needed a little encouragement to engage and pass his workmate (Da Stoops, who won his state-bred stakes at a mile and an eighth last weekend). This time, he seemed eager, and was pulling Espinoza with no urging whatsoever.

Bob and John was pushed a little harder towards the finish by Garrett Gomez en route to his six furlongs in 1:11 2/5. Baffert said afterwards that it was best work the colt has had. Though I’m not yet sure exactly in what order, Baffert’s pair will both figure quite prominently on my tickets on Derby Day.

- As Walter noted, Andy Beyer said in his chat last night that he’s throwing out Brother Derek, and as I replied, I don’t really recall reading anyone that seems to really like him, at least from a betting standpoint. Watchmaker's comment about him in the Form’s latest Derby Watch is: Getting the feeling that people are jumping off his bandwagon. That seems like almost as much of an understatement as to say that people are jumping off the Bush bandwagon. (If approval ratings were Beyer figs, the president wouldn’t be able to compete in a mule race run over glue traps.)

Not only do I see people standing against the horse, but some are doing so derisively as well. Jay Cronley noted that he faced only ‘four and a half’ opponents in the SA Derby. Bill Handleman said that he will be facing more horses in the Derby than he faced in all three of his 3-year-old races combined. Tom Amoss and Frank Lyons on TVG have both counted him out. I could be wrong, but I don’t really expect to see him on top of too many selection boxes in the next couple of days. Do you really expect to see Steven Crist come out touting him? Besides field size, I’m seeing questions about his ability to handle the faster pace scenario; his ability to rate and if he can finish even if he does; now even his workouts are coming into question.

So I’m starting to seriously wonder if he’s even going to be the favorite in this race. You do sometimes see some unexpected developments on the tote board for the Derby, especially in the early wagering, and particularly in a 20 horse field. Look for Brother Derek to start out higher than expected in the early wagering – I wouldn’t be surprised if you see him as high as 6-1 early on, and for some horses, I think AP Warrior in particular, to be far below the big prices that some are counting on. I wouldn’t be surprised to see AP Warrior start out as one of the top four choices. Things will even out as the money starts to flow in, but now, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Barbaro or Lawyer Ron end up being the post-time favorite.

- Negotiations are reportedly underway on a purchase of Lawyer Ron. Wow, that’s quite a gamble for both sides, obviously. If his owner is as confident as his trainer, you’d think that he’s demanding a premium price. Hmmm, makes you wonder, if it’s really true that they’re entertaining offers. If he wins the Derby, it’s hard to even put a price tag on what the horse is worth. It’s kinda like buying a stock the day before its earnings come out, but the stakes here are much higher.

- Post position draw today at 5 PM. Kentucky Joe at the Blinkers Off blog has all the vital statistics.

- Don’t miss Steven Crist’s fascinating account of the evolution of past performances in today’s Form, complete with downloadable past performance lines from the 1906 and 1931 Derbys (which, as primitive as they look now, still seem to provide more information than what you see today in Europe). He modestly refers to the innovations adapted in the ‘90s from the “short-lived” Racing Times without noting that it was he that was responsible for that publication, which, really, revolutionized all of our handicapping lives. But perhaps the most telling part of the article is this:

While additional information has made handicapping the Derby a more complex and perhaps entertaining exercise, it should be noted that it has not particularly improved the public's success at divining the winner. Favorites won 12 of the 25 Derbies from 1906 through 1930; 9 of the 25 from 1931 through 1955; 11 of the 25 from 1956 through 1980; and only 2 of the 25 since then.
Perhaps the Europeans have the right idea.

4 Comments:

Green Mtn Punter said...

Wondering about your comment about Lawyer Ron and your musing about his possible worth if he wins the Derby, the implication being that it could be mucho dinero. I don't understand why Derby winners still command so much at stud? For many a Derby winner and one hit wonder these days that had more racing luck than talent in one Grade I stakes race on one day in May, such as Giacomo? Think about it- how does this translate into real value? Perceived, dubious value I would argue. I would rather have a dual Preakness-Belmont winner, such as Point Given, or even just a Belmont winner, such as Conquistador Cielo, as a sire if I am to race the offspring. I think Derby winners are much overvalued in this world- sort of like the absurd prices paid some of the free agents in major sports. But the John Henry's(Red Sox) and Billy Beane's (Oakland A's)of this world have demonstrated how to get the best baseball bang for the buck instead of chasing the much over-hyped and over-valued free agents, i.e., the Ky Derby winners of baseball. That's what the real world is all about- finding the undervalued assets, going against the "received wisdom" of the crowd.
And I'm just plain sick of hearing about nothing but the Derby for the first 4 months of every year- it's way over-rated for a cavalry charge of 20 horses, most of which don't belong in the race to begin with.The Belmont is my favorite Triple Crown race, the toughest of all to win. What would happen if CDI is awarded the NY franchise? We would never hear the end of the Derby, would we?!

alan said...

>>What would happen if CDI is awarded the NY franchise? We would never hear the end of the Derby, would we?!

Oh man, never.

I completely agree with your sentiments about the Derby. The 20 horse field makes it more than a roll of the dice than a test of champions, like the Belmont is. And I'm sure that Giacomo would have been worth more if they retired him the next day.

Walter said...

...i think it's a very good sign if Point Determined is working well "without encouragement"...you may recall, that was my big bone of contention with his San Felipe run, the fact that he was being pushed on so hard throught the race...it was very much unlike his big maiden win, when he was virtually under wraps the whole way...i have to be honest, i didn't get a very good look at him in the SA Derby, because i was watching Brother Derek during the race, and A.P. Warrior on the replay...so i don't know how much pressure he was under, or how early it came...but if he can snap out of that lazy mindset, it'll only help his chances...or even more signifigant, if there was some type of problem causing his "laziness", and it's gone now...if he runs the type of race he's capable of, i think he's got a legitimate shot...particularly if the pace comes up hot...

Anonymous said...

Quick thoughts on the Derby contenders;

Sin Min bruised a foot behind, he will wear a z bar shoe till race day, then a three quarter shoe. Not good news.

Sweetnorthernsaint looked off behind, stabbing and up under himself a little in a morning jog. Now this could be significant or it may the way he always looks after he works a 1:11 6F

Point Determined is not good in the turns, he needs to be closer than most going into the last turn to make up any ground in the stretch.

Barbaro looks magnificent. Acts even better, he looks like a guy that walks into prison and beats the snot out of the toughest guy on the cell block just to set everybody straight. Attitude counts.

Lawyer Ron....if a horse can be too muscular, he is. He is like a freeking weightlifter.

The first day they schooled Brother Derek in the paddock, he broke out a little and was a little nervous, the second day he looked much calmer. Had to make his connections feel a little better, but personally I dont think sticking him in the 18 hole is going to help him. He doesnt have the speed to make the front, and he will be outside of horses very wide for a long time. He raced that way in the BC juvenile and that backed him up in the lane.

Bob and John's work looked great, effortless. He is a grinder, I think he can go 6 quarter miles in 24 seconds, thats 2:00 whatever.The track was dreadful the day of the Wood, and difficult to make up any ground at all on.

Horses with back to back 100 plus beyers have won 8 of the last 14 Derbys. Last year no runner qualified under that scenario. This year there are 5. Brother Derek, Swetnorthersaint, AP Warrior and Point Determined.
That stat is from 60 starters (in 14 Derbys) that meet the criteria. 184 Starters didnt meet the standard, that produced 6 winners.
So 25% of the starters that meet the criteria have produced 57% of the winners in the last 14 years. It took 184 starters that dont meet the standard to produce 43% of the winners. Interesting stat. Nick Good luck to everybody on their picks.