- 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.