- I’ve been ragging on TVG lately, but it’s not all bad, and we have to give credit where it’s due. I like knowledgeable but low-key guys like Bob Baedeker and the other Bob who was on with Vic Stauffer on Sunday. Gary Seibel is fine, Simon Bray does a good job, and I don’t even mind Carrothers, though I can understand if he drives some people crazy. I like Frank Lyons a lot. I guess I do like most of the guys, with a few exceptions, and the women other than Jessica York are fine, if not quite up to the level of the HRTV Girls. But I'm not thrilled about the new shows or the Today Show set.
Now, Stauffer, the race-caller at Hollywood Park, is certainly an interesting addition to the mix. He’s extremely knowledgeable, and not at all afraid to say what’s on his mind, as Nick pointed out regarding his being skeptical about this story that Michael Matz was thinking Triple Crown from the first time that Barbaro galloped for assistant trainer Peter Brette. Stauffer spoke caustically about the fact that Oaklawn’s Terry Wallace has his picture all over the Oaklawn media guide (he’s the media director), and at first insisted rather assertively that the Khalila affair at Belmont was no big deal, and just a part of handicapping.
I was a bit surprised to hear Stauffer openly discuss his wagering on a horse at the Gulfstream meet, where he also serves as track announcer. I guess there’s nothing wrong with the announcer betting on the races, but does Stauffer save his “YES!” calls for the times that his choice wins? Maybe I was naive to think that announcers don’t bet on races they call. I'm not making a big issue of it at all, in fact, it’s kinda “cool,” a word Stauffer used to describe both Surf Cat and the three-horse second race at Churchill. But it seems to me like it’s the same thing as if we learned that Al Michaels had bets on NFL games he’s called, and I imagine that would’ve raised some kind of reaction from someone. It does seem like it would be somewhat inappropriate for Monday Night Football, but in this case it’s actually pretty funny.
Stauffer spoke about Surf Cat’s win in the Mervyn LeRoy, saying that there was a point that it looked as if he may not beat a horse. Sure enough, the replay showed him seeming to not respond to Alex Solis’ initial urgings, but once he got going, he was gone. "It took him about 50 or 100 yards for him to get going after I asked him, but, by the five-sixteenths [pole] he was flying. He won handily....Around the turn he felt like a train going down a hill.” [LA Times]
- The Preakness is picking up some horses, and one of them, Diabolical, may add to what already looks like a contentious pace. No, this post is not left over from before the Derby. With all the hype about the expected pace in that one and the bad trip Brother Derek got, we’re all talking as if this will be a relative walk in the park for him. But I think that a possible hot pace scenario in this race is being overlooked. Besides Brother Derek, Like Now, Bernardini, Sweetnorthernsaint, and Diabolical, who chased Barbaro on the turf last year, all prefer to be on or close to the pace...and we were saying that about Barbaro too before the Derby. We’re not hearing much about a fast Preakness pace, perhaps because it didn't quite materialize as many thought it would in the Derby. But this race too may very well come down to which of them can do what Barbaro already has shown he can – sit a few lengths behind the pace and finish strong enough to win. As for Brother Derek, he won’t have start from post 18, but I wouldn’t want to see him draw the ten post here either.
- Just how much ground did Brother Derek lose to Barbaro by virtue of being wide? Andy Beyer turns to another expert for the answer:
According to Thoro-Graph founder Jerry Brown, Brother Derek was 4 1/2 horses wide on the first turn and 6 1/2 wide on the second turn - compared with 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 for Barbaro. If one path on a turn equals one length, Brother Derek traveled five lengths farther than the winner - not enough to account for his 9 1/2-length loss. Not all speed handicappers would concur with Brown's figures, which indicate that Brother Derek could have won the majority of Kentucky Derbies over the last two decades, but the performance was certainly an excellent one. Brother Derek should have finished second in the Derby; if he had started from an inside post, he probably would have done so. [Washington Post]