- Brother Derek returns in Saturday's 4th at Del Mar, the El Cajon Stakes. He has steady works that indicate that he's ready to go. The last time he ran in California was the Santa Anita Derby, in which he beat Point Determined by three lengths and earned a Beyer of 108. That's a number that should be good enough to beat his four opponents. There's always the question, however, of how a horse comes back from an unsuccessful journey down the Derby Trail.
Brother Derek was considered the top three-year old at one time, and that seems long ago in a fascinating three-year old season that has twisted and turned its way into dominance by Bernardini. His fall from grace seemed to start with the unfortunate decision by his connections to pick the number 18 post in the Derby when the 1 and 3 slots were available, and continued with his being dead on the board in the Derby - I'd like to know when was the last time the morning line favorite went off at 7.70-to-1. He enjoyed a reprieve when people noticed just how well he really ran in the Derby, but he again had a difficult trip when 3-1 in the Preakness.
Now he's been kinda forgotten. He'll need to build on the Beyers he earned in the spring by around 8 points to be in Bernardini territory; at least fig-wise.
We also have Bob and John in the El Cajon, making his first start since the irrational decision on the part of his connections to run him in the Belmont, and the one by the bettors to make him the 9-2 favorite in the race. He's been working lights out, including three drills on the grass. But the fact is that he's never really run that fast.
Da Stoops goes from the rail, and could be part of a hot pace battle with Cindago. When we last saw the latter, he was coming again to beat Latent Heat and Point Determined in a maiden special, and thereby inserting himself into the Derby picture, yes, even back in December. Defiitely an intersting horse, but this is a helluva spot to bring him back not only off a layoff, but stretching out beyond 6 1/2 furlongs for the first time.
- There's a funny ad in the Form for Fairplex Park, which opens on Sept 8. "It's 'Legalized Stealing' When Horses Dash a Half Mile at Fairplex Park," the ad quotes Prof. Gordon Jones.
You can dazzle your friends and confound your foes by making dogmatic statements about the "about" four furlong races come up, along with the 870-yard dashes.OK, I can see their point here, telling bettors that they can win; after all, the track gets its takeout no matter what, so they want to help you succeed, so you can have money to churn back through the pools. But as a handicapper and racing fan looking for interesting and exciting races to bet on and watch, does this make you want to check out Fairplex? It's like Keeneland advertising their speed bias by saying: Hey, 80% of the horses in front at the first call end up winning. The incessant bias there is actually one of the reasons they're switching to Polytrack. To trumpet it is to announce to the world that your races are boring. If anything, I personally would avoid these races after reading this. Of course, I guess boring can be a good thing if you're into grinding out those 6-5 frontrunners.
They ran 19 abbreviated sprints at four furlongs last season at Fairplex Park. The first horse to the quick left turn won no less than 16 of them. That's a stunnin 84 percent success quotient in a game where 30 percent usually stamps you a winner.
Sae story at the carbon copy 870-yard distance. Four of six speed horses prevailed for a nifty 67 percent happy endings.
Combine those look-alike races and you have 20 victories and 25 sorties for an amazing .800 batting average.
That is probably as close to perfection as most of us mere mortals are likely to stray, something akin to a legal heist for a couple of weeks every autumn at the generous Fairplex Park in Pomona.