- Dan Illman writes: What kind of odds could you have gotten on Friday if you predicted that Tiago would receive a higher Beyer Speed Figure than Cobalt Blue, Cowtown Cat, Any Given Saturday, and Nobiz Like Shobiz? [Daily Racing Form] Giacomo's baby half-brother earned a 100 Beyer - the same number earned by his brother in winning the Derby - which actually puts him in rather exclusive company amongst this year's Derby crop in two-turn races. Nobiz Like Shobiz got a 98 for the Wood, as did Cowtown Cat, who won his Illinois Derby in a raw time that was 1 4/5 seconds slower. The figures continue the pattern of relatively paltry figs; Street Sense and/or Great Hunter can make a convincing play for Derby favoritism with a big effort on Saturday.
What was impressive about Cowtown Cat was the way he came home. Yes, he set a slow pace on a slow track; but he sprinted home with aplomb, getting the final fractions in the kind of times - 12.75 for the final eighth, 37.65 for the last three-eighths - that we haven't been seeing much this year. He's not going to make it to my short Derby list off the race, but I think he proved that his Gotham win was no fluke. Cobalt Blue, Merv Griffin's overhyped even money favorite, didn't like the track according to Victor Espinoza: “As soon as he came out of the gate, he started struggling and slipping around on the track.” [Daily Herald]
As for Tiago, can't take anything away from him for his late close, but I can't help but add a caution note for those planning to bet him in the futures pool at what will certainly be underlaid odds. He got a picture perfect trip under Mike Smith, who got him over to the rail from the nine post going into the turn, and then was able to maneuver him back to the inside for much of his rally on the final turn and into the home stretch. And as Giacomo did in the Derby, he was able to wear down an exhausted leader, in this case King of the Roxy, who was quite wide on both turns. Richard Migliore, who rode the latter, said: "I thought right down to the 1/16th pole I was going to win it, and right there I started to worry, because he really started to weaken under me." [Santa Anita]
The final fractions demonstrate just how drastically things slowed down at the end. They went from six furlongs to the mile mark in 24.62, still pretty lively for that stage of a race. But the final eighth was run in a pokey 13.49.
Tiago obviously ran faster than that at the end. So while he won't be on my short list either, he certainly seems capable of picking up the pieces should he get lucky on Derby day. Unfortunately, he'll very likely be far, far below what his fair odds should be.
Liquidity ended up as the second choice in the race, behind the one-paced third place finisher Sam P., who I really didn't care for much at all. All of the readers who wrote in to object to my selection of Liquidity on the grounds that he benefited from the pace scenario in running second in the Sham would appear to be correct. Doug O'Neill said: “We got outkicked at the end. He’s a funny horse. He’s been galloping out great. It’s a weird one.” But I've read that he's still being pointed for the Derby should his $160,000 in graded earnings prove to be sufficient. We'll see how funny O'Neill still thinks the horse is after that.
The card at Santa Anita drew a whopping crowd of 56,810, the largest crowd there since 1984!
"We are spending more money than anyone on marketing, and the results are there," said [track president Ron] Charles, who credited a six-figure television advertising buy combined with the growing popularity of a microbrew festival for helping draw fans. [LA Times]Good things can happen if you try (and if you have the money to do so). I was wrong about NYRA in that we're informed that they did a mailing of mystery vouchers for the Wood, but there was no TV or newspaper advertising that I recall seeing at all.