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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Derby Horse-by-Horse - Part One

1 - Sedgefield (Smart Strike) (50-1) is a full brother to English Channel who's never run on natural dirt. And his last race on grass wasn't so hot either, perhaps reflecting the rigors of what's been a long campaign. Why he would run in this spot I can't say, but he's in based on a second and a third in the Lane's End and Tropical Park Derby respectively. Which raises the question as to why money earned in a Grade 3 turf race should have any bearing on who runs in the Kentucky Derby?

2 - Curlin (Smart Strike) (7-2) - Hey, two Smart Strikes side by side. When the past performances finally come out, in post position order, I sometimes feel like I'm really looking at them in earnest for the first time, even though I've done so 100 times prior. Curlin just bounded away from the field in the Arkansas Derby, getting the last eighth in a shade under 12 second; and man, the record 10 1/2 length margin of victory sure makes these running lines look awful good! But then, I scroll over to the right to see who he's beaten, and it ain't much, including two no-shot Derby runners in Teuflesberg and Storm In May.

I'm not using him to win based on his lack of experience and foundation, and I have no qualms about that; I can console myself with that "it's good for racing" crap if he runs off and wins the yumxacta, or whatever the fuck it's called. But I have to use him underneath. He looked like a men among boys physically when I watched the video of his last Keeneland work. Here's the link to that workout video page at Keeneland; scroll down a bit. It is quite impressive, and that clip is mostly of the gallop out!

Darrin Miller said that Sedgewick is going to leave from the rail, so, with the unspeedy Zanjero ouside of him, Curlin should be able to work out a trip drafting behind the one horse. But I'd be more amenable to backing him to win if he was 8-1.

3 - Zanjero (Cherokee Run/Runaway Groom/Blushing Groom) (30-1) is closely related to Storm in May - they have the same second dam. Well? Where else are you going to get the real trivial stuff like that? I've been attracted to him as one to use underneath based on his consistency, and a pretty good closing kick. I'm not holding the Blue Grass against him as much as I will for others, because he didn't need the race as much as some who got just two preps. But he's kinda slow, which is a drawback; I think he'll be far behind early. Thinking about it, he seems more likely to rally for 8th then to make it to the top four. Shaun Bridgmohan rides, replacing Garrett Gomez, and interestingly, he's been aboard for the colt's only two wins.

4 - Storm in May (30-1) is by Tiger Ridge, a son of Storm Cat who stands for 80,000 rands in South Africa and who may be thinking 'repatriation' if his son wins. I hear it's tough for stallions from South Africa to obtain visas these days, but I doubt he'll have the need. The story of his trainer Bill Kaplan and his tiny stable was cute for awhile, but this is now overkill, with he and stablemate Imawildandcrazyguy being entered despite neither showing to be nearly worthy in their recent efforts. They could be exhibits A and A+ for some reform of the graded earnings system.

5 - Imawildandcrazyguy (50-1)

That doesn't look like it's in, does it?

6 - Cowtown Cat (20-1) - The first of the Pletcher quintet, and one that's been picking up some support around our little universe of late. I'm not really impressed with his Illinois Derby, though you might note that his 98 Beyer is as good as the best of contenders Scat Daddy and Nobiz Like Shobiz. He slowed down steadily from a 24 second third quarter, to 25 to 12 4/5 for the last 1/8th. He's working well, and from here on in, just assume that they're all working well unless I specify otherwise. He's by Distorted Humor, the sire of Funny Cide, and a Mr. Prospector-line sire; and he's out of a Storm Cat mare. He has some interesting breeding in that he's inbred 5x5 to the foundation mare Pocahontas, the dam of Chieftain and Tom Rolfe. But I'm not using him.

7 - Street Sense (Street Cry) (4-1) - "Mr. Tafel, Mr. Tafel, you've won the Kentucky Derby!" If we see that scene on TV this year, then I've lost the Kentucky Derby. I'm standing against the Juvenile champ, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he's the post-time favorite. Talk about a two-prep schedule - this one has had like one and a third preps given the fact that he only ran about 3/8ths of a mile in the Blue Grass, sprinting home in 34 1/5 after loping along the first six furlong in a ridiculous 1:16 4/5. And what exactly is his excuse for being outkicked by Dominican. Huh? Whatsmore, he displayed some immaturity when forced to abandon his beloved inside route.

Nafzger used a weird prep schedule 17 years ago with Unbridled, which apparently gives him license to buck convention again, say things like: "And you know what else? He doesn't give a damn what you all (media) said this morning", and everyone goes oh, that Carl Nafzger; he's so....folksy! Folksy? That's what they said about George W. Bush, and look where that got us. So despite his stellar works, his huge Juvenile win on this track on the golden rail which he's never going to see this time, and the knowledge that this could be my eventual Derby UnDoing, I'm tossing him out.

8) Hard Spun (Danzig) 15-1. He's my top choice on breeding, being as he is so closely related to the Preakness/Belmont winner Little Current (whose dam is the third dam of Hard Spun). I felt pretty smart when I touted him in the Lane's End after his disappointing Southwest, and he steadily made his way up my Derby list since then, despite my queasiness over his six week layoff. Now, I'm unceremoniously throwing him out. His five furlong workout in 57 3/5 was the fastest Derby work in 28 years, and I hated it. Larry Jones said he didn't have a stopwatch, and thought he went in about a minute; that's probably because he saw him at the end when he was slowing down dramatically after covering the first eighth in 10.88. 10.88! If his rider couldn't do the right thing in a simple morning workout, how are we to expect him to do in the Derby? Toss.

9) Liquidity (Tiznow) (30-1) will probably be close to a pace that could be a bit more contentious that people think. And that could be bad news for a colt who has weakened after finding the pace too quick for his liking in his last two. This horse is eligible for an entry-level allowance race. He's worked well over the Poly at Keeneland, but note his quick works leading up to the SA Derby as well.

10) Teuflesberg (30-1) - Interestingly bred colt is by Johannesburg, out of a Devil's Bag mare; both sire and dam trace back tail-female to State, the great-great-granddam (I think I got that right) of Pulpit. He set the pace in the Blue Grass and couldn't hold on. Er...I don't think that bodes very well for his chances here. But it's interesting to note that of this first ten in the group, seven of them have run on the lead at some point or other in their careers. I don't expect to see that from Curlin, to name just one. Hard Spun, who knows, he could be out there in 21.3. But in any event, it seems to me as if this will not be the paceless affair that some have speculated about.

So I've gone through half the field, and eliminated each one from the win spot. See, that wasn't so hard, was it? I mean, just because the two likely betting favorites are in this group, who the hell wants to bet on the favorites in this race anyway? After all the months obsessing over this race, I'm going to bet a 7-2 shot in a 20 horse field? But there's gotta be a winner in this field, and we'll find him - hopefully - somewhere in Part 2 to follow.

17 Comments:

Brett said...

I'm sensing an AGS pick, however come 2 minutes before derby time you will have already changed your mind.

Anonymous said...

16/7,15,20,/ALL

16/ALL/7,15,20

PP's ensure pace

Falls apart at the 1/4 pole

robin said...

I agree, theoretically, with tossing Hard Spun on the basis of that fast work, but didn't Smarty Jones run 5F in 58 a week before his derby? And Hard Spun just seems to be so full of energy this week...I just can't toss him.

For me, Curlin is more interesting than bettable. I want to see what comes next with that one.

Your assessment of Imawildandcrazyguy is genius.

For all the numerologists, Dreaming of Anna and Street Sense both were PP#1 in their Juvi races. They both won. This time, they are both #7 posts. Will they both finish 7th? Can I bet that?

30for60 said...

12/14/ALL
12,14/12,14/ALL
Class wins this time and these two are the class of the field

onecalicocat said...

I'm such a ridiculous Philly homer that I would pick any colt who ever was vanned through the area, but I just can't see Hard Spun this time.
I think he peters out at the top of the stretch.
Great Hunter is a Pa-bred so I will go with him.
Do not like Street Sense at all.
Maybe Curlin is for real.
Chelokee looks good for Preakness and possibly Belmont.

Kevin said...

Take this to the bank:

ALL/ALL/ALL

Seriously, I like DOMINICAN, CIRCULAR QUAY, and TIAGO:

15,16,19/15,16,19/ALL

Anonymous said...

Is it really necessary to hit the all button in this race?

I think we can eliminate some of these without major risk.

I also feel like there's enough early and mid speed to set it up for the off-the-pace horses.

And I have no problem with a grade 3 turf race factoring into graded earnings. However, here's what they should do: Make the top 12 graded earners eligible to get in. Then vote on the remaining field of would-be entrants. Something like that.

alan said...

Only 30for60 mentions Nobiz Like Shobiz thus far... Was discussing him with someone else who likes him; he's hoping the horse is at least his 8-1 morning line. I think he's going to be overlooked in the betting and may present some value to those who fancy him. I'm concerned however, among other things, that he could be part of that mid-speed scenario that could set things up for the closers.

Brett said...

14,16 / 12,14,16,19 / All

May throw Nobiz in the win. Haven't decided yet.

Handride said...

Don't overthink the speed, think about if these supposed speed horses hook up, you're looking at 1:11 for 6f, that's well within scope a for a stalker of Derby Caliber. Giacomo has got you all scared. Don't forget AA and Closing argument were still able to hold well in that derby and they were scorching hte earth up front

Lenny said...

Kentucky Oaks
1. Cotton Blossom
2. Octave
3. Tough Tiz's Sis

Kentucky Derby
1. Hard Spun
2. Nobiz Like Shobiz
3. TBD

Oaks/Derby Double
Cotton Blossom/Hard Spun & Nobiz Like Shobiz

Lenny

Erin said...

Alan, you make a great point about Hard Spun's jockey. I was ready to take a risk on him despite the fast work just because he supposedly looked good doing it, but that won't matter if he gets a ride as bad as that workout.
I also appreciated you pointing out the fractionals on his work as compared to SS. That's a little detail that reveals much, and not the kind of thing most media are astute enough to point out.

Erin said...

Also, anxiously awaiting and hoping for your rationale as to how AGS will have no problem with the 18 spot.
I've been liking HS and AGS all spring and now that you've talked me out of the former, I'd really like a reason to hold onto AGS! Although you've been pretty invested him too, perhaps placing you at risk for betting with heart...I challenge you to a completely unbiased analysis of AGS's chances!

alan said...

>>I challenge you to a completely unbiased analysis of AGS's chances!

I will do my best! stay tuned...

Anonymous said...

Been thinking a lot and ZANJERO is my longshot here. Note the quiet consistency and a great post position. This is the type of horse that surprises on Derby Day. He's also impeccably bred for the mud, so in case it rains, we have that insurance policy. The others I like are CURLIN, DOMINICAN, and CIRCULAR QUAY. I finally figured out what bugs me about STREET SENSE. With the trip he got in the TB Derby he should have crushed AGS, but he didn't. Were they really going well in the lane? Not sure. I'm afraid of STREET SENSE enough to use him on my exacta mass-box, but I think he might be a false favorite. Good luck all!
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Rotopro.com for your Derby analysis free of charge, and well worth the price!

ghostzapper2007 said...

My comments on Street Sense's races this year so far.

Tampa Bay Derby - no reason in the world why Nafzgar would have him anywhere near fully cranked for that race, it was a nice conditioning race which he happened to win.

Bluegrass - complete throwout from a speed figure perspective because the race was run so oddly. Again, Nafzgar had no reason at all to have this animal fully cranked when the Derby has been the target all along. Dominican had to be fully cranked for that race, without the cash he never had the earnings to get into the Derby. Differnet training objectives by both parties for that race. One trying to win it, the other using it as a stepping stone for today.

In addition, Polytrack is NOT Churchill downs. I would not overate any horse running great on that surface or underate any horse whose effort did not appear splendid unless of course they have decided to run the Derby today on the stuff - I don't think they have last time I checked. By the way, last fall Street Sense also got passed in the lane on the Keenland Polytrack the race before the BC Juvenile. Anyone see a similiar pattern developing regarding this traning/big race pattern lately for SS??

Dominican has 3 lifetime wins, ALL on the Keenland Poly. Geld this, geld that. He still has not run a truly big race on natural dirt or Churchill to date, and I doubt he suddenly decides to do it Derby day. If they move this afternoons race to Keenlands Poly I'll play him, otherwise a complete throwout. Just grabbing at proverbial "poly"ester straws and hoping you get lucky and he decides to run well on real dirt finally IMO.

I'm not gonna reach for to many straws in this Derby, and attempt to justify betting horses with marginal qualifications and achievements just because their odds are high. Street Sense, Curlin, Scat Daddy and Circular Quay, I'll box them all in tri's and supers and heavily bet SS to win with perhaps a saver win bet on Curlin.

Hard Spun - I like this horse a lot and he's bred to love mud, just love it. But its hard to play an animal when his connections have consistently avoided facing the best of his generation, and now want to take them all on in the big dance at 1 1/4 where I think he'll be finishing in a crawl after being on or near the early lead later today. I think experience against quality counts for a lot and he does not have it! This is also what scares me about Curlin, not the lack of foundation (I think that's BS) but rather he has never beaten anything of note, has never run in a route with solid early fractions and has never beaten quality G1 routers who actually finish their races by running at the end. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt mainly because of my perceived potential of his ability which is large - he's this years true X factor. Today he gets the acid test for class and if he passes it, I'd hate to look back and see I could have had 7-1 on the most talented beast in the field. His Ark derby is not overly impressive to me. They ran the 1st 6 panels in that race at the slowest pace since 1988 so he should have been able to run fast late. What's more, why were none of his Ark opponents running even moderately fast late after going that slow early and mid race? Answer: because he was racing against true junk. Most solid Derby contenders could have looked visually impressive in the lane against that field IMO.

ghostzapper2007 said...

My comments on Street Sense's races this year so far.

Tampa Bay Derby - no reason in the world why Nafzgar would have him anywhere near fully cranked for that race, it was a nice conditioning race which he happened to win.

Bluegrass - complete throwout from a speed figure perspective because the race was run so oddly. Again, Nafzgar had no reason at all to have this animal fully cranked when the Derby has been the target all along. Dominican had to be fully cranked for that race, without the cash he never had the earnings to get into the Derby. Differnet training objectives by both parties for that race. One trying to win it, the other using it as a stepping stone for today.

In addition, Polytrack is NOT Churchill downs. I would not overate any horse running great on that surface or underate any horse whose effort did not appear splendid unless of course they have decided to run the Derby today on the stuff - I don't think they have last time I checked. By the way, last fall Street Sense also got passed in the lane on the Keenland Polytrack the race before the BC Juvenile. Anyone see a similiar pattern developing regarding this traning/big race pattern lately for SS??

Dominican has 3 lifetime wins, ALL on the Keenland Poly. Geld this, geld that. He still has not run a truly big race on natural dirt or Churchill to date, and I doubt he suddenly decides to do it Derby day. If they move this afternoons race to Keenlands Poly I'll play him, otherwise a complete throwout. Just grabbing at proverbial "poly"ester straws IMO.

I'm not gonna reach for to many straws in this Derby, and attempt to justify betting horses with marginal qualifications and achievements just because their odds are high. Street Sense, Curlin, Scat Daddy and Circular Quay, I'll box them all in tri's and supers and heavily bet SS to win with perhaps a saver win bet on Curlin.

Hard Spun - I like this horse a lot and he's bred to love mud, just love it. But its hard to play an animal when his connections have consistently avoided facing the best of his generation, and now want to take them all on in the big dance at 1 1/4 where I think he'll be finishing in a crawl after being on or near the early lead later today. I think experience against quality counts for a lot and he does not have it! This is also what scares me about Curlin, not the lack of foundation (I think that's BS) but rather he has never beaten anything of note, has never run in a route with solid early fractions and has never beaten quality G1 routers who actually finish their races by running at the end. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt mainly because of my perceived potential of his ability which is large - he's this years true X factor. Today he gets the acid test for class and if he passes it, I'd hate to look back and see I could have had 7-1 on the most talented beast in the field. His Ark derby is not overly impressive to me. They ran the 1st 6 panels in that race at the slowest pace since 1988 so he should have been able to run fast late. What's more why were none of his Ark opponents running even moderately fast late after going that slow early and mid race? Answer: because he was racing against true junk. Most solid Derby contenders could have looked visually impressive in the lane against that field IMO.