- Here's the LATG Derby Top Ten of horses and people who I think will be making headlines on or about the first Saturday in May:
1) Pyro - Jessica linked to Dick Powell's column, noting that she shares his reservations about Pyro being a "counter-puncher." And that observation strikes me as the latest stretch in trying to find a reason to be skeptical about Asmussen's colt. Pyro is about as clear-cut of a Derby favorite at this stage that I recall in recent years, especially with the unceremonious flop of War Pass last weekend (and notwithstanding that of Z Fortune, who Pyro defeated in the Risen Star). Powell wrote:
He responds to what the other horses are doing but doesn't dictate his own circumstances. Until we see him in the Kentucky Derby (G1), where against a large field he'll get a fast pace, we won't know how he'll respond. [BRIS]Seems to me that the ability to respond to different race situations is a very good thing for any horse in any race, especially one, like this year's Derby, which apparently lacks anything approaching a dominant animal. What will he do in a large field in which he'll get a fast pace? Personally, I don't see any reason why, based on his races thus far, he won't come flying down the middle of the track. He will, of course, be subject to the vagaries of racing luck, but until I see a horse who I believe has the innate ability to overcome any such misfortune on his or her own, Pyro remains in my opinion the clear and logical favorite for this year's Run for the Roses.
2) Denis of Cork - Ugh, this means that I have the same top two as Haskin....but it's slim pickins out there to be sure. The decision to skip the Rebel, with the accompanying admission that he's "not robust," doesn't exactly inspire confidence, and he'll go into the Derby with just one race in 11 weeks and just four lifetime starts. But he was surely flattered by the stakes results of last weekend, and again, it's slim pickins out there....
3) New York Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco becomes the latest acting Governor to resign due to sexual indiscretions after his admission that he rubbed up inappropriately against his official State office furniture. Previously, Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith admitted to having amorous thoughts about Sheldon Silver, who himself was forced to step down after being observed in a compromising position with the New York State Seal. David Paterson had been forced to resign after his list of affairs expanded to include those with the entire Democratic conference, after which Joe Bruno served for three days before admitting that his love of horses went far beyond breeding and racing.
4) The Breeders' Cup refuses to back down from the fierce criticism of its Filly/Female/Femme Fatale Friday program, and defiantly announces a third Cup day, this one restricted to races for geldings, ridglings, horses of uncertain sexual orientation, and former Governors of New York State.
5) Elysium Fields - To be perfectly honest. I don't really have more than a Top One or Two at this point; the rest of these are just horses that seem to have the potential to improve between now and then. This one looks as if he has as much of a chance to do just that as anybody, even though he finished behind a horse I don't care for at all in Cool Coal Man. But he continued on gamely after being passed by that one in the FOY, and has worked spectacularly for Barclay Tagg since then. The Florida Derby is next.
6) Visionaire - He may have benefited from good trips and pace scenarios, but he's done little wrong and, like the above choice, has a trainer with winning Derby experience. Michael Matz is said to be deciding between the Illinois Derby or the Blue Grass.
7) New York Governor Charles Hayward announces the finalization of the franchise deal with NYRA President Charles Hayward, and denies any conflict of interest.
8) Ready's Echo - If we're ever going to see a horse with just two career races, and one win, as of March 22 win the Kentucky Derby, this could be it. Late runner needs to pass many tests - winners, two turns, the Pletcher Derby jinx - but at least he didn't finish last at 1-20 in the Tampa Bay Derby.
9) Senator John McCain takes his Bullshit Express to Louisville. The presumptive GOP presidential nominee, who is against lobbyists (but includes several as senior staff members), is now in favor of overturning Roe vs Wade (after being against it), is for extending the Bush tax cuts (after originally voting against them), and who now criticizes the original conduct of the war (after praising it at the time), changes his Derby pick from War Pass, to Pyro, to Visionaire, to Proud Spell, to Tale of Etaki, to Majestic Warrior, to Rudy Giuliani, and proudly accepts the endorsement of Patrick Biancone.
10) El Gato Malo - Pedigree questions abound for this son of El Corredor; but, like Pyro, he's raced well given differing pace scenarios, and finished extremely well against an unfavorable one when he determinedly chased Colonel John in an 11 4/5 closing furlong in the Sham.