- If you don't mind a brief commercial announcement, here's a plug for my buddy DiscreetCat, who's been on fire over at Discreet Picks, the link to which is still, I think, somewhere amidst the construction that is going on with the site right now. I know he's had at least four of his last five, not including Gayego, who I know he liked on Saturday. It actually seemed as if a lot of people liked him, and $6.60 wasn't too bad of a price I don't think....if of course you figured he'd run well on dirt. Maybe his winning may make some bettors more comfortable backing Colonel John, and thus depress his odds.
You can't compare the Keeneland Polytrack to the Cushion Tracks in California anyway (even other than the fact that the Polytrack drains properly and isn't scheduled to be replaced). Keeneland's track seems like a freak show to me in comparison to Santa Anita and Hollywood when it comes to how the dirt form translates, and the manner in which the races are run. So I don't think that the way horses translate their dirt form to Keeneland, or vice versa, has anything to do with how they will do so when it comes to Cushion Track. I think it's foolish for Asmussen to come out and say he won't run Pyro in the Breeders Cup. In fact, we don't even know what kind of surface they'll have there.
Anyway, Discreet Cat left this comment:
The current graded-earnings system of selecting the Derby field has simply got to change. Horses who win a few graded sprints as 2yo's (see Kodiak Kowboy and Salute the Sarge) are given preference over horses who have been running well in two-turn races as 3yo's (see El Gato Malo and Yankee Bravo). Even the current Derby sensation Big Brown was on the outside looking in before his win in the Florida Derby. If he had run third (with traffic problems, let's say), he wouldn't be in the race either. Also of concern is fillies who run up graded-stakes earnings in races such as the 4-horse Fantasy Stakes. Nothing against Eight Belles, I'm a big fan of hers, but i don't think racing vs. 3 fillies should punch your ticket to the Derby.For one thing, if you think there would be whining with that system, wait until you hear what happens if Eight Belles enters and scratches to run in the Oaks!
In my opinion, the race should be by invitation-only. Put together a panel of handicappers/analysts (no matter how incompetent) and let the select the 20 horses most deserving of a spot. Surely, there will be whining from the connections who miss the cut, but it beats the hell out of the system we have now.
I'm totally down with this idea for the reasons DC states; and also for the controversy that is inevitably generated when human judgment becomes involved, and that's always good for some press coverage and publicity. They could have a selection show (on
Some tweaking might be in order. Perhaps it would be good to have a certain amount of spots guaranteed on merit - dare I suggest a 'win and you're in' for the Derby? And there would have to be minimum prep race requirements to insure that horses actually run in races once they no longer have to compete for earnings.
Since there would be human judgment involved, there will of course be mistakes made, and some horses and owners will be left out unfairly. But that can happen now too, when you have qualifiers like Z Humor, getting picked on around here lately, still living off the fruits of his dead heat win in the rich Delta Jackpot last year. That race is effectively more important the Blue Grass, or the Arkansas Derby, or the Wood. How can that be?
Probably not that much would change. The worthiest contenders would very likely qualify under any system. But it would prevent a scenario like the one with Big Brown described above. Can you imagine how dull this Derby would seem if he wasn't eligible for the race?