- Just a couple of workouts this morning, and only one of those, by Tale of Ekati, by a definite starter. Halo Najib was the other, and he currently occupies the #21 spot on the graded earnings list. I think we can say that there are no worthy contenders being shut out this year, though Tomcito fans may cry foul, feeling that the money he earned in Peru should count. He didn't do nearly enough in his two races here to either earn enough money or to create enough of a visual impression to make his case. But having said that, he'd sure be a more interesting entry than Z Humor or Anak Nakal in my opinion.
Tale of Ekati is squarely on my no-chance list, and a half mile in 49 2/5 isn't going to change my mind about that. You can see his workout on the Kentucky Derby site; unfortunately, I just discovered that today, but you can go back and check out some past drills as well. Looks like Tale of Ekati was on the wrong lead for much of the stretch as well.
I've been writing a lot recently about horses I don't like, which is certainly a necessary part of the process. But starting later tonight, after the Rangers game - and hopefully I'll be in a good mood - I'm going to start to run down the horses that I like...or that I at least haven't completely eliminated at this time. And please remember that on Friday, I'll be doing a blogathon throughout the day, during which we'll try to actually come up with some selections while we also try to pick a winner or two on the day's races at Belmont and Churchill. So please drop by if you have a moment.
The other big Derby news is the arrival of Big Brown last night, and the Derby favorite is looking pretty comfy, doncha think?
"We're going to be all in," Dutrow said by phone from Florida last week. "We're all in and we can't wait to bet. This is a horse playing barn, we're players." [Albany Times Union]The start of the race will obviously be key, and Dutrow said: "In the first 10 jumps, we might have 15 of them beat."
(But Joe Drape reports from Churchill that Dutrow seems far more subdued today.)
- NYRA, which had its reorganization plan approved by the bankruptcy court, announced today that it is in dispute with the Mid-Atlantic Cooperative over simulcast signals, and that the entities will not simulcast the others' signals when Belmont opens tomorrow. NYRA's executive VP Hal Handel said: “Simulcast pricing is a changing part of the racing landscape. The discussions have been amicable, so we’re hopeful our outstanding economic issues can be resolved soon.” NYRA is of course trying to nudge those simulcast rates upward, and you might recall that Charles Hayward told me: "We have to have some cash in the bank because we'd probably have to go to war with some of these guys." Not sure what their bank balance is these days, but NYRA is nonetheless taking a stand which will mean its signal will not go to some 16 tracks in the mid-Atlantic region. (By the way, NYRA is currently accepting wagers on Churchill Downs.)
- Jeff Gural was fined $20,000 by the Racing and Wagering Board for his early closing of Vernon Downs last fall in defiance of the Board's specific denial of his request to do so.
Board members said track owners showed a blatant disregard for the rules, and threatened to issue fines against owners themselves if the track cancels races again.- Thanks to John for posting this link, where we can at least see the odds on horses for Kentucky Derbies past (just enter the year). It's unfathomable to me that the Kentucky Derby website doesn't have complete historical charts for the Kentucky Derby! Indeed, the filly entry of Althea and Life's Magic was the favorite in 1984, with Swale the 3-1 second choice. I think I ended up going to the Vanlandingham/Pine Circle entry if I recall correctly.
[Joe] Faraldo said he would have liked to see a higher fine, but the fine imposed was the highest allowed under law. [Syracuse Post-Standard]
Reader Jen R says "how times change" with respect to the 1984 article on Swale, which read: The colt's last two workouts were crucial because he has not raced since April 17. Just amazing, isn't it? Swale ran 7th to Gate Dancer as the favorite in the Preakness, and then won the Belmont at 3-2. He died of a heart attack a week afterwards, which added to the mystery and intrigue that surrounded the colt during that strange run-up to the Derby.
- And speaking of deceased equines...it's Barbaro's 5th birthday! So happy birthday champ, and let's hope that he's pulling some straight flushes these days!