- The defection of War Pass due to injury certainly changes the outlook for at least the first mile or so of the Derby, and I'm sure that the connections of Big Brown can't be unhappy. The juvenile champion was one horse who was certain to be winging out there early. Now, we have Bob Black Jack, trying dirt for the first time, Cowboy Cal, who appears to be a turf horse, Recapturetheglory, who I'm not sure is really that fast early, and Gayego, who is quick early, but is more of a pressing type. Am I leaving anyone out?
Meanwhile, Big Brown has had two flawless five furlong workouts, and his preparation appears to be going very smoothly. I surely intend to bet against him...assuming that he's the favorite, that is. Gimme 5-1, and that's different, because I must admit that I find him pretty scary. Besides his freaky talent, I not only like his pedigree, but it's one of my favorites in the entire field. I believe his downfall will be his getting hooked early in the usual Derby stampede, and suffering from both his early efforts and his lack of experience at crunch time. Unfortunately, now there's less speed with which to hook him. And if those of you who think, based on his second race, that he'll be able to rate are correct - a notion with which I respectfully and optimistically disagree - then, oh boy.
I don't really know that Zito would have run War Pass anyway; he never absolutely committed to the idea. He had recently started to talk up how draining the Wood was, calling it a "gut-wrenching" performance. If that's the case, then I submit that it was only slightly less so for Tale of Ekati. Third place finisher Court Vision may have had an easier time since he didn't run much early on, but he apparently did so in a workout at Churchill on Thursday morning. So much so, that Haskin, who didn't even see it, devoted 12 paragraphs of his latest Derby Trail column to it. This is when the roses began to burst, he wrote. I don't really know what that means.
Court Vision went a half in :46 1/5 breezing, galloping out five-eighths in about 1:00 3/5 under exercise rider Neil Poznanski.That means he galloped out the last eighth in 14 2/5, even slower than he comes home in his races, so it sounds to me like he's right on schedule to close for 11th or 12th.
Then again, he won a Grade 2 at a one-turn mile over the Churchill track last year, so perhaps I shouldn't be so flippantly dismissive of his chances lest I feel silly later on!
- LATG Stable update: Foolish Bid runs today for Kasey K Racing Stable as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the 5th at Philly Park. You just have to look at the pp's to see why I think he's going to win. I'd like to tell you what's up with Just Zip It, but I don't know. She was reported to have just a slight bit of heat in the foot from which she threw a shoe in her last race. But there's been no more news forthcoming from Castle Village; and that's the frustration of participating in these public stables. So let's hope that she's OK.
On the ex-stable side, Highland Cat is entered in the 7th on opening day at Calder on Monday. He's become a real game performer since we cut him loose, especially since he was subsequently claimed by trainer Norman Pointer; a fruitful purchase to be sure. I think he has a real shot in this race despite drawing the outside ten post. He's most competitive on figs, and he finished in front of morning line favorite Fly With the Wind in his last race. In that contest, he was twice steadied - once on the turn, and another time midstretch, and he finished absolutely full of run for 4th. And each of the three horses that finished in front of him that day would be clear favorites in this field, in my opinion. So I'll be playing him on Monday, and I surely hope that he goes off in the vicinity of his 8-1 morning line.