This is the LATG Derby Top Ten of horses, people, and things that I think will be in the news on or around Kentucky Derby day:
1) Pioneeerof the Nile received mixed reviews at best for his San Felipe, but I'm looking at the brighter side and really believe that the Beyer is irrelevant in this case. Baffert promises to have him cranked up for the Santa Anita Derby, which is shaping up as a battle for supremacy in the west and a definitive test for this son of Empire Maker.
2) If you rank horses strictly on the basis of their performance in preps, Friesan Fire has to be #1 hands down in my opinion. But it sounds as if Larry Jones might be contracting a case of Denis the Cork Syndrome, staring too much at the sheets. Jones' concern is if the colt improves too much in a prep race, he might regress for the Derby.
Jones will base his decision on a prep for Friesan Fire on whether it would help the colt's chances to win the Kentucky Derby. If Friesan Fire doesn't have another prep, he'll go into the Derby off a seven-week break. Three years ago, Barbaro became the first horse since Needles in 1956 to win the Kentucky Derby off a five-week layoff.Yeah, but didn't Hard Spun lose?
Jones knows he'll hear skeptics who'll bring up such tidbits. "We went six weeks with Hard Spun," Jones said. "They said we couldn't do that." [Times Picayune]
3) Governor David Paterson signs a bill,
the only one to come out of the legislative session, increasing the takeout at NYRA tracks to 90% because Charlie Hayward looks too much like AIG CEO Edward Liddy. Separately, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, asserting that NYRA too was bailed out by taxpayer money, releases the names of 13 NYRA employees who received a 2009 calendar for Christmas.
4) Still think that Patena, and not Stardom Bound, is the horse that Michael Iavarone thinks is his best Derby hope? Does anyone doubt that it was he who made the offer to buy Rebel winner Win Willy?
5) Andy Beyer concedes that his traditional figures for synthetic surfaces are useless to compare to dirt races, and introduces his new Fake Beyers. Par times on synthetic tracks will be devised artificially using algorithms devised by HANA, mixed in with some mathematical calculations by the New York Senate Democrats, and shaken well by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
6) It's not only U.S. bettors who favor Dunkirk in the futures pools.
European layers William Hill have reported strong interest in the Todd Pletcher trained Dunkirk for the Kentucky Derby. The bookmakers were offering odds of 14-1 about the unbeaten three year old winning the first leg of the triple crown, but the money they saw on Thursday has forced the firm to cut him to 11-1 clear favourite for the race. [Oddspreview]I've read a lot of talk, and suppose I've said so myself, that this is a superior three-year old crop to last year. But if that's the case, how can a horse with two lifetime starts and zero stakes earnings be the favorite individual entry at 7-1 (US)!?
7) The Pamplemousse worked five furlongs in 59.80 on Wednesday. Trainer Julio Canani was very happy and very pleased. "I'm very happy. He was just breezing. I'm very pleased." Yeah, as I said. Those who like this horse really like this horse, and his 103 Fake Beyer is 11 points higher than the top pick ran last time.
8) Once considered a precocious up-and-comer, Bobby Jindal, still reeling from his widely-panned speech in response to President Obama's State of the Union address, resigns in humiliation as Governor of Louisiana. But when he finds that he's ineligible for unemployment because of the stimulus money he refused to accept as Governor, he travels to Alaska via magnetic levitation and takes a job monitoring volcanos. (I know, no racing content but I couldn't resist.)
9) I Want Revenge is sticking around for the Wood. Want to see a stiffer test than his easy trip stalking an unproven NY-bred on his way to a figure that seems inflated. But I'm not seeing the Wood definitely being on the schedule for anyone other than some Pletcher horse and Imperial Council, who could be the underlay of the year in that race. The Wood is considered a backup for Quality Road, which would at least create a matchup of the horses with the gaudy 113 figs.
10) While the rest of the racing world parties away on Kentucky Derby Eve, NTRA CEO Alex Waldrop is seen entering the Southeast Christian Church. Waldrop is overheard wailing: "Please Lord, PLEASE don't let anyone get hurt!" He shows up at the track the next day wearing a clove of garlics and bearing horseshoes, shark teeth, and a voodoo doll with a striking likeness to NY Times columnist William C. Rhoden.
11) Thanks as always for reading - the Head Chef and I are off on vacation and leaving the lappy, as I saw it referred to the other day, at home. Check out the home page of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance for handy links to bloggers big and small (as well as to a great deal on Formulator), and I'll see you in a week or so.