I think I should have mentioned General Quarters as well. Recall that he broke through to his career best 102 fig in his first race around two turns in the Sam F Davis, and then had an excuse and perhaps also bounced in the Tampa Bay Derby. He forged back towards his Davis fig in the Blue Grass, and then didn't expend much energy in the slop at Churchill after early trouble with traffic and mud.
McCarthy said there was a quarter inch of mud caked onto General Quarters’ lower left eye lid. He also said the colt hacked up a mudball the size of a tennis ball. [Talking Horses, May 6]This is a horse who I get the feeling may be sitting on an improved effort, as opposed to some of the others who I'm thinking may regress after battling hard in the Churchill slop; I'm liking him more as I write this, and he stood at 17-1 after Friday's wagering.
El Angelo thinks they'll be a hot pace, and mentions Terrain as a possibility should that be the case. I think he'd need a really hot one; his rallies have been late and have left him behind several of the others in here in the past. Nice pedigree; he's a son of Sky Mesa out of a stakes winning Forty Niner mare, and this is the direct female family of the Derby winner Unbridled (Gina Facil, the dam of the latter is the third dam of Terrain).
Reader Ann makes a fair point here:
I don't buy the "trained to peak in the Oaks" argument. It seems to me that the colts were trained to peak in the Derby. So if you discount her for that reason, you ought to discount the colts that ran in the Derby too.I actually don't disagree; the horses from the Derby that I like the most are the ones that didn't run all that much (Friesan Fire and General Quarters) or all that hard (Mine That Bird). I prefer Musket Man and Papa Clem underneath, though I have to use the latter on top defensively at his overlaid odds, currently 14-1.
So, you might say, Rachel Alexandra won easily too, and that's true. (By the way, everyone was quick to criticize Durkin after the Derby, but I don't recall hearing anyone comment on how he nailed the margin of victory at 20 in the Oaks!) She did run fast though, and had the easiest kind of journey with a clear stalking trip in a short field behind a vulnerable pace setter. She's the one stepping way up in class. It was just a few weeks ago that everyone was talking about how deep this crop of colts was; now they're all a bunch of bums!? Some of these guys have run some tough races under adverse circumstances; unless she's just that superior and runs clear away from these, she has to prove that she can too. Personally, I don't think this is the right time or place for her to do so. But I guess we'll soon find out!