First of all, I did not end up using Super Saver on top, for a variety of reasons and even though I did unenthusiastically include him in my top group in my final rundow. As greenmtnpunter noted, he had become the obvious bandwagon horse, and that was even before the guy bet $100,000 to win. If I hadn't already made my bets, that would have been the last straw! But no harm done, had a great day, great BBQ here in our backyard, and I didn't have Ice Box, Paddy O'Prado, nor Make Music For Me anywhere on any of my tickets, so it wouldn't have mattered anyhoo.
Now, let's take a look at some numbers, which I think bear out of a couple of assumptions that most of us made before the race - 1) that the race would fall apart after a fast pace and 2) the field was a mediocre one, at best. The final time of 2:04.45 was the slowest since 1989 (Sunday Silence, 2:05, on a drying-out track), and the second slowest since Tim Tam in 1958.
Nonetheless, Super Saver received a respectable Beyer figure of 104, but as far as I'm concerned, that number means ZERO. There were three other two-turn dirt races run on the day, enough under normal circumstances to provide a sufficient sample. However, the last one before the Derby was run at 12:40 PM, nearly six hours and who knows how many raindrops before Race 11. You might have heard Donna Brothers Barton explaining that the nature of the track was changing from race to race, so one can easily surmise that the track at 6:30 bore little resemblance to that of 12:40. So it seems to me that the Beyer boys did their usual projection magic to make all of the numbers fit neatly into the context of the runners' histories rather than relying on any hard numbers. Super Saver's 104 is a logical progression from his improvement over the year, Ice Box, at 100, makes sense after he (supposedly) improved to 99 in the Florida Derby, Paddy O'Prado, at 100, makes little sense at all, but neither did his odds nor his finishing third as far as I'm concerned. Noble's Promise (95) (and yes, that pedigree sure seemed to catch up to him in the final furlong), Looking At (un)Lucky (94) and Dublin (93) all fit in nicely.
In this race, relying on final times in order to create or project figures can't possibly tell the whole story of what actually occurred. For that, the internal fractions relate what really happened, and it ain't pretty at all. There might not have been the anticipated head-to-head battle on the front end, as Conveyance and Sidney's Candy were a clear and uncontested 1-2. But the leader was moving swiftly through fractions of 22.63, 46.16, and 1:10.58; splits of 22.63, 23.53, and 24.38. From that point on, this race suddenly slowed to a walk. It was another 27.07 seconds before Noble's Promise hit the front at the quarter pole, and a slightly more acceptable 26.80 before the finish; that's a final half of almost 54 seconds after the first one in 46.16. Can anyone tell me that a Derby on a "fast" Polytrack surface could have been any uglier? Even Giacomo's fall-apart Derby was a faster final half than that, at 53 1/5, and by a relatively wide margin.
So Super Saver earned the Toddster's first Derby and his 104 Beyer by running a ground-saving final half of 52.77 seconds, and I wonder how his final quarter (26.55) ranks in Derby history? Giacomo had to be going faster than that considering that he closed a lot of ground (final quarter that day was 26.87). And it's a further indictment of the field that Ice Box was the only one making up any serious ground at the end....and, as fast as it appeared he was going, his final quarter was 26.10. So, if you answer the question of "Which horses were able to get the distance?" with nobody, I don't think you're being inaccurate.
- Awesome Act, who I did use on top, finished 19th with no obvious excuse, yuck!
Trainer Jeremy Noseda said: "Julien said that he was happy round the first bend but that down the backstretch Awesome Act was never really firing.- Baffert on Lookin At Lucky's Preakness prospects: "I'm going to keep you all in suspense....I'm just going to wait and see how he looks on the track." [Baltimore Sun]
"It was a very disappointing run," added the trainer. "We thought there was no issue with the sloppy track but perhaps there was." [Racing Post.com]
"I quit watching after the first bump," Baffert said. "He was done. I wish Garrett would have pulled him up. But that's horse racing. You have good luck and you have bad luck and I've been lucky to win this race (three times) when other guys had bad luck." [Albany Times-Union]