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Sunday, May 08, 2011

King of the Kingdom

I'm out on a shopping mission with the Head Chef, who has two big catering jobs this week and will be spending at least part of her Mother's Day working. Sitting by the car outside Chelsea Market awaiting my next assignment, so have a few minutes for some brief initial thoughts on the Derby (which actually probably doesn't warrant that much discussion anyway. On my smartphone so the usual rules regarding typos and stuff apply.

Seems kinda funny that, after all those months of silly top ten lists, ridiculous ramblings by Haskin on 4th place finishers in one prep or another with various excuses, and all the overanalyses and obsessing, the the main tipoff to the winner was a stellar workout or two which indicated that Animal Kingdom might indeed like the dirt. That information becomes well-known here in the internet age; 20 years ago, nobody would have known and the horse might have been 40-1 (if he wasn't part of the mutuel field). Maybe next year we can all find better things to do with our time, as the traditional preps and preparation methods fade further into the oblivion of better times for the sport.

Of course, both Brilliant Speed and Twinspired got good workout reviews too. Where I went wrong in lumping the 3 of them together and summarily dismissing them as synth/turf horses is that, unlike the other 2, AK had not raced on dirt and therefore already indicated that he couldn't run on it. I had characterized Drape's selection of the winner as a 'desperate flailing stab' or something like that. I don't regret that at all, and wouldn't take it back even now. A bet on a horse who'd won a nondescript G3 on a synthetic surface, coming home in 39 seconds for the last 3/8ths, is nothing but that. However, a good handicapper knows when the time is appropriate for just such a shot in the dark. The hint for me should have been when Archarcharch drew the rail, I went back to the field and couldn't find a single other horse that I liked enough to replace him with. I dunno, I guess that I still take the race too seriously, and am afraid to make a "bad pick;" one i'd feel silly about if it ran up the track. So, great job by all of you who saw through the rest of this highly flawed field, and took a real shot at the right time.

Having said all of that, this was no fluke. AK earned a legit Beyer of 103, and closed in real racehorse time of 24 seconds flat. In the absence of any valid new faces, he'll be a solid and legitimate favorite at Pimlico two weeks hence.


suebroux said...

>>great job by all of you who saw through the rest of this highly flawed field, and took a real shot at the right time.<<

Okay, I'm gonna jump right in there and say, "Thanks." ;-)

Like you, I was only forced to go beyond Archx3 and Nehro because of their post positions. It really forced me to re-think my Derby pick. And at that point, all those months of watching and dissecting the prep races became almost irrelevant; it became a real handicapping puzzle of which horse could really endure the distance [and win] and those who shouldn't even be in the starting gate.

Is this the future of the Derby? Perusing past performances and two weeks of CD workouts the night before the biggest race in America? What would our Betting Forefathers think about that?

Steve D said...

The track was very kind to horses coming off the pace on the outside, which would seem to indicate that Shackleford could pull an upset in two weeks. And the "Graham Motion back in 14 days" angle probably isn't too profitable.

Figless said...

Its only a 1/16th of a mile shorter and Shacky actually got away with a reasonable pace scenario, unlikely to repeat in two weeks.

But yes I suppose he is a logical upsetter.

AK had six weeks off prior to Derby so should be able to bounce back quickly.

Off topic, Nakatani was the lone jock to sense the slow pace and move early, Gomez and especially Leparoux were snoring back there.

I guess I can pat myself on the back for stabbing, just stabbed at the wrong horse, Master of Hounds.

Amateurcapper said...

I think ANIMAL KINGDOM was the beneficiary of a Derby run like a turf event. He was able to stay in contact thanks to the slow pace, then kicked home like a grass runner would.

How 'bout a saver W/P bet on him and SANTIVA as reminders of our Florida vacation from a few years back (and to cover exacta key ARCHx3)? You're spot on about the pre-Derby palaver being a waste of time. The final Derby preps (except MINE THAT BIRD) still produce the Derby winners and top finishers. THe synth runners will always, should always, be viewed as curiosities instead of legit contenders. If only AK was 40-1!

If THE FACTOR, DANCE CITY, and FLASHPOINT join in with a spirited opening mile, expect in-form ANIMAL KINGDOM to run his race. I'll look for a mid-pack runner at a price to beat him to the punch. That horse will be SWAY AWAY, who was short when 4th in the Arky Derby after getting the lead inside the 1/8 pole. He got nothing out of the Rebel when he hit the gate, lost a tooth, then got shuffled/steadied into the first turn.

Last thought. Is it possible that ZITO left DIALED IN purposely short, believing he was head and shoulders better and would win the Derby, move forward in the Preakness to collect the $5.5 million for LaPenta, then go to the Belmont with a chance at the Crown? It may be that he overestimated DIALED IN's talent, underestimated the competition, and will have his colt "dialed in" now.

Anonymous said...

In re the long drought since the last Triple Crown winner, could it have something to do with the 20 horse fields in the Derby? Seems to me the old Derby field was 12, or 14, tops?

Not saying that this is THE reason but may be a contributing factor? The other factor in my book is the fact that today's 3YO's are less fit than they were due to too much emphasis on speed.

Thoroughbreds are bred to run and the current method of molly-coddling them along hasn't produced a TC winner. Time to try something else?

On the other hand, the breeding rewards down the road mean more to today's owner than a Triple Crown winner and therefore the Triple Crown is no longer the goal? /S/greenmtnpunter

Anonymous said...

Great day of racing on Saturday. I don't ever recall seeing such a quality undercard of races. The CD Handicap was one of the better races you will ever see.

Here's hoping ANIMAL KINGDOM can take this thing to New York and get it done. He's a powerful striding colt and a great physical specimen. Maybe he can be the one to end the drought. -jp

PS: Barry Irwin, what a turd. You just won the Kentucky F'ing Derby. Be happy and show some class, you a-hole.

Figless said...

Yeah, Irwin's comments, while honest, were unecessary.

La Penta has all the money he will ever need, he WANTS to win the Derby, not the 5.5M bonus.

That written, Zito might want his 10% share of the bonus more than another Derby but I doubt it.

I dont think Dialed In was short, or Zito over confident, but the Jock certainly was. The defeat was a combination of horrible over patient ride by Leparoux followed by the expected traffic problems.

He is a very good horse and will prove it down the road, but like Strike The Gold before him he needs a legit pace to set him up. He will get one in the Preakness.

Anonymous said...

Oh Alan, want to hear the irony of ironies?

Of course you'll recall the infamous BC day in 2005, when we should have hit that massive Pic4, but it came to our last selection in the BC Mile and I talked us into using Lewahdesanimoux instead of Artie Schiller...

Whelp, Karma is a bitch.

This past Saturday I played that skullbuster Pic4 ending in the Derby with a friend. All morning, we're handicapping and we know we need to go deep in the Derby. I hated, HATED Soldat, but we end up using him. When it comes to Animal Kingdom, I want to use him but my friend talks us out of making him one of SEVEN uses.

So what happens? We are all over the first 3 legs. AVIATE was one of our A-horses. AIKENITE was one of our A-horses. GET STORMY was one of our A-horses. We get to the Derby sitting on 7 horses and massive f'ing payoffs. We had ARCH3, DIALED IN, SANTIVA, MUCHO MACHO MAN, MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE, SOLDAT, and NEHRO.

And the rest, as they say is history. Animal Kingdom, son of Lewadesanimoux, wins and the P4 pays 12,000-1. DOH!! -jp

Anonymous said...

Calvin Carter was all over Animal Kingdom, since last year. And, with injuries taking their toll in regards to, who finally made it to the Derby, he had Animal Kingdom up on top, with the proper horses behind him for the exacta and triple.

I'm not sure the blog will transfer but, if you type in the address in the address box, you'll see exactly what I'm referring to.

Anonymous said...

animal kingdom was going to be my longshot, until he got bet down to 20-1. the best pre-race handicapping that i have seen is that thing someone posted on the thorograph forum by that horse psychologist--he nailed it.

too bad alan garcia didn't read it, or maybe he would have taken soldat straight to the lead, instead of parkig him five wide three horses back--those fractions were right in soldat's wheel-house.

according to the horse shrink, shack doesn't like to release from he field, so the last thing you want is to allow him to have a daylight lead before until about a length or 2 before the wire, or he'll slow down and wait for the others (which is exactly what he did in both the FL derby and the KY derby, only to gallop out strong and fresh).

the horse shrink also said that soldat will stay in whatever gear he starts in, and while his overdrive can't match shack's, shack wasn't in overdrive in the derby and would have happily run beside soldat for the entire race-- those two could have helped each other end up in the top 3 at least.

it may have looked like soldat slowed down and backed up coming for home, but if you check his speed, he was still going the same speed as he had been in the beginning--it's just that nehro, MMM, and animal kingdom sped up.

the good thing is that now shack will be getting some much deserved respect, the bad news is that soldat will be written off, when he is actually a very solid and versatile horse.

but kudos to animal kingdom, he's a solid horse and it's nice that a horse bred for stamina and soundness is at the top of the field right now (especially given the uncle mo soap opera)--it's good for the sport, if only those with the power to do anything would pay attention and learn from it.

oh, in case you're curious: the horse shrink said that animal kingdom is a kind of stud among studs kind of horse, that the others will defer as if their dad has just walked into the room. he also said dialed-in is like that too--and that the duel if those to every meet up in the run for the wire should be something special--so maybe the preakness will be something special?

Anonymous said...

Intriguing post from Anon in re the horse shrink. Actually makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? Animals always acknowledge a pecking order starting with chickens!

The dominant animals become the leaders and the weaker animals follow. One needs to become adept at reading horse body language to play this game.

Just don't start calling Animal Kingdom the "next" Secretariat as this would surely be the kiss of death for his chances in the Triple. Call me superstitious but it is almost always best to let the horse's actual performance do the talking.

Now receiving more frequent bulletins from Tom Federlin, our point man at Racing City Realty. This means Saratoga is fast approaching- it is the early anticipation that is delicious, is it not?