The crush of handicappers re-checking those pedigrees at the last minute for their Derby contenders must have been too much for the Pedigree Query site, which was completely down throughout the weekend. It was back up on Tuesday, and I wanted to write about Animal Kingdom's pedigree.....or actually I should say, see it for myself. Have to admit I really never took a close look, as I never considered betting on this horse. So I didn't bother looking past his sire, the grass horse Leroidesanimeaux. (And yes jp, I think about that Breeders' Cup every day his name comes up. Sorry to hear of your disappointment on Derby Day. :)
But now, tonight, the site is down for maintenance, so we'll have to talk about something else. The Derby winner has arrived in Baltimore, and was reported to be hungry. Graham Motion is sounding very confident.
"I think it will be a full field. I don't think anybody will be running away from him. He's an amazing horse, a brilliant horse." [Baltimore Sun]High praise, though Motion is British, and they call everything "brilliant!." I speak to people in London on the phone at work, send them a copy of an invoice or something, and it's "brilliant!" So I'm not sure if Motion thinks his horse is really brilliant, or just brilliant!.
Speaking of our British friends; always like to check the Independent to see what Chris McGrath has to say. He wasn't at the Derby it turns out, but filed this report on 5th place finisher Master of Hounds.
A couple of lengths in third that day was his stablemate, Master Of Hounds, who ran a storming race to be fifth in the 137th Kentucky Derby on Saturday...Master Of Hounds was well behind early under Garrett Gomez, but vindicated O'Brien's suspicion that he would adapt to the dirt, staying on to be beaten five and a half lengths behind Animal Kingdom – himself a horse with turf antecedents. It is likely that Master Of Hounds will be kept back for the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, where his stamina seems sure to make him competitive.Master of Hounds ran the final quarter in 24.13, the 4th fastest in the race (behind Dialed In (23.79), Animal Kingdom, and the absurdly overbet Twice the Appeal).
"It was a great run for his first time on dirt," Gomez said. "Down the backstretch they threw the brakes on, and it cost us. We were at the mercy of the pace, but he ran sensationally through the dirt. I'm really looking forward to the Belmont." [Independent]
They 'threw the brakes on,' as Gomez said, for sure - a 25.2 second 2nd quarter after an opening in 23.1. That's really unbelievable. What happened to the expected speed duel? They quickened home from there - 24.4 and 24 flat to the quarter pole. One might say that Animal Kingdom closed against the grain of the pace; but the fact is, he was never that far back himself - not more than 6 1/4 lengths in his past performance line (which I can see via Formulator). So I think this is one of those cases like we discussed recently where a slow pace helps the closer; Animal Kingdom was able to stay well in contact despite being able to loaf through the first half mile in 49.68 seconds. So, sure he had a lot left, and not that many lengths to make up.
I'm not downgrading his performance; he was obviously better than say, Master of Hounds, who wasn't that far behind the winner early on. But we can't assume that a quicker pace in the Preakness will automatically make things easier for him. Might not show such a keen closing kick if he has to run 24 second splits just to keep up. Having said that, I don't think the Derby was that tough of a race for him. He had a clean trip and only had to run hard for a half mile. So I think he could still be pretty fresh for the Preakness - remember, he hadn't raced in six weeks, and has only started three times this year.
- jp brought up a good point about dead Derby money that didn't make it to the tote in New York. I had several people who used to make it to an OTB once a year ask me how they could get a bet down this year. I did get NYRA one new customer that I know of (do I get commission?), but others said they didn't want to bother signing up for a single race. (Though one of them sent a friend to Yonkers.)
Pedigree Query back up, will get to that pedigree one of these days.