Undefeated Gotham winner Vyjack
showed some unusual versatility coming from far off the pace after
being near or on it in his first three races; including his game
front-running win in the Jerome (which I still can't accept being run at
Aqueduct in January). And it's not like he was taken back behind a
lightning pace. The pace was in fact on the slow side compared to other
races on the day, going 24 and 48 3/5 to the half. So it was a lively third
quarter of 24 flat into which Vyjack commenced his move, and he
sustained it well despite being five wide. When he changed leads
mid-stretch, he re-broke and closed with a nice rush. Nice looking
Pedigree-wise, Vyjack shows some mixed signals in his female family. By Into Mischief (Harlan's Holiday), he's out of a Stravinsky mare who's a half-sister to the crack Maryland sprinter Disco Rico. His third dam, Capp It Off, was also a stakes-winning sprinter; and a look further down the pedigree shows names like the sprint champ Smoke Glacken and BC Sprint runner-up Crown of Thorns (the horse, not this rock band, who followed me on Twitter after I posted this tidbit there.) On the other hand, he's a half to route winner Prime Cut, and his second dam is a half to Miss Slewpy, who won the Ladies Handicap at 10 furlongs.
Now, here I was gonna go off on one of those 'the Derby ain't what it used to be' rants and argue that pedigree isn't really all that important anymore when it comes to picking the winner, and so on and so forth. But I'm as sick of writing that stuff as I am of reading about the Derby months before the fact, so nevermind. However, I was looking for past Derby results charts, so naturally visited Churchill Downs' official Kentucky Derby website, and went to the history section.
There, I was surprised (or not so much) by what I did (and didn't find). For one thing, somebody there has apparently forgotten to post links to the results charts 'powered by brisnet' (the website that the company purchased and neglected) for the past two years. And, if you search the years before 2009, all you get is a replay (which I can find on You Tube) and the chart comment. That's it. I dunno....it's the vaunted Kentucky Derby and the official vaunted Kentucky Derby site. One might think that they would put just a little effort into it. Especially for some of the more storied winners from the past; even Secretariat gets the same lame treatment. That's just weak. But, then again, Churchill Downs, as a public company focused on its bottom line, has priorities other than racing nowadays.
That matter of how much Churchill cares about racing was a topic of debate and discussion on a Twitter conversation I stumbled upon yesterday between a Churchill employee and our buddy Joe Drape. And I was surprised (or not so much) to read this tweet by our favorite Times reporter.
They are a gaming company now and no longer a racetrack company. Sport on last legs & CD knows it best of all.To which I couldn't help but reply:
.@joedrape Right on re: CD and we all appreciate yours and the NYT's efforts to ensure the sport is on its last legsTo which he replied, in his usual pithy manner:
the truth hurtsAnd I'm thinking...the truth?? What truth is that, exactly? That the Times is trying to kill the sport? Because there's not a grain of truth in the statement that horse racing is on its last legs. You can surely argue that the sport is not thriving; that it faces tremendous challenges, and that the industry is not doing enough to meet those challenges, nor to help it grow. But on its last legs? Dog racing is on its last legs. Jai-alai is on its last legs. Seth MacFarlane is on his last legs as an Oscar host. Individual tracks may be on their last legs as a live spectator venue. But horse racing as a whole? I don't see how any objective person can say that it is on its last legs. Handle is holding steady as race days decline. And seriously, can you really spend a day at Saratoga or Del Mar or Keeneland or Oaklawn or Churchill....or even, yes, Aqueduct in the dead of winter with its ground floor packed with refugees from OTB....and tell me this game is on its death bed?
And I find it more than just a little disturbing that the lead racing writer for the New York Times would write that; especially in light of his role in the paper's efforts to drive the sport to the sorry state which he seems to crave. (Don't really know why he does; seems to me that he'd be standing on the unemployment line with everyone else.) To me, it's rather telling and casts a bright and unflattering light on the thinking going on at the Paper of Record when they publish those stories which so distort and twist the truth to fit that very agenda. And I think that those people who defend the reporting should think about that the next time they see Death and Disarray at America's Racetracks on the NY Times' front page.