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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pursuit of a Second Opinion

A bunch of Derby workouts on Saturday, including the five horses from Pletcher who are definitely slated to start.  And according to the Mike Welsch, Revolutionary continues to stand out. 

  Work of the day Revolutionary (four furlongs in 48.31 seconds) became one of the rare few to garner two “work of the day” honors in less than a week while continuing to really impress since shipping to Churchill Downs following his victory in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. With...Calvin Borel aboard, Revolutionary breezed in company with fellow Derby contender Charming Kitten, who held a half-length advantage turning into the stretch after the pair posted a 24.61 opening quarter. But Revolutionary dominated the latter portion of the drill, coming home a final quarter in 23.50 while just cruising to the wire a length clear before readily pulling away, galloping out five-eighths in 1:00.58. The only glitch was the fact he again switched back briefly to his left lead near midstretch. He really seems to be handling the surface here extremely well. [DRF]
Welsch has the hots for this colt, for sure.  He didn't have anything bad to say about the other four, except for qualifying Verrazano's drill as "a very nice work, but not the standout performance perhaps many observers had been expecting to see."

I was interested in reading a few of the reader comments.   Here's Roger: 
Stop your love affair with Revolutionary and start reporting some facts on these workouts. Both Overanalyze and Palice Malice had better works than Revolutionary. Their workouts were faster than Revolutionary because both of these horses were traveling over the track much better....Revolutionary has a choppier stride than these two and may not even show up with mud in his face.
Now, I'm not saying that this guy Roger knows more than the esteemed clocker of the Daily Racing Form.  But the point is that, like most everything else one has to assess and consider when playing this great game, there is a certain amount of subjectivity in the evaluation of workouts, and knowledgeable people may disagree.  Welsch has surely earned much respect, but I don't see any oppositional views on the internet.  I'm sure there are private clockers issuing reports to paying clients or maybe on some private chat rooms, but it seems like Welsch has a virtual monopoly as far as free online content goes.  Please let me know if I'm missing something.

TVG's The Works used to be a great resource, with some expert commentary by trainer Tom Amoss amongst others, but we don't get that anymore.  HRTV covers the works on its Pursuit of the Crown series, but not that many people get that network (I'm getting it again, having recently switched to FIOS).  I did happen to catch Jeff Siegel listing his top five 3yo colts on some other show on HRTV while writing this;  he had Verrazano as #1.  He showed video of Saturday's workout, and explained (as if perhaps responding to Welsch's qualifier): 
"I know this may not have been the world's greatest work, but it was certainly good enough for me....turning into the stretch, he is gonna be in rhythm.  That's what I look at here; I'm not worried about a fast time - although it was a pretty good time, 59.3 - but to me, he's well in hand here, he's eager - it's a perfect work.  You don't want him to go too slow, but you don't want him to go too fast either.  You want him to go just about the way he did.......he had good energy every step of the way, he's in beautiful rhythm, he seems to be getting over the track just fine....It wasn't flashy, it wasn't brilliant, but you don't need that six or seven days before the race."
   Yeah, what do I know, but I think Verrazano looked fantastic, striding powerfully and smoothly, head down, all business. 

Pletcher himself singled out Overanalyze for praise (as did HRTV's Zoe Cadman).  "I thought this morning was the best I'd seen him breeze. Ever." []   Here it is, in company with Palace Malice (the one in front at first). 

I haven't really paid that much attention to Overanalyze since he disappointed in the Gotham, and even despite him winning the Arkansas Derby, as slow as the race came back (an 88 Beyer).  But I suppose he's eligible to improve based on the two-prep to glory pattern we've seen the last six years.  He's a son of Dixie Union out of an unraced mare by Unaccounted For (Private Account); he's a half-brother to the G1 Matron winner Meadow Breeze.

 - Orb out for a gallop this morning, saw the video on HRTV.  "Handles this track beautifully," according to Richard Migliore.  He playfully jumped the shadow of the finish line, which won't be a problem on Saturday if he gets there first.  Orb will work out on Monday morning.

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Anonymous said...

In general, if you take the opposing opinion of any comment on DRF you rate to be on the right side.

Anonymous said...

To make sure I was clear, the commenters are almost universally clueless there. Welsch has earned a very respected opinion....Roger has not.

dana said...

Another freebie is Jill Byrne at the official Kentucky Derby YouTube channel with a daily "Backside Buzz," one for the Derby and one for the Oaks. You can also watch most of the works for yourself there.

She also had good things to say about his work that day as well all the other Pletcher trainees except Charming Kitten.

Figless said...

The fact that Rev is still changing leads at the wrong time is a huge negative this close to the race meaning this workout should be considered a negative regardless of the time.

It means A) he remains immature, B) is not comfortable with the surface or C) worse has an underlying physical problem, regardless of which I downgrade his chances next week.

His high choppy action, referenced by Roger, has always indicated to me he might be turf meant so I make B my final answer, he is very talented but running on a surface he doesn't prefer.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Roger knows better than Mike Welsch.

The internet is like the land of elves and fairies.

ljk said...

51 weeks a year most handicappers could give a rat's ass about workouts. This week we're scrutinizing every choppy stride.

Learn something every day. A "high choppy stride" is good for turf? Rev is bred to run 10 furlongs on the dirt.

steve in nc said...

Any entrant for the Derby should be looking good in workouts. These are like top 17 year-old athletes being trained for the track meet of their lives. So why parse degrees of positivity when the best workout doesn't equal the best race?

Give Welch (and any other observer) an honest statistical rundown, and I think you'll see that the only thing worth watching for is a strongly negative comment from a seasoned observer who's seen the horse work before.