So, now that you've read everything you need to know about the Derby, we'll go for, in a stream of consciousness format as I'm in a bit of a daze this morning after last night's Rangers game, things that you don't. And maybe/hopefully some stuff you haven't read anywhere else.
For one thing, something you don't need to know: I won; not much, but profitable. Pretty much stuck to what I wrote here. I abandoned Revolutionary when he was the favorite; bet Orb and Palace Malice to win and place. Was surprised and a bit disappointed at Orb's ultimate win price, as he was 7-1 when I bet with probably not much more than 15 minutes to go; so he really got slammed late a la Sweetnorthernsaint in 2006 (actually the favorite over Barbaro that year). But won't complain too much. Other than a small exacta box with the two, didn't even bother with exotics (I tend to get overwhelmed and drunk on Derby day, which leads me to shut down rather than piss money away). That was a good thing given the second place finisher, but more on him below.
I won't bother to mention the name of the annoying woman who was on the NBC telecast (and who I've never seen nor heard of before), though we ended up listening to some good music instead. So didn't hear that much of the telecast.
Did catch the segment though when Jerry Bailey took viewers through his computer animated prediction of how the race would go. And with respect to the winner anyway, he was pretty much right on. Had Orb closing through the stretch to win, "like a tremendous machine," he joked, alluding to the immortal call by Chic Anderson of Secretariat's Belmont win. Also mentioned in that context was Dave Johnson's tag line "down the stretch they come," and I think it was Randy Moss who explained to viewers that the lines were a tribute to "the late Chic Anderson and Dave Johnson," which led yours truly to note on Twitter that the latter is still alive.
Well, visually, it may indeed have looked as if Orb was a "tremendous machine" as he blew by the field from his spot near the back of the pack. But I don't know if his final quarter of 25.97 qualifies as such. He was an 'very good machine' or an 'efficient machine' perhaps, surely good enough to get past this field, in which only he, Revolutionary (26.03), Golden Soul (26.13), and Mylute (26.24) cracked the 27 second mark.
NBC's track announcer Larry Collmus, in reviewing the field as they rounded the final turn, noted that there was "nothing yet from Orb, he's still about 15th," but then added "he begins to move up on the far outside" before moving on, and I'd guess from a legacy standpoint that he's really glad he got that last bit in. It provided context and continuity for his big "ORRRB" stretch call. I read somewhere that Churchill's announcer Mark Johnson misidentified Mylute as being Java's War in the stretch call, which is too bad. Maybe he had picked Java's War beforehand and got excited mistakenly. It's just a small point I know, but still don't think that track announcers should be giving out picks before the race as Johnson normally does on the CD simulcast feed. Track announcers are neutral reporters of the race play-by-play, and should keep their opinions to themselves; it's just not appropriate in my view.
Golden Soul broke up a lot of tickets I'm sure with his second place finish at 34-1. Looking back to try and see where that came from, the horse had just one win coming in (and coming out); and that was a romp in a maiden race at Fair Grounds in December. Now, that race earned a pedestrian Beyer figure of 79; but came up as a big number on the figures I'm using these days. In fact, it had been the subject of some discussion in the office, and, even after being subsequently downgraded a bit, was referred to as an outlier. So, after three subsequent races of closing mildly, it was interesting to see him run second in the Kentucky Derby. Having said that however, it surely had far more to do with the ridiculously fast pace and the incredibly fortuitous inside trip than a maiden win last year against four horses who have combined for two maiden wins since.
Speaking of that pace...that was something that nobody anticipated. General wisdom was that we'd see a slower pace without any horses having earned their way in off two-year old races; 47, 1:11 was what I was hearing. Guess those blinkers didn't quite work out for pace setting Palace Malice.
“The blinkers sharpened him too much,” Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell said. “Mike couldn’t hold him. He said he did everything he could and he still could not apply any restraint.” [Augusta Chronicle]So, the Blue Grass got him in, but his antics in the stretch in that race got him blinkered, which caused him to run off in the Derby, virtually eliminating Goldencents and setting up the stretch run for the top four finishers. So who says preps on synthetic are meaningless; it changed the entire complexion of the race. Worth mentioning I think that Palace Malice actually hung around to finish 12th, ahead of the all the others that were close early. He's taking 60 days off now and, after having him in his no-chance Louisiana Derby and in this race, I definitely see future wagering exploits with him down the road, for better or for worse. Anyway, the moral of the story I think is that one should always lean towards anticipating high speed in a 20 horse field.
With all the talk about Normandy Invasion being the wise-guy horse, I'd say that Itsmyluckyday ended up with those honors, going off at 9.50-to-1 as he did. I feel free to discuss this now, because I did tweet shortly before the race that: It'smyluckyday is the most overbet horse in the field; so no red boarding here. You could feel the steam starting to rise on this one as the days ticked down to race day, as the workout reports were good and more and more people starting saying things like: "if you like Orb you gotta like Itsmyluckyday." But don't really know where that came from, seemed like a really odd choice for a Derby bandwagon horse.
Verrazano had no apparent excuse for his 14th place finish. Well, except for, of course: "I just don't think he liked the track." The beauty of the ugly sloppy track is that everybody who needs one has a convenient excuse. So all the losers will throw this one out and hopefully come back in the Preakness or some other race soon so we can all bet against them again.