Got the DVR-ing correct this time, so got to watch Tuesday's edition of Pursuit of the Crown on HRTV. Scott Hazelton looking natty with a fashionably cocked bow tie in the host role; and Richard Migliore with the expert commentary....and just great stuff from the Mig. Definitely worth checking out if you're able.
Verrazano galloped and Migliore pointed out how he was reaching his head down, looking for the bit, and said he looked "terrific."
"An imposing individual, atypical of the More Than Readys; he's got a little more substance to him, and I think that may see him get the extra distance.""Won't get the distance" has become a meme with this horse, largely because of his sire, known more for middle distances; his top earners are milers from Australia and New Zealand. His female side may add a little stamina to the equation. By Giant's Causeway, the dam is inbred to Blushing Groom, and there are a few distance horses to be found in the family tree, including Al Khali, who won the 1 3/8 mile Bowling Green, and even a hurdle stakes winner (Brampour). Still, even as my respect for the horse has progressed in the last few weeks from the ridicule I expressed earlier on, just don't see him quite getting this done. I will use him underneath though, and I'd bet him to win at 10-1.
Goldencents seemed hard to handle, and Migliore noted how the rider was struggling to restrain him, and how he virtually leaped from left lead to right. "He's very keen, he's on the muscle." Welsch recalled: "He was somewhat reminiscent of I’ll Have Another in the final days leading up to his victory in the 2012 Derby." I'm unmoved, and will not use him. And hoping that Falling Sky, who Welsch noted "looks like he’ll be a handful to keep off the lead Saturday" makes life difficult for him. (Though I wouldn't like him even if I know he'll be lone speed.)
By the way, if you missed it, Beyer is in fine form in Monday's Washington Post column in defense of Doug O'Neill, taking on Joe Drape and the Times directly for its characterization of the trainer's handling of his Derby winner last year. I think it qualifies as 'brave' in the current environment. And indeed, I think it's telling that, while the headline in the post read: Doug O'Neill doesn't deserve his bad reputation, the Daily Racing Form apparently couldn't stomach that and watered it down to: O'Neill back under Kentucky Derby microscope.
Migliore agrees with me that Normandy Invasion is a wise guy horse, and, as was the case with Will Take Charge, didn't like what he hears either. The Mig has turned into a bit of a Dr. Doolittle here. "I still go back to sitting there and hearing him forging a little bit." I have no idea what that means, but I assume it's not great. "I'm not sold that Normandy Invasion is really a mile and a quarter horse."
Walt McPeek's entries Java's War and Frac Daddy were "on their toes" according to the Form's clocker. Haven't mentioned the latter here before, probably because he lost the Florida Derby and the Holy Bull by a combined 34 3/4 lengths. He does have those two good races over the track though, and I guess his second in the Arkansas Derby was good (though I find it hard to evaluate races in which they go almost 27 seconds from 3/4s to a mile and then come home in 12 3/5). He's a son of Scat Daddy out of a Skip Away mare; not much in the pedigree to get excited about this one. So I won't be a happy horseplayer if he comes in the money.
I saw on Twitter where McPeek said, about Java's War: "Today was probably as good as I’ve ever seen him go over this surface.” Not sure how much that means considering his 6th place finish in his own try over the course. I wrote about why I don't like him here. Think he's a grass horse; there's a guy in the office who feels that his distance pedigree trumps any surface concerns in this situation, in which most of the contestants simply won't get the distance, which I think is a fair point. Will probably use him at the bottom of the tickets.
Video of Tuesday's activity here, courtesy of J.J. Hysell's In the Money blog.
- In the 6th at Churchill, Clement Rock (6-1) is moving up in class, but maybe not as much as it may seem in an open 50K of questionable quality. Ran some big numbers two and three back in races that have come back strong; Dark Cove, to whom he ran third by a length three races back, won the G2 Elkhorn at Keeneland, and two others came back to win their next races. Was claimed before his prior by trainer Ingrid Mason, and ran back on 17 days rest, finishing second to another next-out winner (albeit in an off the turfer). Chased the pace that day; think he'll do better by rallying here, and may (or may not) have the pace to do so; and has never seemed bothered by outside posts. A bit more time off here (35 days), and a snappy half mile work at Arlington should have him well prepared today. Derby Kitten (5-2) is the Maker/Ramsey favorite; been racing on synth and without much success of late. Bell by the Ridge (3-1) also goes for Maker; beat restricted claimers at Fair Grounds in his last and comes up a bit slower on my numbers than the top choice.