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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Derby Notes - May 4

- Andy Beyer, questioned on last night's Racing Form chat about the legitimacy of Bellamy Road's 120 speed figure, replied:

A lot of people have asked about the legitimacy of the fig, and we of course took a hard look at it. It was ambiguous in the sense that there was only one 1 1/8-mile race on the Aqueduct card. Nevertheless, while he ran his big race, none of the horses behind him improved on any of their recent figures, and you'd expect them to do so in a big race for which all the trainers have been pointing. So I would say, if the figure is at all off, it is off by being too low. [Daily Racing Form]
Gulp. Guess who he likes? Steve Crist takes the stand tonight at 7 PM Eastern.

- Our favorite sport is once again on the front page of the Paper of Record this morning, the second time this week; Joe Drape checks in again, this time on Nick Zito and his five entrants. It's long been this way in NY, that the print media covers racing as if it's a major sport, while to local TV and radio, it barely exists. The Derby will barely rate a mention on the local sports reports; it takes the Belmont, and probably a Belmont with a Triple Crown possibility, to even get these correspondents out to a racetrack. Drape talks about the balancing act that Zito has to perform serving five different owners who are all paying him to have their horse beat his other horses. Sounds like a juggling act of competing interests that calls for the likes of Jack Abramoff.

Newsday's Paul Moran also writes about Zito today, and provides one of the reasons it's easy to root for him:
Typical of Zito is the lack of bluster even while in an unprecedented position of strength, the frequent use of terms like "grateful" and "blessed," an almost determined maintenance of perspective, the reminder than great expectation often brings great disappointment.

"It's horse racing," Zito said. "In this game you're always one step away from nothing." [Newsday]

- Vic Zast on writes about some of the high-priced colts that didn't make it to the Derby, though he doesn't mention Fusaichi Samurai-remember when he was one of the future book favorites before he'd even raced? Of the chances of Todd Pletcher's third-stringer, Zast writes:
To say that Coin Silver has a chance in the Derby is like saying that actor Ron Silver might campaign for Hillary Clinton. A stoic Pletcher put the good face on things in the Keeneland winner's circle by saying that "anytime a horse comes around this time of year, you've got to love it," but this statement was nothing more than dog-whistle politics for 'sure, we'll give it a shot, boss.' []

- Post positions will be drawn today, after which Mike Battaglia will come up with the morning line. He's been the oddsmaker for the race for over 30 years now, and started when he was just 24. For Battaglia, wagering is part of his job.
Battaglia says he couldn't make the odds if he didn't bet himself. As a bettor, he looks for horses with value, horses that other bettors have underestimated. He doesn't bet on every race, but he bets every day he's at a track. He won't discuss how much. "I bet quite a lot of money during a year," he said. "Not as much as some. More than most." [Lexington Herald-Leader]
I wonder if can charge his losses off to his expense account. The post position draw will be held at 5 PM and televised on ESPN.

- Baffert on his chances with Sort It Out: "I need a lot of mistakes to be made. The Stanford marching band would help." [Sun-Sentinal] And Bill Finley, on, writes about the changing fortunes of horse trainers:
We've seen the hot trainer before, the one that looks like he's got the sport locked in his grasp and will never let go. It never quite works out that way. Lukas' career has fluctuated wildly. Baffert didn't have a Derby starter last year and couldn't do any better this year than a hopeless longshot named Sort It Out. What's Bill Mott done lately? Remember when Leroy Jolley used to matter? []
Finley doesn't like Bandini, especially after he crawled home in the stretch in a slowly run Blue Grass.

- is practically live blogging from Churchill. They have this morning's workouts by High Limit and Greeley's Galaxy. If you need a live blogger for the Preakness or Belmont, or if you have any other comments or questions, feel free to email me.