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Saturday, May 07, 2005

It's Giacomo

Giacomo (Holy Bull) is the Kentucky Derby winner. Anyone have him?

When a longshot like this wins, I can at least take consolation in the fact that I’m in the same boat as most everyone else in not having him. He never really did anything horrible enough to criticize his being in the race - I never specifically called for him to be voted out, though I expressed some skepticism over his workout that was too slow to be recorded. He hadn’t won since his maiden victory last October. I don’t recall hearing any rule about the Derby winner having to have more than one career victory.

Speaking of the rules, Giacomo qualified on all of them except the more-than-three-weeks since last prep; but that one really became less meaningful this year with the way the preps were spaced. He had three preps, ran in the SA Derby 4 weeks before today, and had a solid foundation as a 2 yo (as did the runner up and show horse; this is one rule that I think is particularly valid), finishing a close second to Declan's Moon in the G1 Hollywood Futurity. He doesn’t come from any of the usual sire lines; Holy Bull is by Great Above by Minnesota Mac by Rough ‘N’ Tumble.

Even though I can’t feel bad about not having the winner, I was wrong about a lot of things. I was totally wrong about the pace scenario not being as frenetic as people thought; those people were right on, and Spanish Chestnut certainly had a profound effect on the race. I was wrong, obviously, about Bellamy Road being unbeatable. I was wrong to defend Steinbrenner; his refusal to allow even his son and daughter to appear on NBC was boorish, and the behavior by his farm manager Edward Sexton when he dissed Bob Neumieir was embarrassing. But I was right about some things too; about Bandini, Greeley's Galaxy, and Sun King, kind of right about Wilko. I was right that the telecast would start at 5 on NBC.

Here's the chart.

Some random observations and then that’s it for horse racing for the day:

Jill Byrne said on TVG that she could tell in the post parade that Bellamy Road was not focused. We couldn’t tell because NBC didn’t show him for quite some time in the paddock, blew the post parade altogether right about when he was due to be up and didn’t recover until the 19 horse. Right after they turned for home, there was one brief instant that Bellamy Road had a lead, and I thought perhaps he would sweep away like the freak I thought he could be. It’s possible that he was beaten by the final furlong, like many beaten favorites before him. Or maybe it was just the fast pace that he was chasing. The race just fell apart with the final quarter in harness horse time of :26 4/5; the final half was 53 1/5. As Patrick Biancone said last week, Spanish Chestnut was a rabbit for everyone; there’s a certain amount of irony that he beat the 19th place Bandini. High Limit was last.

Jeremy Rose seemed to do a fine job on Afleet Alex; he saved as much ground on the turn that anyone could ever hope to in a 20 horse field. Alex just wasn’t good enough; he had no excuse with that trip and those fractions. Perhaps those who said he’d tailed off late in the week were right.

Tom Durkin was in top form; he is undoubtedly the best in the business; what a great call!

What do you make of the California horses running 1-4-5-6? I’ve already heard talk that perhaps it was because they liked the hot weather. These were all horses that had never run a triple digit Beyer, yet, as a group, they ran far better than any of the other regions.

I missed most of the Afleet Alex schmaltz on NBC because I was watching myself get split in the 9th race exacta at Belmont by a 48-1 shot. But the betting day ended in fine fashion when I survived a frantic, head bobbing photo finish and a stewards’ inquiry to hit the 12th race exacta at Churchill for $123. That helped me forget my losses on the 16 horse in the 10th race there. Life goes on...