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Friday, May 20, 2005

Wise Guy and the Favorite

- I love the Daily Racing Form as much as anyone but sometimes the selection of tracks offered in the print edition can be just maddening. I picked up tomorrow’s edition, and it has Finger Lakes, Philly Park, and Delaware, but no Churchill Downs nor Hollywood. ARGHH! If I was going to Belmont tomorrow, I’d have to buy another edition there if I wanted to bet on those two tracks. On the other hand, I can’t be that much of a degenerate that I need anything other than tomorrow’s Preakness card, can I?

Anyway, it appears as if Greeley’s Galaxy is indeed the wise-guy horse, as he’s picked on top by Beyer, Dave Liftin, Mike Watchmaker, and Steve Klein. They all basically state the case for him I wrote about yesterday and that Steve Haskin also made, and I’ll comment further when I get around to making my final picks later today. So, I get the feeling he’ll be lower than his 15-1 morning line, perhaps significantly so. No one in the Form picks Closing Argument on top, and Brad Free and Byron King opt for Afleet Alex. There’s speculation in the paper that Giacomo could be as high as 8-1, but I’m sticking with my prediction that he won’t be more than 5-1. The Form analyses are here, but it's subscription only, or pick up the print edition.

Dick Jerardi in the Philly Daily News has a possible explanation to those who wonder why likely favorite Afleet Alex couldn’t win the Derby with an apparent perfect ground-saving trip (thanks to ready Jerry for the link).

To me, the big question is: Why didn't Afleet Alex finish? I think I know the answer, but my theory won't be played out until early tomorrow evening when they run the Preakness.

Last week's Sports Illustrated had a great shot of the first turn in the Derby. There are three horses together - Buzzard's Bay on the outside, Sun King on the inside and, in the middle, a horse that is all but obscured. That would be Afleet Alex. He was so much smaller than the others that you could barely see him.

Jeremy Rose did everything he could to give Alex a chance, but the 20-horse field is unforgiving. There is often no place to relax. Alex was caught in between horses almost the entire trip, what serious horse players call a "vice."

"Down the lane, I was in between the rail and a horse," Rose said yesterday. "That was about the only spot I wasn't between horses. The whole way around, I was getting bounced from both sides.

"It's just like you in a boxing match getting punched in the ribs and the kidneys and everything else. After a while, your legs just get weary. You take those kind of shots for that long at that speed, it takes something out of them."
Some people have criticized Rose for moving too soon in the race. For one thing, that’s the horse’s style; he’s just not a deep closer. His pp lines show that he may be 5th or 6th early on, but rarely much more than 3 lengths behind, and he makes his move by the final turn. That’s pretty much the race he ran in the Derby, the problem being that he had to expend more energy than usual just to stay in contact with the fast pace. Rose further defends his ride: "If you wait, then the holes disappear real quick on you. I had to use my horse to get in a couple of spots and sit and then go a little more. So I had to use him the whole way around the race track instead of just sitting there and making that one run."

- Ed Fountaine of the NY Post titles his short article on Going Wild today LUKAS: PARITY OR PARODY; and I’m not sure if he’s saying parody in reference to the race or to the trainer, who does seem to be a little wacky these days. On Going Wild’s outside post, he quotes Lukas as saying "I wanted to puke. I said 'We're (ruined). We might as well go home.'” I don’t think anyone would object to that. However, the horse figures to have a say in the outcome of the race by helping to set what should be an honest pace.

Oh yeah. Lukas has a website now too.

- OK, here's one guy who picks Closing Argument;'s Mike Brunker.