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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Dwindling Preps

- The Blue Grass suddenly ain't quite what it used to be with the aforementioned defection of Any Given Saturday, and now word that Hard Spun is “99%” certain to pass the Blue Grass, unless there are additional defections “that entice us.” [Bloodhorse] Such as Street Sense and Great Hunter. Porter said that there is a good possibility [Hard Spun will] go the Lexington – Preakness route. But whatever the case, these developments certainly take some luster out of what was shaping up as an unusually definitive Derby prep. And that's a drag. Patrick, over at Pulling Hair and Betting Horses, says It's a joke, and I'm angry about it. Mike, at Curb Your Enthusiasm, writes: I really hope this doesn't start to be the norm with the major prep races being in March instead of April in the near future.

Mike also expresses some doubt now about Circular Quay due to the layoff; as does John at The Race is Not Always To The Swift, who is far more cynical about the Toddster than this blogger. He sees General Pletcher exposing some serious doubts about the biggest stars in his army of three-year olds.

It appears Circular Quay finds a three-prep schedule taxing and will be going into the Derby off one real prep race and an eight week layoff.
I tend to agree more with commenter david rex, who wrote:
The two best trainers this side of the Atlantic also happen to be great layoff plays because they train their steeds to run their best 1st out and every race thereafter is not to improve but maintain the same edge of sharpness.

Pletcher is one of these trainers.
I wouldn't say that about every horse Pletcher trains - Scat Daddy being an obvious example - but I think it's true more often than not nowadays. Circular Quay is going to win the Derby if there's a quick early pace and he's lucky enough to be able to cleanly weave his way through 19 other horses; I think that it may very well not matter if the colt has another race or not, considering how many stakes races this guy wins off layoffs. That said, this is not something I would like to see happen. We're already seeing the effects of Barbaro winning after five weeks, so I shudder to think what will happen if someone wins after eight. But I'm not dismissing the possibility.

John also makes an excellent point about Any Given Saturday, pointing out that he's currently on the outside looking in earnings wise, and may have a better chance of getting at least second in the Wood considering the competition at Keeneland. So perhaps Pletcher has more than just the extra week in mind.


Anonymous said...

With all the two prep and long layoff horses expected for this years Derby it will make picking the winner alot easier. Just toss all of the horses with only two preps and any horse that has not run within four weeks. I know Barbaro won last year off a five week layoff, but he was a freak. Scat Daddy could not warm him up. Maybe one day the two prep route will work but until it does I will play against it.


Anonymous said...

AGS move makes perfect sense, he needs the earnings so why face the top horse in the country?

Plus, polytrack adds another question mark to the equation. What if he just doesnt like it?

Now you are on the outside looking in.

The fourth week is gravy.

PS- One has to at least question CQ's fitness, doesn't one? These prestigious G1's for straight 3yo's do not grow on trees, must be an underlying reason.

Hawken said...

Agree with Lenny that comparing Scat Daddy to Barbaro is idiotic - but I expect plenty of commentators to make the connection as if they were coming into the derby in similar situations. I'd love to see Scat Daddy take lots of money though - as well as Circular Quay, because neither one will get a bet from me.

Michael said...

I like the preps not for physical conditioning of the horse, but rather to see how they work in traffic, handle racing on that level, etc. Which is why I was so turned off by Brother Derek last year... his prep races were short and week in my eyes... I'd rather see a horse run in a fuller field full of GIII and Listed Stakes runner ups and also rans (see Illinois Derby) for the experience...