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Friday, May 04, 2007

Derby Eve Notes

- Don't know why the prior post wasn't allowing comments, but I've fixed that, so please feel free to fire away.

- Slop at Churchill today, and, repeating myself for a change, that's as good a reason for synthetic surfaces as any as far as I'm concerned. I see that Calvin Borel won the second and third on longshots; and the chart comments for both indicated that he hugged the rail until swinging out in the stretch. Guess he's practicing for tomorrow! Patrick over at Pulling Hair got some exclusive quotes overheard by Nobiz Like Shobiz -straight from the horse's ears and mouth, as they say - who overheard the rider saying "That rail is gonna open up I swear." We'll just see about that. I've been sitting at work thinking, damn, should have stayed home today and played the races, but between the slop and the slight inconvenience of Churchill not being on TVG, I guess it doesn't much matter. I see that Perfect Drift ran out of the money in the Alysheba Stakes, won by Zito's Wanderin Boy.

There's been no response from Churchill Downs that I've seen as of this posting to the appeal by horsemen's groups to lighten up, loosen up the reins, and let everyone bet on the Derby using their usual platform. The brilliant Scottish band Belle and Sebastian once sang:

Men with guns, maturing with age
Will always pay a shitty wage
That might not apply directly here, but hell, it's a great lyric and I just wanted to use it here somehow. Churchill is the mature man, trying to impose his will on the new age, and hopefully, that will turn out as well for them as it has for the music industry. The "gun" is the Kentucky Derby, as well as their various racing properties, and many of us are getting a shitty deal. It would have showed some class to at least respond to the groups, but I can't say I'm surprised at their silence. I'd be ashamed too.

- Pete Fornatale, who has an op-ed piece in the Times today contending that the Triple Crown series should be spaced out more (we can discuss that the next time I see you), informs me, regarding Dominican: Just ignore the 2-yo dirt form. Apparently he had an undescended testicle and never ran properly until they gelded him two starts back. Since then he’s 2 for 2. Hmmm.

I was looking at the selections by the Form guys, and was heartened to see that none of them picked Any Given Saturday....until I got to Watchmaker. Oh man...but I guess he's due to be right about something, eh? Steve Crist and Beyer like Street Sense (yawn), though the latter has AGS for third.

Haskin is out with his picks, and I think that if you wade through all of it, he likes Street Sense too, though with the usual contingencies and alternates.

I like the way the New York Times prefaced the picks of Joe Drape (who picks Nobiz) - "with the caveat that any of his top 10 selections could win what may be a wide-open affair." That's really going out on a limb!

The most incoherent analysis I've seen is the one by the usually lucid Gary West of the Dallas Ft Worth Star Telegram, who relates the race to the diner scene in Five Easy Pieces, and I guess his point is that there is no point going against Street Sense and Curlin, who he sees as simply the best. But in defending Curlin against the criticism that this will only be his 4th start, West writes: Such thinking ignores the fact that Lammtarra defeated older horses while winning the Arc de Triomphe in only his fourth start. Huh? I think a lot of us will need some time off after this race...

But my ultimate advice is to just discard my selections, forget what all the experts say, go with your gut and let it fly. Your opinion is as good as any so-called "expert" out there. Besides, there's an excellent chance that the race will be decided by random events that none of us can possibly predict, including the damn weather, and there will be some live horses available at some very, very live prices.


Harl said...

i've loved DOMINICAN's form since he was gelded and he is my pick for tomorrow, rain or shine, ever since i was able to escape the horrendous doug o'neill bandwagon wreck with minor injuries a few weeks ago.

i've been a believer that his current form is more of a result from going under the knife than running on synthetic surfaces. i think the latter is just coincidence.

Alan Mann said...

Kevin - To be honest, I wasn't aware of the descended testicle and the resulting castration (ouch), and he definitely moves up a bit in my estimation. Not sure if he's quite fast enough, and like any dead closer, he'll be at the mercy of the racing gods. But he definitely seems like a solid wager at the right price, which I think he'll be.

Harl said...

I think he'll be closer to the pace than some of the other closers like TIAGO, CIRCULAR QUAY, ZANJERO, et al. I don't have the past performances in front of me right now, but was he that far back in his last two races? The Bluegrass was a tough one to analyze as he was a handful of lengths behind that slow pace, but the way he angled out and made his way down the stretch, running into that slow pace, was impressive.

I'll use him with STREET SENSE (since he's been training so well) on top of most of my exotic wagers and hope I catch some bombs underneath. I'm heading down to Churchill tomorrow to join the crazies in the infield - here's to hoping it doesn't rain.

Superfecta said...

Belle & Sebastian are usually right (although my Scottish band of choice lately has been Ballboy)...

Anonymous said...

Those hard working geldings are worked to death, it is Dominican's fate.

Anonymous said...

I thought of you when I saw Haskin's picks. I think he picked 21 horses.