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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Preakness Notes - May 17

1 - Mint Slewlep 30-1 Alan Garcia
2 - Xchanger 15-1 Ramon Dominguez
3 - Circular Quay 8-1 John Velazquez
4 - Curlin 7-2 Robby Albarado
5 - King of the Roxy 12-1 Garrett Gomez
6 - Flying First Class 20-1 Mark Guidry
7 - Hard Spun 5-2 Mario Pino
8 - Street Sense 7-5 Borel
9 - CP West 20-1 Edgar Prado
Hard Spun is 7-2 in the estimation of the Daily Racing Form's "National Handicapper" (caps mine) Mike Watchmaker, and Curlin 4-1. The Form has free pp's (pdf), and these are the ones with the Moss Pace Figures. I don't really know what they tell you here that we don't already know. Flying First Class ran very fast early in the Derby Trial. Personally, I don't really know how that translates Moss-wise going into a race of this distance from the 7 1/2 furlong Trial, but I think we can certainly expect that he'll be a factor early, though we expect him to be Flying in the Cargo Hold by the finish.

I think the key thing to watch early is what Pino Country does with Hard Spun. With Flying First Class just to his inside, and the speedy Xchanger well-placed in the two hole, I would think that he would want to sit a stalking trip just outside, as he did in the Lane's End. You'd think.

But it certainly seems as if this son of Danzig is in a hurry these days, between his pre-Derby work, his Derby, and his quarter mile "blowout" at Delaware, during which Pino said he "had to go 'Whoo..'"


Larry Jones wasn't going to work Hard Spun, but felt that he was losing a bit of focus and needed to be sharpened up to get his mind back on business. [Bloodhorse] This guy just seems to fly by the seat of his cowboy hat, eh? I wonder if this little work indicates that he'll be trying to get the jump on the competition once again. In the Derby, he went the first half in 46 1/5, and the second half in 50 4/5. If he runs that way on Saturday, I think it could very well be that Curlin, who won't be pinned back in 14th this time, will have eaten him up by the time they get to the quarter pole.

Curlin is already at Pimlico, and will gallop on Thursday morning, which should be worth some press in what's been a pretty slow pre-Preakness week. The biggest excitement may have been the surprise entry of Circular Quay. I have very much mixed feelings about him here. Two weeks rest is just not Pletcher's thing; over the last two years, he's one-for 13 on 14 days rest. On the other hand, there appears to be plenty enough speed, and in a short field and less traffic, you figure he's at least going to mount a rally. The Derby may serve as a good prep; it certainly shouldn't have been too taxing.

Barry Irwin keeps talking up Street Sense. “The only way Street Sense gets beat is bad racing luck.” Irwin is a trip, and again created a bit of a stir, as reported by reader Kevin. Seems that he went to the Pimlico stewards and asked them to force Velazquez to honor his commitment to ride King of the Roxy; but then the Team Valor partners voted 2-1 to ride Garrett Gomez instead. For one thing, what does that do to his relationship with Pletcher? And Irwin not only is probably the only guy who would go to the stewards on this matter, he's probably the only one who would come out and say that he did. No disrespect meant to Mr. Tafel, but I'm sure this would have been a far more entertaining week if Barry Irwin owned the Derby winner. We sure wouldn't be reading articles about Robert Bailes, whose Mint Slewlep has never run faster than an 85 Beyer.

As for the jockey issue, I think there's no doubt that Gomez is on the upswing right now, and Johnny V. may be at the stage where he's getting a little stale with the betting public. After all, even the best jockeys lose most of the time, and pick up more and more enemies along the way as disgruntled bettors bemoan an ill-timed move or a suicidal pace. As I've said, Velazquez certainly is willing to concede ground if he thinks he has the best horse, and he can look pretty bad when he doesn't.

- None of the entries have had a workout over the Pimlico track. Jones keeps talking about a "home court advantage," even though Hard Spun has never raced there.

- Street Sense arrived on Wednesday, and the Preakness barn notes says that Nafzger awaited his Derby winner’s arrival nervously, comparing himself to a father in the waiting room as he paced back and forth. Both father and horse are reported to be doing fine.


Anonymous said...

FYI, Irwin did not go to the stewards to have Velasquez honor his call. Irwin did it to see what his options were before presenting them to his racing partners. Irwin does not like to be jerked around by people that do not honor their word. I know. I am Barry Irwin.

Harl said...

Wait, we haven't heard from HARD SPUN on whether or not he likes the Pimlico surface yet, have we?

For all the indecision prior to the Derby concerning the surface and HARD SPUN's well-documented dislike of Oaklawn, it appears the trainer is sending HARD SPUN to the Preakness whether his colt likes it or not.

Anonymous said...

Well, Alan, at least Mr. Irwin didn't ask you to pull the Bodgit video you posted a few threads down.

As for Hard Spun, I've been reading much that is dismissive of his chances, and I have a few questions. Doesn't he deserve credit for running some fast early fractions in the Derby, and being the only such horse still around at the finish? Isn't it plausible that he'll stalk on Saturday, go slower than the .46 half, and have a little more left for the drive this time? Has Curlin yet demonstrated an ability to run faster than HS at this distance, or is, perhaps, Curlin overrated based on his previous daylight scores? Just asking.

Anonymous said...

To Barry Irwin - Thanks much for stopping by to clarify that, and best of luck on Saturday!

Kevin - No, with all the hoopla about Hard Spun's track preferences prior to the Derby, we have no idea whether he, or anyone else in the race for that matter, will take to the track. But as I said before, Churchill does have a reputation for being a surface that some horses don't take to, and I don't recall hearing much about that as far as Pimlico goes.

Jeff - I'll take your questions one at a time:

>>Doesn't he deserve credit for running some fast early fractions in the Derby, and being the only such horse still around at the finish?

Yes. But maybe not as much as it appears if he benefited from a live rail, and if the rest of the field either couldn't extract themselves from traffic (Curlin) or just was as mediocre as the speed figures in the preps indicated that this crop may be. Jeez, in a 51 second half, you'd think someone would have made a run at him...and he actually widened his lead!

>>Isn't it plausible that he'll stalk on Saturday, go slower than the .46 half, and have a little more left for the drive this time?

Yes, yes yes!!! Or one would hope so! With the speed drawn inside, the race would appear to set up perfectly for him with that strategy!

>>Has Curlin yet demonstrated an ability to run faster than HS at this distance, or is, perhaps, Curlin overrated based on his previous daylight scores?

I think it's inconclusive whether Curlin has shown an ability to run faster at this distance due to his bad Derby post and trip. His Ark Derby number was faster than anything HS had run. Is he overrated? Also inconclusive at this point I think. I think those who were willing to accept his relatively low odds in the Derby wouldn't be dissuaded by that race.

One thing about Hard Spun is that he does have a most impressive pattern of improving figs. If he doesn't get used too early, then it certainly seems plausible that he could continue that and be right there on Saturday. I still find myself leaning against that possibility at this point.

Anonymous said...

Take a few minutes and watch the replays of the Rebel and Arkansas Derby. Then look over the charts.

In the Rebel Xchanger set the pace with Flying First Class just behind him after Teuflesberg broke poorly. The pace was moderate (47.63 and 1:12.51). The leaders folded in the stretch and Curlin basically inherited the lead.

In the Arkansas Derby FFC was eliminated at the start and Deadly Dealer was allowed to set a comfortable pace (47.89 and 1:12.64). Curlin tracked in third on the rail. When the field entered the stretch Deadly Dealer folded and for a second time Curlin inherited the lead.

For those reasons I did not like Curlin in the Derby, nor do I like him in the Preakness. In the Derby the pace was much quicker (46.26 and 1:11.13) and Curlin was crushed. With FFC on a mission to set the pace the Preakness will be just as fast, if not faster, early then the Derby.

With that being said Curlin has yet to demonstrate that he can handle a fast early pace and produce a final figure capable of winning this race. Hard Spun and Street Sense have already proven that they can run a big final number after a fast early pace. If the pace is slow in the Preakness then these two will likely produce even better final figures. Under either scenario Curlin can not win.


Anonymous said...

Lenny, I think you just made an argument for Curlin as a wild card, with "has yet to demonstrate" (rather than as a toss.) I don't think you can really consider him crushed by the pace in the derby. I think he was crushed by traffic, pure and simple. I'm not sure he can WIN, but absolutely unwilling to say he can't.

Anonymous said...

This one feels like a straight exacta of STREET SENSE over CIRCULAR QUAY, with HARD SPUN done in by the other speed but fighting valiantly to take 3rd. I believe STREET SENSE's rail trips are more about his own intelligence and athleticism than luck.

I like CIRCULAR QUAY in this spot a lot. But he's probably a cut below STREET SENSE. I'll play a heavy STREET SENSE over CQ exacta, and reverse it for about 1/5th as much dough. Then I'll also play a few tris with SS / CQ / and HARD SPUN in 3rd along with a bomber or two just in case HS bounces.


Anonymous said...

Although none have worked on this track, Xchanger has a race over it. He's going to be dismissed as not good enough. We shall see.

Anonymous said...

I'm bad at TC races. I'm trying to be disciplined here and not imagine too much. A $1 Super box of the only horses that figure: Curly, Circular Key, King of Irwin, Hard Spent, and the Derby Winner. Hopefully, other Super players will choose to imagine too much (re: Giacomin factor), and I can maybe make a little.
--Hasek says hello

Anonymous said...

Dont see how Curlin was crushed by the pace of the derby. Not sure if you actually watched the race if you think that. I was lucky enough to watch the race on some different angles. Everytime that horse tried to make a move he got cut off by someone sliding in front of him. Having to kick and pull back , then kick and pull back, then kick and pull back, I dont even understand how he finished in 3rd. He should have finished worst then 6th with that trip. But still has the mustard at the end to close like a champ and get third. Look for Quay and Curlin to have much better trips and look for street sense to not get a reenactment of the "parting of the sea's". Should be a good race though. Maybe a longshot will finish in second or third and pay us some money. Good Luck everyone.

Anonymous said...

>>--Hasek says hello.

Uh-oh... Good luck on Sunday Dominatrix. We're always a bit partial to Original Stix teams here, especially against Flighty Ducks.