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Monday, April 14, 2008

Tuesday Morning Notes - April 15

- It's amazing to me how much has changed just in the relatively fleeting time I've been writing this blog. I was thinking about Z Fortune, and his excellent second in the Arkansas Derby; and tempering my enthusiasm a bit is the fact that he'll be running on "only" three weeks rest. Considering how wide he was, I imagine that he'll earn low numbers on the sheets, and that the sheet guys won't like the relatively short layoff. I was also looking at Smooth Air on the recommendation of reader and fellow Ranger fan Jeff. I like what I see there on closer examination; he's never run a bad race, comes off a career best effort in the Florida Derby, and has built himself a pretty solid foundation. And, I'm thinking, he'll have five weeks to recover from the Florida Derby, and that's good.

But if this was three years ago, I'd probably be thinking exactly the opposite - that Smooth Air has been off far too long, and that Z Fortune is right on schedule! Didn't take long for that perception to change, at least for me.

- I think that Eight Belles would vie for third choice in the betting if the Derby was run today. And if she was in it, of course. I neglected to mention earlier that the filly will work on Friday, after which a decision will be made. Though I suspect it already has been.

"I know Mr. Porter's leaning to wanting to do that. They'll get to crunching all their numbers in the next couple of days. But the way the races shaped up [Saturday], it looks like he may be leaning that way." [Daily Racing Form]
I'm told that Larry Jones talked Porter out of running in the Arkansas Derby, but I don't believe that the owner, having coming close last year, will be unable to resist taking another shot.

Big Brown clearly is the likely post-time favorite and, though I could be wrong about this, I think that Colonel John looms as the second choice despite his lower figs and the synthetic question. I'd seriously consider betting him if I'm wrong and he's more like 8-1. After that, there should be a third tier amongst Pyro, Gayego, and, I think, Eight Belles. I must say that I'm not really put off by the idea of this filly taking on these boys at that time. She has a lot of things going for her - consistency, class, tactical speed, and some solid foundation with nine career starts. I also think that she answered a big question in the Rebel Fantasy, proving that she could win a contested finish in a race in which she faced adversity.

We also know that she'll have a decent post, or at least not a fatal one, since Porter has indicated that he'll cross-enter her in the Oaks.

- The Albany Times Union Capitol Confidential blog reports this morning that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver informed his conference that he plans on meeting with Gov. David Paterson soon, possibly in hopes of averting the closure of NYC OTB.


Anonymous said...

fantasy not rebel

Alan Mann said...

>>fantasy not rebel


Anonymous said...

I envision the uproar if they enter and scratch the filly.

Sure CD mgmt will discuss with him.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, where in SMOOTH AIR's breeding does it say he's going to appreciate the distance? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

smooth air is short. cant get the distance

Alan Mann said...

>>With all due respect, where in SMOOTH AIR's breeding does it say he's going to appreciate the distance? Just curious.

Well....that's certainly a fair point. I think we can say that about a fair number of the other runners too.

Anonymous said...

No Alan, again I respectfully disagree. Sure there's a number of horses that overcome pedigree issues in the Derby, but in each and every case I think there was more in their pedigree that indicated they might like 10f than there is in SMOOTH AIR's. Please tell me I'm wrong. I'm looking for reasons to like this horse b/c of his expected price and the nice middle move he made in the GP Derby.

Harl said...

I read in Privman's column on DRF that Nick Zito plans to enter ANAK NAKAL in the Derby. What his this guy done to earn a spot in the starting gate? I realize why Zito is doing it as it eliminate one more horse for stablemate WAR PASS (not that I think this one has a shot, either) to beat, but where's the sportsmanship? ANAK NAKAL has run dismally in three prep attempts this spring. I should be happy about this since I only have to handicap 19 runners instead of 20, but it leaves a definite bad taste in my mouth.

Anonymous said...

The current graded-earnings system of selecting the Derby field has simply got to change. Horses who win a few graded sprints as 2yo's (see Kodiak Kowboy and Salute the Sarge) are given preference over horses who have been running well in two-turn races as 3yo's (see El Gato Malo and Yankee Bravo). Even the current Derby sensation Big Brown was on the outside looking in before his win in the Florida Derby. If he had run third (with traffic problems, let's say), he wouldn't be in the race either. Also of concern is filies who run up graded-stakes earnings in races such as the 4-horse Fantasy Stakes. Nothing against Eight Belles, i'm a big fan of hers, but i don't think racing vs. 3 fillies should punch your ticket to the Derby.

In my opinion, the race should be by invitation-only. Put together a panel of handicappers/analysts (no matter how incompetent) and let the select the 20 horses most desrving of a spot. Surely, there will be whining from the connections who miss the cut, but it beats the hell out of the system we have now.

Anonymous said...

Harl –

Actually, I think there are a few things to suggest Anak Nakal might run well in the Derby. He had a two-turn stakes win at CD as a 2yo. He's an April foal by Victory Gallop, and thus likely to mature a bit late and relish the 10f of the Derby. Given Anak Nakal's 2yo earnings, Zito had no reason for rushing him this spring. He has continually drawn outside in his 3yo preps. He added blinkers for the Wood and ran improved an speed figure, despite being very wide on both turns. Using a sheets methodology (taking into account ground loss on the turns), I suspect his Wood figure will be about equal to those of War Pass and Court Vision.

I'm not a big fan of weighting 2yo graded earnings the same as 3yo earnings for determining Derby eligibility, but those are the rules, and everyone has known them for a long time. I can't criticize Zito and the owner for wanting to take advantage of their position and take a shot. Couldn't you be equally critical of Mott's Z Humor and Court Vision?


Harl said...

You make some solid points and yeah, I could be critical of Z HUMOR and COURT VISION, as well, but at least those two runners have hit the board in a prep race this spring.

Your arguments aside, ANAK NAKAL is a complete toss for me, as are Z HUMOR and COURT VISION if their connections choose to run their overmatched horses in this year's Derby.