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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Derby Notes - May 1

- It's May, so we must be getting really close. Besides Big Brown (3-1), Colonel John (4-1), and Pyro (6-1), every other horse is at least 15-1 in the morning line. I don't think that the Derby is bet that way these days, and that we'll see drastically different prices come Saturday. I think (hope) Pyro will be higher, and that horses such as Eight Belles, Denis of Cork, and Gayego could be significantly lower than what they're listed at now.

Continuing my thinking aloud about those I consider to be contenders:

Gayego will break just inside of Big Brown. Although he too has early speed, he's a stalker, and will run the risk of getting caught wide. Gayego has gotten some rave reviews about his appearance and his workout in the mud on Saturday. However, Mike Welsch opined on Wednesday that he did not look as smooth during his routine gallop as he did after first arriving here last week. James Scully confirmed: I didn't like the way he moved during Wednesday's gallop.

Gayego has the look of a horse ready to move forward off a lifetime best Beyer in the Arkansas Derby. His past performance lines exude improvement and class. But I am queasy over his pedigree - a son of Gilded Time, a sire with an average winning distance of less than 6 1/2 furlongs. He has a dosage index of 4.33, and I still have a bit of a mental block about that. Broodmare sire Lost Code was a solid distance runner, he does have inbreeding to Ribot and distance influences such as Arts and Letters. But I didn't like the way he steadily slowed in the Arkansas Derby, with splits of 22.98, 23.73, 24.39, and 25.86 before coming home in 12.68. I don't really see myself using him on top, but definitely in the exotics.

- Colonel John drew fine and starts from the ten post. His workout on Sunday seems to have dispelled at least some doubt about his ability to handle the dirt, and maybe Gayego's success has helped in that regard too. Welsch reports that he's seemingly none the worse for wear from his five furlongs in 57 4/5. I've written about how much I loved his Santa Anita Derby; his quick acceleration will serve him well as he's trying to work his way through and around horses. As useful a race it was in terms of conditioning and experience, it didn't seem too stressful at all; add in the fact he's been training exclusively on synthetics, I think this horse is as fit and fresh as can be.

He's sitting on a huge race I believe. This is the only horse in the field to show a sub-12 second final eighth in a prep....and he's done it in each of his last two races. We've discussed how his pedigree, by the two-time Classic winner Tiznow out of a mare by champion older horse Turkoman, seems suitable for the distance. (He's from the same distaff family as Imperialism, third in 2004.) The only knock here is price. Colonel John's style means he'll need racing luck, and I'm not prepared to accept 4-1, his morning line, this, or most any other year (at times to my detriment). But he'll certainly be prominent on my exotic tickets at the very least.


Anonymous said...

For a bit of levity here is a fan created video for Big Brown on youtube to the famed Jim Croce song of "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown", the famed 1973 chart topping song.

I'm a little baffled as to why Mike Battaglia installed Big Truck at an almost insane 50-1 ML. If anyone thinks Anak Nakal has a better shot then BT then have at it.

As cited during the draw, UPS will sponsor Big Brown who was so named in reference to the delivery carrier.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your comment about Big Brown in the New York Times today, Thursday, May 1: "...he has the coolest pedigree in the field."

"Pedigree," my friend, doesn't mean squat. And I have a hundred dollar bill that says I'm right.

~ Michael, in Seattle

Alan Mann said...

>>"Pedigree," my friend, doesn't mean squat. And I have a hundred dollar bill that says I'm right.

Pedigree is one of the more fascinating aspects of the game to me, and I'd like to think that you're wrong about that. As far as Big Brown goes, I of course don't know for sure if he can get the distance based on breeding - nobody really does no matter what they say. But I still think it's "cool" that he has so much Damascus and Round Table blood up close in his pedigree. Thanks for stopping by and best of luck on Saturday.

Glimmerglass - I think his lines are a bit off too. I don't like Big Truck myself, but Anak Nakal is the kind of winner that could drive me back to Yonkers.

Anonymous said...

DRF says front bandages on for Big Brown. I think they picked post 20 to have a built in excuse.

Anonymous said...

I was just about to write about front wraps and saw the last comment. I know it is a negagtive I am just not sure exactly why. Can someone give me a more detailed perspective here. I have a bad feeling about BB going from 20 and having front wraps??? I tend to agree he has too much against him right now.

Alan Mann said...

Joe Takach on front wraps:

Back to the topic, do “first-time front wrapped” runners ever win?

Yep they sometimes do, but usually it is under very special circumstances which will be noted below! Those adding front wraps for the first time without these special situations are “sucker bets”!


Let’s look at the ins and outs of front wraps in general.

Front wraps imply ankle or tendon problems---either real or imagined. Runners adorned in front wraps win races every day at every racetrack in America. I’m not afraid to bet a horse in front wraps if I’ve seen the runner in question win with them in the past. I’ve been betting them successfully for years.

Since seasoned handicappers know that the claiming game is much like a poker game, “bluffing” is not at all uncommon.

Some claiming barns in Southern California both good and bad, tape every claiming horse in their barn----needed or not! This is done to make other claiming trainers think twice before charging the claim box to drop a claiming slip in a race where their horses are for “sale”.

Many of the runners from these “all-wrap all-the-time” barns are quite racing sound and in absolutely no need of front wraps of any kind. If an “all-wrap all-the-time” barn can imply tendon and/or ankle problems, the front wraps become a cheap insurance policy that often affords the “wrapee” the assurance that he’ll still be training the horse when the gates open.

In close to 50 years of paddock inspection, my mind remains unchanged.

I can’t see how front leg bandages really help or hurt any horse.

If the horse is sound, they won’t stop him from winning unless the track is off and mud might cling to the wraps making every stride a little harder.

If he’s unsound, the added tape won’t stop him from further damaging an ankle or bowing a tendon. If the front wraps could perform this magic, every lifetime start of every horse would be in front wraps and there would never be a need to remove them.

We’d be betting “mummies”.

That scenario would a tad scary for yours truly. I’d lose an invaluable betting tool when perusing the paddock everyday looking for the contenders and pretenders when it came to front wraps of any kind-----“first-time” or not.

Okay, so why even mention front wraps at all?

As stated above, I’ve never hesitated to bet a past winning front wrapped horse if he still has them on today. Obviously, he has to look at least as good as he did the day he won while wrapped and he must warm up strongly in the pre-race.

“First-time front wraps” and the re-adding of wraps by the same barn sends up a huge “red flag”!

When faced with this scenario, the first thing I do is see if there is any swelling or additional swelling of either front ankle or obvious bowing.

If the trainer is “bluffing” with this horse or any other horse in his barn, there will be no swelling of any kind in either ankle under the front wraps. Both ankles should be smooth and identical in size just like your own under tight socks.

Should there be any bowing or new enlargement or further enlargement of either ankle, I pass the race and could care less about the financial outcome for that specific event. It costs absolutely nothing to pass a race while still compiling your personal notes for future wagers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the detail on wraps Alan - that ah makes things clear I think??