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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Derby Fever on Steroids

If you're wondering where all those now now-outlawed steroids are going, you might want to check Haskin's coffee. Is it just me, or are he and many others unusually ramped up at this stage about a race which is four months away? Especially given Big Brown's campaign, as well as recent trends towards far lighter racing schedules which indicate that entry level allowance races in the first week of January are becoming completely irrelevant to the matter at hand?

Haskin went off the other day on two such races to be run at Gulfstream on Thursday, and I don't really understand what he's carrying on about, other than to fulfill Bloodhorse's cheerleading role (don't forget the Yum!) ..several in each race looking like potential major players on the Kentucky Derby trail.. Huh? They look like rather routine affairs to me. Talk to me if one of the winners draws off by eight under wraps in 1:48 2/5. Little wonder that Haskin becomes completely incoherent around May 1, absolutely unable to articulate in plain terms who he likes in the race he obsesses about all year.

Looking at Derby winners going back 20 years, not a single one even ran in an allowance race at Gulfstream in January. And the chances are excellent that neither will this year's winner. (Full disclosure: Monarchos won a maiden race there in January, and an allowance the next month.) So I suggest a chill pill, and check back with me in a couple of months. In the meantime, if you can't wait, you know where to find all your Derby stuff - just about anywhere else on the internets.

- In some truly significant news, investigations are underway at Santa Anita and at Turfway regarding a rash of fatal injuries on each one's synthetic surface. Not to minimize the injuries in Kentucky, but the problems at Santa Anita have to be of particular concern given the Cushion Track disaster there, the newness of the surface, and the Breeders' Cup coming up this fall. Ian Pearse was summoned from Australia to check out his Pro-Ride surface, and found that the surface was firmer than during the Oak Tree meeting.

Pearse said cold weather combined with rain probably changed the track, but he expressed confidence in the maintenance procedures, which will include a daily routine in which crews will use a device to determine the surface's firmness. [LA Times]
A group of trainers was scheduled to meet to discuss the track this morning.
Another source familiar with the situation said a group of about eight trainers walked the Pro-Ride track Sunday morning and were shocked by the condition of the surface.

"They couldn't believe what it was like when they walked on it," she said.

One respected horseman would like to see the main track torn up and replaced by a dirt surface, a process he estimates would take six to 10 days if the new materials were already on site. [Pasadena Star-News]


steve in nc said...


I've been busy trying to figure out which 4 year old maidens can swim the best on the tight turns at AQ.

Another Jacobson layoff horse won today. And the feature today was a gift, no?

Did you notice the action on the Mitch Friedman winner in the 2nd?
Off a long layoff with a very fast 3f bullet and great mud breeding. But what was interesting was how long she was in all the multi-race exotics, despite opening up at 5-1 and staying there or lower until maybe 10 minutes to post. Then she late drifted up to 9-1. Someone associated with the horse was doing some serious win betting.

I will remember this one for the future and let Haskin make sure some Florida allowance horses get overbet in the Derby futures. He takes positivity to the point of excess.

To me, Haskin & Watchmaker are the most overrated print journalists in racing. But I do think it is difficult to cover the non-political parts of racing accurately and still make it entertaining. Maybe I've been reading them all too long, but the only ones still interesting to me are Jerardi, Crist, Litfin and Mark Cramer.

Anonymous said...

Haskin always ends up with a four month long erection when it comes to Derby time. I can't wait for his analysis as the 1st Sat. in May draws closer:

"I’ll start my list of Derby contenders the way I finish my list of Derby contenders, by describing how majestic the coats of 18 of the 20 postward animals look. I believe that horses on the muscle with good works will win the Derby and I will give you my 15 horse Exacta Box on May 2nd, since I actually like most every horse in the field. 10 of the 20 Derby entrants “travel well”, “well within themselves”, and “with ease”. They’re all handsome sons of someone, which is my favorite part of the Derby as you’ve probably noticed. By physical appearance alone, 275 horses can win the Derby right now."