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Friday, April 05, 2013

Derby Desperation

- Hear the Ghost is out of the Santa Anita Derby and off the Derby trail with "the tiniest little line, maybe the beginning of a chip," according to co-owner Ted Aroney. [Sacramento Bee]  That's too bad....I like the horse, and thought that some were devaluing his San Felipe win too much based on the pace scenario, as I explained in my top ten post the other day.

Another horse I really like, Palace Malice, my pick here in the Louisiana Derby, is indeed apparently being seriously considered for the Blue Grass after his nightmare trip in that race.  He was as hopelessly blocked as gun control legislation in the House of Republicans Representatives.  In fact, Paulick reported on Twitter as fact that he will run.  Let's see how that Twitter embed feature works.

Ah, nice to have Ray's smiling face brighten up the site.  Now this obviously qualifies squarely as 'Derby Desperation' as the connections try to get the points they need to get to Louisville.  We generally attribute these decisions to the trainer, as in "I can't believe Pletcher would do this." But running a horse back on only two weeks rest [egads!] is surely not the Toddster's style, and smacks squarely of owner interference by Dogwood Stable, a public partnership who obviously has much to gain in hype and prestige by just getting into the Derby starting gate and treating its partners to a memorable day.  The company president Cot Campbell explained on the syndicate's website:
He really did not have to exert great effort during the last part of the race, because there was nowhere to exert it.

We must look at the Blue Grass in Kentucky on April 13. The Blue Grass is a mile and an eighth on the Polytrack, and there would be a full field of 14. Our colt worked smoothly on that surface when I bought him last April.
Well, I'd love to see this horse in the Derby, and maybe a good performance there by a horse with four starts leading up to the race would serve to counter the unfortunate 'less is more' trend we've seen develop over the past few years.  But seems to me that the Preakness would be a more logical target, with a prep race in between.  Working smoothly on the surface and racing on it are two different things.  I consider the Keeneland Poly to be the synthetic surface which most closely mimics the turf in terms of horses' form, and handicap the races accordingly.  Palace Malice has a decent Tomlinson number for grass, and he is out of a dam by Royal Anthem, an accomplished grass runner by the turf champion Theatrical.  But his sire Curlin, who ran second in his only grass try, is unproven as a grass sire, and I don't see any progeny under the dam to get me excited about his chances.  We'll see.

 - Verrazano is the 4-5 morning line favorite for the Wood.  After agonizing over it for about three and a half minutes, I decided that I'll be watching this year's edition at home rather than dealing with Aqueduct until the 6:30 post time.  Nowadays we get dueling heightened security measures for these big races, and NYRA announced its plans for the Wood.  Blood samples were taken earlier this week, and there will be 24 hour surveillance of the horses, who will also have their smartphones confiscated and their barns and private parts searched for any sharp or electrical objects.  I mean, seriously, we're supposed to buy that tracks are serious about this stuff because they implement measures for one or two races - and the ones absolutely least likely to feature any hanky-panky - out of the thousands they run during the year.  Talk about appearance for appearance sake.