Haskin's Derby Report: Monday Madness


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We have missed you!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for your update. Unfortunately the brilliance of these colts works have been saddened by the accident that took place. I am assuming the worst out come for both horses. That must have been an awful thing to witness.

27 Apr 2009 3:28 PM

The horse I'm looking forward to hearing about the most right now is Mr. Hot Stuff. I'd like to know how he goes over the track. So far things are looking great for Pioneer and Chocolate Candy, but the specter of Colonel John still looms. Hard to predict how well they'll really do when they're running on dirt for the first time in a field of twenty horses.

The defection of Quality Road and the terrible accident is a crazy way to kick off the week. And from the looks of it Friday might be drawing just as much attention. Rachel is a freak and Zenyatta might run. How awesome is this weekend?

27 Apr 2009 3:41 PM

Steve I read the comments about FF gawking around to so I didn't put to much stock in the gallup out time for 6 fur.

27 Apr 2009 3:53 PM

Steve, Great summary - I was there and saw the accident - it was brutal to watch. The draw could be key as usual . By the way, thinking a bit ahead, did you see anything in The Withers or Derby Trial that looked "Preakness worthy"?

27 Apr 2009 3:58 PM

Great article again Steve, but no comments on Quality Road missing the Derby...what a huge disappointment (him not making the derby). I think this horse is something very special. Too bad he won't get to show it in Louisville. I'm sure many of you on this board are wondering...Dray who is your pick now?

27 Apr 2009 4:02 PM
For Big Red

STEVE: Could your gallop out time of 1:16 1/5 for Friesan Fire be a typo? Everyone else has it in 1:14.

27 Apr 2009 4:04 PM

Does anyone have more information about FF's work?  DRF is saying he seemed noticeably tired but the info from Jones and the loose rein makes it seem like he did it easy.

27 Apr 2009 4:15 PM

What happened to the horses involved in the accident?  Were they euthanized?  Why couldn't the horse on the rail not move out of the run-away horse's path?

27 Apr 2009 4:24 PM
anti draynay and thong song!

Finally some love for desert party this horse has the blood and is a cool customer..... W P S for desert party take it to the bank at 10-1!

27 Apr 2009 4:40 PM

Sad goodbye to Quality Road in the Derby. A brave decision by Jerkens and Edwards; Derby fever or not, they kept their horse #1. Hopefully, we'll see him back soon. A potential target down the line could be the Haskell. Could you imagine this horse at Monmouth, a track typically condusive to speed/stalkers?

27 Apr 2009 4:46 PM
For Big Red

STEVE: I've watched all of the workout videos on kentuckyderby.com several times, and will likely do so several more. Regarding Friesan Fire's work this morning, it sure doesn't look like the colt is traveling as fast as he actually worked. He's on an extremely loose rein throughout, and Saez's hands are at colt's withers and very still.

About mid stretch, Saez uncrosses the reins and shakes the left one a couple of times as FF drifts in slightly toward the rail. Saez stands up in the irons moments after the wire and slows the colt down to almost a fast canter. It wasn't a true gallop out, thus the 1:14 out time. I wish the video had run a little longer. Anyway, Freisan Fire seemed to get only a little tired. Not much. Very impressive work.

One of the under-the-radar colts whose work vids have impressed me is Hold Me Back. I don't know if he's good enough to win the Derby, but he sure should relish the distance.

Chocolate Candy seems to be coming up to the race good. I totally respect Jerry Hollendorfer, who appears to have done a masterful job getting this colt ready for the Derby.

The colt you've had on top for some time, I Want Revenge, appears to be coming into the race beautifully, as does Pioneerof the Nile. The Dubai horses also look good.

In my opinion, the winner will be one of these six horses. I'll narrow down my selections after the post position draw. My personal favorite continues to be Friesan Fire.

Lastly, we haven't seen him at CD yet, but I'm not high on Dunkirk's chances. If he beats me in the Derby, so be it, but no way can I buy the notion that such a lightly raced colt can beat that group of talented, seasoned colts.

27 Apr 2009 4:46 PM

ssc:Did you see FF work? Did he look like he was looking around when he galluped out? The masses and myself need to know!

27 Apr 2009 4:47 PM

Again, I am not going to be able to infer much from the workouts myslef beyond time, but as it concerns time:

Friesan Fire's 5 furlongs in 57 and 4 obviously jumps out. However, I am a little concerned in how the work unfolded. 11 and 1 and then 22 and 1 (11 second 2nd eighth) then 33 and 3 (11 and 2) then 45 and 1 (11 and 3) then 57 and 4 (12 and 3) galloping out in 114 (16 and 1). Even if one discounts the gallop out, FF was running slower later in the work; don't most want to have the opposite occur? However, the horse was just coming off a sensational mile work at Keeneland, and just like with Hard Spun, Larry Jones was trying to get some speed into FF. If the goal was to have the horse sharp, then the inverted fractions are of no concern.

Pioneer continues to work well, going 11 and 4 then 23 and 4 (12) then 36 (12 and 1) then 48 and 3 (12 and 3) then 101 (12 and 2) and then galloped out in 113 and 2 (12 and 2). Although the fractions slowed in the middle, he picked it up again late, which suggests that he was simply doing what the jock wanted him to do, with the jock shooting for twelves but sometimes miscalculating ever so slightly.

I had been worried about Chococlate Candy because his mile work last weekend didnt draw an inspiring response from a drf analyst. However, his work today was sharp, a least as it concerns time. 12 then 23 and 2 (11 and 2) then 35 and 2 (12) then 47 (11 and 3) then 59 and 1 (12 and 1) with a gallop out of 112 and 4 (13 and 3).

Rachel is just a beast. Imagine she and Zenyatta running on the same day!

27 Apr 2009 5:02 PM

Dray- I feel bad for you as I'm a bit let down myself.  I'm a big Quality Road fan.

Justine-Mr. Hot Stuff is getting a great rider in John V, and many think MHS is sitting on a breakout race.  I'd sure include him in my wagers.  I have the feeling that an unexpected horse is going to win the race.  It also seems Chocolate Candy, Pioneer, and Hold Me Back, FF are working great as well as the Dubai horses.  My head is spinning!  There are so many teriffic horses this year.  I'm anxious to hear from Steve who his top work horses are.    

27 Apr 2009 5:10 PM

  Great job as usual, keep that good work info coming. Glad to see you are finally on the scene. I am guessing that my future bets on "Papa Clem" and "Chocolate Candy" are not looking that good according to your early reporting. But, I did get "Dunkirk" at what I feel will be a much better price than come Derby day! And, as a Virginian if for no other reason, I am so sorry to hear about "Quality Road" and that he will miss the party.

  I also noticed that now including "Square Eddie", that you had 4 horses from your “original dozen” that list made your “final dozen” list; 4-1 up from 3-1 if "SE" hadn't returned!! But don't give up completely on those others that you saw something in way back when as you still seem high on them now, with they being: "I Want Revenge"; "Friesan Fire"; and "Pionnerof the Nile", as they proved they were good first spots in regard to what we saw from them during the prep season.

  Of course, some of us back then were still waiting for the likes of "Dunkirk", where back then we were never sure when or even if he would ever make his début. Thusly, unless “Regal Ransom” can actually pull off some rare unexpected ‘wire to wire’ run, I think that "I Want Revenge"; "Friesan Fire"; "Pionnerof the Nile", and “Dunkirk” are still the real players to watch for at the stretch and nothing regarding works or appearances so far regarding those particular few have changed my mind. With “Square Eddie” having been off of the training trail for so long, it would be incredible to see some complete return to form and thusly a strong showing by him, which would be a mild shocker! And if any others have shots in the exotics that might be coming late, besides those mentioned already, apparently “Desert Party”; “Musket Man”; “General Quarters”; & “Hold Me Back”, might still get some consideration. However, if you give me “Papa Clem”, “Musket Man”, or “Chocolate Candy” at over 60-1, well I just might be doing some digging in my pocket for a few extra dollars for some across the board plays!!

  In any event, my brother apparently now likes "I Want Revenge", slightly over "Friesan Fire", yet I think I am going to lean on "Dunkirk" to keep the gray rotation alive. I guess, that I am hoping that by now that “Dunkirk” has finally found his 5th gear kick for this one knowing he has aged but also gotten some rest since the Fla. Derby, as I for one still think he is the best horse in this crop!! Again, I look at him as being only off of the Gulf Stream track record by 1 ¾ of a length! nearly duplicating “Big Brown’s” run. Moreover, he has gotten the required rest and also being the oldest horse in ‘the dance’ and an intimidating grey at that, it makes him my new #1 choice, not just a pony in my top five, but my absolute topper. Well, I know, the history and all, and the odds against with only three races going into the Derby, but again in the words of Craig Ferguson, “Remind you of anyone?”  

  I know the training method seemed odd, but I can also see where his connections not only wanted to protect their investment, but that the course seemed proper regarding the "Unbridled's" line with leg development issues, etc., where the lightly raced schedule and getting a healthy horse to the dance seemed a somewhat most appropriate route at arrival, that is, to me anyway.

  So anyway, keep us informed Steve, as we know you will.

  And, I must admit, that I did enjoy all of your articles and blogs this year, and especially all of yours and your blogger’s insights and comments.

27 Apr 2009 5:11 PM

Justine you aren't kidding... We are going to see some great racing this weekend. I wish RA was taking on the colts. She would probably leave them all wondering what the heck happened. Seems we have some big time misfortunes lately and that includes this mornings accident. Lets just hope all of them come back to the barn this weeekend. It seems I'm always holding my breath these days when I watch the races.

27 Apr 2009 5:40 PM
W. J. (Billy) Wright

You could very well be on to something about being in a real quandary to prognosticate this race. I'm scratching my head as well. What will save me is the post selections. (No Big Brown to sweat coming out of the 20) The pace will be the key this year I believe. The odds will be all over the map and I envision at least two rabbits looking to tip the apple cart. Beware the spirit of Spanish Chestnut, watch out for the ghost of Bluegrass Cat and woe unto those who discredit an Afleet Alex.  

27 Apr 2009 5:45 PM
Karen in Texas

Another great column! I bet it's exciting to be at Churchill finally! I totally agree that this Derby is most difficult to figure out/handicap--even with the defections of some of the major horses, there are still a number of possible winners. Friesan Fire seems a strong possibility, especially if the track is wet on Saturday. Again, glad you're finally at Churchill.

27 Apr 2009 5:49 PM

kevheels I am going against all the conventional wisdom and facing facts that Dunkirk is the horse of destiny.

Look at his last 3 races and look how he continues to improve and then look at his bullet works.  And then ask yourself one question...is any horse in this race as good as Quality Road ? Any move forward by Dunkirk leaves this field in the dust.  Most of the horses in this field have no business being in a Derby field.  I haven't seen a field this weak since 2005.... and we ALL know what crazy nonsense took place that year.  Dunkirk wins easy over these average horses.

27 Apr 2009 6:00 PM
2 time valley player of the year

the Fire is a lock according to some as is revenge good thing they won't be facing Nicanor!

Should be a great race with no chalk favorites.

27 Apr 2009 6:16 PM

Steve, with that workout today by Friesan Fire it looks like he may be going to the lead if he gets an inside post. 7 week layoff and quick work should mean he'll be on edge right from the start. Maybe there will be even more pace than we all imagined just last week (especially if Join in the Dance gets in)

27 Apr 2009 6:19 PM

You were missed, that's for sure, Steve.  So sad to read about the riderless horse accident.  I can't imagine the horror.

Yes, this will be a very tough Derby to figure. Your thoughts are very much appreciated.

27 Apr 2009 6:35 PM
For Big Red

Seeing these horses as more than just objects to bet on.

Friesan Fire getting his bath 4/27/09 after his fast work: i32.photobucket.com/.../FF-bath-42709.jpg

Chocolate Candy getting his bath after today's work: i32.photobucket.com/.../CC-bath-42709.jpg

Pioneerof the Nile getting his bath 4/26/07 after his work: i32.photobucket.com/.../POTN-bath-42609.jpg

27 Apr 2009 7:26 PM


As it concerns the Papa Clem work, is there a realistic chance that his connections will concede that the horse is off form (if he actually is)? Of course, we cannot know for certain if a horse is "off", but it seems like trainers, owners, and jockeys always put a positive spin on their horse before the Derby.

It seems like at this time every year all we ever hear from trainers (and owners/jockeys) is "the horse couldn't be doing any better. His last work was exactly what we were looking for". Seriously, just about every trainer before every Derby says those exact words. However, it is abundantly clear from how horses have actually performed in past Derbys that not every starter was "doing as well as he could be".

This year will be like any other Derby. At least half the field, horses that were declared to be "perfect" and "exactly what we were hoping for", will run terribly. Then, as in most Derbys, a few of the trainers(or jockeys, owners) will "admit that the horse was trying to tell us something before the race and probably never fully recovered from his last effort".

Before other races, including races of significance, it is not that uncommon for a horse to be scratched or withdrawn earlier in the week because of subpar works or a lack of sharpness. However, off the top of my head I can think of very few horses that were withdrawn from the Derby, without an injury, because of a subpar work or general "dullness".

Steve, what horses have been withdrawn from the Derby, without a specific injury, because of poor works, dullness, or being "off" form? Of course, many times a horse is "off" because it is injured, but there are other horses that, although not injured, are either "tired", "dull", or just at the bottom of its form cycle.

Given the performances of a number of horses in past Derbys, each year there are a number of starters that are off form or not at their best. Why, then, is that all we ever hear from the connections of each horse is how "well the horse is doing, couldn't be better"?

Is Derby fever so strong that it temporarily blinds trainers (and owners/jockeys)? How have so many trainers been so wrong about their horses? I know not every horse that ran poorly in the Derby was "off" form or in the downwards part of the cycle; some are done in by the surface, the pace, or are simply not good enough. However, there have been plenty of horses, quality horses that had the talent to be competitive, that simply ran poorly because they were off form. Why were the connections of such horses unable to recognize this? In retrospect, many of these horses were horses that were sending signals of being off form, whether through workouts or their performances in the prep races. Is it a matter of "wishing makes it so"? In other words, do trainers so much want their horse to be doing well that they overlook signs they might otherwise have noticed?

Or, have some of these trainers been aware that their horse was not at the top of its game and made comments that they knew weren't true? Perhaps, they were trying to aviod questions like "why are you still running him if he's possibly off" that would follow any admission of the horse possibly going off form? Perhaps many of these trainers did recognize that their horse was off but were overuled by owners desperate to take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the trainers didn't want to put these owners on the hot-seat by speaking truthfully? Perhaps I am giving trainers too much credit, and that it is difficult to be certain of a horse's form before ANY race?

Yet, it still appears like trainers make more miscalculations before the Derby than other races. I think most trainers are being honest when they say their horse is doing fantastic. It appears to me, as an outsider, that because the Derby is so special some trainers (jockeys,owners) have diffiuclty acknowldeging negative news. Some trainers have certainly "missed" their horse being off due to the difficulty of the profession. However, it seems like there have been trainers who, under normal circumstance, would have recognized the signals but were overpowered by the pull of the Derby.

The problem for us fans and bettors is that it becomes difficult to discern which trainers are correct and which are suffering from the Derby fever. As a result, I tend not to put alot into the comments from trainers, jockeys and owners, placing more on what neutral observers like Steve are saying.  

27 Apr 2009 7:37 PM

Steve, I'm the same way, I cannot watch that stuff - I turn away. Who wants to see that? Not exactly the way we wanted to start the week. Please let me know about Papa Clem, I have him rated higher than most cappers (and above Friesan Fire) if we get a fast track? Thanks for the info on Desert Party and Regal Ransom - I definitely believe this is their best chance (although that isn't saying alot, is it?), but I'd be sure before making DP your pick, the hurdles are not insignificant and he's facing several colts who can really run and will get the jump on him and another one or two who have a similar closing style and also have quality. It's a tough year.

27 Apr 2009 8:04 PM

my favorite of '08, and my favorite of '09 will run on Friday.  Love oaks day.  RA looks like Smarty when she gallops.  Hard to root against Larry Jones.  Some good favs, and some good long shots.  I agree steve, another tough one to pick.  

27 Apr 2009 8:10 PM

Steve...super descriptions as usual...sorry to hear about Quality Road.   His presence would surely have elevated the specter of this race in a huge way.   Luck is such a huge factor in making the race isn't it?    

I've been wavering a lot....i'm looking hard at Pioneer of the Nile, Friesan Fire and I Want Revenge as possible tri key horses.  And I'm confident i'm not alone in focusing heavily on these three.    

Dunkirk's a sentimental favorite of mine and you have to like a horse that still only lost by less than 2 lengths to a superstar like QR in only his 3rd career start.    The presence of Prado should ensure a good trip...so i'm hesitant to leave him out.    Then there are horses like Musket Man and General Quarters who look like very game competitors.    

Lastly, i was impressed by your take on the Godolphin pair, especially Desert Party.   To me, these two are big time X FACTORS.   Your reporting has me seriously rethinking my prospects.   But i heard Frankie Dettori has a big race in Europe and won't be riding in Derby 135.    First question is...is that true...and secondly...if Frankie doesn't fancy adding the Kentucky Derby to his lights out resume....what should the average handicapper/donator like myself make of the Goldolphin duo?    

27 Apr 2009 8:33 PM

After a completing a video review of the California horses (POTN, CC, IWR, PC, MHS) I can say, beyond any doubt that I may have had, that I Want Revenge did nothing in the Gotham (110 Beyer?), outside of being more focused (against much weaker), that he didn't do in his last 2 in California. His talent was very much on display in California at the time, as was POTN's and Papa Clem's (in the Robert Lewis - a huge race for PC).

The California synthetic beyers are misleading, beginning with the Robert Lewis (which should have earned the winner a 105 Beyer, approximately).

IWR has a big, ground-gobbling, athletic stride, and he's tractable from just off the pace, while unbothered by racing activity around him (mental acuity). In many ways, he's the perfect Derby horse. He's the kind you'd back all day at 10-1. Unfortunately, he won't be anywhere near that, and he's got some conformation issues (like many of these), his is apparent in the right rear (hind quarters) action, which causes him to drift a bit under pressure late. It's not a death blow by any means, but it is a chink and furthermore he showed just enough immaturity (not showing up in the Robert Lewis) to get himself beaten at a short price.  

Besides which: there is a more talented animal in the field at a better price. That's POTN. He's not my choice, either, but he can win this quite easily if he rates as Gomez pleases. That's the rub, of course. More later.

27 Apr 2009 8:43 PM
For Big Red

ALL: A little humor to brighten up our chore of picking the Derby winner. "What Do the Stars Say About the 2009 Kentucky Derby?" milkywayastrology.wordpress.com/.../what-do-the-stars-say-about-the-2009-kentucky-derby

Grin... :)

27 Apr 2009 8:43 PM


Love your comments on Derby week as always! It's like being there for us who can't be there.  

I love your angle on Chocolate Candy.  I think the Derby gods will be smiling down on this capable stretch runner who could surprise.  Wouldn't it be ironic for a Diet Queen to win the Derby with a horse who goes by such a name?  With Sid Craig's passing last summer you have your feature story half-written.  And the winner is a son of Candy Ride, whom the Craig's raced!

27 Apr 2009 8:53 PM

Steve, at what time this morning did Friesan Fire work? I was at the track this morning from 6:45 till about 8:15 and left. I could have sworn the lady announcing the works said Friesan Fire was going to work Tuesday. I did see Calvin Borel on I believe it was Justwhitledixie and also saw and got pictures of General Quarters about a half hout after that. My main purpose was to see Friesan Fire this morning. I am so disappointed I wantd to get pictures of him.

27 Apr 2009 8:56 PM

FF looks to be the smart choice for this Derby as he should be sitting on a big race and wont be caught like Hard Spun. I wish QR didnt have the quarter crack and was still in to keep the price better however. Dunkirk should be sitting on a big effort also.

27 Apr 2009 9:48 PM

Great report!

27 Apr 2009 11:34 PM


do you like how Friesan Fire looks in terms of condition, coat, etc. Guess he was ready to do something today, eh?


27 Apr 2009 11:54 PM
Matthew W

Steve Pioneerof The Nile had the kind of work I hoped he would have--slower--and I hope he takes hold on Sat--He'll be at a disadvantage with Freisan Fire as FF should be up on the pace but I would not trade hands with Baffert here--I also love Hold Me Back AND your Flying Private--Lukas/Baffert have paid big in the Derby Exacta! It's Derby Week!

28 Apr 2009 12:01 AM

POTN will undoubtedly garner significant action on Saturday, with his very public flirtation with the Churchill strip and his newly minted HOF trainer, Bob Baffert, giving a leg up to the equally gifted jockey, Garrett Gomez. The money will certainly flow like a certain green libation. 2nd choice seems likely, if he's not vying for favortism with IWR.

POTN is the only horse in the field I have a given a "Talent Grade" of A+, thus, margainaly speaking, I consider him to be the gold standard in the race. I believe - strongly - that the best horses ran in California this year and last (as it happens).

However, the difference is not so great (imo) that he can't get himself beat by being too anxious too early in the race. I give out "Mental Grades", as well, for each prep, and his was a B- in the SA Derby - he was not giving Gomez what he asked for and he was rank, in fact - hence, I don't consider him to be the "Best Bet" in the race, although if he relaxes and gets a trip they are all running for second, imo. He could also run off the board if he does not relax, something that must be considered a strong possibility because of his SA Derby. I'm picking him 3rd.

IWR has the opposite problem, in a certain respect. Sometimes, he's so laid back, he doesn't bother to run much, see the Robert Lewis to get an idea of what that looks like. With Joe Talamo in the irons, the possibility exists that IWR will be left with too much to do and too many horses to navigate around when the real running commences. The other possibility is that he uses IWR's tactical speed to get good early position and moves too soon thereafter. The third possibility is that Young Jow rides the perfect race in his first mount at 19yo. If he were 10-1, I could live with these distinctly different possibilities and just Believe. Not happening. I'm picking him 4th.

Stay tuned for my win and place selctions.

28 Apr 2009 12:55 AM

If the New York Sharpies have anything to say about it (think Circular Quay), Desert Party could make his presence felt on the parimutuel end of things Saturday afternoon. And sprung by Street Cry, it's hard not to take this animal seriously, I must say, regardless of his light experience and questionable running companions ("Company Grade": C).

Desert Party, like his stablemate, RR, had to ship half way around the world to get here, and while Godolphin looks like they have finally found a trainer and a system (buy everything that moves) that might be able to bring home this long-sought prize, the best possible prism from which to view their chances with RR and DP is the past.

An improvemment is surely in order, but I could not back a win at a lower than expected price with only 4 lifetime starts in the case of Desert Party. I think Pletcher has a better chance to win with his runners, personally. That's not an endorsement, however. Desert Party may find his way onto the bottom end of my tris and supers. If he wins, I'll be bust.

28 Apr 2009 1:15 AM


On the 8th April I post a thread titled ‘SUMMER BIRD SHORT ON EXPERIENCE BUT LONG ON PEDIGREE, A GOOD EXOTIC INCLUSION’ Those who noted it might have caught the Arkansas Derby tri and super that paid $572 & $1990 respectively. Well, Summer Bird made it to the derby because of injuries and defections. If he was 52-1 in the Arkansas Derby he is likely to be 99-1in the Kentucky Derby. Some will conclude he has no chance of hitting the board, I think otherwise. Summer Bird entered the Arkansas Derby of a maiden special victory. He was facing two graded stakes winners and three graded placed finishers. In spite of his overwhelming odds and gross lack of experience he was only beaten 1 1/4L closing from another zip code.

Papa Clem, the victor in the Arkansas Derby was beaten 1/2L by POTN in the Robert Lewis and he in turn had 1L on IWR. Both Pap Clem and IWR left CA to race on the dirt. IWR won the Gotham & Wood against undistinguished opponents. Papa Clem was beaten by two times graded staked winner Friesan Fire on his dirt debut. He won his second attempt against multiple graded stakes winners Old Fashioned and graded stakes winner Win Willy. One can conclude that Papa Clem faced far better company than IWR whom he defeated in their only meeting. Papa Clem’s winning time AK Derby was 1:49.01. IWR wining time for the Wood was 1:49.49. It will be argued IWR had a problem plagued trip. The same can be said about Papa Clem. IWR’s problem was walking out of the gates, PC’s problem was a very fast and talented Old fashioned on an uncontested lead. If IWR walked out of the gates and had to track splits of 22.65, 46.19, 1:11.15 and 1:36.75 instead of 24.50, 48.13, 1:12.32 and 1:37.33 he would be 20 lengths last. I happen to think Papa Clem is better than IWR the likely ML favorite for the Derby.

Now this is the measurement by which Summer Bird’s achievement must be gauged. He passed Papa Clem immediately past the post in the gallop out. If we concur that Papa Clem is better than IWR and he was only able to beat a maiden winner by 1 1/4L, then this horse is a live exotic bet at an enormous price.

Folks the more I look at Summer Bird’s pedigree the more he appeals. He has a double dose of Northern Dancer via his sons Storm Bird (1980 Champion 2-year-old in England & Ireland) and Nijinsky (1970 English Triple Crown winner) This double dose of Northern Dancer makes this colt extremely dangerous.

The next colt is Square Eddie. I know he has been off for a long time his fitness may be in question. I leant that during his period away from the track he has been active in an equine pool. Clearly swimming alone will not be enough to make a horse totally fit but it has immense value. His race in the Lexington will put on the finishing touches to this talented colt and he will be dangerous on Derby day. Why do I consider him to be a great exotic inclusion? Well, he defeated POTN in the Lanes End Futurity by 8L in his first race of the plane from Great Briton. He repeated the feat in the Breeders’ Cup juvenile. They have not met since and clearly POTN has improved but so too has Square Eddie. In a derby that has lost most of the speed horses, Square Eddie has the speed to be forwardly placed, a position from which POTN has never headed him. POTN has lost two of his last six races and on both occasions Square Eddie was ahead of him. POTN is likely to be joint ML favorite and Square Eddie a colt that was only 11/4L behind the 2008 2YO champion Midshipman in the BCJ, will likely be at long odds.  NB: 1983 Derby winner Sunny's Halo spent most of his time leading up to the derby training in an equine swimming pool. You have been informed.

I will be playing both colts along with Musket Man behind my choice to win Regal Ransom.

28 Apr 2009 2:30 AM

To bad the best horse isn't in the race and the coverage is going to suck on The Oaks, Thanks ESPN!!!! I have to agree this is one tough race to decipher, might just have to resort to well thought out LUCK. I want to know what drays pick is too, I hope he doesn't pick any of mine. I don't want the dray curse .

28 Apr 2009 4:14 AM
Bill C

Sorry to hear Quality Road is out he would have been right there I think. This is such a quality field this year that a number could win it I think. I still think I Want Revenge will be hard to beat and the sleeper is Desert Party with General Quarters being my sentimental pick  at any rate I'm looking forward to this years Derby and all the coverage up too it.

28 Apr 2009 6:49 AM

Square Eddie's out. In my opinion he should have never been pointed to the Derby if he was coming off a layoff thanks to shin problems. I hope he and Quality Road come back much healthier horses this summer.

28 Apr 2009 7:06 AM

I'm glad to read that General Quarters looks good.  Last week I heard reports that he was sluggish and tired.

I cannot believe the "Today" show is airing the footage of the tragic accident that happened at CD on Monday.  NBC is promoting the Derby and they want viewers to see that?  Does anybody need to see that?  No!!

28 Apr 2009 7:29 AM

Wow... I guess many of you here look at Dunkirk and just don't get it. I guess the 108 he posted and the even higher number he sill post in the Derby mean nothing to you.  This horse has raced only 3 times and did not race a 2 but this is NOT a strong group of 3 year old horses. With the Pamplemousse out and Big Drama out and Quality Road out you have a MUCH lower class of horses in the Derby.  POTN, IWR, and FF have to deal with Dunkirk and there is no reason to believe any one of them is near good enough or fast enough.

You need foundation?  Normally yes.. but this is a very average group facing a very talented Dunkirk.  Big Brown won on talent last year and Dunkirk will win on TALENT this year.  Maybe you should go back and watch Dunkirks Maiden race to see what the Derby will look like this year.  The cheap speed will fall apart and Dunkirk will be off to the races.

28 Apr 2009 8:53 AM

I agree with Easy Goer Fan. I have seen that accident too many times on local news channels as well. Its just awful. And Im wondering why that rider didnt try to move out of the way. The horse was barreling down the track with everybody watching him,sirens were going and so it wasnt that hard to notice him coming.

Down here in Florida they have had Polo deaths, many deaths at the showgrounds,etc...And the TV channels are reporting every tragedy they can with horses.

Anyway, Im going for Summer Bird as the upset in the Derby. He has everything going for him at this point.

28 Apr 2009 9:29 AM

From the prez of the win willy fan club.You guys are missing the boat, grab a line before u sink!

28 Apr 2009 10:05 AM

LOL Dray. I was wondering who you would jump on next. I really thought it would be Desert Party or Regal Ransom. So now it is Dunkirk. Hope nothing happens to him before the Derby. Seems every horse you toot, you jinx. I want to thank you for not liking Friesan Fire.

28 Apr 2009 10:49 AM

Draynay, You do amuse me. Do I think Dunkirk has a shot on Sat? Absolutely. Is this a weak field as you say. Absolutely not!! Now that QR is out I think you can make a case for several horses including the Cali horses. I will wait for post positions before I give my final picks, but I will say that POTN, DP, CC, will be in my tri's and supers. You have to make a stand against one of the favorites and right now I'm tossing IWR. Go ahead and blast away Dray, I just don't think the time figs on synthetics is correct. I think it will take several years before Beyer and the others get it right. I feel that right now it is a work in progress.

28 Apr 2009 10:52 AM
Karen in Texas

I questioned Square Eddie's presence in the Derby field as well, Justine. Glad they recognized the new issues and did the correct thing in withdrawing him.

28 Apr 2009 11:04 AM

Dray...I'm not sure why I am even responding to your post but you are waaaayyyyy off base by claiming that most of these horses don't belong in the derby. Several of these horses are graded stakes winners.  I haven't quite figured out how your mind works and if we even live in the same horse racing world. An "average" group facing Dunkirk??????? These colts are far from average.

28 Apr 2009 11:05 AM

I see they are re-playing that tragic accident on the news. What a sad, sad sight. That poor filly didn't know what hit her. My heart just breaks for her. I also wonder with the warning going off why people weren't paying more attention but I also realize that sometimes these things happen so quick there is no time to respond. Another sad day for our industry. I hope people realize how much most of the people that work with these horses care about them.

28 Apr 2009 11:16 AM

Dray -  I almost completely agree with you except I believe it will be a two horse race between Dunkirk (108) & Revenge (113 & 103) if it comes down to speed figures.  It looks like mostly average horses unless POTN,  CC, or MHS jump up huge on dirt like IWR.  

28 Apr 2009 12:18 PM

Even with Quality Road out this field towers over last years pathetic group. There are still 8 horses in here that have produced beyer Figs over 100 at 1 1/16 or longer compared to only 4 last year. Desert Party and Regal Ransom's figs from the other side of the pond translate to 100 or better so they are included. it's going to be a very interesting race indeed.

28 Apr 2009 12:40 PM

Pretty unfair of Pletcher, imo, regarding TTP and Advice; the connections from the other eligible horses deserve a lot better, but that's why no one will shed a tear if his 0-fer streak in the Derby continues.

Just because it's "his right" to do something or other doesn't mean he has to exercise it. I can't even understand what competitive advantage it gives him to wait? Meanwhile, the connections of the other eligible runners can't make plans, can't do much of anything, certainly can't enjoy the moment thanks to Pletcher.

Jmo, of course.

28 Apr 2009 12:41 PM

Wanda - FF worked beautifully and I did not notice anything unusual in the gallop out

28 Apr 2009 1:54 PM
Blind Follower

Lol, this is the funniest group of bloggers I have ever read.  

Who is this Draynay?  Lol, every post he/she writes spouts out Beyers as if they are God's word.

You might want to look at Dunkirk's Beyer again, Draynay.  I recall, at one time it was quite a few points lower.  You speak of  Beyer figures with such confidence, as if you think they are science.  One day the Beyer number is this the next it is that and next week it could be something else ( adjustments are constant, lol ). That is not science that you spout so authoritativly, but, just some other guys ( and his helpers ) opinion.

Mathmatics is a science.  Three plus three equals six, today, 50 years ago and 50 years from now.  

How can your opinion be taken seriously when your entire contention of why one horse is better than another is by mimicking some other guys OPINION ( Beyer )?  

Whenever I hear people making arguments about horses and their quality by stating Beyer figures ( as if the figures were accepted by all as precise or even relevant )my thoughts are that those people are either intellectually lazy or they lack a true understanding of this sport and are trying to fake otherwise.

28 Apr 2009 3:59 PM

Judging by their works/gallops,the horses that seem to be thriving @ Churchill in my opinion are:  IWR-he looks really good gliding over the track,sitting on a big race. POTN-seems to be in tip-top shape,dirt will not be a problem. FF-looks ready and able to step it up following his 7week chillin' period. GQ-love the way he's been galloping over the surface he's used too,big sturdy colt looks to be on top of his game. DP-is handling the track perfectly and looks very good.

28 Apr 2009 4:12 PM

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