Haskin's Derby Report: Day for Revenge


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IWR could not beat POTN and there is no reason to believe he can now.  Chocolate Candy ran a fantastic race in his last and should be undefeated this year.  I will play Dunkirk on top with POTN, MHS, CC, MM, and Desert Party underneath. If it comes up wet then I will have to add in FF.

28 Apr 2009 4:44 PM

Steve, wow, great commentary on "dapples" I really learned something about the "magic" of this class of thoroughbred.....in any case, I've hit something mighty hard on my way to anointing my derby pick for the year (big smile) - I have a question. Has any horse in this race put together two races of such obvious improvement coming into the Derby as Regal Ransom? Wow. I was so blown away by his last two, the progression, that he's become my Derby selection, upseating Papa Clem and Chocolate Candy (who were value selections over IWR and POTN). I saw the race pretty clearly until about 14 minutes ago when I began watching RR's races. Actually, it began 36 minutes ago, when I started watching Desert Party (who wooed'm, then left'm at the aisle).

In his last effort, RR raced inside of his primary pace partner, in 2nd most of the way (just as he was a tracker in his previous, not the pacesetter), but inside all the way. That's important because it demonstrates quality, at least in my handicapping world. To be inside, while on/near the pace, and to rally and win as RR won, that's powerful. He withstood a stretch long run from Desert Party who was 1 to 5 to win. Make no mistake, Desert Party was "expected" to handle RR. RR ran is such a way that further improvement, especially with a more reasonable trip (tracking from the outside this time), is well within his grasp. I'm going to have to land here, Steve. Unless I change my mind in a few minutes. A right I reserve, btw. Did I mention I like CC? And PC?

28 Apr 2009 4:50 PM

I thought CC looked completely full of himself galloping today, and showing off his particular high leg action, if that's how one wants to actually categorize it, it's probably accurate, but he wouldn't be the first to have that action and run exceptionally well on dirt. No, I can't think of who else at the moment, but that's not the point. He looked great today as a racehorse, without question. Papa Clem seemed to float over the surface in his gallop today, at least I thought so, thankfully we have the videos at KD.com. I still like both as price plays.

28 Apr 2009 5:03 PM
For Revenge

Great artical! I loved his work and how easy he did it too. I look to have him on top with Pioneer, Desert Party, Friesian Fire, and Regal Ransom. The speed is looking better now too, maybe giving POTN a better chance.

28 Apr 2009 5:49 PM

IWR is a Beast on dirt!Plain & simple.He really didn't take to the surface @ Santa Anita,but his Cashcall Futurity @ Hollywood Park was awesome.And according to his trainer Mullins: He's still peaking & doing better after his races @ Aquaduct.SCARY!!

28 Apr 2009 5:55 PM

STEVE:  Your Derby reports are greatly appreciated especially in such a knotty affair as this years event.  IWR is a beautiful horse with a "poetry in motion" kind of galloping action.  I've been wrong about him in the past and may very well pay the price again but he is somewhat of an enigma when one considers his performances in California.  Undoubtedly he has taken to dirt like a duck to water but his character as a fighter when eyeballing other truly classy competitors remains in question.  Twice he was beaten by POTN when having every chance to win.  The fact he didn't really beat much in the Gotham and Wood although visually impressive, added to the likelihood that POTN,Papa Clem and Chocolate Candy (his superior and peers respectively in Cali) may also relish the Churchill Downs surface, does inhibit confidence.  What say you?      

28 Apr 2009 6:51 PM
Karen in Texas

I saw IWR's work on Pursuit of the Crown and he looked fantastic!

28 Apr 2009 7:14 PM

draynay, you are crazy if you dont play FF on a dry track. He is the most likely winner. I like Dunkirk a lot however also as he is sitting on a big race I believe.

28 Apr 2009 7:17 PM

  Yes Ranagulzion, the Cal. horses including "IWR" deem merit. But, you liked "QR", so why abandon the other horse that came out of the Fla. Derby!?! He is the best horse in this crop! If "IWR" or "PoTN" or "PC" or "CC" aren't clear choices to you, look at "FF" and "Dun", the non Cali. horses!!!. I am taking 'Prince Valiant' now with "QR" out of consideration, as he nearly ran the same former Fla. Derby that "BB" did; he is the oldest in this entire bunch; he is the intimidating gray; and his only 3 preps in my estimation were due to breeding considerations and development regarding the “Unbridled” line! Yahoo, he made it to ‘the dance’ and he’s healthy!!! As a former "QR" fan and an intelligent logical horse player, come on and get on board! I know it’s not a clear of a choice as it looks. Anyway, I will be also carrying along all of the above in consideration, along with “MM”; “RR”; “GQ”, “HMB”, and am now even looking harder at “FP” and “SB” as underplays!!! Guess that makes a dozen, aye?

28 Apr 2009 7:57 PM

Draynay, I had almost the exact same pick except I had Pioneer on top. Pioneerof the nile has beaten I Want Revenge fair and square twice and people shouldn't overlook it. I like FF on a dry track too, I'm waiting until the draw tomorrow to make any final picks.....

28 Apr 2009 8:06 PM

Noooo. Please Draynay don't mention Freisan Fire. You will curse him. Remember you have never liked him. Don't put the Drayney curse on Freisan Fire who I have liked since last fall. Have a heart and mention someone else.

28 Apr 2009 8:16 PM

This year has been wonderful and it is a great start to the summer every year. I have looked at this race from every angle and have come to the conclusion that the most talented horse will win the race and the most talented is Dunkirk.  I Want Revenge cannot beat POTN and Friesan Fire cannot run 1 1/4 better than Dunkirk. Dunkirk moved forward and ran a 108 and that was only his 3rd race ever any further move makes him too good for these.  I really like CC and MHS along with MM.  I will throw in POTN for the bottom of my ticket and Win Willy and FF get in only if things come up wet.  Good luck to all but look at Dunkirks Maiden race if you want to know what the 2009 Kentucky Derby will look like.

28 Apr 2009 8:26 PM

In today's column you mention having another, more specific look at Win Willy and Flying Private. I looked at their last 'likely' odds on nypost.com/probables: Willy was at 30:1 and Flying was at 50:1. So, I have a betting question for you - since it is VERY unlikely both will come on strong given their early-on projected odds, is it your idea just to put a WIN bet on either or both of them or to group them in an exotic and if the latter, how would you combine them ?

28 Apr 2009 8:46 PM
Matthew W

Steve by the look of things both I Want Revenge and Freisan Fire will be near the pace and Pioneerof The Nile will have a target--GOOD! People have said POTN is slow--well they're right--his SA Derby was very slow--- especially when you note the fast times run that day----So why do I like him? I think he's the best horse--I was impressed with the both of his wins v I Want Revenge--The Robert Lewis is telling--he looks like a special horse...and perhaps you can toss his (winning) form in recent as it looks like he wants a target--this could be the "Horse That KO's Beyer"....or maybe Santa Anita's Pro Ride is "The Track That Launches Winners"...(IWR/Papa Clem/The Dubai Cup winner whose name eludes me)....

28 Apr 2009 9:36 PM
Matthew W

Dray I like Dunkirk, I really do--I'd put POTN ABOVE Choc Candy/Mr Hot Stuff...warning, SA plays like a turf course...closer finishes but the best horse wins...MHS is no Col John and HE wasn't good enough to win the Derby....I'm taking Hold Me Back over both of them as my longshot.....keying POTN/with Dunkirk/IWR/FF/HMB/GQ/maybe Lukas's gazillion to one guy underneath my POTN pryamid!!! Good luck to ya mate!

28 Apr 2009 9:43 PM

Who is the mudder? Its going to be a wet track by the weather reports....Have any of these contenders had to run on a sloppy track yet?

28 Apr 2009 9:46 PM

Dray, Chocolate Candy will finish up the track. He's not good enough to hit the board.  He has beat nothing special, horses he has beaten Axel Foley who has shipped out of CA and is in New York and he is garbage. Massone 3rd in the Blue Grass, yeah he is all synthetic.  Big deal he ran second to POTN, if anything that dosen't flatter POTN.

Throw outs  Advice if he runs, Flying Private, Mr Hot Stuff, Papa Clem don't let his last race fool you if anything I'll take summer bird and win willy who seem to be up against a bias. Mine That Bird, Attomic Rain, Join In The Dance, on the fence with Hold Me Back & Musket Man.  

28 Apr 2009 10:29 PM
Matthew W

After reading Harty's comments on Mr Hot Stuff...well he's taking a long time to learn this game...like Real Quiet...also like his sire Tiznow, who took a long while himself...was sent up the rail in both of his preps--not a good thing at Santa Anita as closers usually came from outside...I can see the angles...gonna toss him as I think Hold Me Back/POTN/Dunkirk are better closers

28 Apr 2009 10:31 PM

Rocker... I have no idea what you are talking about... CC was the better horse in the Santa Anita Derby.  The jockey took him 8 wide and still almost caught POTN.  He should be undefeated this year and he is going to love the added distance.  Keep him off if you want but I can't.  If things come up muddy I will drop him for FF.

28 Apr 2009 11:21 PM
Brian A.

Sounds like Oaks day will be filled with some exciting racing, I can't wait to see the two powerhouse "girls" (Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra) back in action, and on the same day!

 I really like POTN, he is so determined when he runs, and he's looking fantastic at Churchill.  IWR put in a great work, and obviously loves the dirt, and FF fired an awesome bullet!  I'm choosing FF for the win, with POTN, IWR and Dunkirk in that order.  Desert Party could make some rumble here too though, he looks pretty comfortable.

28 Apr 2009 11:24 PM

Matthew W:

Real Quiet did takes some races to develop, but remember that he was a grade 1 winning 2 year old. Real Quiet took his time developing through the summer and fall of his 2 year old season. By Ddecember, he was good enough to win the grade 1 Hollywood Futurity, and then ran strong seconds in the San Felipe (107 Beyer) and SA Derby (108 Beyer). Real Quiet was far, far, far more advanced at this stage than is Mr Hot Stuff.

Anyways, it sounds like you think MHS is too far behind to win the Derby. I have to agree. I wouldn't feel comfortable putting money down on a horse based on the slight chance he could put it all together in one race. Based on what the horse has done and his rate of development, he is clearly getting better but not fast enough to threaten the best at this time.

29 Apr 2009 12:52 AM


I am interested in what you think of Papa Clem and Musket Man. Others have expressed concerns about their latest works and general appearance. There has also be some negative talk about Summer Bird's works. Last week, the talk was on General Quarters and Chocolate Candy, but it seems they have turned the corner.

29 Apr 2009 12:54 AM

I don't know what everyone sees in Dunkirk. His first two races were extremely slow and unimpressive. Yes I said unimpressive because seven furlongs in 1:25 at Gulfstream is very slow. He had every chance to get by QR but I think he's more of a middle distance horse. No way will I touch him at a mile and a quarter. Regal Ransom is the one to keep an eye on.

29 Apr 2009 3:06 AM

slewofdamascus, you've got it right. Regal Ransom at big odds pulls off a shocker in the Derby with Alan Garcia up. He is bred to run all day, and people are making a big, big mistake if they believe that all he has is a little speed and that he won't be there at the end. Ernie Paragallo tried to break Alan a few years ago, after Alan's hard luck, amazing ride on Unbridled Song in the Gotham. He never gave Alan another mount, and told him to get out of racing. The experience of dealing with a dirtbag like Paragallo, certainly undermined Alan's confidence and his ability to ride. It took Alan a little while to recover and convince others what he is capable of. I happen to believe Alan is probably one of the top five jockeys in the country, right now. If you don't believe it, watch and learn. Steve, I believe there is a really good story for you to tell, as only you can.

29 Apr 2009 3:40 AM

Steve, I saw IWR's work on pursuit of the crown. Holy Toledo! I mean...humadahumadahumada..if that horse shows up saturday, fuhgetaboutit!

Folks, if you want to see what a "sharp horse" looks like (and commit it to memory as it will make you money), go watch him strut his "stuff". Watch for the bowed neck, bowed tail, classic signs. The challenge, and it is a challenge, will be keeping this horse sharp for 4 more days. I will definitely be looking for the same signs saturday. In any case, he moves as about as nicely as a horse can move during his workout. A+.

I also believe that the winner of this race, whomever that will be, has a great chance to be a triple crown winner, based on the strength of the competition. A worthy winner is likely to be crowned, assuming a fast track is forthcoming.

29 Apr 2009 6:43 AM

I wanted to add that MHS, the black beauty, is quite the looker. Blowing me away with his looks, in fact. His mane is striking! Are these are the strongest group of horses you have seen in 20 years, Steve? Quite possibly, I'd bet? And it includes the turf horses, Hold Me Back (long neck), and Advice......man, just gorgeous, and all of them uniquely meant (turf and synthetics in a lot of cases). Jmo, of course.

There are a lot of future sires in this field, I think.

29 Apr 2009 6:51 AM

Ok folks it's time for a nay nay reality check. What you have here are just a few of draynay's comments from his previous posts about what he really thinks of Dunkirk. Read them and get a good laugh. This guy is not to be taken seriously, he can't even remember from one day to another who he likes. So now all of a sudden Dunkirk is his chosen one?  

"Every time I talk or think about Dunkirk I get sick to my stomach. The same feeling I got last year when everyone told me how good Colonel John was last year."

"I am saying a colt from Unbridled Song CAN'T win the Derby."

"Dunkirk ? You have to be kidding!  Dunkirk is not a derby horse and the total lack of foundation makes him a toss in the Derby."

"No races at 2 and only 3 races going into the Derby?  There is nothing here... move along."

"Dunkirk... you have to be joking."

"Can the Dunkirk fans please explain WHY you want to see this tired horse run again before the Derby ??? Even if he was to run again do you really think he would be a factor running AGAIN in the Kentucky Derby?  If you do you need to be told these are animals and not machines.  ANYONE who witnessed the Florida Derby saw Dunkirk was a very very tired horse.  Enough already...let it go."

"Dunkirk...lol.. get real."

"If Pletcher was a football coach he would have been fired long ago. 0 for 21 in the Derby tells you he has no idea how to get a horse ready for the Derby."

"For the record Dunkirk and Old Fashioned have no chance at all in the Derby and any money bet on them will be a complete waste."

"I just saw Jeff Siegel place Dunkirk No. 1 on his derby list.  Is he serious? SIMPLY unreal."

This guy is a hoot!! He has no idea what he's talking about ever but he loves to bash you.

29 Apr 2009 7:32 AM

Wow they are dropping like flies. The bottom 5 of this Derby field is starting to look like last years #3-7 contenders. Thank god this crop of 3 yr olds is far superior to last years or we would have another Derby almost full of plodders. There is still alot of quality left but the odds on the exotic possibles keep getting smaller and smaller. Let's hope saturday comes soon.

29 Apr 2009 9:18 AM

ZARVONA:  At this stage my mind is made up about Friesan Fire as the likely derby winner.  He's got undeniable talent, tactical speed, stamina, a sustained closing kick and a little mystery about the real scope of his ability.  I like the fact that he'll be a relatively fresh horse under the care of a trainer who knows how to make his charges peak in the Kentucky Derby.  In addition, I think that it will make an absolutely marvellous story and crown the career of a deserving Larry Jones.  Just think about the magnanmity of the training accomplishment of having two second place finishers and a winner in three consecutive renewals of the Kentucky Derby.  I feel just as excited about this prospect as I did about QR.  If Larry Jones pulls this off it will be a turn up for the record books.  there are a few big-time horsemen who could take some tips from him regarding the Derby.

Dunkirk does have a live shot to win and I've said this many times but even in QR's absence there are some others that I fancy above him and for good reason. Although Dunkirk exploded impressively on the far turn in the Florida Derby he didn't seem to sustain the effort once QR eyeballed him and changed gear.  That might have been due to a talent deficit in comparison to Quality Road but it could also show a lack of gameness/fight (a question which I also have about IWR)which he will certainly need in order to collar and dispose of stubborn front runners like Regal Ransom and Papa Clem and explosive stalkers like Friesan Fire who is certain to get first run on him, at the leaders.

I just noticed that another of my favourites, Win Willy has been withdrawn from the Derby so here is my top four (wish that there are no more defections): 1)Friesan Fire 2)POTN 3)General Quarters 4)Regal Ransom.  I trust that my rationale doesn't sound like hocus pocus or mumbo jumbo.

29 Apr 2009 9:48 AM
Greg J.


    Your post on DRAY is soooo true, lol...

I have had Fire since day one, You watch, When he wins, Dray will have every excuse in the book...

29 Apr 2009 10:05 AM

Steve - Thanks for your great Derby coverage and insights.  However, why no mention of Friesan Fire in this article?  Was his work the day before IWR's work not as impressive?  Is there something you're seeing - or not seeing in FF that leaves you unimpressed?  

29 Apr 2009 10:10 AM

Slew.....love your comments. Especially the humadahumadhumada! Great way to start my Wednesday. I have decided at this point I cannot pick the winner. I go back and forth to much because there is soooo much talent and really it is looking like it is anyone's race. I do get a kick out of people pointing out that PON has beaten IWR twice.  When will folks realize that synthetic is an unknown surface. Horses take differently to dirt, to turf, to synthetic. Not to mention that horses that are improving do so at a different rate. IWR could very well smoke PON. Not saying it will happen just saying it is possible. Taking notes and keeping in mind Steve's personal "in person" opinions about these horses and it really sounds as if they are all looking fit, healthy and ready for the challenge. Can't wait!

29 Apr 2009 10:29 AM

Win Willy's the latest to bow out. They took x-rays as a precaution, and found something. Clearly, the connections must have been upset or concerned with something and, in retrospect, his slow 5 furlong move jumps out. Yet, from what I've read from others, he seemed to be moving fine.

It just goes to show that trainers are not going to share any negative info unless they decide to scratch. Obviously becaue they checked, Win Willy's connections sensed something off. However, they weren't going to mention it until they had the Xrays. Had the X rays come back fine, would they have run him, even though they had been concerned enough to get the X rays in the 1st place?

On Tuesday morning, Win Willy's trainer Mac Robertson, suggested the 1:02 and 2 workout time(5 furlongs) was possibly not correct (distraction from the accident) and that Win Willy "went along nice and even the whole way, and I was very happy with the way he finished up the work, he looked really strong galloping out. I was very happy with the way he came back and cooled out. He’s doing great today.”

Given what is now known, how could Robertson make such positive comments? And if he was truly that positive, why did he ask for the Xrays? Was it something he noticed just this morning? Was the horse acting different today from yesterday? It sounds like Win Willy has the beginning of a hairline fracture, and given that his last major work was Monday, it is hard to imagine that the injury was something that just happened this morning, especially since he wasn't scheduled for anything serious this morning. More likely, as in the case of Square Eddie, this injury has been brewing for a while, getting worse each day. Yet, both Doug O'Neil (Eddie') and Robertson commented on how well their colts were doing.

At the very least, this shows that public comments from trainers before the Derby are not very informative. While O'Neil and Robertson were making positive comments, they were, in reality, concerned enough to run some tests. O' Neil ran the tests because he felt some heat; it will be interesting to find out why Robertson called for the Xrays.

And it's understandable, especially given the climate, for trainers to not reveal doubts or concerns until they have been verified. If a trainer thinks something is wrong and makes comments to the press indicating this, but the test don't pick up anything, the trainer will have put himself/herself and the owners in a corner. If they were to run, which would be hard not to do given it is the Derby and that the horse checked out ok, they would open themselves up for criticism (particularly from animal rights activists) given the concerns aired by the trainer originally. And if they do run and the horse does get injured, could you imagine the uproar then?

As I said in an earlier post, I think the lure and power of the Derby causes trainers to miscalculate about the sharpness and even health of their horses more than during normal times. I'm sure the following scenario has occurred a number of times before, although it is something I really fear.

Scenario: A trainer of a Derby contender publicly comments on how well the horse is doing, but a small voice inside tells him something is off. After trying to ignore the voice, hoping that everything goes ok, the trainer calls for some medical tests. If the tests reveal an injury, I do trust most evry trainer to do right by the horse and withdraw it from the race. What if, however, the tests reveal no injury? Clearly, the trainer had been concerned enough in the first place to run the tests, but the lure of the Derby is so strong.

Do you all believe that most trainers, after having sensed something might be wrong with their horse, would scratch the horse if the tests did not reveal any injury? And if yes, do you think most owners would let such a horse be scratched out of the Derby?

First, I would think a number of trainers and owners would have trouble acknowledging that there could be something off in the first place; I can imagine some major DENIAL. For those trainers that are not blinded by Derby fever and do recognize that something could be off, how many would withdraw the horse if nothing came up on Xrays or other  evaluative tests? Although the trainer did have concerns, one would have to think the pull of the Derby would be hard to resist, and that it would be easy for the trainer to assuage these concerns with the good news from the medical tests. And for some of the trainers that do side with caution, how many owners would push the issue and pressure their trainer to run? And just imagine if one or two such horses do, in fact, have some sort of injury. At the very least the horse runs poorly, at the worst...?

Call me gullible, but I do trust most trainers to withdraw a Derby contender if tests reveal an injury or if the trainer has sizable doubt something could be off. I even think most trainers that would be concerned enough to ask for medical tests in the first place are likely to scratch the horse even if the tests are negative. However, I don't think all trainers would do that. Would Doug O'Neil and Mac Robertson have withdrawn Square Eddie and Win Willy if their tests did not reveal an injury?

Every Derby, 3-5 horses run absolutely terribly, and are beaten by 25+ lengths. About 5 other horses end up running far worse than normal. Some of these horses may have drawn the concern of their trainers before the race, with some of the trainers possibly having conducted medical checkups, all without the public's knowledge; although there was some doubt over the health of the horse, the horse still ran. Unfortunately, in the entire history of the Derby, there have probably been instances in which a trainer and owner KNEW their horse was injured but still ran the horse anyway.  More common than running an injured  horse or a potentially injured horse is running a horse whose form is likely off.

When it comes to evaluating a contender's sharpness or form, I can imagine how hard it would be for a trainer or owner to admit that their horse was anything less than at it's best. It's the Derby, and I'm sure one would want everything to go well, and understand how difficult it would be to acknowledge and then accept negative news. However, even if it is acknowledged that the horse might not be in form, I can empathize with the desire to run the horse anyways. As long as the horse is physically healthy, why not take a chance and run the horse, even if you think it is not sitting on a good race?  Maybe you (as the trainer are owner) are wrong, and the horse will actually run well?

Could you imagine a scenario like what has happened with Indian Blessing in the Humana Distaff occurring with a Derby horse? Although Indian Blessing does not have an injury, nor has shown no signs of an injury, Bob Baffert withdrew her from Humana Distaff consideration yesterday. Why? He simply didn't feel she was at her best and didn't want to run her if she wasn't? I guess I should thank Chris Block for recognizing that Giant Oak was either not oog enough or not in good enough form to make the Derby. However, my point is really being addressed to trainers and owners during the final 10 days before the Derby, during the final workouts, and after the reality of running in the Derby has set in, and preparations have been made to ship the horse, the trainer, the trainers family, the owner, and the owner's friends and family to Louisville. Once all this has begun, can it be stopped by something short of an injury?

Anyways, I'm thankful for Mac Robertson(Win Willy), Doug O'Neil(Square Eddie), Jimmy Jerkens(Quality Road), Larry Jones(Old Fashioned), and Julio Canani(The Pamplemousse) for having the ability and strength to overcome Derby fever and 1)acknowledge something was possibly wrong with their horses and asking for medical tests, and once the tests came back revealing an injury, withdrawing the horses and allowing them time to heal.

29 Apr 2009 10:31 AM

gw_bushwacker... I didn't know you cared so much.  I was no Dunkirk fan before the Florida Derby because I was a Quality Road fan and he was my favorite "team" going into the Derby.  But with horses dropping like flies you can only pick or cheer for horses that run the race. This race has turned into a glorified allowance race. 15 horses have no business being in this race and the best horse left by far like it or not is Dunkirk.  Now... unlike you I have posted who I think will win and why.  Why don't you show everyone how much smarter you are then I am and pick a horse and tell us all why he will win.  If you can't do that step to the rear we have handicapping to do.

29 Apr 2009 10:52 AM

    Let me apologize ahead of time for rattling this off in a hurry, but I am hot!

    First issue, I got to do some serious looking over the present field and finally decided this is a “weak field” and not the best crop! Come on folks! This is not a group of a minimum of $180,000 Graded Stakes Earning qualifiers!, this is a bunch of add-ins due to defections mostly due to injury!  No one would have considered whether the likes of an “Atomic Rain” or a “Summer Bird” would have hit the board 2 months ago, or that either would have even been entries! Where do we get off even considering a $150,000 Graded Stakes earners as potential entrances and now one as such being among our favorites for the Kentucky Derby!?!?! Come on.

    First of all, who really belongs in this year’s Derby? “Dunkirk” nor “Mine that Bird” would not even have even made it into last year’s Derby earnings wise ($168,000 cutoff) and we supposedly considered that a ‘weak field’! ?: “Advice” $77,000 Grades Earnings??;  “Take the Points” $90,000 Grades Earnings??; “Mr. Hot Stuff” $114,000 Grades Earnings??; Flying Private $124,000 Grades Earnings??; “Summer Bird” $100,000 Grades Earnings??... Come ON!! And now “Nowhere to Hide” $55,000 Grades Earnings??... Come ON!! Get serious, this field is a joke!

   Thusly, who really belongs! “I Want Revenge” Yes! “Pioneerof the Nile” Yes! “Friesan Fire” Yes! “Papa Clem” Yes! “Musket Man” Yes! “Chocolate Candy” Yes! “Regal Ransom” Yes! “Desert Party” Yes! (But next year, make it so that all graded stakes earnings are earned on American soil ONLY! where that might help the industry and the country economically!!!) “West Side Bernie” Yes! I suppose, and “Atomic Rain”?? apparently…

   So why not just a 12 horse field?? If this is the best we can produce? Do we really want some non factor screwing up the race for the several actual  real competitors??

    Now, instead of the horses that will actually be entered, say that they weren’t around and this was the field we would have potentially had to be considering:

the injured outs: Quality Road; Win Willy; The Pamplemousse; Giant Oak;

  Big Drama; Indygo Mountain; Midshipman; Notonthesamepage; Ryehill Dreamer;

  Saratoga Sinner; Square Eddie; Beethoven; Charitable Man; Buzzin and Dreamin;  

  Vineyard Haven; Break Water Edison; Old Fashioned; Bittel Road; Theregoesjojo; Terrain;  Street Hero;


Crowded House; Mafaaz;

failed to make earnings: Imperial Council; Mayor Marv; Patena; Ali Khali; … a much better bunch!!! Aye?

    Now I am wondering, which we would have really considered the better field. Yes, integrating these two lists and we could have found a worthy 20 horse Derby. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of this industry, so I guessing we just have to face and live with that fact.

    But why not limit the entries in rare year like this and make the race at least worthy?? Why not set a $150,000 minimum to get in? Set the major Stakes prep races as win and you’re in events, and then make the remaining slots based on earnings with a  minimum of $150,000 so that when we get to the final field of 12 to 20 entrants (making 12 required and 20 the maximum limit) that the race has some meaning to add to the history, instead of a meaningless field like this one! Really. if the likes of a “Flying Private” actually wins this Kentucky Derby, what does that say about this field and this sport in general? Just where are we headed???

   And gee gads, what a weak, awww the heck with it, TERRIBLE Oaks field!! 2 horses under any real consideration. Is this a joke?? Makes one want to skip going out on Friday!!! What for? All in order to bet on a race that will likely produce a $3.50 exacta and $5.50 triple??? And whooopppeee, if the Oaks Double cashes with a favorite and a favorite, what a $7.00 Dbl payout??? Weak field? This is the most pathetic year I have seen in several decades!!

    Folks, forget the bad economy, if this industry does not produce a better product in general, this grand tradition is going to wither away on the vine!! Forget public TV coverage! Watch the tracks nationwide fold right up to only several in a region. And the underbelly that has sustained this grand sport will wither and the main events well get weaker and weaker just like this year’s Derby It looks worse for the future of this industry, not brighter!

    And closing down one of the Washington, D.C. areas major betting parlors at Rosecroft 3 days before the Derby, where you already have lost one entire  harness meet??? You morons couldn’t pass normal slot regulations to keep the little guys afloat???Are you people kidding me!! Sell all the race tracks to the shopping mall developers and high rise gurus and forget this sport! Is this where we are really headed? If you can’t pass normal legislation or sign decent contracts to keep the little guys in business??? then bring on the Bankruptcy? $12 million off of simulcast and you can’t even keep a major inner city parlor in business?? or keep a decent harness track running that has stayed in town for years for your pleasure, losing money yearly awaiting slot income bill passage, and then you pass something that is a total joke and don’t keep the little guy functioning??? aiding in the bankruptcy of the greater industry!?! You deserve to lose the income from that parlor and TO YOUR STATE, MARYLAND!!!

    Folks think of RUNNING from this industry fast before the Ark is completed!! Buy stock in the racing industry in the future? Lol, WHO? WHY? WHAT FOR? In a year when I was first off so excited, this industry in general is now making me ill, and not from the swine flu, I have got the horse racing industry runs!!! And I for one might start running sooner than later. And I am a huge fan!! So you are going to lose 10,000 little guys just like me, and wham, you’ll have little to nothing!! Enjoy the betting pools on this Derby Day folks, they may be among the last for decent to follow!!!

29 Apr 2009 10:56 AM

that last sentence should have read for 'decades to follow'. sry! HOT in Va.

29 Apr 2009 10:57 AM


That is funny stuff. Before the Florida Derby and immediately afterwards, Dray bashed Dunkirk without mercy. Now, Dunkirk can't lose and will win by open lengths. However, he does have the right to pick Dunkirk now, especially after Quality Road is out. If Dunkirk were to win, he would still get paid just like everyone else who bet on him. Hopefully Dray didn't have Future bets on all of the horses he has touted; it's alot easier to take the hits to one's pride when no money is lost. I'm fairly sure if Dunkirk was withdrawn, however, Dray would predict that the horse he now has 2nd, Musket Man(?), would romp by 5 over this "miserable" group. That's one thing about Dray, he doesn't just predict horses to win, he predicts them to dominate, to crack skulls and eat brains, to crucify the first born while spreading plague and pestilence onto the unworthy.

Speaking in generalities/hypotheticals, I suppose I wouldn't care if a person changed horses daily, or picked every horse to run well as long as he/she wasn't insulting other posters, or so dismissive of every horse besides the one he/she currently endorses. When someone acts in this manner, he/she is going to be called out, especially when wrong. And if he/she is wrong often, eventually credibility suffers and it becomes difficult to take any comment seriously. Additionally, when a person of such arrogance is in a slump, others quickly find the confidence to start throwing insults and negative comments back at that person, and the whole blog suffers. There have been some fairly vicious stuff written back to a certain person. Fortunately, it appears that those who dish it out the most are also able to take it just as well.

My suggestion to others is less negativity, but if you do want to go there, at least veil it in humor. It's alot easier to hear "The only way Firesan Fire is going to hit the board in the Derby is if he jumps over the rail and runs into it" than "Friesan Fire sucks, he has no chance to win, and anyone stupid enough to put money on him probably does not have any money to begin with".  Of course, these are 2 hypothetical quotes, although the first one bears a strinking resemblance to an actual comment.  

29 Apr 2009 11:26 AM
marc W

Derby Thoughts, Other Thoughts, and Picks

The anti-Musket Man crew will be cheering against his win. Coa not having a valet breaking the tradition in the Derby but if he wins saves a lot of money.

If IWR or GQ wins the Derby the non racing press will have a field day.

My WW $25 for $1500 is now dead but even if he ran I would have expected the same result.

Happy to see Square Eddy decline the Derby as if they play their cards right they have the Marine (250K)-Plate Trial(200K)-the Queens Plate (1Million) not to mention the Prince of Wales and Breeder's Stake both worth 1/2 million plus a bonus for winning all 3-because he is a Canadian Bred-Am I the only person that thinks you should think money?

Lucas and Zito both get to run a horse in the Derby--pity neither has a chance nor should be in the field. They can only interfere with a legitimate horse and hurt themselves running in a race they can't win.

The Saudi's actually have a chance for the first time ever--neither I will wager on in any position but wouldn't be shocked if they win--see-General Quarters, Musket Man, Dunkirk on that same list of none shockers but not on my tickets any leaving the windows.

Started touting (and betting) FF in January and will stick to my original. Not worried about the trainer having him fit—only worry is in two of the last 3 wins he has been keen early and with the freshness might be on the bit early.

IWR—just looks like a “must” top 3—very obvious

Chocolate Candy—his trainer whether training $3500 claimers in B’s in Ohio or better horse or the same in both parts of CA is great—he has the prep and training I would desire coming in—it is all about being good enough? My knock is that if they went another ¼ mile he was not going to pass POTN at SA. Maybe the dirt will give him the push he needs.

POTN —a recent win machine, great trainer, a jockey in the last few years performing with the most confidence on the planet riding him-so he will not get nervous. Having beaten 2 of my top 4 a few times on points he wins over those two. Dirt?

Other thoughts,

Its getting strange on here-Mr. Haskin's good comments on how horses are coming to the Derby are becoming secondary.-Pity!

Gw--another split personality of Dray which basically lets him cover the whole field and continue to dominate the blogs on the Derby. Notice the tired horse comments and review posts--anyone else that brilliant to know POTN was tired in another post-another name?

Another kick at Pletcher which after a couple of times I won't defend---Coldfacts "if" he actually wrote the previous knock -which I question-is certainly worthy of a response. The later GW/Dray-hardly-see response on a previous Mr Haskin's blog.

29 Apr 2009 1:06 PM
Greg J.


        Agree 100 percent on your comments on Friesan Fire & Larry Jones, When they pull it off, It will be quite a feat for the both, Spot On....

29 Apr 2009 1:21 PM
Greg J.

Friesan Fire(pp#6, 5-1), Chocolate Candy(PP#11, 20-1), General Quarters(PP#12, 20-1), Summer Bird(PP#17, 50-1)....

That is my top four, $100.00 straight super, $100.00 straight tri....(I will mix up Summer & General, though)....

Fire will be on top of my other exotic's, but the ones above are my retirement fund, lol.....

(5-1, 20-1, 20-1, 50-1)

29 Apr 2009 1:26 PM

All I can say is, my horse got a great draw, speed directly to his inside with which to stalk. While I think the race could be won by a number of horses, I like my odds, love being drawn outside the speed in the 10-hole, with JITD directly inside and FF a little further inside. It's perfect. Suroor talked about "luck", well my friend you just got a heeping spoonful of the good stuff.

I'm officially excited. Time to start building some tickets.

29 Apr 2009 1:41 PM
steve s

larry jones will run second as usual.JOin the dance is the most dangerous runner in race,but dunkirk is the fastest on paper.

29 Apr 2009 1:42 PM
The Phantom

Greg catman, are we on the blog suppose to be impressed with your bet claims?Now your giving everyone on the blog your expert bets-who cares , your the one who picked skinny nic to win and he hasn't yet. This will  be a very good race  traffic will play a big roll, have no idea who will win.

29 Apr 2009 1:55 PM
Matthew W

Bataglia has four horses at 5-1 or lower--in a TWENTY horse field even! World's worst race caller/world's worst morning line maker!

29 Apr 2009 1:56 PM

I would like to mention the one negative on Regal Ransom (lest someone think I don't know what I'm doing) - something within his bullet work.

I'm well aware that he switched leads to the left late in the work (last 50 yards?); while I am not crazy about it, let's take a look at it in context.

First of all, he looked great in this "under the cloak of darkness" work, the only negative was that he got tired very late in the work and switched to his left lead. But it was a fast work that undoubtedly got him fitter, which is important. Furthermore, it was far enough out that Suroor could address it in his future gallops leading up to the race. Remember, also, that he had just gotten off the plane 2 or 3 days before. He had a right to get tired. If the work was slow and otherwise unimpressive, one could toss him, but this was a fast work, best of 30 just after the break (when the track is deeper).

With RR being the recipient of the best draw (imo), his early position could certainly work to his advantage (big time), allowing him to get a breather, perhaps, while stalking JITD and FF (who I believe will be sent, that's Jones style in a race that has questionable speed).

At 30-1 on the morning line I'm willing to give him a pass on the late lead change in his otherwise scintillating work.

It's go time.

Good luck, all.

29 Apr 2009 2:13 PM
Billy's Empire

regal ransom and desert party draw off and win by 15 again just like in Dubai!!! Calling it I want revenge and Chocolate candy third and fourth, with POTN and Hold me back fifth and sixth, Hell, why not

29 Apr 2009 2:34 PM


I understand your frustrations with the industry, but the Oaks and Derby is alot more than just betting. I guess they could get 50,000+ for Oaks day without betting (but with drinking) and 80,000 for the Derby. The majority who come for both days are not bettors, do not research their picks, and bet little money if any. Friday is "must see" just for Zenyatta and Rachel Aelxandra alone. However, I wonder if Sheriffs would scratch Zenyatta if the track is off?

29 Apr 2009 2:39 PM
For Big Red

FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT POST POSITION STATS: The following post position stats are for the 69 KD's run since 1940, the first year the starting gate was used for the Kentucky Derby.

To emphasize, this info is since 1940 only. The average number of starters per derby: 15. Number of derbies with fewer than 10 starters: 6. Number with 10 to 15 starters: 29. Number with over 15 starters: 34.

PP 1 - 6 winners

PP 2 - 7 winner

PP 3 - 5 winners

PP 4 - 4 winners

PP 5 - 5 winners

PP 6 - 2 winners

PP 7 - 5 winners

PP 8 - 6 winner

PP 9 - 4 winners

PP 10 - 8 winners

PP 11 - 1 winner

PP 12 - 3 winners

PP 13 - 3 winners

PP 14 - 2 winners

PP 15 - 3 winners

PP 16 - 3 winners

PP 17 - 0 winner

PP 18 - 1 winners

PP 19 - 0 winner

However, the trend since 1980 does not favor horses with inside PP's. From 1980 thru 1989, winners came from PP 1, 3, 7, 10 (4x), 11, 15 and 18. From 1990 thru 1999, winners came from PP 3, 5 (twice), 6, 8 (twice), 10, 15 and 16 (twice). Since 2000, winners came from PP 5 (twice), 7, 8, 10, 13, 15, 16 and 20.

29 Apr 2009 3:29 PM
Matthew W

POTN and Dunkirk will both be at least 6-1....

29 Apr 2009 3:39 PM
Greg J.

For Big Red,

      As usual, Great info on post positions, It is amazing how many stats you have on everything, thanks again...

29 Apr 2009 3:40 PM

GunBow nicely said!

29 Apr 2009 4:10 PM
Matthew W

Hey Steve is Zenyatta running there Fri?...are you kidding me? a stone closer like Zen....as well as Rachel in the Oaks (stone front runner)...maybe slop....But they're game to run Zen if it's wet--why not? Thank you to the Moss's in advance for shipping her--now git'r'done and on to Saratoga with that black beauty!!

29 Apr 2009 4:59 PM

Dray, I don't understand your reasoning for tossing CC if it comes up mud. I believe his pedigree suggests that he might like a muddy track. If it is muddy I'll move POTN, FF, and CC to the top of my list. POTN had a work in the slop at CD and looked like he didn't miss a beat.

29 Apr 2009 5:05 PM

Matthew W Says :

Bataglia has four horses at 5-1 or lower--in a TWENTY horse field even! World's worst race caller/world's worst morning line maker!

I Agree!  This is the guy that made Charitable Man the Morning Line   Favorite in the Blue Grass. How could of Charitable Man been favored over Hold Me Back? The horse hadn't run since last fall and he never went two turns.Any Way the Public ended up making it right and Hold Me Back was the favorite at post time while Charitable Man was I think 7-1.

I think he tries to make bogus lines and hopes the public follows and then when he bets he looks to take advantage of his bogus lines. How do you go from 3-1 4-1 4-1 5-1 15-1 15-1 then 4 at 20-1 & 30-1  6 @ 50-1? shouldn't there be some middle type odds between 6-1 - 15-1? Its not like you have a 3/5 shot in here maybe then I could understand his logic but when you have your favorite at 3-1 I don't understand  how you cant have more variety. I'm sure the betting  public will fix his horrible  derby lines by post time.

29 Apr 2009 5:10 PM
For Big Red

TO GREG J.: Glad to post all the info. Maybe it will help someone win a few bucks, something we could all use in this tough economy. :)

I'm not thrilled with Fire's PP #6. I was hoping for #10, but it was already taken when Larry went up to pick. Oh well. At least there are two decent colts on either side of him. If everyone breaks cleanly, Fire should get good position early. I just flat out do not want him on the inside, especially if the track is muddy. CD is notorious for not drying out evenly.

I hope Saez rides a few mounts early on the KD program.

What do you think? Is PP #6 OK with you?

29 Apr 2009 5:28 PM
For Big Red

ALL: Mike Welsch, the Daily Racing Form clocker, wrote the following about Dunkirk in his column this morning (www.drf.com/.../103350.html):

"Dunkirk is a slightly built colt who does not carry a lot of weight, and there is some thinking that he could still be feeling the effects of his hard effort in the Florida Derby."

For Mr. Hot Stuff fans, Mike Welsch reports that the colt "made a very nice appearance Wednesday while putting in a strong gallop of his own."

Several Derby horses schooled in the gate this morning. Mike Welsch reports:

"I was eager to see how Friesan Fire bounced back out of his extremely fast and taxing workout Monday, and he passed the test with flying colors. He was on his toes and very happy during a busy morning that included the aforementioned visit to the gate and a brief trip to the paddock. He looked like he wanted to do much more than trainer Larry Jones had scheduled and actually seemed to come out of his work looking a bit more fluid than he went in."

29 Apr 2009 5:39 PM

Please add my name to the list of people going, "huh?" when viewing Bataglia's morning line.

I realize that it is difficult proposition, but at the very least the math should add up when it's all said and done, otherwise what is the point?

29 Apr 2009 5:56 PM
For Big Red

ALL: Only the owners of Win Willy (now withdrawn), Friesan Fire and Papa Clem opened their horses' full medication histories for this New York Times article: www.nytimes.com/.../30racing.html

The records show that Friesan Fire has "received nothing but vitamins and electrolytes since arriving in Kentucky from Louisiana, though he has been treated by a chiropractor."

If there was any justice in this world, Friesan Fire and Papa Clem would finish 1-2 in the Derby.

29 Apr 2009 6:03 PM
anti draynay and thong song!

After the post draw Regal ransom should hit the board, i also think musket man will be around when the smoke clears. I love how everyone gives sooo much credit to POTN but MM wins 5 out of 6 and gets no love. Screw pedigree this horse is a beast!

29 Apr 2009 6:43 PM

Look at Regal Ransom, and I'm not trying to undercut my horse (I love him), but if one isn't paying attention to the draw to see how it will affect the race (conceivably) what are they doing? Don't tell anyone, but RR should be 8-1, based on the draw and nothing else. Am I wrong? Even in a thunderstorm, he plots for a great trip.

As a linemaker, I would think trip matters in public opinion, if not in the race itself. I was joking about the 8-1. But 30-1?


Can these things...these morning lines...be switched after the fact, kind of like Beyer figures?

What do they call that?

29 Apr 2009 7:27 PM

$300,000 Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I, Race 9, 3:57 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 7 Furlongs

1. Tiz to Dream (KY), 118, Calvin H. Borel

2. Dubai Majesty (FL), 118, Kent J. Desormeaux

3. Informed Decision (KY), 124, Julien R. Leparoux

4. Bear Now (KY), 118, Jamie Theriot

5. Secret Gypsy (KY), 122, Robby Albarado

6. Temple Street (KY), 118, Jon K. Court

7. Royale Michele (KY), 122, Rafael Bejarano

8. Modification (KY), 118, Corey S. Nakatani

9. Game Face (KY), 122, Garrett K. Gomez

Does anyone know why John Velazquez doesn't have a mount in this race? The only reason I ask is because their are two horses he rides on  a regular basis and he is not listed on either one? He has always rode Game Face for Pletcher and Gomez has the mount, Then I saw Informed Decision was in the race and thought oh he must of choose her over Game Face but I was surprised to find out Leparoux is riding her? John is riding races at Churchill that day whats going on?

29 Apr 2009 7:37 PM

I think picking the winner from this field is rather difficult as I would not be surprised by a win from any of several contenders: Friesan Fire, Pioneer of the Nile, I Want Revenge, Chocolate Candy, Dunkirk or General Quarters. To me there is not a real standout so it makes it quite exciting.  On another note it is interesting to me as a HUGE fan that all 20 Derby starters again this year have the blood of the great Native Dancer!! Some more than others of course but still.....his greatness still shows 56 years after his only loss!

29 Apr 2009 7:54 PM
Matthew W

Rocker AMEN bruddah..and thanks for mentioning Hold Me Back--he's one of the TWO Mott horses that I think will make the super (POTN having been in his barn)As of now, I have POTN/IWR/HMB...am still trying to find my 4th guy....gonna let FF beat me...he'll be on the engine/used early for position...he'll have to be good to take them all the way...think FF/IWR might be co-favs--no way will FF be FOURTH choice as Bataglia says--especially with the rains predicted--mehopes it's a dry track! Good luck to all--enjoy-this is what it's all about--they're even trying Zenyatta with some toughies Fri!! It's Derby Week!

29 Apr 2009 7:56 PM

Friesan Fire, I Want Revenge, Hold Me Back, Chocolate Candy, Dunkirk. Box em up and sprinkle a little of something you like in for flavor.

29 Apr 2009 8:25 PM
Matthew W

The one horse you just know will love that extra 1/8--is

Mr Hot Stuff...maybe for third, but I don't think he's good enough to beat these...Col John is a real nice horse, though...and Tiznow was a late bloomer...and the SoCal (pro ride) horses have been winning everywhere....this year there's SO MANY guys who can hit the board--POTN's my choice because I think he's the best horse, but 15 guys in there wouldn't suprise me....I certainly see no Big Browns in there....

29 Apr 2009 10:46 PM
Paula Higgins

IWR, POTN, Friesan Fire, Chocolate Candy, Hold Me Back, General Quarters. First three get the first three places-not sure what order.

29 Apr 2009 10:58 PM
Marc W

Having actually made the odds at a major track a few times-when the 1st and 2 nd people doing them at Woodbine-Ft Erie and Greenwood were off.

You DO NOT figure the odds the way you handicap -not your picks--you pick what you think the odds will be on the board when the race is bet. You use 125% or 130% not the obvious 100% total of the betting when you tally how much of a percentage each horse will get of the wagering. I never did a 20 horse field--that is very difficult. (Using 125% try making a line and see how you do--lets see it posted and checked out after the race) Sometimes the track will only let you make the longest shots only 30 or 50-1 when you are well aware they should or will be higher. There are rules you must follow to get paid.

Although I don't agree with the line particularly-it certainly isn't a easy job. Somebody is paying him and not you so a major track thinks he has talent. I'm not writing this blog or in BH, so somebody thinks Mr Haskin is a better writer-good choice.

Curious also, how many that fault trainers, their decisions and their training actually tried it? It is easy to go to the window and bet. I suggest watching the movie Heckler. Comic's and actors examine their critics for their acts and movies. One comment is a movie was made for 10 to 12 yr old boys and it was panned by critics for being childish.---It made a lot of money. It was not made to be a classic.

I see many posts knocking top trainers, jockeys and horses-now the odds maker. Why not concentrate on cashing a bet? I love it when a horse is made a long shot I like. It is pari-mutual betting-that means you are betting to win the other guys money--The track gets its take-- "whomever wins"--they actually would prefer favorites to win-somebody making a big score on a longshot is less likely to put money back in the pools.

Check my facts out

Info 101

30 Apr 2009 1:18 AM
Friesan Fire

Friesan Fire Pedigree

grandsire: Seattle Slew

great grandsire: Secretariat

This colt breathes different air.

This colt might be in a different area code... when all is said and done.

30 Apr 2009 1:48 AM

For Big Red: Thanks for your post on medication histories.  I agree with your comments. Good luck to Friesan Fire!  He was on my short list anyway.

30 Apr 2009 1:58 AM

It is worth noting, I think, that the dubai horses go back on lasix for this. One might draw a paralell between the BC Classic when we had the two euros run one-two (renewing their rivalry) getting lasix. Here we have the two dubai horses renewing their rivalry while going to lasix again in their return to the US. A one-two finish would not surprise. Worth the $2 bucks, in any case.

If this race was a mile and eighth, it wouldn't be the mystery that it always is, because it is the distance that seperates these. There are several who have sires that have historical precedence, including Regal Ranson (Distorted Humor - Funny Cide), Desert Party (Street Cry - Street Sense), Papa Clem (Smart Strike - Curlin), and another sire or two who have thrown runners that have done okay at the distance like Giant's Causeway (Hold Me Back), who is 7 for 24 with runners at the distance (big roi) on dirt/synthetic (3 for 12 on dirt only). Unbridled's Song (Dunkirk) is another sire for whom the distance should suit his well-meant offspring. I don't like Dunkirk based on his lack of foundation, but the distance should not be his undoing, it may, in fact, be his equalizer. As much as I don't want to, he will be included underneath in a few of my savers.

30 Apr 2009 4:45 AM

I agree this isn't one of the most exciting Derby field but if you go back 40 or 50 years you had a lot of horses coming off of losses in claiming races run in the Derby and you usually had a field of 10 or 12. You would only have maybe 2 or 3 real contenders back then but you still didn't have a lot of Triple Crown winners. 20 Horse fields means a lot of value and you don't have any claimers in the race so lets not talk about how weak the field is because any one of these horses could just be hitting his peak. That's why they run the race. Also morning line makers wouldn't be working for a living if they could handicap. In a field of this size throw out the past performances and hope you find the horses that stay out of trouble. Kent D. is my favorite jockey so that's why i have picked only 3 winners other than Smarty Jones and Barbaro. In 95 I had Timber Country and my grandfather had Thunder Gulch and I thought he was crazy before the race.

30 Apr 2009 6:47 AM

There is no doubt that IWR’s Wood Memorial performance has contributed to him being listed as the 3-1ML favorite for the derby. West Side Bernie was 1 1/2L behind IWR and his ML is 30-1. Is I Want Revenge 10 times better than WSB? Why bother to ask the question when WSB was so comprehensively beaten by IWR. Well, Funny Cide and Morarchos were comprehensively beaten by Empire Maker and Congaree in their respective Wood Memorials. They both went to win the derby. Let me be clear, my pick to win the derby is Regal Ransom. However there are exotic wager that pay lucrative returns.

I doubt anyone has compared the records of WSB and IWR. Well the one might just be very surprise by the revelation.

WSB made four starts as a 2YO. He won his first two starts. The first was a MSW at 1m, 70yrd at Monmouth Park. One month later he won his graded stakes debut at 1m 1/16 in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile on the synthetic surface at Turf Way Park. His third start a month later was in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile G1 at Santa Anita Park. This would be the third track in as many starts. He was the only horse in the field with only two starts.  He finished 6th beaten 3L. Can anyone guess who 1/2L was ahead of him?  Derby ML co-second choice POTN. He would conclude his 2YO campaign with a 2nd place finish to Big Drama in the G3, 1 1/16 Delta Jack Pot.

IWR made five starts as a 2YO. He lost his first three starts. The first was a MSW at 51/2F at Hollywood Park. The second & third were also MSW at 6f & 61/2F at Delmar and Santa Anita. He broke his maiden in his fourth a 1 1/16 MSW. His 5th start  and last start as a 2YO in the 11/16 CashCall Futurity G1 where he was beaten 1/2L by the same POTN who finished 1/2L ahead of WSB in BCJ.

Both WSB and IWR made two starts in 2009 before they met in the Wood Memorial. WSB emerged from an 8 weeks respite to contest the G3 nine furlongs Holy Bull. He finished third beaten 3 3/4L His next start was the G3 nine furlongs the Lane End. He finished 6th beaten 8L. IWR emerged from a 7 weeks respite to contest the G2 11/16 Bob Lewis. He finished third beaten 11/2L. His next start was the one mile G3 Gotham. He won by a convincing 81/2L. The Gotham was contested on the 7th March and the Lanes End on the on 21st March. IWR had 28 day to recover from his easy Gotham victory where as WSB had only14 days to recover from his grueling 11/8M Lanes End. IWR had a problem plagued trip and eventually ran out a convincing winner with WSB 11/2L in second.

So what have learnt folks? Well, WSB has made 7 starts to date with 2 victories. Six of his 7 starts were in graded race. He won his first two starts with second being a graded race He was 1/2L behind POTN in the Breeders Cup Juvenile G1 in only his 3rd start. He faced IWR 14 day after a tough 9 furlongs race on a tiring Poly Track and was only beaten 11/2L.. He was the only horse to close in the Holy Bull on a speed favoring Gulfstream Park strip. He is probably the only colt in the derby field that has contested 3 consecutive nine furlongs preps in 2009.

IWR has made 8 starts to date, with 3 victories. Four of his 8 starts were in graded races. He broke his maiden in his 4th start. When WBS made his 4th start, it was in his third graded race.

WSB had th better 2YO campaign and IWR is having the better 3YO campaign. Does this mean that IWR is the better colt? The handicapper certainly thinks so. In fact, he thinks10 times better.

In their only meeting WSB was contesting his 2nd second 9F race in 14 days. IWR was contesting his 2nd in 28 days and and his first at 9F. Under those circumstances WSB did extremely well to finish 11/2L behind, not the more talented, but the fresher IWR. To ask any young horse to run 18 furlongs in 14 days that’s asking a lot.

WSB will leave the gates at better than 30-1.  If you like WSB, he will enter the derby a much fresher horse and I firmly believe he will turn the tables on IWR as he is the better colt not by my assessment but by his record.

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30 Apr 2009 7:24 AM

Ugh, I still don't know, except for Mr. Hot Stuff.  I normally pick three horses per Derby field, any order for top three, but other than him it's all up in the air.  I'll figure it out by Saturday.  Best of luck to all.



30 Apr 2009 8:55 AM
Greg J.

For Big Red,

    Honestly, At this point in time, I have blinkers on, Nothing can sway me from Friesan Fire, The Six post isn't perfect for him, but he has won before with traffic to his left and right, Blinkers play a big part for his concentration, I think he will be at or near the front(3rd or fourth maybe) at the turn, BUT with the forecast for rain(YES!), I am now thinking he will be on the lead at turn, and go wire to wire....wishfull thinking, yes, but with so few horses in the field who have actually run on a off track, it is more and more possibe...

     Only six of the 20 Derby starters have ever raced on a track listed as other than fast: Desert Party, Flying Private, Friesan Fire, Join in the Dance, Nowhere to Hide, and Papa Clem. And, In my opinion, of those, Fire and Desert Party are the only legit contenders...

30 Apr 2009 9:42 AM
Greg J.

Muddy or OFF Tracks info:

Desert Party won the six-furlong, Grade II Sanford over a muddy track last year.

Flying Private was fifth, beaten 11 1/2 in his sole off-track try.

Friesan Fire won the Grade II Louisiana Derby on the slop by 7 1/4 over Papa Clem.

Join in the Dance finished second in his debut on the slop, but in the six-furlong NATC Futurity last year on a sloppy track, he was fourth by 13.

Nowhere to Hide, in his third start, was second by a half going a mile on a muddy/sealed track at Belmont Park.

No other runners have off track experience.

30 Apr 2009 9:47 AM

I see Gary Stute did an "old school" move with Papa Clem. Maybe things are turning around in the racing game and trainers are going back to the days when you prepped a horse properly for the biggest day of their 3yr old year.

30 Apr 2009 9:57 AM
Greg J.

 A few of the Reasons why I think Chocolate Candy will be third or second to Fire:

1. His race in the Santa Anita Derby was huge. Former jockey great Gary Stevens, who did the TV commentary for NBC, said he would have upset Pioneerof The Nile if the pace hadn't been so slow.

2.  There's a big chance it'll rain on Friday and Saturday, and, says assistant trainer Galen May, "He just loves the mud. I hope it does rain."

3. Hollendorfer, who is headquartered in Northern California, is always in the conversation, along with Bill Mott and Todd Pletcher, when the topic is "Best Trainer Who Has Never Won the Derby." He has never gotten to the starting gate with a horse as good as this one.

4. His pedigree indicates he'll like the Derby's mile and a quarter, which is an eighth of a mile farther than any of the contenders has won. His sire, Candy Ride, won the Pacific Classic and his dam, Crownette, is a daughter of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.

5. Instead of sticking with Russell Baze, who rode him in both his Golden Gate Fields victories, Hollendorfer has opted for Derby veteran Smith, who won the roses with the longshot Giacomo in 2005 and has finished second three times in his 15 Derby rides since 1984. In two Derby rides, Baze finished 13th and 14th.

    Assuming that everybody who likes chocolate candy won't bet on Chocolate Candy in the Derby, he ought to be a big price - maybe 40 to 1 or better.

   Worth a shot....

30 Apr 2009 10:07 AM
Matthew W

Choc Candy won't be 40-1---but slop favors speed--especially if they roll the track, whick is what they do nowadays--that can take away the cushion--egads! So many things to not like about mud! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for all of the good/great horseflesh that will be partaking in the Derby and other fine races this weekend! Mud is tough--in a twenty horse field it can be a quagmire--there, I got to say quagmire!! Good luck/good times to all....

30 Apr 2009 10:58 AM

For BigRed, First off I would like to thank you for all your insight. It is obvious you have a passion for the sport of horse racing and handicapping. I would appreciate your opinion on what I feel might be a serious angle. Both Godolphin horses raced in the US as two year olds. Both raced on Lasix. However, they both have trained, and had three races in Dubai without Lasix. Now six or seven months later they will be on the juice Sat. I have always considered first time Lasix to move up horses. Do you feel that being off the juice for six months and now being back on would be equal to or close to first time Lasix.

30 Apr 2009 11:36 AM
For Big Red

Greg J.: I'm not getting off Fire either. Everything points to a huge race from him, plus he's been my sentimental/emotional favorite since I first saw him. When all the logic-driven handicapping is done, I still have to go with my heart, and I love that colt.

Besides, as I mentioned above in my 29 Apr 2009 6:03 PM post, FF's owners are one of only three who opened their colt's medical records to the New York Times. We can be 100% certain that Friesan Fire and Papa Clem are not "juiced." For that reason, my jaded heart is rooting for them to finish 1-2.

30 Apr 2009 11:56 AM

Rocker - Indian Blessing was scheduled to make her return in the Humana Distaff & John Velazquez committed to her.  After her work Tuesday Baffert decided she wasn't ready to run.  See link below.


30 Apr 2009 12:35 PM
Matthew W

Gary Stute learned that from Mel Stute--and the long works were from Warren Stute--and the easy going/laugh at yourself/yet always competitive nature---that's just a Stute!

30 Apr 2009 1:24 PM
Owen bytheway

Dunkirk is straight up and down and cannot reach.  An honest mile and a quarter is beyond his range.

He wouldn't have commanded his yearling price as a 2yo in training auction.

Value play:  Key Choc Candy w/

Friesan Fire, Papa Clem, IWR, POTN,

and toss in Desert Party and Nowhere if it's still pouring an hour before the race.

You can't play them all, but you can make some money.

30 Apr 2009 1:28 PM
Owen bytheway

whoops, too many "o's" typed in on my e-mail address on comments just sent.

30 Apr 2009 1:30 PM
Owen bytheway

Dunkirk wouldn't have brought near that much money at a 2yo in training sale as he did as a yearling.

He is too straight up and down and will never beat a legitimate mile and a quarter field.

Key Chocolate Candy w/ FF, Papa Clem, IWR, PotN - and if it's pouring an hour before the race toss in Desert Party and Nowhere.

30 Apr 2009 1:57 PM

Guys don't get caught up in the "juice-no juice" angle. You have to remember that there still are legal meds given. They have improved testing methods in the last 2 years and have banned numerous drugs since then. When you say "juiced" you should be more specific so the uneducated don't get the wrong message.

30 Apr 2009 2:01 PM

I agree Wanda about the blow out for Papa Clem!  I also really liked the one mile works for Friesan Fire and Chocolate Candy.  I think our only hope of another triple crown winner lies in getting the horses fit enough and 4-5-6 furlong works don't seem to cut it.  The training and not the horses is the reason it has been over 30 years since the last one in my opinion

30 Apr 2009 6:16 PM

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