Haskin's Derby Report: 48 Hours and Counting


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Mr. Hot Stuff's gallop yesterday did look odd.  However, it looked like he wanted to stretch his legs out and was fighting the exercise jockey.  If John V can put him anywhere from 8th-12th with a half-mile to go, he will win.  Any further back and he will struggle.

Good luck to all!

30 Apr 2009 3:28 PM

Hi Steve,

I am hearing negative impressions about Fresian Fire from on-track people who say he looks awful ever since his sizzling workout.  Have you noticed anything different about him since that workout?

30 Apr 2009 3:32 PM

Okay Steve, my guess at the mystery horse tomorrow is either General Quarters or IWR.

Oh, so two guesses.

30 Apr 2009 3:34 PM
Matthew W

Steve had this "mystery horse" earned enough moolah to use his final prep as just that--a prep, even having worked out one mile prior so as to take away his edge, and do his handlers say they're praying for rain cuz he loves it wet!!?? I had to include him--and you're no Dick Francis! Good luck, mate, and thank you for bein---you!

30 Apr 2009 3:41 PM
Frank J.

It's almost showtime. From the weather reports and reading the BH columns, looks like the pick is FF. I bet the horse Steve is talking about is Desert Party but I could be wrong. Thinking about throwing out Dunkirk after Steve's observations. Starting to get the shakes, baby!!!

30 Apr 2009 3:47 PM
For Big Red

STEVE: I watched Mr. Hot Stuff's gallop on the DRF video this morning. It was odd. The vid doesn't show us what's off camera, so the first time he ducked in, I thought the colt was shying from something to his right. But then he did it again. I thought that maybe the colt wanted to do more, but who knows since they can't talk to us.

Re Dunkirk, I think the Florida Derby is a strong negative key race. It was extremely taxing on all the horses who ran in it. I'd be surprised if Dunkirk hit the board.

30 Apr 2009 4:15 PM
For Big Red

TREAD: You can go here www.kentuckyderby.com/.../works to see all the gallops and works yourself. Larry Jones galloped Friesan Fire himself yesterday morning, and that gallop is there. They update the works board daily. I believe all the Derby horses were on the track this morning, so if you check back tomorrow, you'll see how they looked a little over 48 hours from the big race.

30 Apr 2009 4:24 PM
Andre S

WEll from weather reports, I think FF is the only horse in this 20 horse field who has had a superb performance in a "sloppy" track.....does that mean anything to any of you? b/c it sure does to me.

30 Apr 2009 4:26 PM
Travis L


Only you and I know it's Musket Man!

30 Apr 2009 4:26 PM
Karen in Texas

Tread---What, specifically, have you heard about FF?

30 Apr 2009 4:33 PM

Mr. Hot Stuff is a doofus. Someone told me his exercise rider complains about him all the time - said his arms and shoulders were always sore afterwards. He's quite the rowdy one. I'd love to see this bad boy pick up a piece in this race.

30 Apr 2009 4:48 PM
anti draynay

You are all wrong the mystery horse is CC he is a beast, training well, pedigree, low dosage. Mark my words he likes C Candy!

30 Apr 2009 5:56 PM

My guess is Steve likes Chocolate Candy.  I like a couple of others better, but if this is Steve's choice, it's a solid one with a legit. shot.  Based on Steve's comments, this is his mystery horse.

30 Apr 2009 6:09 PM
Matthew W

Steve after the Gotham I thought $8.30 on the win payoff for a horse who lost a Gr 1 by a nose while every other guy was fairly green--wow!....Here's a telling stat for The Derby: POTN has faced/beaten four horses in this race--two of them twice--that's 6-0 vs guys in this field....No one comes remotely close to that stat---I mean, it's one (stat) of many/one angle of many...hey I'm just trying to psyche myself up, after all he's one in TWENTY---sorta feelin' like Mr Hatton right about now! Only I believe POTN is a street fighter like Manny....

30 Apr 2009 6:47 PM
Dreamer's Mom

Gray horses in the mud-there are two.  Guess that leaves Friesan Fire for my tri.  Not that he's an afterthought as I so love A.P.Indy.  Just got to have grays in the mud.  

Praying for rain....Go GQ!!!

30 Apr 2009 7:23 PM
Garden State Greg

Steve, hope you're having a blast in Louisville. Very much wish I was there. Thank you for your excellent, professional reports.

My pick for mystery horse is PIONEER OF THE NILE. Need something good (like your reco) to get me past his so-so Beyers.

30 Apr 2009 8:05 PM

I think this mystery horse is Musket Man!!  Love him and I'm hoping he runs a huge one!  Ah, so exciting haha

30 Apr 2009 8:18 PM

I'm going with antidray and Elusive Quality... the mystery horse is CC........

30 Apr 2009 8:37 PM

I too think Steve's mystery horse is Chocolate Candy...After Papa Clem's blowout today, and FF's 5F scorcher there is going to be even more pace injected into the race. I think 23 and 46, and 1:10 at the worst! I also agree with those of you who are picking against Dunkirk. He's already peaked. I say you box the California connection and call it a day...PON, CC, IWR, PC, and MHS! Look how IWR and PC did after they got off that synthetic garbage!

30 Apr 2009 9:26 PM

I think the mystery horse is General Quarters.

30 Apr 2009 9:33 PM

Caught Beyer's chat transcript (I swore I wouldn't) from DRF, and was very curious about his reasoning. He ultimately dismisses the Dubai contingent because they have always failed at the original idea, which was to train horses in Dubai for America's greatest race.

While it's true that the plan had no success, the level of racing and the quality of the thoroughbreds have always been suspect.

Until lately, however, when a new commitment was made to the racing program, a competent trainer was employed (Suroor) and greater effort was made to find the right stock. We ship horses to Dubai all the time and win. There's absolutely no reason they can't ship here and win, they just needed a better operation at home (check) and better stock (check check). I'm thinking, if not now, when?

Yeah, I love Regal Ransom (Desert Party aint too shabby, either), I love that he is going from an inside trip in Dubai to an outside, stalking trip here. A trip handicapper would have to believe that within that little factoid lies the heart of another giant move forward by this young colt. I think quite honestly he could blow this thing open after stalking FF/JITD and streaking away from the field around the far turn. Whether or not it materializes, that is the source of the pleasure I receive from horseracing. It could happen - my nom de plume is proof, living proof.

Regal Ransom, then, in a Wow! performance.

30 Apr 2009 11:05 PM

Wet track in the forecast....Stew Elliot the last jock to win on off strip...West Side Bernie beaten just 2 lengths to superstar I Want Revenge and the grandson of Storm Cat is making his all important 3rd start in his form cycle....you've been warned.    

30 Apr 2009 11:19 PM

Hey Steve, getting a big kick out of you & Lenny on ATO. I'm with you as far as bailing on DP from 19. CC seems to have a lot in his favor but I'm off him ,too. Just can't see it working out for him. I think Wanda (who I saw knock off Susan's Girl in the '72 Mother Goose) is onto something. I'm hopping on the RR and I won't be getting off at South Ferry. Good Luck. See ya 6/5 if they save the Belmont Express.

01 May 2009 2:13 AM

The " Mystery Horse " is Desert Party.   lol

01 May 2009 2:33 AM

How important and influential is the Kentucky Derby?

Of the 100 horses identified in the Bloodhorse's Top 100 of the 20th Century, 50 of them ran in the Kentucky Derby. 28 of those 50 won the Derby.

Since the Bloodhorse poll was taken early this decade and covers only until 1999, Derby participants this decade are not included.

Who is the best Derby winner this decade? Fusaichi Pegasus? Monarchos? War Emblem? Funny Cide?

Smarty Jones? Giacomo? Barbaro? Street Sense? Big Brown?

How about the best non-winners in the Kentucky Derby this decade?

Captain Steve, Point Given, Congaree, Medalgia d' Oro, Came Home, Perfect Drift, Empire Maker, Peace Rules, Afleet Alex, Lawyer Ron, Hard Spun, or Curlin?  

01 May 2009 3:58 AM

Eclipse Awards were first given in 1936. Since then, the Kentucky Derby has featured a champion (2 year old) or future champion (3 yr old, older horse, turf, sprinter) every year except:

1982, 1968, 1966, 1960, 1954, 1952, and 1944.

That's a 73 year span, and only 7 of those Derbys did not have a current or future Eclipse winner. If you go to Churchill for the Derby, you are virtually guaranteed to see a champion of some sort.  

01 May 2009 4:05 AM

I'm going to stick w/ IWR on top. I wouldn't be shocked if he won impressively, but conversely I always have felt there is a chance he might completely bomb. However, he's fast, strong, in form, training well, and has proven he can overcome adversity.

Friesan Fire looks to be sitting on a big race. I think, and believe it to be a good idea, that Friesan Fire will be just a little off the pace, closer maybe than some are expecting. I expect him to be on the lead entering the stretch. His tactical speed is a big weapon in what should be a slow pace.  Larry Jones knows what he's doing.

Dunkirk has alot of history to overcome. On top of it, he's not the most robust horse, and his late run depends on pace and racing luck. Still, the talent and breeding are there. Unlike the Florida Derby when he made a premature move so that Quality Road wouldn't sneak away on a track playing to speed all day, when Dunkirk makes his move in the Derby there will be no wilting or fading. I expect him to be running best of all late; although it will probably take him some time to get rolling, once he does that huge stride is really going to eat up the ground. However, he just might not have the tactical speed and acceleration to make that run in time.  

I have full respect for Pioneer of the Nile, and would vote him the Eclipse award for the first third of the year. Yet, he simply has too many questions to answer for such a short price. Even if he can travel over the dirt well, how will he take the dirt hitting him? Maybe that is one reason why Baffert took the 16 post.

Of the mid-priced horses, I like General Quarters most. I like his tactical speed and his ability to accelerate, he is proven on dirt + synthetic, and he has a good race over the track. I would've had Musket Man right with him, but what I'm hearing about his works concerns me.  I was able to see Hold Me Back win the Lane's End in person, and think he his a wondeful looking horse with a lot of promise. However, dirt is a question, and the 15-1 ML odds are not as appealing as others. I think Mike Battaglia put him that low because he and other Kentuckians are very familiar with him, having prepped in Kentucky for both his 09' races. Papa Clem, Desert Party, and Chocolate Candy are all really nice colts, but Desert Party is breaking from 19th post and has faced unkown competition, Chocolate Candy has never run on dirt, and Papa Clem has distance questions and hasnt worked that well from what I've read.

For the true longshots, I like West Side Bernie and Regal Ransom at 30-1. RR is going to have much to say about how the race unfolds, and Bernie is a proven graded stakes winner with solid dirt form.

I might have thrown Summer Bird into the mix at 50-1, but his works have not drawn positive remarks. If I do put a bomb horse in, it will be Flying Private. I really liked his 2nd in the Lane's End, and he has an excellent classic pedigree, being a $700,000 yearling purchase. He has alot more tactical speed than he displayed in the Ark Derby, so I expect him forwardly placed. Then hopefully, that pedigree kicks in.

Mr. Hot Stuff has a very outside shot, whereas I think Advice, Join in the Dance, Atomic Rain, Mine that Bird, and Nowhere to Hide have no shot.

01 May 2009 5:20 AM

Mystery horse is either Pioneer Of The Nile or friesan Fire.

01 May 2009 9:20 AM

General Quarters should be the mystery horse.

01 May 2009 9:25 AM

Hey Steve,

 Mine That Bird may be plain but there is a lot of family behind him. His dam is by Smart Strike and his graddam was placed in the Canadian Oaks. Although he may be out of his element here there is a lot behind this little gelding

01 May 2009 9:33 AM

Hey GunBow,

 You should write a column. Your analysis has really made this race clearer to me. Although I have emotional ties to Mine That Bird and think he has a shot, albeit a very small shot.

 What about the Oaks today? I can sum that up with one horse, RACHAEL ALEXANDER and I think Stardom Bound is afraid to take her on. The boys better watch out for her too.

01 May 2009 9:40 AM
Ann in Lexington

Slewofdamascus, the Dubai gang picked off some excellent stock for their earlier tries. Worldly Manner, a handsome son of Riverman, had taken both the Best Pal-G3 and the Del Mar Futurity-G2 impressively when the Boys in Blue whisked him off to the desert. Express Tour had blitzed through the Florida stallion series (won all 3) like a champ. Ruler's Court had won the Norfolk-G2 by 10. All of these had better US form than the current Dubai lot, yet if they made it to the Derby, they were short horses. They had the credentials to be Derby horses, just not the preparation.

By the way, bin Suroor is the trainer of record, but most Euros believe that the Sheik himself is the real trainer the Godolphin stable.

01 May 2009 9:47 AM
Ann in Lexington

Gun Bow, you are in error. The first Eclipse Awards were in 1971; I remember, I was a fan than. Before that, various organizations awarded championships, so that one could have several champions for the same year, e.g. in 1970, the DRF chose Fort Marcy as Horse of the Year, but the TRA chose Personality.

01 May 2009 9:51 AM

Hey Ann,

 Thanks for those comments. I always thought Chief Seattle would have been a better horse had he stayed in the USA to train instead of shipping to Dubai to swim in the Sea Of Iman.  

01 May 2009 10:04 AM
Marc W

Won't find out who the mystery horse is as I am going to watch the "BRIDGEJUMPERS" get there money in on Rachel today.

Final post before leaves me to post a bet that can be proven before the race if I am right or be proven in error.

After starting in January posting for FF and picking the tri as a solid bet in LA Derby to the extent of even saying that the winning combo more on a press bet on JS blog. I will say and stick to my guns that the winner will come from that race.

Unlike "that race" where I cashed a substantial bet and also put a fair amount of money in because my confidence was high. I certainly think there are about 10 horses that can win in this Derby.

With the weight (kiss of death) of Jason on the other blog picking him now I give my small bet advice--and I do mean small.

Friesian Fire on top in exactors and tri's with

POTN, IWR, CC, and Papa Clem underneath.

Enjoy one of the most competitive KY Derbies in years--may you all cash!

01 May 2009 11:48 AM
The Deacon

What a goofy ATO show this week, I think I expected more on Derby week. Lenny needs to step up and be a more commanding host. Your insight is always good. I thought that this show really needed to connect with the viewers and it left me hanging. Your writing however is impeccable, and you are one of the best storytellers I have ever seen. I still like POTN and IWR, both will be there. It looks like weather will be a factor, this could change a lot about how the race sets up.

Good luck on your pick Dunkirk, nice horse but we will see.

01 May 2009 11:53 AM

Gunbow.... IMO... best non winner of the Kentucky derby....Afleet Alex by a landslide..... Of course we really didn't get to see how great this horse could have been.

01 May 2009 12:19 PM

Right on ChiefSeattle...little non-descript brown horses that simply chug-a-long the entire race can sneak right by all the "better" horses in the race...e.g. Birdstone.

01 May 2009 12:24 PM

For this decade?

Monarchos, hands down: second fastest Derby EVER, one of only 3 to go under 2:00 (Secretariat who had Sham, also under 2min, pressing him)...Monarchos destroyed the field pulling away and winning by how many lengths and finished the last few strides in hand...plus his field was full of quality..Point Given, Congaree, AP Valentine to name a few...

He may not be the greatest horse of this decade, or even of that year, but that's not the question: the question is who had the best race this decade on the first Saturday in May...

...like all Derby Winner's races...each one is the best that day.

01 May 2009 12:34 PM

Ann, I'm sure you know more than I, however the vagueness of "most euros believe" aside (I don't even know what that means?), I think that's completely unfair to Suroor, who has done an excellent job in the US with the "sheik"'s "Dubai" horses.

01 May 2009 12:45 PM

A prayer to the racing Gods.....Please watch over all these amazing horses that "run" so deep through our veins and bring us the purest of joy and please bring all these majestic althetes across the finish line safe and sound... for our hearts just can't take another tragedy.....

My favorite part......"AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME"...... I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

01 May 2009 1:01 PM

DA3HOSS:  Agree fully with you about Monarchos as the best Derby winner.

01 May 2009 1:36 PM
Bill W

Read your picks (5/1) for the Derby.

Hope you are correct about GQ. What a story that would be!!

Good Luck!

01 May 2009 7:00 PM
Ann in Lexington

Slew, I have sent an e-mail to my friend in Dubai to get a better answer. All I know, is that when I was in England, it was generally believed by several people I talked to, who were in a position to have good sources.

01 May 2009 8:34 PM

I understand, Ann, thanks.

I guess Bataglia had his hands full with this one. These odds are nutz. All I can say is, if you have a feeling, go for it, because I have to believe this thing is wide open. There's no real symetry to the action, which means nobody really knows what's going to happen (like our feerless leader intimated).

General Quarters at 5-1 was quite startling. That would be quite the story, we love a good story. Casual Lies had a great story, too, but the public didn't respond in this fashion. But that boy ran his heart out, might have won with a better trip (smile), but then we'd have been stripped of the great Lil E Tee moment between a wise old conditioner and a white-haired, little old lady whose time had come.

Whose time will come tomorrow?

01 May 2009 10:04 PM

Oh, I wish I had re-read the last paragraph of this column. . .

02 May 2009 8:51 PM
Bajan Spiekstown

Where are all the experts now ha ha.I had a $2 bet to win on the three long shots.

03 May 2009 8:34 AM

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