Ky. Derby Trail: Thirst Quencher has an interesting definition of the word prep: “A preliminary or warm-up activity or event; trial run: the race is a prep for the Kentucky Derby.”

It should have added: “See Giacomo.” You know, the 2005 Kentucky Derby winner who went into the race off five straight defeats and only a maiden victory at 2 in seven career starts and peaked on Derby Day.

Yes, it’s easy to knock Stay Thirsty’s Gotham Stakes (gr. III) victory. He time was slow, his Beyer figure was low, he wasn’t beating a strong field. We get all that, but considering he hadn’t run in four months, had never won beyond six furlongs, had no works from Nov. 6 to Jan. 30, broke last, was forced four-wide into the first turn, had to stay close behind a sloth-like pace, and raced greenly in the stretch, switching leads three times and lugging in, this was an excellent “prep,” (as in “preliminary” and “trial run”).

Of course, trainer Todd Pletcher has to work on that greenness, as he’s shown a tendency twice now to lug in and you don’t want to see them jumping back and forth on their leads. That should be corrected with maturity; he just has to do it in the next two months.

So it was that owner Mike Repole came armed with all the above ammunition when he entered the TVG battlefield Sunday afternoon to face his colt’s detractors after learning beforehand some of the analysts were less than thrilled with the performance.

All the pleasantries of the typical introduction were bypassed when TVG led up to the phone interview by showing Uncle Mo’s Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) victory.

Repole didn’t bat an eye and immediately fired off the first salvo. “Come on, Stay Thirsty wins the Gotham and you guys have to show Uncle Mo,” he told them. “Come on, give the guy a little credit; holy cow.”

If you know Repole you’re not surprised or taken aback by his opening comment. It was a good-natured jab (while getting his point across) and the TVG guys to their credit didn’t back down, which started off a friendly game of verbal darts, with Repole defending the honor of his horse.

Let’s go back to Saturday. Pletcher had already won two stakes on the card (what else is new?). As Stay Thirsty began to close in on the leaders around the far turn, Pletcher, watching from the film theater just up the hall from the jockey’s quarters, kept leaning forward on his chair until the back legs were off the floor. He remained in that position for the remainder of race.

A few seconds after Stay Thirsty crossed the finish line 3 1/4 lengths in front of 47-1 shot Norman Asbjornson, Pletcher, in his typical stoic manner, got up and calmly walked out without saying a word and headed for the winner’s circle…again.

You can be sure that wasn’t the scene above him in the box section. You didn’t need to have plaster from the ceiling of the film theater falling on your head to know there was a raucous celebration going on up there among the men and women in black that made up the Repole Regiment of Rooters. If Uncle Mo and/or Stay Thirsty make it to the Derby, fasten down the Twin Spires.

Between this victory and earlier victories by Repole’s Calibrachoa in the Tom Fool (gr. II) and Bobby Flay’s Sensational Slam in the Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes, the Aqueduct winner’s circle resonated with New Yawk accents.

It is interesting to note that Stay Thirsty had been picked out at the Keeneland September yearling sale by Nick Zito for Robert LaPenta, who finished second in the 2005 Belmont Stakes with Stay Thirsty’s half-brother Andromeda’s Hero. Purchased for $160,000, Stay Thirsty was pinhooked by LaPenta at the following year’s Fasig-Tipton Calder 2-year-old sale and was snatched up by Pletcher for $500,000.

When you have a Bernardini colt from a powerful King Ranch family who catches the eye of both Zito and Pletcher you know you’ve got a potential star. Stay Thirsty would have already been a star in anyone else’s barn, but when you have to compete for top billing with Uncle Mo you are going to be relegated to the second team.

With Uncle Mo still a week away from his 3-year-old debut, this was Stay Thirsty’s time to finally bask in the spotlight. Despite the cloudy skies and cold winds blowing in off Jamaica Bay, Stay Thirsty was able to shine brightly and warm up the winner’s circle just with the friction caused by all the hugging from the Repole throng.

Sent off as the 4-5 favorite in the field of seven, Stay Thirsty had his head in the air at the start and broke slowly under Ramon Dominguez, then was forced four-wide into the first turn. The Fed Eased, coming off a 7 1/4-length maiden score at six furlongs, set an easy pace, with fractions of :24 3/5, :49, and 1:13 2/5, as Stay Thirsty took up a comfortable position in third.

He began closing in on The Fed Eased and Norman Asbjornson on the turn, with 8-5 second choice Toby’s Corner, who would wind up third, about two lengths behind him and beginning his move, but under strong urging by Eddie Castro. Turning for home, Stay Thirsty switched leads on cue and set his sights on the two leaders, while under a vigorous series of roundhouse left-handed whips. When he began drifting in despite the left-handed whips, jumping back to his left lead, Dominguez found himself too close to Norman Asbjornson to keep hitting him. He threw a cross on Stay Thirsty and the colt ducked in again, but was already clear of the others. He then switched back to his right lead with 70 yards to go and actually was striding out beautifully at the wire, galloping out strongly, well ahead of the others.

Despite his poor start, losing ground into the turn, switching leads three times in the stretch, and lugging in, he still managed to come home in :24 2/5 and :06 2/5. Who knows how good this colt is going to be once he gets over his greenness and figures out what he’s doing.

A sneaky horse to watch coming out of this race is fourth-place finisher Nacho Saint, who broke awkwardly, took back to sixth, then made a good move after being steered to the inside, pulling to within three-quarters of a length of the leaders at the eighth pole and looking like a sure thing for second. But when Stay Thirsty came in, causing a traffic jam, The Fed Eased was forced into Nacho Saint, who now had nowhere to go, while losing his momentum. The rail quickly opened up again and although he couldn’t threaten the winner, he was only beaten a half-length for third by Toby’s Corner and 1 1/2 lengths for second. Also note that he ran his second, third, and fourth quarters in :24 1/5, :24, and :24 1/5.

Dialed In still connected

Although Sunday’s defeat in an allowance optional/claimer at 1-5 was not what Dialed In’s connections were expecting, the colt still is capable of rebounding big-time in the Florida Derby (gr. I).

This was an ugly race from start to finish, which often happens when you scrape and claw to put on a race for one horse. And when you encounter five- and four-horse fields with no pace, that’s when problems normally occur.

It is senseless to go into detail on this race and you can pretty much put any kind of spin on it you wish. Should he have won? Yes. Did he show the same high-powered move he showed in his first two starts? No. Was the slow pace a factor in the outcome? With a horse with his style of running, definitely. Was he versatile enough to change his style? The answer is either no or we have no idea because he was never given a chance to.

OK, so let’s say the slow pace hurt him, as did being eased back and getting stuck in traffic for most of the way. But the opinion here is that it’s much simpler than that. The horse was dead short, having only two works (4f and 5f) in 5 weeks. Add to that going two turns for the first time against older horses and being lulled to sleep and you have a tidy little excuse package. Five weeks off after his resounding Holy Bull (gr. III) score seems a lot, assuming he had no setbacks, but when on top of that you have only one little half-mile work and one sharp 5-furlong work in those 5 weeks and then stretch out to 1 1/8 miles, you’re looking at a recipe for an upset.

The positive was his :12 2/5 final eighth. His supporters can look at the race as a learning experience and feel confident he is going to run a much-improved race in the Florida Derby with some pace, which is altogether possible. There is a huge difference closing from far back into :45  2/5 and :46 1/5 half-miles going one turn, as he did in his first two starts, and sitting two lengths off a crawling :49 2/5 and 1:13 4/5 pace going two turns, while stuck in traffic most of the way.

And it should be pointed out that his stablemate who beat him, the 4-year-old Equestro, is not a bad horse. He broke his maiden going 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs in a sharp 1:16 2/5, then won a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream in 1:36 2/5, earning a 93 Beyer. In his last start, he closed from eighth to finish fourth in another one-mile allowance race. He’s had a couple of bullet works at Palm Meadows and was no soft touch in here.

The bottom line is, watch his work pattern between now and the Florida Derby. If he gets a good sharp work in and has no setbacks there is no reason to think he can’t turn it around. At least Zito got his mile and an eighth race in and the colt came out of it in good shape. Once again, this was only a prep – a bridge to get him to the Florida Derby with some bottom under him.

Positive result

Talk about a good spot. With the Turfway Park 3-year-olds appearing to be suspect, with the possible exception of WEBN winner Twinspired, Bill Morey, trainer and part-owner of California Derby and Gold Rush winner Positive Response, put his Pomeroy gelding on a plane to Kentucky following his solid third in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) and now has the horse to beat in the $500,000 Vinery Spiral Stakes after Positive Response’s seven-length, wire-to-wire romp in Saturday’s John Battaglia Memorial.

This is an interesting horse, who has worked his way up from the $40,000 and $50,000 claiming ranks at Woodbine and has blossomed under the care of Morey in Northern California. He sold twice as a yearling, for $15,000 and $35,000, and again as a 2-year-old for $21,000. He also was consigned and withdrawn from a weanling sale, so he’s been around the block and is a tough, hard-nosed competitor. The big question is how he’ll handle the dirt.

Second wave keeps pounding the shore

As if we haven’t had enough exciting late-developing 3-year-olds burning up the track in sprints, such as The Factor, Flashpoint, Runflatout, Albergatti, and Bind, say hello to the latest sensation, Wilburn, who broke his maiden first time out at Santa Anita Saturday, winning by 3 1/4 lengths in a blazing (do you even have to use that word anymore at Santa Anita?) 1:13 4/5 for the 6 1/2 furlongs, which is four-fifths off the track record. He is yet another Bernardini, and he certainly looks to have a bright future.

This wasn’t the only impressive maiden win by a son of Bernardini over the weekend. If you’re looking for a late spring/summer horse with tremendous promise, keep a close eye on the Shug McGaughey-trained, Phipps family-owned Break Up the Game, who is out of Personal Ensign’s daughter Pennant Champion. After getting beat a fast-closing nose in his career going seven furlongs, he closed fast again to finish fourth, beaten a length, in a top-class maiden race, finishing a head behind the recent allowance winner and Wood Memorial (gr. I) prospect Arch Traveler. Going seven panels for the third time on Saturday, he rallied from eighth and came charging home late with an :11 4/5 final eighth, to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:23 1/5. He has an efficient stride and reaches out with great extension.


Leave a Comment:


I like Break Up The Game! He's gonna be a good one!

07 Mar 2011 5:41 PM

I agree about Stay Thirsty; the race was never going to wind up fast given that the fractions were so slow. I believe he'll be at his best by Travers time, actually, but I'm eager to see how much he improves in his next start.

I LOVE Break up the Game - I do wonder if he's a closing sprinter, however. I didn't think so until this last race, when he dropped back further than he'd been in his other races. Prior to Saturday, he showed more speed in his races than other Indy-line Phipps horses.

Wilburn was sure worth the wait..........

07 Mar 2011 5:43 PM
Karen in Texas

Good for Repole for defending Stay Thirsty's right to be in the spotlight! I noticed the lead changing issues and thought he almost tripped/bobbled at one point, but he did manage to win. Repole's joy at being an owner is a pleasure to witness!

I accidently saw Wilburn's race (didn't know he was running) and he looked fantastic! I can't remember a year with so many impressive late-developing 3 y/o starters, as you noted, Steve. So, the preps continue...

07 Mar 2011 6:45 PM

Mr. Haskin,

my thoughts exactly, Nacho Saint is a horse worth watching next out. He should improve off that effort.

07 Mar 2011 6:54 PM

Not surprisingly the sons of Bernardini, like their sire are emerging too late for the Kentucky Derby.  What's new here Steve?

07 Mar 2011 7:33 PM

Steve, when you point out all that Stay Thirsty had to overcome I guess it wasn't too bad.  I saw that lugging in.  He got it done, though, I'll give him that much.  I don't see the maturity level of a Soldat though.  Soldat seemed to have more of a focus and a purpose to him.  

Dialed In, not overly impressive either.  Someone wrote that Zito did an old school move by running him with 4 yr. olds.  But the slow pace, looked like another workout.

Hope he got enough out of it for the Florida Derby.  Looks like another example of a lag in momentum, or better yet too much space between race momentum, which I hope the Timely Writer does not show us too with Mo.

07 Mar 2011 7:59 PM

How bout Wilburn!  I remember reading an article last year with times of some 2 year olds and a brief description.  Ill  never forget Wilburns.  It said " worked like a racehorse not a young 2 year old"  He had some 47 and 48 half miles.  Well when I saw he was entered i decided to load up.  Was a little worried about the fav being that they were maidens but WOW!  and he paid $9. I coulndt believe it.  He will be a star! And what a name  HAA!

07 Mar 2011 8:02 PM

Thank you, Steve, for another great article to help decipher the meaning of some of the races I was able to watch this weekend.  I'm not commenting much lately because I'm still unsure of most of the horses and I'm usually wrong in my assessments - lol!  I guess I just don't have the eye for it, but I did think that Stay Thirsty, even though he made a few green quirky mistakes, at least appeared to be doing it with ease - he didn't seem to be laboring at all.  Mike Repole is so much fun to watch and I think he is going to be a treasure as an owner in that he understands how some fans want to get to know more about the horse.  I was disappointed in Dialed In, but I will keep hoping he can improve off the distance of the race at least.  Once more, thank you for a great article!

07 Mar 2011 8:30 PM

i know that you don't normally write about eh 3yr old fillies now, but did you catch the daughter of azeri, arienza breaking her maiden at 6furlongs against older horses nonetheless on sunday?

07 Mar 2011 8:50 PM
Norman Asbjornson

Why doesn't anyone give credit where it is due. Norman Asbjornson ran a heck of a race being 47-1, he easily bested Nacho Saint and Tobys corner for the show with great courage. The works prior to race where superb. He worked a slow mile in 1:48 and then two superb works, A mile in 1:42 Breezing and 1:00.60 Breezing 5/8. How many trainers actually put miles work into horses these days? None

His breeding, Real Quiet out of Citidancer Mare. His breeding isn't flashy, but it's very effective going the distance. Watch out for him in the Wood, his performances look to be on the up.

07 Mar 2011 8:55 PM
Paula Higgins

Mike Repole is easy to love. A nice guy who loves and defends his horses. As he said about himself, a fan first. ITA with everything you said Steve. These horses are still developing/maturing. Nothing is a done deal yet. Will be really hoping for something special with Uncle Mo this weekend.

07 Mar 2011 9:52 PM

This horse is seriously going to be a factor on Derby Day.I just love the pedigree; Bernardini on the top and a Storm Bird mare on the bottom. Thirsty just needs to turn into a man. I think he could be an Alysheba; Sheba didn't really mature until four years of age according to Chris. I hope he heads to Santa Anita or New Mexico. I'd love to see him take on Fusa Code and Sway Away. Both are a little green with tons of potential like Thirsty.Overall I believe Stay Thirsty and Gourmet Dinner(man he's like Silver Charm! What a FIGHTER!) are the ones to watch.

07 Mar 2011 9:53 PM


You have got to stop making excuses for the horses in your dozen that no have chance to win the derby. You have done it for a number of the extremely slow colts comprising your dozen. Stay Thirsty is an average colt at best and the only thing he has going for him is the fact that five son of Northern Dancer have sired derby winning broodmares and Storm Bird his dam sire happens to be one of them.  I bought Giacomo in the derby because I saw something that most did not see.  He did not have a lot of early speed and consequently had to be nudged along in most of his races to keep pace with some very fastest 3YO in the CA. In spite of being used early, he still had enough stamina to close on the runaway leaders. I figures that 10F would allow him to use his major asset i.e., stamina.

Stay Thirsty got beat by 14 ½L in the Breeder Cup Juvenile. I projected his finishing time to be about 1:45 plus based on Uncle Mo’s winning time. He came back in his 3YO debut and ran 1:44.78. This does not represent a significantly faster time than his projected loosing time in the BCJ. His time represent the slowest for the Gotham in the last five years. How do you justify dedicating the major part of you piece to a colt that ran 1:44 plus and projected 1:45 plus in his two attempts at 8.5F? You are trying to defend the indefensible. I recognized long ago that he was average. What did I used to arrive at this conclusion? Well he finished only 31/2L ahead of Riveting Reason a 57-1 out of place maiden that led the BCJ for 6F and was spinning his wheels thereafter. You would not mention Riveting Reason who has since ran 1:35.05 for 8F and 1:48.63 for 9F but you defend the very slow Stay Thirsty. Do you really believe Stay Thirsty has any chance of finishing ahead of Riveting Reason should both make the derby field? I note you have elevated him to #3 in your derby dozen off the slowest Gotham in the last five years. How can he be ranked ahead of Jaycito who bolted in the BCJ and finished only 3 1/2L behind him?  The record reflects that Jaycito and Uncle Mo are the only GI winners in your dozen. In spite of this he is ranked 8th and several slow Gll & Glll winners are ranked above him. It cannot be based on the fact that he has not made a 2011 start. Uncle Mo has not and he is holding firm at #1

I do not mean to be critical but something seems wrong with your final analysis.

07 Mar 2011 11:53 PM


Did you see the 47-1 runner up in the Gotham? Toby's Corner was joint 12th in Mr. Haskin's Derby Dozen going into the Gotham. He could not pass the runner up in spite of an incident close home that caused him to lose his rhythm. The runner up was in the pace all the way and found extra to hold off all except Stay Thirsty and you are interested in watching those behind him. He is son of a Derby and Preakness winner who was also champion 3YO. Enough said

08 Mar 2011 12:01 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


   I like him. In fact I had him on my top twelve Derby list until they said they were pointing for the Preakness and not The Derby. Break Up The Game is another really good one. He was on my Derby list months ago but he got behind. I suspect Preakness for him too but it's still too early to rule him out of The Derby.

08 Mar 2011 12:56 AM
the illum

I will not rehash my take on STs gotham win.I will just sumarize my viewing of the race to state that he is still too green, and I believe he is a router but will develop later than the derby.As far as your rankings, Mr Haskin I am in accord with the top until proven otherwise and I dont agree with the exact placement of your other dozen,but I give higher ratings to horses that have already run as 3yos and have won graded stakes.As a colt matures from 2 to 3 he gains weight and some of them will not be able to carry that added weight as effiently as they did when they were lighter.As far as jaysito until he runs in my mind just because he won 1 grade 1 he was no mo last year and he has to prove that the grade 1 that he won was not because of favorable circumstances.

08 Mar 2011 2:09 AM
Jack Carter

im not at all disappointed with dialed in's performace on sunday. what did everyone expect in a race like that with no pace??? i realize its early,but this years derby is shaping up to be full of speed,and i have yet to see a 3 yr old this year who can rocket home with the same power and determination as dialed in. this horse is only going to get better,and should be peaking when it comes time to run for the roses. cuz we all know,its not about what you do on the first sunday in march,its about showing up on the first saturday in may.

08 Mar 2011 2:44 AM
Zenyatta John

Norman - if you really were Norman, you'd know your pointing to the Illinois Derby - not the Wood. He's currently afraid of Uncle Mo, just like Toby's Corner who is also going to the Illinois Derby.

What a silly observation regarding Bernadini - "he developed to slow to make the Derby - no surprise he sires late developing horses."

Bernardini was the most impressive three year old training at Gulfstream that winter and if it wasn't for the ultra-conservative trainer Tom Albertrani, Bernardini would have been in the Derby. Not saying he would have beaten Barbaro, but with any other trainer, he'd have run in the Derby.

08 Mar 2011 7:18 AM


Thanks for another insighful article.  I look forward to your take on these emerging three year olds.  I'll be at the Tampa Bay Derby Saturday to see if Brethren can continue his march toward Louisville.

Looking forward to Uncle Mo's walkover.  It won't tell us much about him.  I hope he comes out of it OK.

Any calls yet from NBC to do analysis for the Triple Crown?

Thanks again.

08 Mar 2011 7:26 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


  Did you have Giacomo number one on your Derby list on March 7th 2005? Congratulations if you did. Can you tell me how many Grade One races have been run for 3yo on the Derby trail so far? How can everyone on the list be a Grade One winner? If it's not impossible it's very close. And where's your list? I'm dying to see all of these Grade One winners that are going to win The Derby. Don't Stay Thirsty, have a drink, make it a double, and post your list.

08 Mar 2011 7:56 AM
Rolly Hoyt

In case your faith is shaken by Dialed In's loss, there is a colt out there with impeccable breeding (Distorted Humor out of a stakes winning Seattle Slew mare) who DID race in a written-for-him five-horse allowance with older horses AND WON impressively.

Both are trained by conditioners with equal numbers of Derby wins in the last 15 years (zero). Both beat an equal number of consensus members of various Derby Top-10 Lists (One).

If ALTERNATION was racing on either coast, he would be top-5 in every list...and you wouldn't be making excuses for him two weeks ahead of his next major test.

Pick your head up and check out the 3-year-olds at Oaklawn.

08 Mar 2011 9:22 AM
Steve Haskin

Rolly, apparently you didnt read my column when I touted Alternation as a horse to watch before he even ran at Oaklawn, based on his Remington races.

08 Mar 2011 9:46 AM

One reason to have more preps is to reduce the greenness and refine the greatness.  I just wish we had more of them to focus in on our stars.  I thought Stay Thirsty did well, though being quite green. I commend Mike Repole for being outspoken about the colt's efforts.   I'll allow for the bounce by Dialed often does a 3 year old face off against older horses this early in the year?  I thought he still finished nicely....and apparently he needed the test. Wilburn was awesome, and I can't wait to see more.  I hope he gets into some major preps to up his earnings; he seems to have a lot of potential.

And if the AP Indy/Bernardini line seems to dominate, perhaps it's because so many of their progeny are in contention for a Derby run.  It appears that when a Bernardini runs...he wins.  That's not too shabby in my book.  

There's too much emphasis on the times in the preps.  These are PREPS....not the big dance.  On the first Saturday in May, we'll see who is up for the tango, and who peaked much too early to last the chord.  Perhaps so few preps speak to a bigger problem...every one is training for the KD, and no one is even contemplating the TC. What a shame to think trainers have given up on Triple Crown dominance.  This fan is not happy with the prospect.

Happy Mardi Gras!  

08 Mar 2011 9:55 AM
Billy's Empire

Rolly, I am anxiously waiting Alternation's race. He will have plenty of pace to run at, has a huge powerful stride, and great breeding. Elite Alex and Alternation just put in very nice works, coming from several legnths back to blow by their work partners. I will be watching that race from the beach on Kiawah Island....

08 Mar 2011 10:41 AM

Alternation? you have got to be joking he won a allowance 40k non winners of 3 life lol wow thats impressive..and for stay thirsty go ahead let mike take him south and run him in the florida derby, because when dialed in goes back to his own running style he will blow by stay thirsty like hes tied to the post.. did you know dialed in was taken out of his game and even in a lousy prep that he barely tried he still earned a 98 figure... dialed in will be 3rd time back in the florida derby and thats all i need to know...i hope churchill puts him out there in pool 2 this week at 15-1.......i will have to go get a side loan from fifth third!!

08 Mar 2011 10:44 AM

Does anyone remember Devil's Bag and the 'second stringer' Swale?

08 Mar 2011 10:49 AM
Kyle S.


Thanks for your continued insight along the derby trail.  It looks like some people on here take one man's opinion a littlt too seriously.  I was wondering what your thoughts are on the Juddmonte homebred, Striding Ahead, trained by Mott.  He looked ultra impressive in breaking his maiden at Tampa, and now it looks like he might show up this weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby.  If he does, I think he could be a huge threat to Brethren.  Thanks for your time.

08 Mar 2011 11:05 AM
Ole' Budweiser Bob

Steve everyone seems to forget that back in 1997 we had a very similar situation to one we are seeing with Uncle Mo and Stay Thristy.  Bob Baffert came to Louisville the first Saturday in May 1997 with 2 very storng chances to win the Derby.  Indian Charlie (ironically the sire of Uncle Mo) and Real Quiet.  All the press going into Derby week that year was on Indian Charlie and how winning the Derby was almost a foregone conclusion for him.  Remember he won the Santa Anita Derby that year in his final prep geared down the final eighth and still drew away.  Everyone forgot about Real Quiet.  A headbob and three triple crown races later, Real Quiet was alomst the first Triple Crown winner in 20 years at the time.  I guess that is why they race them. Maybe we see the same thing this year?

08 Mar 2011 11:40 AM
Linda in Texas

Every time i find a new Haskin Article, i just get mesmerized by the words and work my way through with the different scenarios being depicted. So much to decipher as each comment usually forces one to THINK. That is what our brains are for.

New names of possible great horses keep popping up so back to  researching i go.

The old 'Dance with the one who brung ya' saying and Mike Repole and his Rootn' Tootn' Rousters sure are. Love it.

I hope Mike Repole relishes this year like no other. Here he has been buying and raising and racing horses and all in one year he comes to the races with 3 really exceptional thoroughbreds. Mike's enthusiasm is contagious and his horses must have been inoculated with it to be doing so well, as have many many of us, also.

Thanks for a great article, Steve,

it was like listening to your mind think and work out loud!

And your mention of Giacomo, to me he was a scrappy KD winner. I think he just was tired of losing and picked a big one to get attitudinal with his win that year!

He didn't know it was a big special race. His, Smarty's and MTB's have to be on my list of horses not expected to win and did.

The underdogs and i cheered them on. My specialty.

As for Uncle Mo, i looked up Timely Writer, and his story is  worth remembering.

If you GOOGLE Timely Writer, scroll to Story of A Champion, article written by Hank Nuwer. Well worth the read. And now i don't care if there are just 3 horses in that race. The Champion Timely Writer will be mentioned and perhaps remembered all over again. And that is a good thing.

Thanks Steve.

08 Mar 2011 11:59 AM
Fran Loszynski

Mr. Repole, I'm proud of you. You like so many owners that love their racehorses will munch on a carrott with your "pal" before he goes to bed at night or before a big race. Unfortunately some horses are publicized in a second or third category but you know in your heart where your racehorse stands, he's #1 with you.

Prep races give horses and their jockeys an insight of how they are going to react to one another and even that can change on the day of a race, it's basically "that day", that weather, that hole a jockey finds in the race, and if the horse has a headache or not. I had to add a little humor but it is true! People might read this and say but you're only a fan-yes but I don't need to break my leg to know it hurts.  

08 Mar 2011 1:07 PM

Silly Billy-  I think you meant "from the local Tiki Bar". LOL,no really I'm LOL.

08 Mar 2011 2:41 PM

Why am I thinking Repole et al are just the current version of IEHAH or whatever they were? Here and loud today, bye bye tomorrow.  

08 Mar 2011 6:11 PM

I really think if your horse runs in Kentucky Derby he is a throw out for betting the rest of his time racing. It's been almost 3 years since a Derby winner has won a race.

The Kentucky Derby is way overrated with the way the greedy breeders have breed for the quick buck. No way you can get 5 starts out of a Derby winner after the race. Kelso,Buckpasser and Dr. Fager all skipped the Derby and those kind of great race horses were taken away from us by the greedy breeders.

08 Mar 2011 6:41 PM

Linda and Fran - thank you both.  Very well said.

08 Mar 2011 6:50 PM
Linda in Texas

John, Mike Repole bought his first horse in 2002 for $22,000. His name was Da Rodeo Man. Since then he has invested in 150 thoroughbred horses.

So he is hardly a new comer to the world of racing. And hopefully he will be around for a long time as a

goodwill ambassador for the sport and fulfill one of his innermost wishes in life and that is to win The Kentucky Derby and The TC. If he does, we will all enjoy the ride with him and his family.

When you are from Brooklyn you have to talk loud so people can hear you. His energy is contagious and i only speak up for him as my grandmother moved to Brooklyn from Des Moines, IA in the 40's. Brooklyn was good to her and she was safe there. And NYC, The Roxie Deli, policemen on horseback, bright lights and noise, and the egg rolls from the sidewalk Taki Outi place near The Marquis Hotel are all the best. I love New York!

John,I always wish everyone success in their life the same as i do you.

08 Mar 2011 7:27 PM

Buddy...Kelso was a gelding...won HOY 5 years straight.  What more do you want out of a horse?  I don't think he was taken away by ANY breeders, especially a "greedy" breeder.

08 Mar 2011 7:28 PM
ben walden, jr.

i wouldn't trade toby's corner for the winner of the gotham. toby's corner ran faster in the whirlaway than he did in the gotham. people are so quick to give up on the strapping big 3 yo by bellamy road including graham motion who appears to be opting for leaving ny for chicago's illinois derby...a real vote of confidence!  toby's corner was strangled headlong into a turtle's pace the first half mile in the gotham and  was very wide both turns, and in fact figured to "bounce" a little bit coming out his fast race. toby's corner is suited perfectly for the 1 1/8th wood memorial which was won by his sire. the colt was running at the end of the gotham as well. lastly,  it is a shame that this colt has done most everything right in his short career...won 3 of 4 lifetime and 3 in a row going in to gotham...and isn't entitled to being saddled by his trainer. i believe toby's corner will win a grade 1 race going two turns if given the chance...perhaps the only way he will gain public and stable respect.

08 Mar 2011 7:53 PM

Kelso was a gelding and I missed that. He was a great race horse and we don't have them anymore on account of the greedy breeders. Also the Derby Winner hasn't won a race in almost three years can you tell me why that's good.

08 Mar 2011 8:38 PM
Linda in Texas

Buddy, if you truly love the sport of Thoroughbred Horse Racing, and would really like a taste of it. I mean a really gooooooood taste of it.

How bout some of the greedy breeders and owners sending you some of their feed bills, shoeing bills, tack bills, vet bills, tax bills, groomer and manager bills, walker bills, stall bills, jockey fees,Transport Bills, entry fees, and last but not least, Trainers. And

not to forget what these great big beautiful dumplings cost at the sales!

We are lucky there are people, owners, not greedy breeders all,who spend their money so we the public can share in anything they get in return for their expenditures.

I say a Huge Thank You to All Owners.

Times have been a bit tough Buddy,

if some breeders need to cover the costs of their upkeep, then they do what they have to do. That opens the doors for new horses to come in and take their places.

I don't mean to sound like Miss Goody Two Shoes, but i owned horses, plain simple pleasure horses, 5 of them all at the same time for many years back in the 50's and 60's. Times have changed and so has the cost of upkeep of all horses.Especially high strung Thoroughbreds.

I hope you find something good in the sport of horse racing otherwise i would suggest another sport to bet on. And i am being very sincere.

Thanks txhorsefan,you would have said the same thing.I always enjoy your posts.

08 Mar 2011 8:39 PM

Mr. Walden,

Get Lucky 2010 broodmare of the year?

08 Mar 2011 8:43 PM
Linda in Texas

ben walden,jr.- what a nice post you wrote about Toby's Corner. I like this horse, his name makes me want to know him and his record of winning 3 or 4 lifetime and 3 in a row going into the Gotham is not too shabby.

And i also like the strapping big ones. Let's hope someone else realizes his potential and i will not give up on him. He obviously has your respect and i will join you.

08 Mar 2011 9:37 PM

Dr Drunkinbum,

The Derby trail does not start on the 1st of January. It normally starts during the 2YO season. Uncle Mo emerged as the winter book derby favorite because he won two G1 races impressively as a 2YO.

“Can you tell me how many Grade One races have been run for 3yo on the Derby trail so far?”

None! However, many on Steve’s list had 2YO careers and were not considered good enough to entered in 2YO G1 races. When a colt breaks his maiden in a G1 race he should be given the respect that such a feat deserves. Jaycito and Uncle Mo are the only Gl winners in the dozen that stated as 2YOs.

“How can everyone on the list be a Grade One winner?”

I am struggling to provide an informed answer as I am having difficulties with the relevance of the question. I have revisited my post and cannot find any portion that implies that I expected ever member of the list to have G1 winning status. However, one must acknowledge that two of twelve is low.

“If it's not impossible it's very close”

Again I am not sure what the above is communication. There is a group in Steve’s list that is indeed very close. They are all slow by derby standard and are there because of their graded earnings. They will be closer to the back of the derby field.

“And where's your list?”

You evidently missed my posting with my top eight and those on watch. Itcan be found in the previous Derby Dozen.

“ Don't Stay Thirsty, have a drink”

I always relish a drink or two but I cannot consume what Stay thirsty has to offer as I respect my liver. In all seriousness, Stay Thirsty is not fast enough to win the derby and his two 8.5F races clearly support my conclusion. If he can barely beat one colt that is tired and back pedaling and another that has bolted, how can you want me to take a drink of what he has to offer? If you really want to have a good drink, take some of what Riveting Reason has to offer. He has more foundation and speed and at this point is the colt most likely to win the derby. He a falls into the triple positive category on the derby chart.

08 Mar 2011 10:17 PM


“There's too much emphasis on the times in the preps.  These are PREPS....not the big dance”

A lot of posters seem very dismissive of times recorded in derby preps. You are amongst this group and as a knowledgeable thoroughbred enthusiast I find this disturbing. The last four derby winners exhibited exceptional speed at some point preceding their respective derbies. Super Saver won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in the fastest time for the distance of 8.5F. The KJC has been contested at 8.5F 22 times. Mine That Bird was the Canadian champion 2YO based on winning 4 stakes/graded races. He worked a fluent, fast time 10F that Steve commented on in one of his daily reports from CD. Big Brown won an allowance race in 1:35 plus in hand. Street Sense won the Tampa Bay Derby in a NTR.  These colts all exhibited exceptional speed that set them apart from the rest. The times in the most recent major preps suggest that the winners have not set themselves apart from the rest. The times are mostly slower or marginally faster than 2010. Of course the CA horses are running much faster even with adjusted time for the speediness of the SA strip. Soldat, MMM, Stay Thirst, Santiva, Astrology and the rest are slow horses by derby standards and thats a cold fact. Uncle Mo, Jaycito and Dialed In are far superior to the rest in the speed department.

All of the derby starters will carry126LBS for the first time and most will be required to run faster over a longer distance than they have in the past. Those who do not have derby speed can stay home. Speed can be produced on the lead and sustained or at the closing stage of the race. Those who are accustom to 24, 49, 1:13 will not suddenly graduate to a derby pace of 22, 46. 1:11 as they will be cooked going that fast. Yes sir, time reflect how fast these colts can run and is a very important means of measuring their respective chances.

08 Mar 2011 10:31 PM

Buddy- Buckpasser had a quarter crack and was sidelined until the day of the Belmont. Dr Fager was not ready for 10 furlongs that early in his career.  But Affirmed, Seattle Slew, Damascus, Spectacular Bid, Riva Ridge and many others that I am not mentioning all raced more than 5 times after the Derby.  It truly just depends on the horse.  As far as being taken away by breeders, Buckpasser started 31 times in his career which spanned 3 years.  Dr Fager, Damascus, Riva Ridge, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, Seattle Slew all raced through their 4 yr old year.  Breeders didn't whisk them away.  They completed their three seasons as many did before they went to stud back then.  31 races by a top horse is almost unheard of now.

09 Mar 2011 12:03 AM
Steve Haskin

Ben, I agree what you said about Graham Motion. When I spoke to him about Toby's Corner after the Whirlaway, looking for some encouraging comments, he seemed less than enthused and a bit surprised he accomplished as much as he had. I certainly think he deserves another chance. I was really taken by him in the paddock. I had loved him watching the replays of his races, but I didnt realize he was such a grand, stately looking colt until I saw him in the flesh. I wish he would have had more of an impact on the finish, and would love to see him rebound.

09 Mar 2011 3:14 AM
Derby Dew


Your insights into these TC preps are priceless.  As a big Dialed In fan, I'm glad he got that 1 1/8th race under his belt.  Zito should have him just right (without squeezing the lemon) for the Florida Derby.  Win or lose, he should be well primed for a big effort in the Run for the Roses.  If he's 10-1 or more in Derby Pool #2, then I'm all over him.

The Rebel Stakes is shaping up to be one of the more interesting prep races to date.  I'm looking to see Elite Alex move forward and also anxious to see what Alternation brings to the table.

The pace on the Road to the Roses is really starting to pick up.

Steve, your writing on the Derby Trail really spices up these preps and gives us Derby junkies a lot to digest.  Thank you.

09 Mar 2011 6:42 AM
Zenyatta John

Please -

There is NO comparison between Mike Repole and IEAH.

Mike Repole is a respected business man who made Billions because of his desire to do so.

Now IEAH are suing each other because their empire is crumbling. They even CLOSED the Equine Hospital they opened ' because it's slow'. How do you open a animal hospital and complain it's slow?  It's supposed to be about the horse, not the profit for vet bills.

I don't know Mike Repole , but I do respect him.

09 Mar 2011 8:27 AM

Don't want to ask a dumb question, but do some horses just instinctively know how/when to change leads and others don't and keep jumping back and forth?  I didn't know this was something that any horse ever really had to be taught.  Could it indicate a physical problem?  

09 Mar 2011 8:49 AM

Coldfacts- I know that your thing is history and statistics, but you can't compare this year's preps to past year's preps.  These horses aren't running against past Derby winners.  Let's see if some that are running  on or near the pace now rate and close when they get a faster pace in their final preps.  Then we can talk about whether they will be cooked or not.

09 Mar 2011 9:25 AM

Buddy- it does bother me that the Derby winners haven't gone on to win after the TC.  It probably isn't unheard of, but it is troubling to me.  I think our thoroughbred as a whole in the US is bred for 7-9 furlongs.  It is a demand on such horses to ask them to run 10 furlongs in early May.  When you have to pinpoint stamina influences in their pedigrees that go back 4 generations, it is a stretch to think that the stamina from that horse is going to be enough to call a horse bred for 10 furlongs.  I like that there are a more with turf stamina influences, and I feel breeders have realized that there needs to be more stamina introduced into the breed, but it does take time and won't happen overnight.  When people analyze a horses pedigree, I always hear mention that his sire could go 10 furlongs so his offspring will too.  But it doesn't work that way.  You have to see what the sires offspring do on the average, not what the sire did.  The classic example is the horse Apalachee.  He was a son of Round Table and stoutly bred.   But he turned out to be a sprinter in Europe and a Chef-de-Race classification as a brilliant/intermediate rank, meaning he passed on speed to his offspring.  So it didn't matter that he was stoutly bred because that is not the trait that he was passing on.  Many sprinters in Europe have, through smart breeding, sired horse who have won regularly at 10 furlongs.  If you look at a dosage diagram, which I look at usually to see how balanced a horses pedigree is, you find an inordinate amount of horses bred in the US that have no stamina wing points whatsoever.  To me that is disturbing, because stamina wing points tends to give a horse stoutness and durability, more so than speed influences.  Anyway, thanks for suffering through my long-winded post, but the lack of recognized stamina influences in US breeding is one of my pet peeves, as well as allowing meds on raceday.  Sorry to be so long-winded.

09 Mar 2011 9:44 AM

Mike Repole is loud and annoying. It seems like he wants the spotlight too badly,  and not just for his horses but for himself.

09 Mar 2011 2:36 PM


09 Mar 2011 6:02 PM
Forbidden Apple


I could not agree with you more. I would call him the Mark Cuban of horse racing.

10 Mar 2011 9:06 AM

Coldfacts...ok...Derby winners Derby winners Super Saver and MTB...uhhh...exactly how many races did they win ...after the Derby?  I want to see a great TC winner, not a solo act who barely manages to get around the track post-derby.  Can you say...peaked too early?  

Exception...Big Brown...purely and simply...he was a champion.  The times still didn't matter.  He was always going to win his races....his stumbling block just may have been his own jockey....or a dislodged shoe...who knows.  

I said it before, and I'll say it again...the times in the PREPS are not as important as the way the horses handled the courses and a more competitive field (something we don't really know because they're all avoiding each other.)

10 Mar 2011 9:40 AM
cuban chef de race

in my opinion mineshaft has better pedigree than bernardini and with the right mare has a better chance to sire a derby winner then him but i will say this for the second time miss do little and gran dam eliza by mt livermoore is not the right mix to be really effective in a race like the Kentucky derby,i do visualize a problem at the end with this nick.  

10 Mar 2011 10:56 PM
cuban chef de race

soldat's jokey alan garcia don't have much experience in the derby his first mount was in 2009 and that is one of the reason why some jockeys have won the derby 2 or 3 times including borrel,so it is a factor to know the right moves to be effective on derby day.  

10 Mar 2011 11:15 PM
cuban chef de race

i don't see a problem with uncle mo in the this gulf stream race but in the wood or the derby,i just don't like the mystery about his preparation for a race like the derby.

10 Mar 2011 11:40 PM
cuban chef de race

for me,stay thirsty is over match,gourmet dinner is a quality dude but can go not farther,soldat is nice but need to see a fast pace going 10 then who can beat him ?do not fallow instructions because is better to be prepare then suffer,the beauty of this race is understand what can happen and not to lose.  

11 Mar 2011 10:47 PM
cuban chef de race

i am not a scientific horse player i lose very often but when we are talking derby you better listen to me,a. cross,astrology,coma to the top,gourmet dinner,j.p.gusto,jaycito,machen,mucho macho men,,santiva,stay thirsty,etc for me they has not chance,to win.

11 Mar 2011 10:59 PM
cuban chef de race

in my opinion j.velasquez did not make to honor and serve run better then he was suppose to but may be he wants to satisfied his mentor desires.just an observation.  

11 Mar 2011 11:17 PM

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