Ky. Derby Trail: Fallen Arches

So, at this late date, are there any proven horses left who did not make the third and final Future Wager field despite looking like legitimate Kentucky Derby contenders.

In one instance the answer is yes yes yes. As anyone can tell from our persistence with Astrology and Elite Alex, both of whom are in the field, we are always looking for a forgotten, maligned, or overlooked horse who has shown enough potential that he just might be laying in wait, ready to rip everyone’s Future Wager tickets to shreds.

The question in this case is: can a horse whose name sounds like a seal barking sneak past the Derby gods, who frown upon placing nonsensical, hard-on-the-tongue names up there with the likes of Citation, Majestic Prince, Assault, and Alysheba. On a rare occasion you’ll get a Lil E. Tee or even a seven-syllable exotic name like Fusaichi Pegasus. But if Archarcharch wins this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) it means the Derby gods finally have developed a sense of humor or they just don’t give a darn anymore after seeing “Presented by Yum! Brands” added to the name of their sacred event.

If Archarcharch had been in this final pool, he would have been extremely enticing at a monster price. Heck, he was 50-1 in the second pool after winning the Southwest Stakes (gr. III), so imagine what he would have been after finishing third, beaten 6 1/2 lengths, in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II). We’ll never know, as he was cut from the 23-horse field to make way for seven new entries, as well as one horse whose trainer stated the very day the list was announced that his horse “is not going to the Kentucky Derby.” So, good luck getting any money bet on that horse.

The point of all this is not to knock the selection committee, just to say, don’t be shocked if Archarcharch runs a huge race in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) and again on the first Saturday in May. Here are the reasons why:

1—Despite being bred for stamina (He is by Arch, out of a Woodman mare, and his female family has names like Nureyev, Buckpasser, and Forli), he managed to win the six-furlong Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds in a sprightly 1:10 3/5 in only his second career start and while still a maiden, earning an excellent 88 Beyer figure.

2—He emerged from the one-mile Smarty Jones Stakes with a minor injury, but bounced back to win the Southwest Stakes at 14-1. Unlike the Smarty Jones, when he got keyed up early and battled head and head on the lead before tiring, he relaxed beautifully off the pace. As they turned for home in the 11-horse field, there were six horses across the track, with him smack in the middle. Then in the blink of an eye he was three lengths clear of the field, while still on his left lead. That is the kind of quick acceleration you want to see in a Derby horse.

Jockey Jon Court hit him several times right-handed, but he still was stuck on his left lead. Court then stopped hitting him for several strides and when he reached back and gave him another right-handed whip inside the sixteenth pole, Archarcharch finally switched leads, threw his ears straight up, and drifted noticeably to the inside, causing J P’s Gusto to steady, but it was only a few yards from the wire and the race was already decided. We loved the way he was striding out and covering ground after switching leads. This was a big step forward for him. His Beyer, which had plummeted to a 63 in the Smarty Jones, jumped back to an 88.

3—The Rebel Stakes was the race that knocked him out of the Future Wager field, but it actually was an excellent effort considering all he went through. He had the misfortune of breaking from the rail directly inside Alternation, who flipped out in the gate, fell over on his back, and was thrashing about on the ground.

“That horse got turned upside down and was kicking Archarch all over his legs,” trainer Jinks Fires said. “My horse got some scratches and some hair knocked off and was a little sore for a few days after the race. The vet at the gate backed him out and took a look at him and said he was alright. If I had been down there I probably would have scratched him, but I’m glad the vet made the right decision.

“He said when they backed him out he was shaking all over. That got him all stirred up coming out of the gate and he wasn’t able to relax the way he did the race before. I was happy to see him run as well as he did. After the race we hosed his legs every day and he worked great on Tuesday. I got him five furlongs in 1:00 1/5, galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 and change.”

Fires said they’ve turned down two offers for the horse – one after the Southwest and another after the Rebel. “We turned down a lot of money for him; that’s how good we think he is,” Fires said.

4—In the Rebel, he ducked to the inside at the start. Then, down the backstretch, sitting right behind The Factor’s strong pace, he suddenly veered to his left and almost hit the rail. After turning into the stretch, he nearly scraped the rail and Court had to hit him left-handed. He kept digging in even after The Factor began opening up, and fought back when passed by the rallying Caleb’s Posse to be beaten a neck for second.

5--In the Brisnet speed figures, despite his travails in the Rebel, he established a new career high early pace figure, new career high middle pace figure, and new career high overall speed figure. His closing pace figure was higher than in his Southwest victory. So it looks as though there is still more improvement expected.

6—Perhaps the Derby gods are accepting the horse’s name because they have big things planned for veteran rider Jon Court, who certainly has paid his dues and arguably has had more bad luck just getting a mount in the Derby than any rider in the country. The 50-year-old Court has ridden over 3,000 winners, but has never had a mount in the Derby, coming close on several occasions. He also happens to be Jinks Fires’ son-in-law, so there is a good story in the making.

Although there will be the skeptics who say he has no shot in the Derby, he still is an intriguing longshot with a number of compelling angles. Part of the fun of the Derby trail is trying to come up with these kinds of horses who are on an upward cycle and might be ready to raise their game to a new level. Archarcharch to us looks like one of them.

Looking ahead

Sunday’s Florida Derby looks to be the toughest prep yet by far. Entries won’t be drawn until Thursday, but although this will be an extremely difficult task, we can’t wait to see how one of our early favorites, Bowman’s Causeway, fares against these horses. Although he’s probably not fast enough on numbers to threaten the top choices, we still believe with the right trip and a contentious pace he could run a much better race than people think. We’ll see.


Leave a Comment:


Well it'd sure be nice to see Jon Court go to the Derby after last year's  Line of David dust up....(that worked out well for them, huh?)

30 Mar 2011 9:07 PM

I'm with you on Bowman's Causeway. He's on my watch list after running deceptively well in the Fountain Of Youth. I also thought he looked really good physically and body language-wise (is that a word?) before the race. I'll bet him with the logical contenders in the exotics if the price is right.

30 Mar 2011 10:37 PM

I always liked Archarcharch, if nothing else for his sire, but I think his owners may have been tempting fate by naming him like that. It's bad voodoo saying Macbeth three times before the play, so I wonder what lies in store for this one. (Not that I'm particularly superstitious!)

30 Mar 2011 11:15 PM
needler in Virginia

I'm a HUGE fan of Jon Court and have enormous respect for this talent, consistency and courage. I LOVE that he's just a teeny bit away from having his Big Horse on the Big Day. And don't sneer, folks........ after all, who was Mine That Bird until Derby Day???

Cheers and the safest of trips to Arch cubed and Mr Court.

30 Mar 2011 11:47 PM
Matthew W

I was all over Archarcharch in the Rebel--thanks for the heads up on his troubles--I'll keep him in my short list of horses I'll be playing--as of now I like the "big two"--Uncle Mo/Premier Pegasus--then Jaycito and Archarcharch--I'd love to see Borel get a leg up on Jaycito! As for Archarcharch, I saw him re-rally behind The Factor, who freaked--The Factor is what makes this Derby so intriguing--if he's in the starting gate, that compromises Uncle Mo, in my opinion--fast horses up front compromise stalkers, and they help the closers...

31 Mar 2011 12:01 AM
Blame Was Robbed

Normally I can't stand the post-race excuses, but it seems like Archarhcharch had some legitimate ones.  He also carried 5 pounds more than The Factor; not a 6 length difference, but it couldn't have helped.  The 92 Beyer stacks up well with some pretenders on the trail.  

Elite Alex a nice colt but he really seems overrated to me, as does Jaycito.  If The Factor is pushed it could set up nicely for ArchX3 in the Ark Derby at 10-1 or better.  Redemption time.

Great columns, Steve.  Always a pleasure to read.  

31 Mar 2011 12:05 AM

It gets worse... Comma to the top isn't even pointing to the Ky Derby, so any money the horse takes in is totally wasted. If I can find this info on the net why can't Churchill find it out before they get the pool together??

31 Mar 2011 12:15 AM

The name just seems to jog my psyche.  I like it.  I have hope for Archarcharch.  He is a big boy and he just may prove your speculations to be valid I hopehopehope.

31 Mar 2011 2:40 AM

 Well, you alluded to it in your article. "BRED for stamina", thusly to GO LONGER! Yes, getting to the Derby is great publicity for any entrant, but re "Archx3" right now, I would be thinking "Preakness" or even "Belmont" and specifically begin preparing for such, and thusly see if I could make him competive against a tried and worn out Derby winner! There is certainly nothing wrong with putting such a win on one's resume with a win in either one those follow-up majors. And, I personally see no triple crown winner in this year's bunch (way to competitive and full of talent, especially with the top 5 thinking only about a Derby win and noone training for a crack at the triple crown (my perception) unless in fact the son of "WAR FRONT", "The Factor" can rate, recover from each race, and carry all that God given speed over the growing lengths of 3 tiring back to back to back grueling tests, (which I really don't suspect he can, yet where many others are saying "Mo" might? but not in my eyes, not with his training regime thus far, so no way!!! ) which I don't suspect will happen. Just my thought. So, I think, that with "Archx3";s present graded earnings also a factor, and as we may well see different winners emerge from each those different majors, instead of trying to rush him into the Derby just all for the sake of being an entrant, if i were in his camp I would suggest at this stage directing that he work on channeling his talent toward one of different major events to follow and not feel put off at all or in the slightest by having chosen such a route.

31 Mar 2011 3:54 AM

I really like Archarcharch, and have no problem with his name.  It's certainly beats names like Gourmet Dinner and Ice Box. Now...Pants On have to be a little crazy to like that name...and since I am...I do.  I like the way Archx3 has been stretching out more distance with every race.  I was in disbelief with his running in the Rebel, considering the pounding he took from Alternation in the gate.  I was rooting for them both.  10f does not seem to be too much for him to handle, and I can't wait to see more from this colt....he's beautiful.

31 Mar 2011 7:34 AM

With Comma To The Top skipping the derby per his connections, ArchArchArch is ranked # 20 in graded earnings. A 2nd or third in the Arkansas Derby maybe enough to warrant inclusion. I swung for the fences with Elite Alex and AAA in the 2nd Pool of the Futures and feel much better about AAA's chances of getting in based on Graded $$$.Thanks, Steve, for giving me hope, and good luck Jon Court!

31 Mar 2011 7:41 AM
Zenyatta John

The Florida Derby might be the 'best prep' yet - but there are only 5 horses confirmed. Dialed In, To Honor and Serve, Soldat, Bowman's Causeway, and Stay Thirsty.

It looks like To Honor and Serve's race to lose.

31 Mar 2011 7:59 AM

I agree with you , Willy.  Was it the Arkansas Derby John Court won on Line of David?  I hope Archarcharch makes it to the Derby this year because so far he's my favorite.

31 Mar 2011 8:31 AM
Fran Loszynski

You always give a racehorse his rightly due. What a great article Steve. I learn so much when I read what you write. It is always the horse we least expect that gives us an "AHHH!" at the end of the season. You know who I'm hoping for so I'll go on to say thank you bloodhorse also for the wonderful wonderful pics of Man O' War! If I had been a racehorse owner at that time and bought racehorses I would look at that fabulous rump and long stretch of body and owned Man O War! We had some great racehorses and some were little known also or looked over just as your article reads. If Elite Alex doesn't run, I may just go up to the window and try and say ArchArchArchArch, because of your article--too many archs I've got there I think.

31 Mar 2011 9:07 AM

Steve, I'm a huge fan of "The Factor", but if Archarcharch ended up winning the Derby I'd be just as happy! I agree that Jon Court has paid his dues and it would be great to see him make it to the Derby.......and even better to see him win it his first time out!!  Best of luck to Jon and Archarcharch!

31 Mar 2011 9:25 AM

Steve come on now archarcharch? You have got to be joking or you are just running out of material to write :)  he has about as much of a chance as elite alex does... the stock at oaklawn are very weak this year, the only horse out there that could rebound is sway away. It looks as if the factor will dominate the Arkansas derby and who ever runs 2nd will have enough money to clog up the field in the derby. Im not sold on pre peg yet either off that dream set up last out but I would like to see what he does in the santa anita derby.....I think the dark horse for me is jaycito and baffert should send him to new York against mo.. why not take your chances on a track that's no where near as fast as santa anita. Second time back off the shelf will be alot better effort.

31 Mar 2011 9:39 AM
Bill Daly

Interesting analysis. It goes to show you how luck plays a big part in the success or failure of a racehorse. If he had drawn outside of Alternation you probably would have written a very different analysis.  I think we may be looking at another Lil E Tee here...

31 Mar 2011 9:56 AM
Love 'em all

Can't stop laughing!  Having too much fun barking like a seal ...

"Arch Arch Arch".  That's perfect!

And I thought the title was funny!

Wish 'Triple A' much success ... and a whole lot more luck in the gate.  

31 Mar 2011 10:17 AM
Fran Loszynski

love 'em all-I'm sure the owners of Triple A have a sense of humor when we play with his name because after all I feel the best publicity for a racehorse is not only with races he wins but his name! I still love the name of the racehorse

"Betty Spaghetti" . Can't wait though to see a window full of fans playing the same horse-Arch---

or the crowd if he wins the Derby! Oh my gosh! See what you started Steve!

31 Mar 2011 12:02 PM

I could live with a horse named Archarcharch winning the Kentucky Derby.  However, if Pants On Fire wins I will keel over dead.  Surely the Derby Gods would not let a horse with such an awful name win.

31 Mar 2011 12:02 PM

Fortunately I don't believe in capricious Derby "gods", and have always loved Arch, so, absolutely, he can be listed right up there with anyone who has won the Derby if he wins!

31 Mar 2011 12:32 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

It could be worse, it could be bunionbunionbunion. Great article, but it's too bad you spilled the beans with this one. Awfully difficult to keep these good ones off of the radar to help with higher odds with your insight and articles. And maybe you can't fault the selection committee but I can. They've been absurd with horses they have put on and left off, and the list should be greatly expanded. There is no reason whatsoever to have so many on the "others" list year after year that are eligible to enter and win The Derby as if that is their goal to hope that an "other" will win The Derby. They should take a closer look at the Vegas futures and model them and take money away from Vegas, or maybe they have some kind of a deal. There is no one that I'd rather see win The Derby more than Jon Court so I'll be rooting for this one. Archarcharch is number seven on my Derby list, and I was hoping his last would fool a lot of people into believing he's not really that good but now it's been exposed !!! A win in the Arkansas Derby would not surprise me in the least especially if there is a little speed in there to press The Factor. I love everything about this horse, pedigree, the jockey and his family and all of the connections. This is a great story with Jon's history and leaving S. Cal, and the success he's had since. His fans would like to erase that memory of him losing the mount on Line Of David after winning the Arkansas Derby with him. That was absurd and disgusting. Good luck Jon, Archarcharch, and Mr. Fires. It would be a beautiful story if you could pull off a Derby win. The stuff that dreams are made of. It's easy to envision. Archarcharch ran very well in his debut at CD in a 7f, getting second despite steadying, and has the same Papa as Blame who loved CD. He should not only be in Pool 3, he should be in Pool 3 at 20-1 or less. Something very fishy about that selection committee. Brethren is on it and it would shock me if he beat Archarcharch in The Arkansas Derby. Shocking.

31 Mar 2011 12:40 PM

Hi Steve, I think ArchArchArch is a real good horse, and deserving of consideration. He's has a good mind, and is blessed with strength and determination. From the races I've seen him run so far, this appears tobe his greatest asset. While being rated he doesn't fight the  rider, he's been carried wide several times, and is game for a stretch dual. From the computer screen he's not showing me that he possess crazy speed. In his second race he ran comfortably for the first 1/2m. just off the pace with little restraint, took comand, and drew clear for the win. Unfortunately I couldn't see much of what happened in the Smarty Jones due to the fog. He then came back and beat a good field in the Southwest. I thought the overall time was a bit slow, the early pace however was good, he rated well, and ran evenly for the win.  He doesn't seem content running from behind the field, and it appeared he didn't want the lead in his second race. Which makes me wonder if it's possible that he's the type of horse that's ok with running just off the pace and winning by a few lengths, verses separating himself from the field. During the Rebel, Jon Court really had him wrapped up for the first five furlongs, and he still pulled himself through the frey. He used alot of energy doing that but fought on for a very close showing. It may have been different had he been possitioned farther out and given the chance to run to the lead with less resistance. There is alot of stamina reflected in his pedigree, and it would be nice to see what happens if he gets relaxed early on. I realize that's not likely to happen in the Derby, and I'm not trying to make excuses for him either, but I think there could be alot more horse there than we've seen so far.    

31 Mar 2011 1:10 PM

If we are playing the name angle. Mine That Bird and Giacomo were some of the worst.

31 Mar 2011 1:26 PM

Archarcharch is far from the worst name in this years crop.  I submit to you my choices for the five names the least deserving of going down in Derby history:

1) Pants on Fire

2) Mucho Macho Man

3) Sweet Ducky

4) Uncle Mo (sorry, great horse but horrific name!)

5) Oflee Wild Boys

(Honorable mentions to Comma to the Top, King Congie, and Animal Kingdom)

31 Mar 2011 2:12 PM
Zen's Auntie

Immediately after Watching the reble I thought it a great prep for Archcubed he is the right horse to move up. I like him for show int he KD and maybe better in the Belmont.  A3X gained a lot of depth in stamina and experince in the Reb. Jinx is no joke and neither is Court - I see a great season for these three.

Incidently I saw MMM was 30 to 1 in the last future book I would take him like that all day long.

Despite what folks might think, RIPPING off a shoe in the gate is serious.  Most TB's dont take a sound step without shoes well on and that kind of trauma to the hoof is very serious and MUCH more than a length in variation I contest.  

As Always, Thanks for the information Steve.

31 Mar 2011 2:28 PM

Well Needles is sure an odd name for a derby winner too. What's in a name?  At least it doesn't sound like a seal barking.  

It would be nice if they didn't have to say......Presented By YUM Brands.......YUK!!!!!!  Hate it.

Like many here I hope Jon Court has his day and gets a good run.  It's a nice story......the son in law jockey....

Mine That Bird did well up at Woodbine...for some reason didn't care for they synthetic at SA ( different synthetic than up at Woodbine)  nor the track at Sunland. I cashed a very nice ticket that day. After the Belmont, he simply said I have had enough!  No one listened and changed trainers to boot. Just cause he was a gelding doesn't mean he wants to keep running.

I have watched Archx3  since way back......hate the name, but he has potential. Glad others are watching him too.

Elite Alex was far the Bird in the derby...maybe Ritchie wanted a schooling race to see his potential and how fast he could close he was moving at the end for sure.  No, he doesn't have the graded earnings now. But maybe Ritchie wanted to see what he had for the Arkansas Derby.

With so many twists and turns with so many good colts it will be a very nice  field for sure upon who gets in with the earnings.

31 Mar 2011 2:49 PM
The Fish

You know what makes a name sound regal. #Winning...Duh.  In all seriousness How is Dr. Fager anymore ridiculous than Uncle Mo.  Yet Dr. Fager is revered for his on track accomplishments.    

Also, it's easy to say there won't be a triple crown winner, because the odds are always against it.  But there is a reasonable shot out there.  Uncle Mo is a legitimate threat to the crown.  

31 Mar 2011 4:03 PM
Junie Wise, Rocky Road Farm,Rineyville,Ky

The key for Bowmans Causeway will be if Gulfstrem is playing to "SPEED" Sunday....I think the Frenchmans Horse has a shot at a "BIG" price

31 Mar 2011 4:48 PM

Every year people say the horses at oaklawn are weak. What will it take for people to realize good horses race there do  good all over the country. The 3yo's there are not weak. They are good quality horses and don't be suprised when they run good in the triple crown races this year. As far as the one that got it right it's Oaklawn. Look at the purses, the quality of racing, and large crowds. When all the other tracks close, OP will be standing strong. I also don't expect to see Jaycito on my 2012 Derby glass.

31 Mar 2011 6:25 PM

And maybe you can't fault the selection committee but I can. They've been absurd with horses they have put on and left off, and the list should be greatly expanded. There is no reason whatsoever to have so many on the "others" list year after year that are eligible to enter and win The Derby as if that is their goal to hope that an "other" will win The Derby. Dr Drunkinbum 31 Mar 2011 12:40 PM

So well said, and also SO true! They seem to pick from each of their own top 10 to 20 derby horses, then maybe they take some kind of consensus to come to a  conclusion which horses make up the top 23 individual betting choices? There are some of the 23 betting interests that shouldn't be on pool #3 at all, and like Dr. D mentioned some from the all others maybe should be. Steve, you should be on the selection committee...

31 Mar 2011 6:31 PM
line of david

Willie,One day after you move out of your parent's basement and buy a Derby horse,you can choose any jockey you want.

31 Mar 2011 10:57 PM

If Seattle Slew hadn't won the Triple Crown, every one would think it's a "duh" name.  Perception is relative to the situation.  What if Ice Box passed Super Saver last year?  Doesn't Super Saver sound like a market?  As someone already noted, the fame is not in the name...but in the win.  And will Jon Court keep his mount when he's never had one in the Derby?  What if Borel doesn't have Elite Alex?  I really like Archx3, but I believe the Derby gods have a sense of very sarcastic humor, and would be tickled to allow Pants On Fire to cross the line first.  Of course, I'm hoping the real To Honor And Serve shows up for the Florida Derby, but Soldat will be the toughest competitor.

01 Apr 2011 7:59 AM

Those complaining about the name should just be thankful Jerry Seinfeld isn't the owner. Can you imagine the Derby announcer saying "..and at the wire it's YadaYadaYada"?

01 Apr 2011 10:34 AM
Love 'em all

Okay fellas, all together now ... let's cheer for Archarcharch!!!

That's quite a cheering gallery, huh?  I'm really liking his name; it's a fun name!  lol

01 Apr 2011 1:52 PM

AAA, are you kidding me!  This horse isn't close to The Factor, Dialed In, or Uncle Mo.  If this horse ran in the Fla Derby on Sunday he would be 60-1 and get beat by 25 lengths.  Sorry, you really missed this one.

01 Apr 2011 2:46 PM
Zen's Auntie

Incidently I think the Ax3 sounds more like Jimmy Durante... go ahead try it... you need one more Arch but it does fit... right?

01 Apr 2011 5:26 PM

Line of David  - just recounting history. The horse finished 18th.  No need to get nasty.

02 Apr 2011 8:57 AM
Fran Loszynski

Love 'em all and Zen's Auntie:

Oh to be a "window teller" for bets the day of the big race and he runs. Great video, now I was laughing hard. Thrilled to see Elite Alex is running in the Arkansas Derby -fingers crossed All Kidding aside to the owners of "A" you have a beautiful racehorse.

02 Apr 2011 6:19 PM

your prediction came true, he won the Arkansas!!! I love his bloodlines, and I love his half bro

Blame.  Go Archarcharch!!!!

16 Apr 2011 8:10 PM

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