Haskin's Derby Report: The Hound of the Louisvilles

With the all mysteries and unknown factors surrounding the 137th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), there is no greater mystery than Master of Hounds, who was out on the racetrack for the first time Thursday.

Most feel the Ballydoyle boys are looking through rose-colored glasses running this colt in the Derby, but whether you do or not, let’s once again give thanks to Coolmore and trainer Aidan O’Brien for taking a shot and sending a top-quality horse to the United States for a major stakes race and their continued support of American racing.

Although Master of Hounds has never run on dirt and has only one victory in seven career starts, the son of Kingmambo is still a top-quality colt who has been farther than any horse in the race, having gotten a beaten a nose in the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby (UEA-II) in his only start this year.

In that race, he showed his courage by digging in and battling back when confronted by the classy UAE Oaks (UEA-III) winner Khawlah, despite coming off a 4 ½-month layoff. Behind him was a collection of Southern Hemisphere “older” horses, including the Brazilian-bred Xin Xu Lin, winner of the group I Carlos Pellegrini (South America’s equivalent of the Arc Triomphe), Brazilian Derby, Brazilian 2,000 Guineas; Mahooba, a group I winner in Australia and winner of the UAE 1,000 Guineas (UAE-III); Zanzimar, a stakes winner in South Africa and a fast-closing second in the UAE 2,000 Guineas; and the Australian-bred Reem, who trounced the colts in the Al Bastakiya, the second leg of the UAE Triple Crown.

Also behind him were the UAE 2,000 Guineas winner Splash Point; the American colt Sweet Ducky, a multiple stakes who was second to Kentucky Derby favorite Dialed In in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III); Japanese-trained Laser Bullet, winner of two of three career starts; and his stablemate Alexander Pope, winner of his last two starts in Ireland.

“We’ve always liked him,” said trainer Aidan O’Brien, who is scheduled to arrive from Ireland tonight. “After he broke his maiden at Tipperary, we ran him in the (group I) Racing Post Trophy over soft ground and he missed the break and fell back early and ran well to finish third.”

He was sent off as the 7-2 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I) and steadied early and had to go four-wide, finishing sixth, beaten three lengths.”

“He might have still been too immature for what we were asking him to do,” O’Brien said. “We nominated him to the Triple Crown, because we still felt he was the right kind of horse for America. He’s a big scopey kind of cruiser who travels well on the bridle. He likes to grind it out and keep galloping, and he’s tough as nails. We just thought he was a Kentucky Derby type of horse.

“We thought the UAE Derby would tell us we were going with him, either the 2,000 Guineas or the Kentucky Derby. We were absolutely delighted with his performance in the race, especially considering it was his first start of the year. He’s worked very well on our Polytrack surface at home and made the transition from grass to synthetic. I know it’s different running on the dirt, but I’ve heard that grass horses take to Churchill Downs, and he’s handled every surface we’ve put him on.”

O’Brien said he is not going to give jockey Garrett Gomez an extensive list of instructions. He just wants him to put the horse in a good spot several lengths back and keep grinding them down from there.

Master of Hounds, it must be remembered, is by Kingmambo, who has sired his share of dirt horses, including Eclipse champion Lemon Drop Kid, winner of the grade  I Belmont and Travers among others.

O’Brien who has been represented in the Breeders’ Cup Classic numerous times, trying to land a big American dirt race, has tried the Kentucky Derby once before, sending over Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Johannesburg along with Castle Gandolfo in 2002.

Johannesburg had only one seven-furlong race before the Derby and wasn’t bred for a mile and a quarter, whereas Master of Hounds is bred to run all day and has a lot more bottom, competing at 1 3/16 miles over a very slow, deep surface at Meydan.

And how much would Coolmore like to win the Derby with a colt out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, having just lost their great stallion on April 26 at the age of 30.

Post postscript

So what kind of impact will the post position draw have on the Derby? Most of the talk has been about Archarcharch drawing the dreaded rail. But if he can break cleanly and can escape the first sixteenth of a mile unscathed and get a good position along the inside somewhere near midpack he should be OK. But he’ll have to have good racing luck and everything to fall his way. It’s certainly not ideal, but it’s not something that can’t be overcome. And if he does have good racing luck, he actually could get a dream trip like Fusaichi Pegasus did in 2000 when he had the rail all to himself for most of the trip, found a seam approaching the quarter pole and was gone.

Uncle Mo, who was crawling out of his skin galloping this morning, his first gallop since working last Sunday, drew post 18, and again he’ll need good racing luck to avoid getting hung wide on the first turn.

Decisive Moment and Comma to the Top, breaking from post 5 and 6, respectively, likely will vie for the early lead, with Pants On Fire sitting right off them from post 7. Shackleford and Soldat are the other pace horses breaking from the outside, in post 14 and 17, respectively, and likely will try to tuck in right behind the leaders, along with Uncle Mo. Shackleford, however, has the speed to go right up and challenge, but has to make sure he doesn’t use himself too much. Midnight Interlude, breaking from post 15, has the speed to be close up, but is rateable enough to take back to midpack, depending on what Victor Espinoza decides to do.

Two horses who will have to drop right out of it early are Brilliant Speed, breaking from post 2, and Nehro, breaking from post 19. The morning line favorite Dialed In drew well in post and the big, long-striding Mucho Macho Man is in a great spot, breaking from post 13.

20 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Delrene

Inquiry :  Watching the 2010 Breeders Cup (replay again) the winner was Pluck - What has happened to Pluck?  He is a great looking horse.  Thank you for a response.

respectfully,

Delrene Sims,

Carlsbad

05 May 2011 2:19 PM
Giddyup

You have done a great job of keeping us all informed about Derby happenings Steve but I was kinda hoping you might find some time to write about Devil May Care. She was a fan favorite and will be missed by many of us.

05 May 2011 3:04 PM
aspradling

Derlene: Last Pluck update was a bruised cannon bone in late April.

www.bloodhorse.com/.../pluck-out-60-days-with-cannon-bone-bruising

05 May 2011 3:18 PM
Gardner

I don't care who or what he's riding, Borel in post 3 is dangerous.  He's cutting off ArchX3 on his way to the fence.    

05 May 2011 3:24 PM
GoldenBroom

Good point Gardner, the rail is blocked for however fast and far Twice the Appeal goes...Arch's position is even worse given that point. Other notable though it looks like 2x the Appeal won't get the distance is he's one of the more experienced horses in the race. With the 20 horse field referred to as the "traveling mosh pit" for the first quarter mile, I wonder how many "greenies" will take themselves out of it before the first turn wondering what the heck is going on!?

05 May 2011 3:59 PM
5starday

Steve I love ya but on u and lenny show and for last 4 plus years u cant pick a derby horse, have u just lost ur TOPUCH? or whats the deal. u act like u dont want to piss any connection off.

I miss the old steve who woulsd tell it like it is and not shy away from picking ONE HORSE to win.

05 May 2011 4:38 PM
KY VET

PEOPLE!! COMMON SENSE!! THIS IS WHY I MAKE A LIVING AS A HORSE PLAYER!! I TOLD YOU ALL THE FACTOR WOULD NOT RUN...HE IS NOT A DERBY HORSE...NOW ALL OF YOU THINK UNCLE MO WON'T RUN?  COME ON PEOPLE!! HE IS RUNNING...YOU ALL MUST NOT LISTEN TO THE HYPE...YOU MUST BELIEVE SOMETHING WAS SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH MO HUH?  REALLY? WHY? A GI INFECTION?  LOOK! I WILL EVEN TELL YOU WHATS COMING IN THE NEXT 2 DAYS......THE HYPE WILL TURN....OH! HES ALL OF A SUDDEN JUMPING OUT OF HIS SKIN!! HE HAS CHANGED THESE LAST 3 DAYS......!!  YOU ALL THINK HE WILL SCRATCH???  NO COMMON SENSE!!! YOU WATCH!!!! LEARN THE GAME PEOPLE......

05 May 2011 5:11 PM
Stones

Trying to figure out the break is maddening.  Jinks wants AAA to gun for position, which given the horse's apparent fitness, I believe is possible.  Will that be the game plan for BS and Twice as well?  Laying back is dangerous but may be those horses' best chance to stay the distance.  Almost makes me want to draw a line through all 3 of them....but its a long race.  Fitness will be key....so I'm not off the AAA bandwagon just yet.

05 May 2011 5:21 PM
KY VET

SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! ZAZU!!! WIN/PLACE!!!  A LITTLE CHARITY FOR YOU!!!  DON'T HURT MY ODDS!

05 May 2011 5:22 PM
El Kabong

Gardner/Goldenbroom

I speculated that too gentlemen then did some homework on it. I think that's what Calvin would want to do too, but Arch3 has more tactical speed that he should use to set himself behind the pace. Arch E1 best is a 90. 2appeal's is 79 which is also his average. Look for Arch to get the jump on 2 appeal.

05 May 2011 7:00 PM
EdK

To me it's deplorable that Pletcher-Repole just don't make a decision re Uncle Mo.  Either the horse is sound or he's not.  The stewards and the racetrack vets should force the issue.  It's seems to be getting a common pattern with Todd Pletcher - last year he did not scratch Eskendereya until the morning of the KY Derby.  Life At Ten was not scratched from the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic and ran in poor health, and the issue was in discussion with the KHRC until only a few weeks ago when Steward John Veitch was made the scapegoat for what Pletcher should have done in the first place - scratch an unsound horse from the race.  Uncle Mo was brilliant until affected by the GI infection he's been fighting for weeks.  Why as it is in two or three articles in today's BloodHorse does it take a 'committee' to make a decision that the racetrack vet and the stewards should rule over.   If the horse is not sound he should be promptly pulled from the race.  The wagering public deserves no less, and if he goes in the gate similar to Life At Ten and runs poorly, it will put another blight on the sport, a sport that does not need further criticism from a skeptical public.  Owner Repole and trainer Pletcher should do right by the horse and quit being so coy and make the right decision - pull the horse whose stamina and racing soundness must be affected, as they have been playing it 'close-to-the-vest' for days and now state that maybe by tomorrow what should have been done will be done.  All along, especially owner Repole, stated that if the horse was not 100% he would not run.  It's about time to come clean and do right by the horse.

05 May 2011 8:44 PM
Linda in Texas

Thanks for the articles Steve. It is anybody's race. We have all been saying that all along. It boils down to who wants which one to win. I don't think any single one of them has a lock.

Today's article on Master of Hounds is interesting and another sentimental reason for his country wanting him to win.

Giddyup - you mentioned Devil May

Care. Steve has written about her in the past. And sad as it is for her to get cancer. What can one say. Bloodhorse wrote and published an article about her yesterday when Mr. Greathouse posted a letter written by him and for her thanking everyone for their thoughts. I mentioned her myself last year on one of Steve's blogs when she raced against the boys. I thought how gutsy of her and wished her well. I am no one famous but just a fan of all of them. She was unlucky multiple times in the health department, seemed she just kept getting one thing after another. I download every single picture with every single article. And hers is the latest one, may she rest in peace.

And thanks to the Greathouse family for not giving up on her until she had no chance at all.

I am not alone in saying we certainly enjoyed the wins she tucked under her wings and is taking with her to the great rolling pastures that have no fences. Thank you Devil May Care, you are one brave filly who gave her all. You are to be admired and

won't be forgotten.  

05 May 2011 8:57 PM
KY VET

Zazu!!!!win place in the oaks!!!.......Try the longshot friday in the 8th race eight belles stakes...#2 HOME SWEET ASPEN upset chance!!! sat.race7 upset! amen hallelujah!!! professional picks!!!!!win place on all!!!!

05 May 2011 10:16 PM
Victoria

Could anyone please tell me if it's possible to watch the Kentucky Derby free online as a live stream?  I'll be at work and we don't have a TV.  Last year we watched it on the channelsurfing.net site, but it's been confiscated by Homeland Security!

It's getting harder and harder to follow this sport!

Thank you for any ideas.

05 May 2011 10:38 PM
Slew

Don't forget...Gate 1 runs right into a rail.  The track is simply not wide enough to accommodate 20 horses...curses!  That rail will be more cutting than any move by Borel.  And I really like Archx3.  It seems to me that Archie has more speed in him than Twice the Appeal.

I have to note that I'm tired of the circus surrounding whether or not Mo is in.  Why didn't they clarify their intentions BEFORE the draw?  It's too late to add another horse like Sway Away now.  On the other hand...if he withdraws, Archx3 leaves from gate 2...and that's a big plus for Archie.  19 horses...okay!  better than 20!

06 May 2011 8:34 AM
Pedigree Ann

Come on, Gardner. Calvin's not going to put anyone into the rail. It's not his style. The horses may break awkwardly and lean inward out of the gate, like what happened to Lookin at Lucky, but that's bad luck, not strategy.

06 May 2011 10:34 AM
Slew

Archie stays in Gate one.  The outside horses move in.  

I was very disappointed when Tom Durkin pulled out of the NBC coverage, but I'm happy with Larry Colmus.  I was sort of hoping the replacement would be John Dooley, whose booming baritone could keep fans excited about a $500 claimer.  I guess I have to wait until Arlington opens.

06 May 2011 11:16 AM
Danny UK

Sad to hear about Uncle Mo not making it there. However, there is still hope for him. Our champion 2 year old of 2009 St. Nicholas Abbey won every race as a two year old. At three, he ran poorly on his reappearance in the 2000 Guineas and wasn't seen again until a 4 year old, coming a disappointing 5th in a listed race.

Only 2 hours ago, he ran in a group 3 race at Chester and just obliterated his rivals by 9 lengths (he was a length down coming into the final furlong). It looks like he's back! Expect him to be coming your way for the BCC.

This meeting at Chester has shown us something - Aiden O'Brien is red hot at the moment. St. Nicholas Abbey and Wonder of Wonders (now joint favourite for the Epsom Oaks) smashed the opposition with real authority, and you can bet Master of Hounds will be just as well primed as O'Brien's others.

Steve - Did you manage to watch the 2000 guineas? How do you rate Frankel against the American Colts?

Cheers.

06 May 2011 11:51 AM
Linda in Texas

KY VET = your post of 5 May 2011 at

5:11 pm was already wrong when you posted it because by your blog posting time, Mike Repole already knew that morning and so did Pletcher, that Uncle Mo wasn't going to run. They waited til Friday morning to publicly announce it. So your connections did not have it right and 'you people' as you keep calling the rest of us, don't have any common sense. Frankly, i have too much!

It is very unfortunate that UM was scratched, but even more unfortunate that Mo is having a medical problem that cannot be pinpointed. I feel there has been an underlying medical situation for quite some time.

Mike Repole - don't lose that contagious enthusiasm you exude!

And know all horse lovers want your Mo to come around sound asap

so he can get back on the track and MO them down!

Many here have written how tough it is to keep these big babies healthy. Unfortunately this year MO

is the example, it truly is a disappointment.

May all participants have a safe journey and return to your stalls sound today and everyday.

07 May 2011 10:43 AM
KY VET

YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT LINDA!..I WAS UNDER THE ASSUMPTION, IT WAS A G I INFECTION....NOT A HUGE DEAL.....IT IS MUCH MORE.....NO PROBLEM...I WANTED HIM TO SCRATCH...CAN'T BET AGAINST THAT HORSE....HE IS SPECIAL.....ENDEND UP 100W 60P ON MUCHO....OUCH....LOVED MY BET....SOMETIMES YOU HIT A LINE DRIVE RIGHT AT SOMEBODY.....THATS THE GAME.....

09 May 2011 4:13 PM

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