Haskin's Derby Trail: Thursday Potpourri

The time is getting near. No not the Derby, trying to finally decipher this intricate and confusing puzzle. We’ve made a few more observations this morning that should help, as well as another trip to the paddock.

First, the quote of day goes to who else but Bob Baffert, who drew post 20 with Liaison and post 6 with Bodemeister. Baffert has gotten burned with post positions in the past few years, especially in the Derby with Lookin at Lucky, who had a disastrous trip from the rail.

Baffert, who is recovering from a heart attack, after which he had three stents inserted, said when Liaison drew post 20 he started having nightmares of “bookending” the draw with posts 1 and 20.

“If I had a choice of having three stents put in or drawing post 1 I’d choose the three stents,” Baffert said. “At least I’d have a shot.”

Statistic of the day: In Calvin Borel’s three Derby victories, he faced a total of 58 horses and had to go around a total of only four of them. Considering the different posts, the amount of horses each year, and the traffic jams that unfold, that’s pretty amazing. We’re not saying Borel owns the rail in the Derby and is at home there, but he’s all but taken out a mortgage on it.

Joel Einhorn, of Flushing, N.Y., who won a chance to place a $100,000 bet on one horse in the Kentucky Derby, visited with Dale Romans and posed for a photo with Romans and Dullahan outside the barn. Einhorn, who is playing it as cool as the proverbial cucumber, was on a scouting mission prior to his potential life-altering wager. Romans assured him he wouldn’t trade places with anyone.

When Hansen schooled in the paddock this afternoon, co-owner Dr. Kendall Hansen came in accompanied by a comely young lady holding a Hansen sign. Dr. Hansen then proceeded to toss Hansen dolls to the fans outside the paddock. And so it begins.

Hansen - Photo by Steve Haskin

Some of the horses who caught the eye this morning were Gemologist, a powerful-looking colt with a big stride, who made a striking appearance. Loved the way he came off the track at a full-clip, showing a lot of energy.

Gemologist - Photo by Steve Haskin

As strong as I’ll Have Another has been galloping, he was really motoring around there this morning, close to the rail, seemingly going at a two-minute lick. This colt has been full of energy since he arrived here.

Although he’s going to be a huge longshot and drew the outside post, Liaison keeps looking better every day and has really blossomed here. Loved his gallop this morning; very smooth and just aggressive enough.

Daddy Nose Best and Sabercat schooled in the paddock, and like everything else they do, they were absolutely perfect. Neither of these colts does anything wrong and are dream horses to train. They have super dispositions, look great physically, and we’d be surprised if one of them doesn’t pop off a big effort. Daddy Nose Best, who has had four works over the track, is long-bodied colt with a classic head and a magnificent eye, and we can watch him all day. He’s that kind of horse. Sabercat was ranked No. 5 in our first Derby Watch, so he’s been a colt we’ve been high on for a long time.

Sabercat schooling in the paddock- Photo by Steve Haskin

Daddy Nose Best - Photo by Steve Haskin

Daddy Nose Best - Photo by Steve Haskin

We’ll discuss them and other longshot possibilities and possible exotics in tomorrow’s selection column.

Two horses who got wet yesterday, Union Rags in his gallop and Rousing Sermon in his paddock schooling, both were much improved today.

Union Rags - Photo by Steve Haskin

Perhaps the most striking colt is El Padrino, a magnificent, powerfully made chestnut with a white face. He did get wet in his gallop and during schooling, but he is a Pulpit and it’s possible this is nothing out of the ordinary for him.

Others who schooled well today were Bodemeister and Dullahan. Creative Cause was listed to school before the fourth race, but was a no-show.

Finally, another colt who has been doing better here each day is Alpha, who seems to like this track. His first day here he was gawking at the crowd, but has settled in to a nice routine. And you can’t find any faults with Take Charge Indy, who glides along with his neck bowed, and Optimizer, who has impressed in his works and gallops and overall appearance, even though no one is really paying much attention to him. Nor are they paying much attention to Done Talking, who goes about his business every day in a professional manner.

D. Wayne Lukas escorts Optimizer - Photo by Steve Haskin

Just think, after tomorrow, you won’t have to hear how most of these horses are doing so well. No matter how well they’re doing, some 14 or 15 of them are going to have no impact on the race. And that is very hard to believe.

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