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.


Leave a Comment:

Rolling Thundar

How could anyone NOT like this entire field of horses. Like you said Steve, I don't think anyone will be surprised by the Winner from this group, no matter if it's a favorite, mid-shot, or long-shot.

All of these horses are deserving to be in the gate. Thanks for all the Time and effort, You and Lenny have put in this year, on bringing US fans, all the information, Videos, and pictures.  Good Luck at the Windows.

03 May 2012 8:21 PM
El Kabong

Please tell me it's not a lock that an extra 100G will be on my horse?  Ok, last time it didn't turn out too bad when the toupee kid ruined my odds on super saver, but, you can see where my attitude is being pressed. Steve, please, talk to Joel and let him know of Draynay's greatness when it comes to Derby picks. Please! I'm begging, please, Steve!!! Help!!

03 May 2012 9:33 PM
Karen in Indiana

Love the updates, Steve. It has been very busy for me this year (graduating college at 52!) so your columns, blogs and videos have helped me keep up. That is a beautiful head shot photo of Daddy Nose Best - what a picture of pleasant confidence! This has been an excellent group this year, hope you've had fun following all of them. Thanks!

03 May 2012 9:43 PM

Funny thing about Optimizer, I always go for at least one long shot, and this pony just got into the race by the skin on his teeth. Lucas is a legend, but he hasn't made any noise in a very long time. He's getting older, and maybe, just maybe, he'll get one more Derby win before he hangs it up. I mean, this horse is such a long shot that people would be shocked if he even hit the board. Don't forget little Mine that Bird. We couldn't even see him for most of the race. Well, the more impossible it seems, the more I think I've found the long shot I'm going for.

03 May 2012 9:46 PM

  Great pics all around.  Gemologist looks like he's ready, Sabercat is as cool as a cucumber, and Daddy Nose Best-great conformation shot.  I'm really hyped up on all this pre-Derby stuff.  In less than 48hrs it will all be over and than we'll speak briefly of TC. What I do know is that come Sat. I'll be sitting in front of my TV sipping my Mint Julep and watching the best 2 minutes in ALL of sports!!!!

03 May 2012 9:54 PM
Don from PA/DE

Could detect that extra sparkle in "Gem's" eye, when he looked at you Steve, as if to say, "I know you liked my Daddy, now I am going to show you what I can do too" and I believe and predict he will! Enjoy

03 May 2012 10:18 PM

I'm loving the combo of under-the-radar Take Charge Indy and Calvin Borel.  Seriously!

03 May 2012 10:38 PM

More great pics from Steve!  ESPN is showing Charismatic's Derby and video of Steve is in it!  I watched it last night.

Even though the Derby is over in 2 days I think of this as just the beginning of the spring/summer meet.  The Preakness, Belmont, Haskell, Travers are all to be run yet and hopefully I get to see most of these runners in the flesh come June through August in NY and NJ!!!  And that is soooo exciting, so this is just the beginning.

I hope TVG has the Profile show or whatever it is on when I finally get home from my office tonight.  It is definitely a horse week for all of us, enjoy and good luck.

03 May 2012 10:58 PM

I have to admire your steadfastness you just won't let go of Sabercat. Sorry but I just can't see him hitting the board. I do love Alpha though so i'm glad to hear he's looking good. I plan on following up on my bets from the first future pool where I have Union Rags and I'll Have Another add Alpha to the mix and hope for the best. Thanks for all your insight.

04 May 2012 12:12 AM


You had Creative Cause #1 on the first poll and the last.  As someone that has seen him run in person 5 times, he's been #1 on my list.

But I'm not hearing a lot of positives about his training at Churchill this week.  The drf clocker is raising some red flags.  He had the shoe issue on the flight over, wasn't seen for 2 days on the track after his work, was a no-show to school today, and appeared "stiff" to some in his exercise today.

Straight up, is this just a case of folks making something out of nothing, or is there "cause" for alarm?

04 May 2012 1:04 AM
200 lb. Jockey

2 days before the derby and I still don't have my picks in order. I'm pulling for Dullahan, and think he could be a great closing winner. I also really like the guys from the stable. Good times at Gulfstream!

On the other hand, I think this is the year to forgo win bets and knock down the exotics. I'll be throwing down a few 4 wide triboxes and hope for the best. The weather report has dampened my spirits a bit, (pun intended) but I think it's great to have such a deep field this year. This should be one hell of a race. Good luck everyone!

04 May 2012 1:28 AM

THE DRAW CC has to be on the board.

04 May 2012 2:20 AM

As a group, one of the best I've seen in quite awhile.  I think there are a few who have little or no chance of hitting the board, but I think they could all make a respectable showing.  I think the winner will come, not from one of the "brilliant" horses, because I see a speed dual brewing; and not from a deep closer, because I think there are too many really good horses that will sit off of the speed; probably in 2 tiers. I'm looking for Union Rags, Gemologist, Creative Cause and maybe Alpha, if he is right.  I would have included I'll Have Another, but I think he will have to be used too much early because of the outside post position.  Dullahan? I think he is probably the best of the closers but I don't know what to make of him.  Still not sure he is as good on dirt, and whoever wins, will have to be very good, and, let's not forget, lucky.

Love the photo of Union Rags galloping.  He really looks like a happy horse.

04 May 2012 2:38 AM

Take Charge Indy, please!

04 May 2012 9:13 AM
Blind Luck

Gemologist is so beautiful. Love also Bodemeister and always have thought a great deal of Union Rags. Man, wish I could decide who to root for.

04 May 2012 9:57 AM

Can't wait until the Oaks and the Derby!  What a wonderful 2 days it will be.  I have no idea who will win the Derby, but with this group, it'll be fun.

And Karen in Indiana - congratulations on graduating college as a "mature student"!!!  I teach at the college level and I love having non-trads in my class.  More power to you!

04 May 2012 10:10 AM
Linda in Texas

Gemologist does look great, all of them do. Love your photos.

Yesterday in my post on post positions, i forgot to mention that

the total combination of this years number of Kentucky Derbys is 138 and added up equals 12 and the post position holder of that number is PROSPECTIVE. It is another of those karma things i think about, were i betting.

Hello to you Alex'sBigFan, are you at Churchill. I hope so. Hope things are well with you and yours.

Thank you Steve. A bunch of us are right with you in mind and spirit.

04 May 2012 10:57 AM

Karen in Indiana, a kindred spirit!  I, too, am graduating this June at age 52!  What are the odds?!  LOL

04 May 2012 12:05 PM

Great talented field.  Best in ages.  I am ready for ALPHA to do what his daddy (the great Bernardini) never had a chance to do.. win the Derby.  

I like a horse who has not yet peaked and is moving forward. If you like Gemologist at 6-1, you have to love ALPHA at 15-1!  Throwing him with Union Rags and CC.

04 May 2012 3:10 PM

This is an amazing field. Best in Long time.  I am looking for ALPHA to do what his sire (Bernardini) never had a chance to do, win the Derby.  He was narrow loser to Gemologist, and is very live at 15-1.  I also look for big things from Union Rags and Creative Cause who never runs bad but doesn't always win.

04 May 2012 3:12 PM
Karen in Indiana

Oldie (but I'll be a goodie too LOL!), this is something I've put off for decades while I raised my children, so it is absolutely wonderful to have accomplished it finally. Enjoy your Derby time and good luck in the next stage of your life!

04 May 2012 5:38 PM

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