Haskin's Derby Report: A Mud-dled Derby?

If this year’s Derby has you confused now, you’ll really be tested if the projected forecast for rain on Saturday holds true. With the rain will come a dramatic drop in temperatures, which would make for a pretty miserable afternoon. The only bright spot would be cashing a ticket on the Derby, and a wet track often produces some hefty prices if you know where to look for them.

The reason I’m writing a slop column this early in the week is to assure it will not rain and this column will prove to be a waste of time. Considering it never rains whenever I bring an umbrella somewhere, I’m figuring maybe this will work as well.

But just in case my clever ploy to fool Mother Nature fails, here is an early look at who should move up on an off track.

At the top of the list is MYLUTE, and you can be assured I will be playing this colt if it comes up wet. Of the more recent stallions, we’re all aware that Mr. Prospector is one of the top off-track influences, but even more powerful and more consistent is the influence of In Reality, especially through his sons Valid Appeal and Relaunch. Mylute is inbred to In Reality, through Valid Appeal and his son Valid Expectations on the dam side and through his son Believe It and continuing through Real Quiet and Midnight Lute on the sire’s side. You can bet Midnight Lute’s spectacular romp in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Sprint over a very sloppy track is mostly attributed to the influence of In Reality. Remember, too, that Real Quiet traces to Dr. Fager, another of the great slop influences from the crop of 1964, which included In Reality and another major slop influence Damascus. Mylute’s tail-female line traces to grass influences The Axe and Hawaii, which also bodes well for his slop form.

Speaking of In Reality and his son Relaunch, you will find that potent combination in the pedigree of PALACE MALICE, whose dam, Palace Rumor traces to Relaunch in her tail-female family. Relaunch is the sire of Waquoit, who won the Jockey Club Gold Cup by 15 lengths in the slop. In addition, Palace Malice is by Curlin, who romped in the slop in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth, and he has a number of grass influences in his pedigree, such as Royal Anthem, Theatrical, and Roberto.

Next we come to ORB, who had as impressive a work on Monday as we’ve seen so far at Churchill Downs. As mentioned earlier, the big names of the late ‘60s – Damascus, Dr. Fager, In Reality, and also Buckpasser all were dominant in the slop and passed that on to their offspring. It would be extremely rare to see a horse with any of these names fairly close up in their pedigree that didn’t love the slop. Well, Orb has all four of them in his female family, and Buckpasser as well in his sire’s family. And on top of that, he is inbred to Mr. Prospector.

If you’re looking for any reason at all to bet the Irish invader LINES OF BATTLE, it would be on a sloppy track. With Dr. Fager on top, through Fappiano and a slop-loving Darby Dan family on the bottom, he would move up considerably on a wet track. There has never been a Darby Dan horse that I am aware of that didn’t like the slop, and here you have one of Darby Dan’s most successful families, as well as their huge slop influence His Majesty. He definitely deserves at least a second look at a monster price if the track comes up wet.

A sloppy track also should not hurt the chances of REVOLUTIONARY, OVERANALYZE, VERRAZANO, OXBOW, and BLACK ONYX.

Verrazano’s tail-female line traces to Dr. Fager through a stout King Ranch family. Overanalyze is inbred 4x4 to Mr. Prospector, and his broodmare sire, Unaccounted For, finished a strong second, beaten a length, to Cigar in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on an off track. Unaccounted For is by Private Account, a son  of Damascus, so there is plenty of slop breeding right there. Oxbow traces to In Reality through Relaunch and Cee’s Tizzy, and Black Onyx is inbred to Mr, Prospector top and bottom, and also has Damascus and Buckpasser in his pedigree on the dam side.

Here are a few images from this morning’s activity. As mentioned earlier. Orb could not have worked better and was sheer poetry gliding by his workmate with smooth, effortless strides before opening up by some 10 lengths on the turn in the gallop-out.. He completed the half-mile in :47 4/5, out five panels in 1:00 4/5. This work was as close to perfection as you’ll get, and you could hear the enthusiasm and optimism in trainer Shug McGaughey’s voice talking about it.

I thought Oxbow was very strong, and was moving with such conviction nearing  the quarter pole, jockey Gary Stevens appeared to let him take the turn for home wide, so not to slow down his momentum. He leveled off beautifully in the stretch and finished up strongly all on his own to complete the five furlongs in :59 4/5.

I also loved what I saw from Itsmyluckyday in his first gallop over the track. As I said yesterday, it’s like this is his home track, he moves over it so well.

Oxbow, with Gary Stevens aboard, is starting to get the juices flowing as he gallops up to the pole before his work.

Orb calmly gallops to the pole behind stablemate Overwhelming.

Now it is time for action as Orb starts to get competitive and is ready for action.

Will Take Charge begins his five-furlong work in 1:01.

Goldencents heading for his first gallop over the track.


Leave a Comment:

Sail On

Bring on the mudders! Love the photos.

29 Apr 2013 3:44 PM
Rusty Weisner

Who's actually run in the slop?  All the 50 and 100-point races were on dry tracks.  The only ones I can think of are Vyjack, Itsmyluckyday and WTC.  I didn't like Vyjack and I still won't bet him.  I liked Itsmyluckyday and now the odds are spoiled.  

I already wanted to take several horses likely to be up front with a clean trip (with the exception of Orb), more so if it's sloppy.  I'm glad to hear about the pedigree influences of Palace Malice and Orb, my top two. I hope for Palace Malice to be focused by the blinkers and exhilarated by the mud.

I think a lot of bettors are going to play the wet track form to the exclusion of other factors and it will cause some logical horses to get crazy odds. And who knows?  Maybe a horse like Goldencents, from sunny Southern California, will love a wet track?  He loved Delmar; that's close to a lot of water.  And Verrazano is the name of a bridge named after a sailor.

29 Apr 2013 4:39 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Mother Nature- I believe that it's going to rain cats and dogs on Saturday and there is nothing you can do about it.

    Steve- Sleep with your umbrella, dance with it, turn it upside down and eat dinner off of it. Whatever it takes.

29 Apr 2013 5:53 PM

great info. steve-i may have to add to my growing list-falling sky because of mr. leader(hail to reason/jolie deja and it's my lucky day(crafty prospector/mr.prospector. also i agree palace malice is just loaded with pedigree for this weekends derby.just hope he didn't tucker himself out getting here. thanks for the help!

29 Apr 2013 7:19 PM

ok Steve, I like your "mudder list", but imo Javas War is an include[Blushing Groom has always been kind to me on the off]

29 Apr 2013 7:29 PM

Other than will take charge, any that you'd move down or absolutely not play because of the mud?  

Normandy Invasion was my dry track horse.  Thoughts on him?  

29 Apr 2013 7:59 PM

Thanks for this article, Steve. Got my picks picked based on your information if it should rain. Great pictures too.

29 Apr 2013 8:29 PM


I looked and researched Tomlinson's WET rating for each Horse and Will Take Charge was 4th with (413) in the ratings and he was terrible when he raced over a wet track...so what can you say about that??

30 Apr 2013 12:25 AM
joseph alva

Very helpful info, thanks Steve.  I'll arrive in Louisville on Wednesday and look forward to a few days extra days of dry racing.  I'll be praying that your umbrella be obsolete on Saturday!

30 Apr 2013 12:32 AM

So Steve, is the the Tomlinson WET Ratings all wrong?? You said Black Onyx looks good and he's around 15th in Tomlinson, Revolutionary romped with a 102 Beyer at a mile on WET and with a Tomlinson of (415) 3rd highest, he's not even in your top 3, so what gives. Are they wrong or are you??

30 Apr 2013 12:35 AM

Easy Goer, out of a champion Buckpasser mare Relaxing, hated the specific type of mud at Churchill. Or was it more due to his problematic, puffy ankles as to why he spun his wheels over it? Though he did finish close 2nd's in his 2 races in it and won 2 races in mud elsewhere(Woodward,etc). Some horses hate that Churchill track for whatever reasons, like Easy Goer, Skip Away, Holy Bull, Go For Wand,etc. As you have said, "Churchill and the Derby seems to make mortals out of gods."

30 Apr 2013 1:46 AM

Revolutionary maiden win, Aqueduct inner, mile, track 'good':

Broke smartly, tracked pace 3-wide, took over at will, beat Transparent x 8 1/2, 20 lengths ahead of 3rd horse.

Triple Beyer.

Oh, yeah, wasn't interfered with.

30 Apr 2013 2:39 AM

I always found horses with speed had a big advantage in the slop--it's hard enough for come from behind horses to weave their way through traffic in a 20 horse field,let alone doing it with mud slung in their face through the 1 1/4 mile trip.

30 Apr 2013 8:56 AM

Jeeze Louise: now Mylute won't be at 60 - 1 or over at post time.  There goes one of my dream bets!

Good analysis, Steve.

I gotta say, tho, that the Oaks seems more of a horse race to me this year.

30 Apr 2013 10:55 AM
Rusty Weisner


Steve Haskins' picks for mud pedigree are the least of your problems.  Seen 60 Minutes?

30 Apr 2013 12:02 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Both of Easy Goer's failures in the Churchill goo came following lifetime best efforts.  Had he been in the same position of his form cycle going into the BCJ as he was for the Champagne, and in the same position in his form cycle for the Derby as he was for the Wood, I believe the results would have been different.    

Off track performance is in general more a reflection of the horse's overall condition that it is a preference of dislike of the surface. When one is feeling like King Kong, there are no excuses.  When one is feeling like sleeping in the barn, slop makes it far easier to 'chuck it' or perform below par.

30 Apr 2013 1:12 PM

I havent been this excited about the Derby since 2006. Orb has been and continues to be my #1. Work out was fantastic. The interview with Shug certainly has me pumped especially when he said he has never be this excited about a horse in the Derby. ORB has everything I look for in a pedigree and many duplication's of several I particularly want in my Derby horse such as Buckpasser and Swaps. Of course being a direct relation to Ruffian thru 3/4 sis Laughter doesnt hurt.  To say the Phipps family WAY overdue is an understatement, as well as Shug. Orb is bred for the classics. Additionally, unlike many, as an old time family bred, should he win a number of the classics...not gonna say so as not to jinx...he would most likely continue racing through the year where many others would be retired immediately for stud career. Love the pics you have posted and added info on off track breeding just gives tons more confidence. Revolutionary remains my #2. While weather still saying 50% chance rain, we are in KY and what they say and what actually happens not uncommon for it to be vastly different lol. As long as we dont get an extended heavy hard rain will be okay. Rain prior to works on sun and track was very fast. The horses will like the cooler temps. Now if I could only be as confident about my Oaks pick :P, though my sentimental long shots are the 2 Bull gray girls Silsita and Flashy Gray..never know, gave me Giacamo. Have a great day Steve and TY for all you do for us!

30 Apr 2013 1:52 PM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

On the flip-side, I suspect it can exaggerate a good horse's performance, especially in whipping a small field.  Look at the higher Beyers for Vyjack and (I think) Revolutionary.

30 Apr 2013 2:10 PM
Sail On

LOL Now a race predicted to be a slow motion of past Derby's will be a slog in the park. Yikes. There are no speed horses running this year, perhaps due to the point system.

Horses who do not like slop in their faces better get to the front pronto, where they will find Verrazano and the flash in the pan speedsters.

30 Apr 2013 2:18 PM

Sorry, Rusty: I was just happy they actually had something not unpositive about horse racing.

What worry do I have because of Rosie?

30 Apr 2013 2:23 PM

If Revolutionary is slop positive then Java's War must be inclined that way as well. War Pass' juvenile BC win in the driving rain was amazing.

30 Apr 2013 5:37 PM
Greg R

Please carry your umbrella with you at all times this week.  Thank you!

Although, actually, if so many of the main contenders would be just as happy in the slop, maybe the Derby wouldn't turn out much differently, mud or not.

30 Apr 2013 11:09 PM
Pedigree Ann

Only don't take your umbrella to Churchill Downs. The entrance guards with confiscate it and toss it in a dumpster. Happened to me at the 2000 BC.

01 May 2013 7:25 PM

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