Haskin's Derby Report: And They're Off!

So, the post position draw finally is out of the way and none of the major contenders got burned. The Todd Pletcher quintet all drew toward the outside with the exception of Revolutionary, who should be in good shape in post 3 under Calvin Borel, who will take him back and will not have far to go to get him to the rail. This way he won’t have to dart across the entire trip to get to his favorite path.

Overanalyze (post 9), Palace Malice (10), Verrazano (14), and Charming Kitten (15) could not have drawn any better, so Pletcher dodged a bullet big-time.

As for the pace scenario, poor Oxbow once again drew poorly, but instead of being stuck on the far outside at Oaklawn, he is down in post 2 and will have to come out running. This can be a bad post, but it can also be a good post if he gets a sharp break and a clean trip. Right now, all it means is that he likely will get involved in the pace early. Goldencents, breaking from post 8, no doubt will be tracking him, with Falling Sky (13) and Verrazano coming over from the outside. These four should dictate the pace and it will be interesting to see how long their jockeys play cat and mouse before one of them decides to make the running. Vyjack, in post 20, actually could be in decent shape, outrunning all those immediately to his inside – Java’s War, Frac Daddy, Will Take Charge, Orb, and Charming Kitten, and tracking Verrazano into the first turn.

Expect to see Itsmyluckyday, Palace Malice, Overanalyze, Lines of Battle, Mylute, Frac Daddy, and Oxbow in the next flight, with Orb and Normandy Invasion somewhere in mid-pack.

Borel likely will try to save ground on Revolutionary and then power home along the rail. Black Onyx’s best bet from the rail is to take back to avoid some horse coming in on him and pushing him into the rail,

Java’s War, Charming Kitten, and Golden Soul likely will bring up the rear, but don’t be surprised to see Normandy Invasion and Orb fairly far back, despite their sharpness in the morning.

There was a good deal of talk and published reports Thursday morning about Normandy Invasion running off with his rider for about three furlongs. If this was any race other than the Kentucky Derby, no one would care in the slightest. The feeling here is that running off, whether spooked by something or whatever, will have no bearing at all on how he runs on Saturday. Even if he was timed three-eighths in :38 and change during his run-off, so what? Blowing out three furlongs the day before a race, never mind two days before,  used to be a common practice, and those blowouts usually were around :36 to :37 or faster.

Some observations from this morning: Itsmyluckyday, once again, had a terrific gallop and could not be doing any better. I liked Revolutionary’s gallop and the way he jogged briskly back, suggesting his energy level is high and he’s feeling good. Overanalyze also had a strong gallop and seems to be coming into the race in top shape.

One of the most laid back and professional horses is Mylute, who goes out every morning at 5:45. This morning, he went along smoothly, switching leads right on cue.

Tomorrow it is time once again to make some semblance of selections. They will be based in part on observations, pedigree (especially with slop), speed figures, general handicapping, and any intangibles, such as, ahem, the Derby gods. All that combined should confuse you even more.

mylute
Mylute is the first one out every morning at 5:45.

revolutionary
Revolutionary strikes a handsome pose Thursday morning.

itsmyluckday
Itsmyluckyday had another strong gallop.

goldencents
Goldencents drew well and will break from the 8 post.

Those grand geldings

It was great seeing Kentucky Derby-winning geldings Mine That Bird and Funny Cide together at the Kentucky Derby Museum this morning. Mine That Bird, who has temporarily taken up residence at the Museum for several months, has made friends with a miniature pony named Winston, but today, he shared his two-stall barn with Funny Cide, who was visiting from the Kentucky Horse Park.

With Funny Cide’s managing partner Jack Knowlton (who couldn’t believe 10 years have passed) and jockey Jose Santos in attendance, along with Mine That Bird’s trainer Chip Woolley, visitors to the museum lined up around 10:30 to visit the two Derby winners and take photos. Both horses then were brought to the paddock before the fifth race, where they received a warm welcome from the scores of fans.

mine that bird
Mine That Bird has become a fixture at the Derby Museum.

mine that bird
Mine That Bird tries to get Funny Cide's attention.

mine that bird
Jack Knowlton and Jose Santos with Funny Cide.

mine that bird
Funny Cide did not stop eating from the minute he arrived.

mine that bird
Mine That Bird and Funny Cide in the paddock.

24 Comments

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CHIEF PICAWINNA

Going on the contingency that the track is fast, and its not sealed and rain is not expected by race time.I expect Palice Malice to be in the first flight with the addition of blinkers,if Falling Sky dosent get out quickly his chances of pressing and outclosing the pacesetters and closers is low.The colt that is piloted by an inexperienced jockey and is starting right in the middle of the calvary charge into the first turn is Goldencents. A mistake by the young jockey, and it could be the beginning of a rough trip.It is much different for O'Neil to use a young jockey outside in 19 than it is in the middle of the field, with horses cutting over and one or both of the colts in the one or two post trying to get out of possible trouble in the first 150-200 yards.Goldencents could be squeezed back.

02 May 2013 7:18 PM
Lydia

Glad to see the Derby winners looking so good.  Both are so handsome.

02 May 2013 7:42 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Great analysis Steve and more great photos.  I'm curious to see what Oxbow is going to do with all that stored up energy he has.  He gets my "cutest" vote and I like him and I think he is Lenny's pick.  I don't think we are going to get the war won with just a little Oxbow though.

FunnyCide and Mine That Bird look great.  How cute is Mine That Bird!  I wonder if he remembers his big win at Churchill?  My neighbor, who by now is probably 89 or 90, used to scream, "Mind The Bird, Mind The Bird!"

Look forward to tomorrow's analysis and who the best mudders might be.  If Lines of Battle comes out of quarantine Friday, goes to the track, and then wins the Derby on Saturday I think I'll eat my Belmont hat being designed now!  I'm giving him an "A" for effort though and just being there.

Steve, hope you are getting some partying done and having a ball there.  You deserve it.  

02 May 2013 7:43 PM
GJU

Great pictures again, Steve. I love the one of Mine That Bird looking at Funny Cide. Thanks for your insight on the Derby too. Looks like rain....

02 May 2013 8:18 PM
Steel Dragon

I think many are underestimating the impact of post 16 on Orb. Yes, it's been overcome by others in recent years, but it's still bad news and increases the need for a lucky trip.

I also don't think that pillbox was shaken very well when it was initially full.  

02 May 2013 9:12 PM
Terry M.

Lovely photos of the Bird! I am glad he is in a place where he can be admired by visitors. My Derby pick for several weeks now has been Orb.

02 May 2013 9:13 PM
Cassandra.Says

War Pass: G1 winner (B.C. Juvenile) on a sloppy, sealed track at Monmouth, wired field, won x 5.

Runup the Flag: Alw wnr at Churchill Downs, track good, broke in air, circled field won x 4, Calvin Borel up.

Given the post, Borel will probably hug the rail but it is a bad mistake to think this guy is a one trick pony.

02 May 2013 9:26 PM
Fran Loszynski

All I can say Steve about this article and pics of two awesome veterans and the contenders is WOW. Revolutionary reminds me of Ruffian the way he looks so stoic.  Thanks Steve your comments of Normandy's  breeze.  I can't wait to see him finish he  does have great  position. Okay I've made my pick, I've read Steve's column and I'm set for the Derby! YYYYYYEEEEEEEEHHHAAAAWWWHHH

02 May 2013 9:35 PM
Sail On

Wow! Pletcher really has the luck this year! Revolutionary got an ideal post. But Verrazano post is ideal. He can fall in behind Falling Sky, as he meets up with Goldencents, ate that group will be 'I'll see ya!' for at least a quarter mile. Charming Kitten also has a cool PP. He will be able to angle in behind the second group w/o any problem, as the two horses inside from him will have gone. I expect Normandy Invasion to be somewhere on he outside of the second pack.

This will be a great race, even if it will be slow.

Still, I wish the Derby field was limited to 14.

02 May 2013 10:24 PM
Mary

Yes, Revolutionary has an ideal position in 3.  Borel won on Super Saver in 4.  Revolutionary, Black Onyx, Will Take Charge,and Itsmyluckyday have the pedigrees.

02 May 2013 11:21 PM
Giddyup

I'm no horse whisperer but something tells me Mine That Bird said "Hey Funny! I gotta hot tip on a 50 to 1 longshot for you."

03 May 2013 2:11 AM
Jacklyn

Look at Funny Cide in the paddock!  He's on his toes thinking he's going to race again!  I saw him at KY Horse Park each morning during the 2010 WEG.  So beautiful both of them.  Great to see their owners care for them.  I'd love a report of what happens to each Derby horse a year after the Derby.  Wonder how many can even be found?  The statistics of how many end up at slaughter are probably high.

03 May 2013 9:40 AM
Fran Loszynski

Don't despair Jacklyn these beautiful racehorses go on to breed and have a loving staff take care of them.  Visit  Gainesway in Kentucky you will see Birdstone , A fleet   Alex and Tapit to mention  a few.  Many champions are still alive because don,t forget some owners are there in the stall when their little colts and fillies are born. There is alot of love for these racehorses and horse people are awesome.

03 May 2013 12:20 PM
SOUTHBENDFARM

Mine That Bird looks like he is race fit and could go today in any race.  Funnycide looks like a horse who has had a few to many treats...Mine That Birds trainer still cares for the horse and treats him with all the respect he earned with his victory.  Funnycide does look like he is headed to the post.  Loved the picture of Revolutionary also.  I can see him taking his sires place at Lane's End after next year.

03 May 2013 12:40 PM
Windolin

Thank you Steve! The pix are great. Good seeing Funny Cide and Mine That Bird looking so happy and healthy.

Revolutionary is one gorgeous horse, I think that is one reason I like him so.

Lots of sentimental favorites this year.

May the best horse win and I keep all these talented and beautiful horses and jockeys in my prayers for a safe return to the barn after the race. Godspeed to all

03 May 2013 12:50 PM
Linda in Texas

Clever Giddyup. 'Takes one to know one' and Mine That Bird knows that one for sure. Nobody  told him!

Oh Jacklyn, if we are doing what we should be doing. Your last statement i hope is wrong. Because of Ferdinand a clause is in 'most' sales that if sent to foreign countries for breeding, they are returned at the end of their duties in the shed.

Ferdinand is not and will never be forgotten. Nor the other ones that met the same fate. It is at the top of my efforts always.

Steve,I wrote a response to the wonderful photos and hit a key and it disappeared. I had asked the Rain Gods to not let it rain on Saturday. Maybe it went up to them and they already have my request.

Funny Cide and my sister state hero of New Mexico Mine That Bird looks like he could probably load the gate and win it again. Looks fit as a fiddle to me. Won't ever forget the whole scene. Plain Jane trailer. Pulled by a not new truck driven by a trainer with a broken leg.Everyone thought Mine That Bird was a fluke plain plodder from New Mexico going to the big city to show'm his stuff and he did. And he was the victor. Loved it then. Smile to this day.

And I won't be eating part of Alex'sBigFan's hat if Lines of Battle wins! Takes too long to order a new one for one reason and she must be 'chapeauxed' at The Belmont for the second reason!:)  

Black Onyx scratched so the rail will be wide open for Calvin.

Will not mention any other names as i don't want to be a jinx.  

Just always want all horses who race to come back to their stalls safe and sound for well deserved and earned refreshments.  

Have a great time Steve, i know your feet are planted firmly in the air with all the fanfare you are taking in. We love it. Thanks.

AND GOOD LUCK HANDICAPPERS COME BACK WHEN IT IS OVER AND TELL US ALL ABOUT YOUR WINNINGS!!

03 May 2013 1:20 PM
Sail On

Sad that Black Onyx can't run tomorrow, but if Fear The Kitten was also eligible, then he should be allowed to run. That is the whole point of isn't it? I was really hoping to see him in the Derby, and I am really disappointed.

03 May 2013 2:36 PM
greyghost

Mine That Bird & Funny Cide look terrific. Nice to see Chip Woolley without crutches. Look forward to that rainy day scenario. More & more I like Revolutionary & Java's Wars chances.

03 May 2013 3:36 PM
Mike Monarchos

Nice photos again Steve. I saw you Wednesday at Churchill Downs. I was the guy with the red rose painting. I got Rosie to sign it. No other jocks though. They made it hard to get to them by having themcome down the steps through a covered chute. I didn't stay for the Derby. I went to Claiborne Farm on Thursday and had lunch in Paris. I loved seeing all the horse shoes of past horse racing greats such as: Secretariat, Riva Ridge, Count Fleet, Dust Commander and many others in the sidewalks along Main Street. I also had lunch in a restaurant owned by the people who bred Goldencents. Of coarse they think he'll win the Derby. Paris is a nice little town with friendly people. I forgot to mention that after Rosie signed my painting I took it back to my car along with my camera. I put the painting on the hood of my car and put my camera inside the vehicle. Well like the dummy that I am I then locked the car and walked from the parking lot to Gate 10 and re-entered Churchill Downs. I bet 3 or 4 more races and then returned to the parking lot and noticed something on the hood of my vehicle. It was my rose painting that Rosie Napravnik had signed earlier. Obviously the people at Churchill Downs were very honest that day. Either that or nobody liked the painting. Lol! It did make me feel good about the people of Louisville though.

03 May 2013 6:59 PM
Greg R

Are there any counterparts to Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar in the Derby field?  Yes, two.  She won on Aqueduct's inner track.  So did Revolutionary and Vyjack.  They have also proven they can come from behind, as she did.  She was a longshot in the Oaks.  Vyjack will be a longer shot than Revolutionary.  For whatever that's worth.

I'm tempted to revert to the horses I liked a couple of months  ago, Itsmyluckday and Vyjack.  Both have won on off tracks, though not at the highest level, of course.  Half the horses in the field would not surprise too much!  What a scramble, as usual!  It's difficult to have a strong conviction when the Derby is such a demolition derby/roller derby.  No matter if you lose $, don't think of it as a disappointment, think of it as a revelation.

03 May 2013 11:57 PM
Greg R

I like seeing Mine That Bird honored at the K D Museum.  I always thought he could have done more if he had been handled differently.  In the West Virginia Derby, he was beaten by a horse getting eleven pounds from him.  Was it after that he needed the throat surgery for a breathing obstruction?  His races after that, trying to rebound from the surgery and layoff, were on Santa Anita's ProRide, NOT a fair gauge of his ability.  His transfer from Chip Woolley's care did him no favors.  I say that as a longtime D. Wayne fan.  Woolley had the horse figured out.  M T B needed to sit, wait and make one late run.  1 1/4 mi. on dirt was his best trip.  He wouldn't have needed mud. Rushing him into contention at shorter trips was a complete misread of the horse.  Oh, well.  He no doubt has fewer regrets about it than I have.

04 May 2013 12:17 AM
ksweatman9

So nice to see the derby winners looking like royalty, but they ARE royalty, aren't they? I hope to visit Mine that Bird in June, will be a long trip, but he's special to me. My daddy died in February of 2009 and he always picked the long shots to win the roses. He would've been elated. I feel that "Bird" was his horse and I love the little gelding. There's alot of good ponies running this year but I've decided to pull for another gelding and another long shot. Go Vyjack, show us that Big Brown isn't the only one who can shoot from the 20 hole and win. Kisses ans Carrots to you, Mine that Bird and Funny Cide.

04 May 2013 12:31 AM
ThunderInTheSun

In such a large field my concern on a muddy/sloppy track is an accident. With so much at stake and only a handful of horses who like running in the mud, the chance for a spill goes up. The mudders in the race (I only see 4 of them really) all have disparate posts which can be good or bad.  Verazzano and Overanalyze aren't too fond of mud and these two can really create some chaos for the field if held in the pack.  Hopefully nobody does something stupid when positioning but that should happen early.  The final turn will determine who gets pushed far wide and who will sneak through on the rail. Whoever gets that rail spot then without getting trapped should win it, provided someone like Orb or Mylute doesn't close from outside. In the slop, that will take a mighty effort from a strong horse. Track conditions will be a critical variable in this derby. Good luck and safe passage to all.

04 May 2013 1:51 AM
JoyJackson21

Thank you for another great article, Steve.  You made me laugh out loud with the line, "Making semblance of selections.....ought to confuse you more." Great line! - LOL.  Actually, your choices didn't make me at all confused, they convinced me that I've made the right choices for my single wagers & my exotic wagers.  I'm feeling good about my choices.  I think your supposition of where the Derby participants will be running is a good hypothesis of how the race will actually be played out.  What you said made a lot of sense.

And a HUGE thank you for the awesome pictures accompanying your article.  My favorite photos are the photos of the Kentucky Derby champions, Mine That Bird and Funny Cide.  They look fabulous!  Their Kentucky Derby races are underrated, but both of their Derby wins were pretty fabulous.  I love seeing them again.  They look happy and well-taken care of.  The fans must have been thrilled to see them, I know I would have been if I had been there.  The photos of Mine That Bird trying to get the attention of Funny Cide & the picture of Funny Cide continually eating made me laugh.  It's wonderful to see both horses doing so well.

Good luck with your Kentucky Derby choices, Steve!

04 May 2013 3:54 PM

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