Derby Shake-Up

Well, well, well.

So apparently this year's Kentucky Derby is not going to be as easy as we all thought it was. Perhaps, the Affirmed/Alydar-type duel between War Pass and Pyro may not come to fruition after all.

Maybe, just maybe, there are more than two horses to choose from this year.

I, for one, was delighted at the results of last weekend's races. Big Truck's win in the Tampa Bay Derby, coupled with War Pass' last-place finish, was just the shot in the arm that the 2008 Derby needed.

I was just as thrilled when Sierra Sunset dominated the Rebel one hour later, and when Georgie Boy proved he is here to stay in the San Felipe it added even more intrigue. A pair of impressive victories by California-breds was a welcomed sight.

In a span of a few hours, three colts, two who weren't on most people's radar prior to then, instantly shook up the Triple Crown picture. It was refreshing.

While nobody could have predicted that War Pass would finish last in a race where four of the seven colts did not belong, it was not a stretch to think that Big Truck was sitting on a huge race. Ever since his fourth-place finish after a horrible trip in last year's Remsen his connections were waiting for his breakthrough performance. Last out, he was a hard-luck second to Fierce Wind in the Sam Davis and had been training well for Barclay Tagg. And now, he is officially in the Derby mix. Bring it on.

Sierra Sunset was last weekend's most impressive winner to me. The son of Bertrando stalked the pace and made an effortless move to the front. He made an afterthought out of pretenders Anak Nakal and Z Fortune. A West Coast horse that runs better on dirt than synthetics? That is also refreshing. And he is a true underdog to root for. Purchased for only $40,000 for small-time owners, and for a classy trainer (Jeff Bonde) who is new to the Big Show, Sierra Sunset will be fun to watch over the next six weeks.

Georgie Boy might be an even bigger underdog. He was thought to be a sprinter without a chance of going two turns. He is a homebred out of modest bloodlines, and he runs for a trainer (Kathy Walsh) who is easy to like.

And so now, all of a sudden, we have a seemingly unending number of Derby contenders. Just like that. There are the three mentioned above, a now probable favorite (Pyro), two more West Coast standouts (Colonel John and El Gato Malo), a bunch with a lot more to prove (Cool Coal Man, Visionaire, Court Vision, Elysium Fields, Denis of Cork), a few more hanging by a thread (Halo Najib, Blackberry Road, Z Humor, Z Fortune, Anak Nakal, Yankee Bravo, Tale of Ekati, Majestic Watrrior), an impressive allowance winner that is suddenly being talked about by everyone (Big Brown), and a 2-year-old champion whose armor was finally penetrated (War Pass).

Isn't is more fun this way?

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