Wood, Illinois Derby and Santa Anita Derby Analysis

The three weekend preps will separate the men from the boys and give us a pretty good idea of the handful of legitimate Kentucky Derby contenders. There's plenty to cover, so let's get right into it.

As a reminder, the live blog chat will return to its usually time of Saturday at noon EDT. For those of you who have not tried it, it's a lot of fun. We mostly cover the weekend action and talk about all the Triple Crown happenings, as well as make fun of our public enemy No. 1, Draynay. This weekend, I'll be joined by Dick Downey from the TheDowneyProfile.com. Dick has been one of the most respected professional handicappers for many years.

Now onto the races...

Wood Memorial

I just saw that I Want Revenge was installed as the 4-5 choice. Wow. There are an awful lot of people out there who think this colt is the real deal, and based on his Gotham romp he may very well be. In his first start on dirt I Want Revenge fired a near-perfect race (114 Beyer) and was so impressive that IEAH Stables shelled out millions for a 50% share. He might be as good as advertised, but I'm going to try to beat him.

The horse I'll try to do it with is second choice, Imperial Council. Don't mistake this one as a closer, even though that's exactly what he did in the Gotham, when eating up ground like a freight train in the final furlong. Rajiv Maragh rode him that day, and even though he's a capable jockey, it's not the way Shug McGaughey wanted him ridden. In his first three starts under Edgar Prado, Imperial Council was right near the pace, showing very good speed. With Prado aboard again, he should be right near the pace, along with I Want Revenge, Lord Justice and maybe Just a Coincidence.

I thought Imperial ran a very credible race in his first stakes effort and first try around two turns. He has all the looks of a horse that will improve off of that start, especially since Shug is a master at stretching horses out. His bullet work on March 29 in Florida proved to me that he is ready to step forward in a big way. His pedigree says that 1 1/8 miles will not be a problem.

I'll play a small win bet on Imperial Council (2-1), but since we won't be getting great value on him either, I'll also toss in a few exotics. I like Kelly Breen's coupled entry of West Side Bernie and Atomic Rain, who are both stakes tested. If you're willing to throw out Bernie's poor Lane's End effort, you can take comfort in knowing he has fired in all five of his other starts. All six of his career starts have been at more than a mile. Atomic Rain also is distance tested and even though he doesn't win a lot, is a consistent horse. He ran well over this strip when taking second to Old Fashioned in the Remsen and has good tactical speed. Plus, the jocks on both Bernie (Stewart Elliott) and Atomic Rain (Joe Bravo) know this track well.

I'll also use Lime Rickey, who makes his first start on dirt after nine on turf, and Just a Coincidence, who seems to be putting it together at the right time for Zito. I'll play an exacta box Imperial Council WITH Lime Rickey, Just a Coincidence and the coupled entry of Bernie and Atomic Rain. If I Want Revenge finishes third or worse it's an easy, cheap way to make a sizeable score. If not, oh well. I'll let an odds-on beat me.

Santa Anita Derby

Maybe the most highly-anticipated prep of the season, as the showdown between The Pamplemousse and Pioneerof the Nile is finally here. Unlike last week when Pletcher's rabbit scratched out of the Florida Derby, Baffert's rabbit, Z Day, is likely to go. Z Day, along with Feisty Suances, should be able to make The Pamplmousse work for the lead for the first time this year. How will he react?

My guess is that The Pamplemousse will regress a bit. He will still run a good race, but he'll face his stiffest challenge yet and could feel the effects. Pioneerofthe Nile has been near perfect so far, as his three straight graded wins have proven. It's hard to find a chink in his armor. If there is one, it's that this will be his first start at nine furlongs, although all of his previous seven races were two turns. It shouldn't be a problem. I expect Pioneerof the Nile to be right there at the end, but because he and The Pamplemousse will both likely be under 2-1, I have to try to beat them. It's in my nature.

So I'll go with probable third choice, Chocolate Candy, who has been flying under the radar a bit. All he has done is win four of his last five, including his last two in graded stakes company. Because he won his last two up north at Golden Gate, Chocolate Candy has been getting less hype than the other two. But Jerry Hollendorfer purposely kept his colt out of the San Felipe so he would be fresh and now he has about seven weeks between races. Chocolate Candy is a versatile horse, as he's won by staying close to the pace and also showed a big, late kick when losing to POTN by 1 1/2 lengths in the CashCall. The knock on him is that he's too slow, but we'll see. He's already got a win on the Pro-Ride when breaking his maiden last year.

Besides a small win bet on Chocolate Candy, I'll play a trifecta box with Chocolate Candy, Pioneerof the Nile and Feisty Suances, who ran a big one against POTN last out and could improve.

Illinois Derby

It's unlikely that the winner will have a major bearing on the Derby, but it looks like a good betting race nonetheless. I'll start by tossing Musket Man, who looks like a nice horse but not at that price. Who knows if Giant Oak will finally put it all together, but I feel like he has to be part of the exotics scenario based on his class edge. Darley's entry of Stormalory and Florentino also has a good shot. Stormalory comes off a turf win and Florentino has nice early speed. I loved Skipadate last year but his form has been off in his last two starts. Al Khali also has to be respected. Pletcher has won this race three times since 2001 and this colt won in his first U.S. start last month. He could get even better.

That leaves me with my choice - Perfect Song. He's a lightly-raced son of Pleasantly Perfect who is a head away from being unbeaten in three starts. He might be the fastest horse in the raced based on his wire-to-wire optional claiming win at Laurel three weeks ago. He also ran six furlongs in 1:09 when breaking his maiden at Philly Park. He'll be stretching out past a mile for the first time for Michael Trombetta, but we all know how well early speed has done in recent Illinois Derbys.

I'll play a small win bet on Perfect Song (6-1) and play an exacta box - Perfect Song, Al Khali, Stormalory and Giant Oak.

Your thoughts?


Leave a Comment:

Matthew W

Jason I LOVE Imperial Council Saturday! He was rushed, to say the least, to make Gotham--he'll step it way up in Wood! I Want Revenge will have to gun from the rail OR ELSE face kickback for the first time! Remember he was on outside/never behind horses in Gotham....Shug's guy is gonna be coming hard Sat.....I think The Pamplemousse is The West Coast's best chance at the Kentucky Derby--But I will bet against him Sat--think Pioneerof The Nile/Mr Hot Stuff look good Sat as closers--Pioneerof The Nile should win...Again, would love to get Pamp in Kentucky.....SA Derby looks strong this year!

02 Apr 2009 12:30 PM
Travis Lohre

Love your Illinios Derby pick, Perfect Song was actually my second derby pick back in Jan, besides QR. Look at the replay of his last race, the jocky must have looked back over his shoulder 12 times, that could not have helped the trip and times during the race. Dirt record 2 for 2 and now first start with a big time Jocky. Perfect song is the pick of the week at a price, hope he get's into the derby, futures were insain on him.

02 Apr 2009 1:15 PM
Frank J.

What a great day Saturday is going to be!! Can't wait. I think Imperial Council will turn the tables on Revenge and I'm hoping the 'Moose will get Pioneer in the Santa Anita Derby. Got to root for Pleasantly Perfect's kids no matter what!!! Let's so Perfect Song!!

02 Apr 2009 1:18 PM


I'm with you on Perfect Song. I've been keeping an eye on this one for some time now. I have to say though that his 2nd race was quite a dissapointment. Any explanation as to why he turned in such a lousy performance in that one other than it was run over the "fake crap"?

02 Apr 2009 1:26 PM
Jason Shandler

Wiz: He only lost by a head.

02 Apr 2009 1:38 PM

Disagree with you on all of them. I Want Revenge beats the overhyped Imperial Council. The Pamplemouuse is the best 3 Year old and will show it in the SA Derby. Musket Man wins in Illinois.

02 Apr 2009 2:03 PM

I hope Imperial Council wins the Wood because I have an affinity for Shug as he trained Personal Ensign, one of my all-time favorites.  I also generally don't care for the connections/trainer of I Want Revenge.  That said, I see Revenge winning the Wood by 5+ lengths.

02 Apr 2009 2:10 PM
Jason Shandler

Paladin: Would you like some chalk with you meal?

02 Apr 2009 2:12 PM
Matthew W

I refine it to a straight win bet on Imperial Council in Wood---Mullins also not my fave...his guy I Want Revenge is a real nice colt who's "up against it" from the rail post this Sat....Baffert's holding the aces this Sat at The Great Race Place but I'm rooting for Julio and Alex....

02 Apr 2009 2:24 PM

I will give Giant Oak one more try in the Illinois Derby. Thinking of a tri box with Nowhere to Hide and Perfect Song. Hawthorn's track is not like Tampa's so I really don't think Musket Man will be in the mix. Will be attending the race Saturday and may change my mind after visually checking the horses out.

Imperial Council wins The Wood in New York and Chocolate Candy in Cali.

02 Apr 2009 2:34 PM

In the Wood I will take Imperial Council and in the Santa Anita I will take Mr. Hot Stuff for the upset thanks to the rabbit Z Day cooking the field.

Illinois Derby....lol... does it really matter who wins?

02 Apr 2009 2:46 PM

Illinois Derby Musket Man will be flying late if he takes to the track it's off to the derby and despite his pedigree he can get the distance major player.

 The Wood I Want Revenge the only way he loses if his trainer just wants to tighten him up that will be up to you to determine. I say he wins for fun.

 Santa Anita Derby The Pamplemousse is the real deal in California should bury Bafferts Pioneerof The Nile. We all will see this horse go wire to wire with something left in the tank.

My play a three horse win parlay on all of the above.

02 Apr 2009 2:49 PM

They should call the horse pioneer of the mile because thats how far away he will be from THE MOUSSE aka the superfreak! After this weekend it will be very clear who the top horses are. QR will be the top three come may 2nd i need two more horses to box that trifecta! QR, THE mousse and need two others any thoughts? Also if you watch desert party from dubai his race was also impressive one more furlong and he would of dominated.

02 Apr 2009 2:54 PM

Matthew W. Have to take your comment on Imperial Council being "RUSHED" to make the Gotham as a late April Fools joke. Shug doesn't rush anything. He wanted two turns and didn't want to run the one turn in Florida to fit his schedule. He's a trainer that, unlike so many with Derby fever, sticks to a steady progression pattern in the development process. That being said, I agree the IC will run well on Saturday as he looks like he's been tightened for a big effort. Keeping in mind that the target is still the 2nd of May, I believe his connections would be more than satisfied if he steps forward with either a win or a closing second. The best of this horse is yet to come but obviously graded money is the concern.

Jason, I realize your working to beat the chalk and really like your shot with Zito's horse but don't be too tough on Paladin for the IWR / IC short ticket. As my Dad use to say : beats tearin em up.

Safe Trip for All  

02 Apr 2009 2:55 PM
Jason Shandler

mg: I, of course, was just having some fun with Paladin. But you will rarely see me pick chalk on this blog. Not my style. I am not a big enough player to see any real return on favorites. So I'll take my shots.

As my buddy Top Turf Teddy says, "you can't stay alive at 6-5."

02 Apr 2009 3:01 PM

He is right mg...  no matter how many times I tell him Quality Road is going to win the Derby he will not listen.  I think Jason has his eye on Win Willy.... if you want to actually cash your ticket this year Jason please just take Quality Road and call it a day.

02 Apr 2009 3:19 PM

Stormalory  and  Florentino  are  in  the  Transylvania

at  Keeneland  Friday.

02 Apr 2009 3:47 PM

amph44 you should find the rest of your ticket after this weekend, you know I Want Revenge will be flying and should love mile and a quater in the derby. Don't discount either of Larry Jones horses and really watch Musket Man and see if he handles the track he could be a sleeper

02 Apr 2009 3:48 PM
For Big Red

SANTA ANITA DERBY: If Z Day makes the early running as fast as he's capable of, I think Pioneerof the Nile or Chocolate Candy win. If Z Day doesn't take to synth and fails to set a fast pace, I think The Pamplemousse wins. I'll play around with exacta boxes using Pioneerof the Nile, The Pamplemousse, Chocolate Candy, Take the Points and Gallant Son. No straight win bet since what Z Day will do is unpredictable. It's his first time racing on synth, and we don't know how the barn change has affected him.


Z Day: Won 1 of 5 lifetime, all on dirt. Capable of running :21+ first quarters, :44+ halfs, and 1:09+ 6f. Has never run farther than 6 1/2f. Also will be a fresh horse whose last race was 2/14/09. Never ran in a stakes race. His only purpose here is to set the fastest early pace he possibly can. Question is, can he duplicate that kind of speed on synth?


Pioneerof the Nile: Won 4 of 7 lifetime, on both synth and turf. Has not raced at 1 1/8m yet, but won three 1 1/16m races in a row and should have no trouble getting the extra distance. (*BTW, has a similar lifetime race schedule as FF, but POTN's connections didn't see any need to back off him.) Two works since last raced, including a bullet 6f in 1:11 2/5 on 3/25. Positives are his versatile running style, tenacity and proven class. Has already won a G1 race.

The Pamplemousse: Won 3 of 5 lifetime, all on synth. Won the G3 Sham at 1 1/8m; steps up in class here. Has four works since last raced, one at 5f, one at 6f and two bullet 3f works. So he will be sharp on Saturday. His best races are when he either makes or closely presses the pace, but he has never won setting the kind of fractions that Z Day is capable of running.

Chocolate Candy: Won 4 of 8 lifetime, all on synth. Has won at 1 1/8m. Will be 49 days between his last race and SADerby. Tab shows six good works since 3/2/09, progressing through 5f, 6f, 7f, 1m, 1m, the last a 4f breeze in :48.6. (*See remarks about FF below.) Positives are that CC is a fresh horse with a cagey trainer, and he's a reliable closer in a field with a lot of speed. Questions re his class and speed to win at this level. Also, his work tab suggests Hollendorfer is looking for a good race, but not necessarily a win. It's the schedule of a horse being prepared to peak at 1 1/4m.


Take the Points: Won 2 of 5 lifetime, mostly on dirt, but does have a 2nd on synth. His best races are when he stalks the pace. Ran second all the way to The Pamplemousse in G2 Sham. The SADerby will be his third rack back after a long layoff, so he could be coming up to his best effort. He raced a month apart in January and February, then didn't race in March. Has had three average works since last raced. Probably the best of the long shots.

Gallant Son: Won 5 of 9 lifetime. Four of his wins were on dirt and one was on turf. Has finished no better than 5th in his three starts on synth. Won the Pasadena Stakes on turf at Santa Anita. Have to respect any horse who has a versatile running style and wins 56% of his starts, but this is a huge step up in class.

(*NOTE: Contrast Hollendorfer's work schedule for Chocolate Candy and Jones' for Friesan Fire, who both last raced on Feb. 14. There have been no reported works for FF since then. CC has had six in steady progression: 3/2, 3/8, 3/13, 3/19, 3/25 and 3/31. My heart wants FF to win the Derby. My head wonders what the heck Jones is doing with this colt. There are only 30 days left before the Derby.)

02 Apr 2009 4:13 PM

I Want Revenge will win the Wood,handily.He's just too much Horse for the rest of the field.Don't think his Gotham was a fluke people,he's simply that much better on dirt.Watch his acceleration down the stretch,a thing of beauty...IC will improve,but it won't be enough..I'll make my money playing the exotics: IWR on top,w/2,6,7 box on the bottom of the Tri/Super.

Where's all the uproar regarding Baffert using a "rabbit" in here? Pletcher sure got his fair share last week..anyways,class should prevail here: I'll box POTN & The Pamps' for 1st/2nd,then use 1,5,6/1,5,6 on the bottoms.

The Illinois Derby is a toss-up,so I might just play: 1,2,8,9 Tri/Super box.

Jason, chalk does taste pretty good with a Cold One while cashing-in my man.

02 Apr 2009 4:20 PM

No love for Lord Justice, eh?  He'll likely wire the Wood.  He is improving rapidly, has about the best pedigree (if you don't know the dam, you should) and has been cultivated slowly and carefully as Adena Springs is wont to do.  

02 Apr 2009 5:03 PM
Mike Relva


IC for the win,also Pioneer.

02 Apr 2009 5:08 PM

The only thing I want to find out from the Illinois Derby is if Giant Oak is any good at all.

Rooting for ex-Californian I Want Revenge, although there's no harm in finishing a good second. Am also dreaming of an upset win in the Santa Anita Derby by Mr. Hot Stuff although honestly I can see Pioneer, the Mousse, and Candy each pulling it off. Untested on dirt or not they're all really awesome 3yos.

02 Apr 2009 5:35 PM

Watch out Slew... Z Day may really mess this race up !!!  The Pamplemousse is going to be chasing a very fast horse.

02 Apr 2009 5:44 PM

I Want Revenge won the Gotham because he had an easy trip, he obviously likes the dirt better than synthetics, and Rajiv on IC didn't ride him well. IC will win this Saturday I just think he's a better horse than IWR. Shug so deserves a win in the Derby already. As for The Pamplemousse, I just can't overlook his pedigree. It will stop him at some point. And with all that pace up front it sets of perfectly for......Pioneer! Again, a target to run after.

02 Apr 2009 5:52 PM

The reason that there is no uproar because the pamelmousse has the earnings and his trainer isnt a high class - ! I agree that IWR is the real deal I see derby day the mousse and OF on the lead with QR and IWR stalking and win willy coming from way back. The question is if any can catch the mousse because we already knwo that OF will die at 10 furlongs!

02 Apr 2009 6:07 PM


You wrote:

"I'll start by tossing Musket Man, who looks like a nice horse but not at that price. Who knows if Giant Oak will finally put it all together, but I feel like he has to be part of the exotics scenario based on his class edge."

I agree ultimately with your pick of Perfect Song, although I would have him in an exacta. The true overlay here is Giant Oak. Musket Man will end up as the 3rd pick by post, offering better value than GO. The horse broke his maiden at Belmont, won at Phila, and TB. To me Giant Oak may get up for the show, the pace and the way this track favors tactical speed tells me Musket Man, Perfect Song dueling for the win.

02 Apr 2009 6:07 PM

"no man alive has paid a mortgage at 4/5."....from someone who has forgotten more than I know.I think he's an overlay @ 2/1! I'll try to beat'em with Imerial Council, and toss out of the exacta ticket as well, using 'Bernie and Lime Rickey...the later is purely a gut play...why would his connections use the Wood as a test for the colts affinity for dirt...and Castellano takes the call? As an aside..everybody beefed when Dunkirk's people paid hi dollars for him, but I see no one say a word about IEAH ponying up a bunch a cash, just because they can. In fact I have even read that as a positive sign, like it was some sort of annoiting of IWR that makes him legit.

02 Apr 2009 6:08 PM


Think I may have mistakingly posted that Giant Oak offered value. If so, what I meant to post is that he will be overbet and underwhelming...

He still may hit the board, but easily post time favorite. Pace makes the race...

02 Apr 2009 6:18 PM

Draynay aka the mousse hater....I will take a week off from posting if mr. hotstuff beats the mousse!

02 Apr 2009 6:18 PM

Where is the love for Mr. Hot Stuff?  I am with Draynay and will put my money on this closer.  He is learning more each race as is his jockey Corey Nakatani who rode the Colonel to victory in this race last year.

02 Apr 2009 6:31 PM

I guess it's a compliment of sorts when you send out TWO horses to beat ONE horse.  Particularly on a track that favors closers.

The Mousse is makin' em shake!!  

02 Apr 2009 7:21 PM

Jason...way to stick with your guns in the Santa Anita Derby. I hope you got that reported future book on Chocolate Candy.  With an extra 1/16 over the Cash Call look for Chocolate Candy to turn the tables on POTN.  POTN has had 3 weeks rest...Candy has had 6.  Unfortunately for the Pamp he has lost the race already.  Post 10 with alot of early speed leaves him shuffled back pretty far.  It is a bit disappointing that we won't get to see the "match race" we should have.  Baffert, who trained the Pamp's dad, pretty much dismissed Canani's remarks that the Pamp can rate.  You Tube the Cash Call and watch Candy closing on 2 of the biggest contenders so far (POTN and IWR).  From the trainer who brought you Heatseeker and Hysterical Lady as well as over 5,000 other wins.  See you at the Santa Anita Derby.

02 Apr 2009 7:27 PM

    In the Wood, I Want Revenge may regress a little, but I don't think it will be much if at all.  Imperial Council may have received a pretty suspect ride in his last to say the least and he might have been closing ground like a freight train in the stretch, but it was on the rest of the field, not on the winner.  I Want Revenge by 3-4 lengths this time around, not 8 like in the Gotham.  Kickback and the inside post won't make that much of a difference with him.  This horse has guts.

    In the SA Derby, I'll take Pioneerof The Nile to win.  Whether or not Z Day takes to the synthetics would only matter if Zayat actually cared if he won the race or not.  He's out there to run as fast as he can for 6f, that's it.  That he can do whether he likes the Pro Ride or not.  The Pamplemousse is no doubt improving, that I'll give him, but he has had everything his own way in his last 3 starts.  In his 1st 2 races of his career he faced a little adversity and didn't fair real well.  I think the horse needs to be on the lead by the time they hit the far turn and I don't think that will happen Saturday.  I wish Pletcher would run Take The Points in here instead of probably scratching him in favor of the Bluegrass.  I think he would actually fair well against his field with this being his 2nd start over the surface, but I guess we all can dream.  I'm not a fan of The Pamplemousse as a Derby contender.  I don't think he can go the extra 1/8 of a mile to win the Derby especially considering he will face competition on the front end in the Derby.

    Like a few others, I'm big on Perfect Song in the IL Derby.  He's going to be the speed and Hawthorne is definitely known for playing to speed.  I'll play Giant Oak and Free Country underneath for the exacta.  Both horses showed great potential earlier and have had some bad racing luck as of recent.  Any run back to that potential and I think they can run along and pick up the pieces.

    Just a side note, I know this is TC talk, but I'll give a little love to the 3 yo fillies with the Ashland being run this weekend.  I'll play Nan in that race.  She had a terrible trip in her last race (I know Stardom Bound did as well), but she was still right there with them in the end.  A better trip this time around and I think she pulls the upset.  Stardom Bound is an exceptional filly, but I think her 5 race GI win streak comes to an end Saturday.  It won't get much better for her in the Oaks either when she faces Rachel Alexandra.  Good luck to everyone this weekend.

02 Apr 2009 7:40 PM

I have seen it first hand... Z Day can flat fly and any horse getting too close to that speed is going to pay the price going down the stretch.  Mr. Hot Stuff is going to get the pace he wants and Pioneer may get a little to close and lack the close he will need to hold off a hard charging Mr. Hot Stuff.  The race just seems to set up for him we will see if he has it in him to pull it off... Good Luck All.

02 Apr 2009 9:36 PM

Ummm...There is no Darly entry in the Illinois Derby. Maybe next year?

02 Apr 2009 10:43 PM

I like MM in the Il Derby, think alot of people will be liking him more after this race. He is maturing nicely , looks awesome. Perfect Song will fade as MM goes by, sorry but thats the way I see it.

As long as I'm liking MM's, I also like Chocolate Candy along with POTN, The Pamp goes down to these two, just not able to hold them off in the stretch.

I will watch IWR dominate in the Wood , but I do think IC runs a better race this time , just won't be beating IWR this time.

02 Apr 2009 11:10 PM
Money Generator

I want revenge is a cert on saturday, if you want to make money from it then either A) stand it out in a pick4 or do a double into 2 horses or an exacta have it on top and then put a black pen through its name and then reasses the race and try and pick the next best for 2nd.  But what ever you do or what ever you think, do not think to much, this thing smashes that weak field and by lengths.  Take the 4/5 and hit it hard.

Giddy Up

02 Apr 2009 11:58 PM

The Wood:  Just a Coincidence is going straight to the front with Johnny V with the other pretend speed chasing him.  Imperial Council will sit off the speedtenders and try to get the jump on I Want Revenge.  If I Want Revenge tries to go with the speed again, he'll be done.  The pace will be a quick pace that I Want Revenge will want nothing to do with.  Why would he if he intends to go 1 1/4 miles in Derby?!  No, this will be a sit and pounce with Crazy Joe Talamo!  Prado will have Imperial Council in front by the mile marker going past Just a Coincidence and ready to hold off I Want Revenge.  Imperial Council by a head over IWR.  Throw in Lime Ricky & Just a Coincidence for third.  Why is Lime Ricky in this race after three straight 2nd place TURF finishes?!  He's out of Lemon Drop Kid and ran against POTN on turf last year.  Belmont in store for this horse?  

03 Apr 2009 12:11 AM

The Santa Anita Derby:  Wow!  They are going to run this race very fast!  I see a mile in 1:35 or less which sets this up for a closer.  POTN will run 2nd but will be closing and look good for Kentucky Derby.  No shame in running 2nd prior to Derby.  But which horse will win?  It won't be The Pamplemousse!  Grade 3 to Grade 1...no thank you!  This horse should have been facing better horses and had the chance to do so...what happened?!  Canani said early on he wasn't thinking Derby with this horse.  But what are you going to do after two big wins in Grade 3 races?!  You put him here and find out what you have...or already knew you didn't have!  So which horse for the win?  How about Mr Hot Stuff?  Yep!  Fast fractions for him and needs to win to get to Derby.  Please Corey, no more rail rides!  Put this horse on the outside coming home and drive to the wire til you get to the barn!  OK, POTN can win this easily but I'll take a flyer on Mr Hot Stuff.  Throw in Take the Points, Chocolate Candy & The Pamplemousse for third.

03 Apr 2009 12:25 AM

Just a note on the Florida Derby.

Andy Beyer himself has upgraded Quality Road's figure for the Florida Derby from 103 to 111.

Most race fans, including Jason and myself, stated that the 103 figure seemed low. In my first posts after the Florida Derby, I commented that I expected a Beyer from 107 to 113. Once the 103 came out, I posted that the only way the Beyer team could have come up with that figure is by using Stately Character as their key variable.

The upgrade in the Quality Road's Beyer also moves Dunkirk's figure from 100 to 108. Now, Dunkirk does indeed appear to be continuing his upward progression, increasing his Beyers from 78 to 98 to 108.

It's amazing what an 8 point change in a race's figure will do. After the race, when I thought Quality Road and Dunkirk had run 107-113, I was extremely confident that both colts were true stars. And while I remained skeptical of the 103 and continued to post that I thought the race deserved a minimum of 107, I have to admit that the 103 fig did dampen my enthusiasm a bit. This is a good lesson for me and others who use quantitative measures like Beyers (Thorough Graph Numbers, Ragozin Sheets) to not place too much on them. My eyes told me Quality Road and Dunkirk ran huge, and although Gulfstream was fast Saturday, the time of 147 and 3 still appeared impressive.

As for the speed of Gulfstream on Saturday, while it was much faster than it had been most of the meet, it was the same as for the 07' and 08' Florida Derby days. I posted earlier that with a 103 figure for Quality Road's Florida Derby, the Gulfstream track was 4/5th of a second faster Saturday than it was for the 07' and 08' Florida Derbys. With the 8 point upward Beyer shift, however, it appears the Gulfstream track was the same Saturday as it was the previous two years. So, it was standard operating procedures for Gulfstream- a faster than normal track for Florida Derby day. And by faster than normal, I mean in comparison to the rest of the meet.  

Quality Road's 111 Beyer is, I believe, the 3rd highest Beyer for the Florida Derby since 1991. Holy Bull earned a 115 in 94', and Unbridled's Song a 114 in 96'. Quality Road's Beyer (now) compares favorably to the figures for such Florida Derby winners as Big Brown (106), Barbaro (103), Empire Maker (108), Monarchos (105), Captain Bodgit (104), Thunder Gulch (101), and Fly So Free/Strike the Gold (103-106).

Quality Road now has two Beyers over 110 (113,111). Since 1991 when Beyers were first widely published, I can think of only 3 horses that entered the Kentucky Derby with 2 Beyer figures over 110. There was Holy Bull in 94' (115 Florida Derby, 113 Blue Grass), Silver Charm in 97' (110 San Vicente, 110 Santa Anita Derby), and Indian Charlie in 98' (112 allowance, 111 Santa Anita Derby).  Silver Charm went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Indian Charlie ran a very good 3rd to stablemate Real Quiet. Holy Bull floundered in his Kentucky Derby, but he went on to win the Horse of the Year and is in the Hall of Fame (as is Silver Charm).  Smarty Jones came close to having two 110+ Beyers, getting 112 and 109 before winning the 04' Derby. On the other hand, Balto Star also came close in 01' with 112 and 109 Beyers, and he ran up the track in the Derby.

Looks like I'm back at it, giving way too much thought to numbers. But I have to admit, the Beyer upgrade has me feeling like I did right after the Florida Derby.

03 Apr 2009 3:45 AM

The one problem about the Florida Derby getting a 111 Beyer is that it seems to give Jojo and Stately Character too much credit. While the 103 Beyer appeared too low for Quality Road and Dunkirk, the corresponding figs for Jojo (90) and Stately Character (86) seemed to fit. Now, Jojo's fig for the Florida Derby has been bumped to a 98 and Stately Character a 94. To me, it doesnt seem like Jojo ran only 4 lengths slower in the Florida Derby than he did in the Fountain of Youth (105 Beyer). And while young 3 year olds can improve quickly, the new Beyer suggests Stately Character improved 6 lengths after 4 straight races in which he showed no improvement at all(was stuck on 82,83 Beyers).

An 8 point adjustment is quite large and very unusual, even for Beyer figures. 103 definitely felt too low, but 111 produces figs for the also-rans (Jojo, Stately) that appear a little too high. I'll take the 111 rather than 103, but 108 or 109 would make sense too. Regardless of the fig, Quality Road and Dunkirk ran big races, and have promising futures.  

03 Apr 2009 4:28 AM

Does anyone see JR being able to sit behind the obvious speed and make the first move at the 3/8's. I still maintain Zito as clever as any with these types, and notice he gave this colt a quik work telling me he should be on his toes. JR/Zito...maybe 15/1...you can swing and miss a few times with those numbers. He'll be on my exacta plays.[and his pedigree suggests some staying power]

03 Apr 2009 10:14 AM
Jason Shandler

Gun Bow: Good points about the Florida Derby Beyers. It just shows you that the numbers at that meet are inflated and inconsequential. They should have little or no bearing when handicapping the Ky. Derby.

03 Apr 2009 11:15 AM

Its time to say what needs to be said about the current top 10 heading into the Derby.  

Quality Road... Is your Derby winner. It's going to be fun watching all the races this weekend and next but a 113 Beyer with a 111 first time at two turns along with a track record should tell you something.  No horse is good enough to match up with Quality Road.  The move Dunkirk put on was huge and would have been enough to pass most if not all.  Quality Road found another gear and set a record doing it...enough said.

Friesan Fire has not faced top competition and has never raced over 1 1/16th add to that 7 weeks off and he is a toss for me.

The Pamplemousse is a very good horse picking on average competition and small fields and not good enough to win the Derby.

Pioneer of the Nile like the Pamplemousse has had trouble with very average competition.  He is simply too slow.

Old Fashioned ran to decent fractions and spit the bit letting a horse called Win Willy beat him... enough said...pass.

Dunkirk showed more than most and now has 2 races at 1 1/8th and both were very good performances... as much as I hate to say it he will be at the bottom of my tickets if he gets in.

Desert Party will be in there too but seems to lack closing speed on a fast track and there is no reason to believe Churchill will not be fast.

I Want Revenge needs to prove himself on a real track and he will get his chance.  His Wood performance will show me if he deserves to be on my ticket.

Imperial Council needs to show his stuff on Saturday and if he does win he will finish my exacta tickets.

All other horses have no real shot and will not be considered unless someone not listed above is firing bullets during workouts before the Derby.  Now you don't have to look for the Derby winner... I did it for you... Quality Road.  Good Luck to all.

03 Apr 2009 11:53 AM

Good advice for handicappers that primarily rely on Beyer numbers: pick out a warm spot under the bridge for your cardboard box.

03 Apr 2009 12:07 PM
For Big Red

TO TJLUVSTIZS: You asked, "Where is the love for Mr. Hot Stuff?"

My answer: Mr. Hot Stuff won 1 of 6 lifetime, all on synth. Only win, a maiden race 2/1/09. Took five tries to break his maiden, then stepped way up in class in the G3 Sham. Finished a decent 3rd to The Pamplemousse and Take the Points while running on the rail, generally not the best place for a closer to be. So the positive on him is that he showed some promise in the Sham. Also, he's breaking from the outside, an advantage for a closer. However, there are too many negatives on him for the SADerby for me to see him as a contender.

Four works since last raced: 4f, 5f, 6f and 5f. Sharpest was 3/18/09 5f in :59 1/5, but overall it's not the work tab of a horse whose speed is being sharpened to compete with what he'll face in the SADerby. His maiden win shows he's capable of getting a mile in 1:35 4/5 coming from last against fractions of :23 4/5, :47 2/5, 1:11 1/5. If Z Day does his job as intended, they will go considerably faster than that on Saturday.

It's asking an awful lot of a horse still eligible for "non-winners of 2" allowance races to jump so far up in class against graded stakes winners. There are several horses in the SADerby with pace-stalking and/or come-from-behind styles who have accomplished more, starting with Pioneerof the Nile, who's already won a G1 race.

I'm crazy about Tiznow and that whole Intentionally sire line, and Mr. Hot Stuff certainly has the breeding to be any kind of horse. I just think his connections are asking an awful lot of him in the SADerby. Either they've seen something in him that isn't obvious from the colt's record to date, or they're just taking a shot hoping to hit the board like they did in the Sham.

03 Apr 2009 12:54 PM
For Big Red

TO MG: You wrote, "Good advice for handicappers that primarily rely on Beyer numbers: pick out a warm spot under the bridge for your cardboard box."

LOL...and bravo! Speed figures are just one tool, nothing more. They certainly are not the be-all and end-all of handicapping. Besides, I have trouble relying on a system that has to be retroactively adjusted several days after a race. Seems to me that's reacting to post-race opinions rather than on objective use of a mathematics-based methodology. In other words, guess work.

03 Apr 2009 1:04 PM

Is The Pamplemousse the 2009 version of HardSpun (tuffness being unknown at this point)?

Dray - you are a thought in progress!!!

03 Apr 2009 1:15 PM

Mr. Hot stuff has had many chances against lesser.  The time to "pull it all together" is not in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.  He's stepping way up in class against multiple graded stakes winners who do nothing but run consistent over several surfaces. A couple also have pretty good foundations (I think POTN routed 5 times as a 2 year old). How many attempts did it take Mr. Hot Stuff to break his maiden?  Pass.

03 Apr 2009 1:38 PM

Draynay I agree with your last post besides you hatin on the mousse. Its going to be QR, IWR, Dunkirk and the mousse come derby time. Draynay put the mousse back on your tickets buddy and stop hating on him!

03 Apr 2009 2:31 PM


Of course I know Perfect Song lost by a head but it was the time that was dissapointing. He literally crawled home in that one. He went from running a 6f race in 1:09 flat to a 6 1/2 f race where he went the 6f in 1:12.8. On top of the his last 1/2 furlong he went in 7.2 which is crawling. Sorry to bother you with the question, I thought you would understand that what I was asking was if you knew of any reason he slowed down so much other than he was running over a fake surface.

03 Apr 2009 3:53 PM

The only thing Beyers have shown us is that they are way off from synthetic to dirt.  Horses are jumping 15+ once they hit the real stuff.  I think we need a "post" synthetic Beyer adjustment.  

03 Apr 2009 3:56 PM
Jason Shandler

No bother Wiz. Just didnt think it was that bad of an eefort.

03 Apr 2009 4:05 PM

Been away for a couple of days. The adjustment of Beyers for the Fla. Derby just about cements it for me. Quality Road has been #1 on my list for quite some time now. It will take a herculean effort to beat him in the Derby if he gets to the gate in top shape and doesn't get his foot stepped on by some horse who doesn't belong there coming out of the gate. We've seen that before haven't we draynay?

I Want Revenge has shown he is capable of running in the same league as far as Beyer Figs go and Imperial Council will give a much bigger effort this weekend so it remains to be seen if Quality Road will have any real competition come May 2nd. I still like Pioneer Of The Nile some because of his connections and the fact that he has seemingly improved but he needs to run faster and the dirt question looms over his head.

One thing for sure I will be behind Quality Road come May 2nd. as I have some pretty healthy futures exactas and a nice future win bet riding on that one. Gotta spend it somewhere, I can't take it with me when my time is done.

03 Apr 2009 4:07 PM

Beyer is not the end all be all but that along with his back to back wins along with his record time tells me the jig is up.  Don't look past what is right in front of you or you end up picking Court Vision.

I think the Pamplemousse is a very good horse but he has to be up in front with the speed and Z Day is going to lay down some crazy fractions.  Very good horse but the pace of the race will work against him.  I am still going with Mr. Hot Stuff to pull off the upset.  Imperial Council should love the mud ... his dad sure did. Quality Road for sure folks write it down with magic marker!

03 Apr 2009 4:38 PM

Householder if thats the case that meand the mousse is running 118's which sounds just about right. What did IWR when he hit dirt?? What happened when well armed hit dirt ???? The mousse will hit the dirt and lights out at the derby...bling bling!

03 Apr 2009 4:39 PM

"TO TJLUVSTIZS: You asked, "Where is the love for Mr. Hot Stuff?"

My answer: Mr. Hot Stuff won 1 of 6 lifetime, all on synth. Only win, a maiden race 2/1/09. Took five tries to break his maiden, then stepped way up in class in the G3 Sham. Finished a decent 3rd to The Pamplemousse and Take the Points..."  For Big Red, although I don't think as highly of Mr. Hot Stuff, he is a full brother to Colonel John so the bloodlines are there.  Sometimes it just takes horses time to develop as this seems to be the case with him.  Eion Harty even said the horse is real immature, but is starting to put things together.  I don't know if it will be the SA Derby when he does finally break through, but when he does, he'll be a nice price.  You can't fault someone for taking a shot.  Besides, although he had faced tougher competition previously, IWR went into the Gotham as just a maiden winner and emerged as a leading Derby contender at this point.  

03 Apr 2009 5:31 PM
Money Generator

After much debate I have concluded that the moouse is the one on saturday.  Although I luv the way baffert finds an extra couple lengths on a horse in big races I think the moouse will be too far infront.  Barrier is a benefit, jockey doesnt even have to make a choice and Suez isnt dumb.  So much said about the pacemaker but surely a smart jockey just ignores it 100pct.  I wouldn't even sit outside it, I would be 1 or 2 back running my own race.  Either way with there being so much talk of speed I think you will find a lot of them will be sitting off the speed and as such the moouse might get away with a slower than expected pace. This will mean pioneer will be too far back.  At the end of the day the moouse will be in the right position regardless and thus wins with the splits it can maintain.  So a lazy grand on I want revenge in the wood to collect 1800 then roll this ALL into the moouse at 2/1 and turn your 1k into a comfortable 5400 and lets climb out of this credit crises together.

Giddy Up

03 Apr 2009 6:09 PM
Money Generator

It is becoming very clear that turf and synthetic form generally works out and is transferable on surfaces hence so many European horses (all turf) start in santa anita, but synthetic form to dirt does not.  There will always be an exception to the rule but you will go broke betting a proven synthetic horse on a pure dirt track.  Look at curlin in the BC its worst ever effort you could say, just like the day it ran on turf and didn't win, he didn't look good that day either.  Look at how well the Europeans did at the BC meet, a very easy triffecta if you used this analysis.  A turf horse won the classic.  When doing the form ignore synthetic horses on dirt totally and on synthetic judge it as though its a turf race and you will get a better line.  So look at I want revenge form line and think it is a 10+ better beyer horse on dirt.  Also if a california trainer ships a horse over to run in NYC I dont have to tell you why.  Clearly they have worked out its better on pure dirt tracks.  Baffert hardly sends one to NYC but when he does you can bet your life its a dirt horse thru and thru and ignore its avg form at say Santa Anita.  The trainer of I want revenge is here for that reason also.

The moouse wins on saturday but I can not see it in the top 8 in the derby on a dirt track.

Giddy Up

Giddy Up

03 Apr 2009 6:38 PM
For Big Red

TO CURLIN: I'm not faulting anyone for taking a shot. That's what horse racing is all about. At the end of my post to which you replied, I also said, "I'm crazy about Tiznow and that whole Intentionally sire line, and Mr. Hot Stuff certainly has the breeding to be any kind of horse."

All I did was share my analysis of why I think Mr. Hot Stuff is overmatched in the Santa Anita Derby. He may very well mature into a fine stakes horse, but tomorrow he's stepping way up in class against horses currently much more advanced. My opinion, for what it's worth. :)

03 Apr 2009 6:51 PM

SA Derby: Chocholate Candy to nail The "Mousse" at the wire followed by POTN and Mr Hot Stuff

Wood Memorial: IWR, Westside Bernie, Imperial Council. Just A Coincidence could cause some anxious moments for the principals.

Illinois Derby: Musket Man, Perfect song, Giant Oak.  

Great horses run great preps and embelish their resumes.  Enjoy folkes.

03 Apr 2009 8:41 PM

ampp44 could not agree more.  Jason did a real nice interview with Hollendorfer.  He said something to the effect of Hystericalady ran 90's on synthetics and 115 on the dirt.  Was she THAT better on dirt? (Even money against Zenyatta)  Is IWR THAT better on dirt? He almost headed POTN (not dirt). Is Well Armed that better on dirt?  He came close to stealing the Pacific Classic at 9-1 (not dirt).  The answer is no.  They are just good race horses running good on dirt or synthetics. It does not matter. There has to be a "band" or some type of "standard error of measurement" with any single measurement in time.  Beyer just needs to build this into his syn to dirt analyis.  Right now I would be carefull using the Beyer's to say the POTN or Chocolate Candy are too slow.  I'm not buying the synthetic to dirt "freak factor."  I think it is measurement error.  

03 Apr 2009 9:16 PM

They can let Z Day go.  He is not going anywhere.  So he leads for 1/2 mile.  Breaking from 10 it will take the Pamp 1/2 mile to find the front just about the time Z Day is done.  Z Day is no Bob Black Jack.  He's got 1 six furlong win at 1:10 and change.  Certainly not the fastest spinter on the grounds.  

03 Apr 2009 9:26 PM

Quality Road is no doubt an awesome horse.  I'm not ready to crown him the derby champ at this point.  There's a lot of racing left in the next 15 days, that'll help.  Horses that win the derby usually peak to do so.  Has he peaked or does he have something left?  

I use Beyers more for comparison and trends. I love the one where a horse in a claiming race runs the exact same time as a horse in an allowance race, but the horse in the allowance race gets a higher number.  That's subjectivity and presents problems at times.  

By the way, I think Take the Points will scratch.  His goal is to make sure no horse sneaks into the top 20 and with the three top contenders in the race that's a near certainty.  Pletcher has 3 in the Illinois just for that reason.  He's trying to keep a couple of horse from slipping into the top 20 for Dunkirk's sake.  

Pamplemousse uber alles

03 Apr 2009 10:32 PM

Will not be betting any of the races on Saturday, as I will be at the Final 4 here in the D.

For the Wood, give me chalk. I Want Revenge is too good right now. The extra speed shouldn't be a big problem, given he came from well off the pace to just miss in the grade 1 Hollywood (Cash Call) Futurity. He has class, speed, and can win even with a bounce. Imperial Council for 2nd. I like his upward progression, and he should continue to improve here. Would be surprised if someone else sneaks into the exacta. After that, none of the others appear to be Kentucky Derby material, unless West Side Bernie can come back in 2 weeks and run a much improved race. I would be inclined to take an improving horse like Lord Justice or Just a Coincidence for 3rd.

Santa Anita Derby:

Have thought The Pamplemousse would hold too many advantages, and the presence of Z Day doesnt change my opinion. The Mousse showed he can rate when breaking his maiden with a good figure at Hollywood Park. The key point is, he is going to be well ahead of his principle rivals turning for home, and we know he can get 9 furlongs. At Churchill going 10 furlongs, I like others in here more, but Saturday should be The Mousse's day. Pioneer of the Nile is going to be very tough; he is very talented an exudes class. I just see his late run coming up short. However, if Gogo hustles him out of the gate, like in the San Felipe, I think he does have the ability to stay within striking distance of The Mousse and then wear him down late. However, I see Gomez riding Pioneer with an eye on Kentucky, and will let him settle early. I look at synthetic Beyers like turf Beyers, in which the most important things are the closing fractions and the class of the race. Chocolate Candy holds a significant class edge over the other runners that I have yet to mention, and would be disappointed if he is not running well late for 3rd. Take the Points is better on dirt, Mr Hot Stuff has to improve, and the others are outclassed. Chalk City.

Illinois Derby: None of the horses in the field are, as of yet, serious Kentucky Derby contenders. The favorites in the Illinois Derby, Musket Man and Giant Oak, are very flawed horses. I wouldn't be surprised if any of the following 6 horses won the race: Perfect Song, Nowhere to Hide, Musket Man, Giant Oak, Al Khali, and Free Country. I suppose I like Perfect Song and Musket Man the most, but wouldn't take lower than 5-1 on any of them. Couldn't blame anyone for shooting at the stars in this race.

03 Apr 2009 10:56 PM

Well, Colonel John owes me money,

so maybe Mr. Hot Stuff can pay.  Last time that happened was Opening Verse in the '91 Breeder's Cup, so I'm not holding my breath.

Whatever happens, I have to go to work tomorrow, so the rest of you enjoy.  Loved the "cardboard box"

comment.  Say hi to Pamp tomorrow.

A little trivia for you...As you know, Pamplemousse means grapefruit in French.  In Tahiti (French Polynesia), the grapefruit which they call Pamplemousse is huge, sweet and green, even when it's ripe.  Keep shakin' y'all.

04 Apr 2009 12:54 AM

I'm taking the train and 2 subways to get to the Big A.Betting $3 pick 3 IWR,Imperial Council /Kodiak Kowboy/All

Best Bet Illinois Derby- Nowhere To Hide $30WP

Go Baby Go

04 Apr 2009 8:13 AM

giddyup...gotta ask why if poly to dirt ng, why you say ok for Mullins[like he is a swami] to turn that trick...I "wood" say to you 7/2,4/1.I'm interested...4/5...not so much....I will say with the possibility of precip in the NY Metro area, this could change the tactics of some..I do know that if JR's agent was riding his colt, Just a Coincidence, Mr. Talamo would get a few lessons on race riding.

04 Apr 2009 9:35 AM



Did you ever watch American Idol?  How about the Illinois Derby?  You know the Illinois Derby is really a lot like American Idol.  (Well ok, it’s slightly less popular, their contestants are a little heavier than most of the American Idol performers and all of them have tattoos!)  What they have in common, however, is that each is a contest between individuals with varying degrees of talent who are seeking fame and fortune.  Most of the winners (and occasionally some of the losers) get their fifteen minutes of fame (in the case of the Illinois Derby it’s more like a minute and fifty seconds), and then retreat back into obscurity.

However, every so often, they produce a real genuine super star.  Examples are Carrie Underwood, winner of the 2005 American Idol contest, and War Emblem, the 2002 Illinois Derby winner (who went on to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before hitting a sour note in the Belmont).

Other than those exceptional individuals, what you generally see are a few contestants who are useful, but are not close to being a mega star.  Some names that you may remember are Lost Code, Clay Aiken, Pollard’s Vision, Bucky Covington, Sweetnorthernsaint, Kelly Clarkson, Ten Most Wanted, Kellie Pickler, and Vision and Verse.

This year someone will win on American Idol and someone will win the Illinois Derby.  You’re on your own trying to pick the winner on American Idol, but I think I can help you with some live choices in the Illinois Derby:

Welcome to this year’s edition of American Bridle!

PERFECT SONG – Oscar’s Bud Longshot

Perfect Song is undefeated in his two starts on dirt and would be “perfect” if it were not for his rough trip head loss on the Turfway Park synthetic surface.  Michael Trombetta said that the horse was not comfortable on that surface, which makes his head loss that much more impressive.  (Remember Street Sense?)  

That loud sigh of relief you heard a few days ago coming out of Illinois was trainer Trombetta after he found out Pletcher was scratching Lord Justice to run him in the Wood.  That “harecut” should leave Perfect Song as the lone speed, and that gives him a big advantage over his main rivals Musket Man and Giant Oak.  Actually maybe it’s more like it levels the playing field because Perfect Song is at a big disadvantage on class vs. those two.  Trombetta saddled Sweetnorthernsaint to win in 2006, so he knows how to prepare a

horse to win this race.  In fact Sweetnorthernsaint was so impressive in winning the Illinois Derby that he went off a slight favorite (over Barbaro) in the Kentucky Derby where he finished a troubled seventh.  He rebounded to finish 2nd in the Preakness.

No problem in the breeding department for this guy as he is by BC Classic and Dubai World Cup winner Pleasantly Perfect.  His dam, Prospector’s Song, is by the speedy Prospector’s Music. That must be what enabled him to run 6f in 1:09, including a final furlong in less than 12 seconds in his debut in January.  However, Stage Door Johnny and Tom Fool appear a little further back in his pedigree and may only be waiting to be called upon when asked.  Although it will be his first trip around two turns, he should get the 1 1/8 miles with no problem.  

The concern of course is the rise in class, but he has the running style you prefer when class is a question – he will go to front and make them catch him.  He may be overlooked in the betting and stands a big chance for an upset if he can handle the class jump.  What did you say?  Yes I know he raced at Philadelphia Park and that is hardly Saratoga or Del Mar.  Folks, I hate to be a Smarty Jones about this, but didn’t the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner race at Philadelphia Park?


He is the only graded stakes winner in the field, and following his impressive win in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby, Musket Man will be a deserving favorite for this race.  Even though he won that 1 1/16 mile race, this son of Yonaguska out of a Fortunate Prospect mare has the breeding, look and feel of a horse who may be vulnerable at a mile and an eighth.  I’m not saying that he will be off the board, (he is 5 for 5 in that category with 4 wins), however, he will be an Underwood (excuse me, I mean underlay) for the win.  Ryan who is a fairly low percentage trainer has him working well for this race, but then again this horse always works fast.  As a stalker / closer facing a probable loose on the lead Perfect Song, he will most likely be closer to the pace than he prefers, and as a result his late kick could be compromised.


Giant Oak returns to his native state and is hoping that he can reverse what appears to be a downward spiral.  After a promising beginning to his career at Arlington Park where he won his first two starts, he has struggled when facing stakes company, with one exception. That was a neck loss to Beethoven in the Kentucky Jockey Club last November.  However, that is beginning to look like a negative key race, as both Beethoven and Capt. Candyman Can have been disappointments in 2009.  

He lost twice to Friesan Fire in Louisiana where he closed some ground, but was never a threat when finishing 5th in the Risen Star (where he was favored) and 4th in the Louisiana Derby.  While he could pass some tired and outclassed horses, I think the only way this Illinois bred could win would be to bribe Rob Blagoejvich to declare him the winner!  If he loses here he could always run for Barack Obama’s Senate seat, but I don’t think he’d win that either – as an Oak he would be too inflexible to get the liberal votes.  Of course he could always run as a Republican…


Todd Pletcher sends out two horses, both of which look like live longshots.  Al Khali, by Medaglia d’Oro – Maya, by Capote looks like the better of the two.  Bought for $15,000 he has already earned back his purchase price plus $10,000 more in his four lifetime starts, three of which were in Peru.  In his first and only U.S. start, he defeated Stately Character and Atomic Rain in an allowance at Gulfstream.  That race was at today’s distance.  The time was not fast, but as they say, “time only counts when you’re in prison or with a hooker”, and the bunch he faces today are not the fastest 3 year-olds in training today.  This is an interesting horse, who appears to be improving, and obviously there is no question about his ability to get this distance.  


Pletcher’s other horse is Il Postino is a $300k purchase who just won a $20k maiden claimer after running abysmally in two maiden special weights.  Sounds like he was probably sold by Bernie Madoff doesn’t it?  But wait, he is by Distorted Humor and out of a Black Tie Affair mare, and he did win that maiden race by almost 12 lengths, defeating eleven other horses.  His time of 1:37.3 for the mile is about as good as most of the others he will face and with his pedigree he should be even better at a mile and an eighth.

Was it the drop in class that did it last time, or was it the blinkers?  Most likely it was both.  It could also be that he is beginning to mature. His pedigree does not scream precociousness.  He’d have no chance in the Wood or Santa Anita Derby, but he could make a little “Illinoise” here.  

Hey, don’t laugh.  Tell me that you heard of Carrie Underwood before American Idol!  Here’s the Funny Cide of this; Carrie’s sire never produced a big winner before her!  Now take a look at Distorted Humor’s progeny and tell me this guy has no chance!

There are two others worth mentioning, and I only mention them because this field is so weak.  Nick Zito’s Nowhere to Hide has a pair of 4th’s in his most recent races.  The first was to Friesan Fire in the Risen Star and the second was to Musket Man in the Tampa Bay Derby, where he trailed the field early before making up some ground.  He has also finished second to Take the Points in a MSW, so he has faced some descent horses.  He always seems to go wide and that will not be an advantage on Saturday.

The other horse is Ken McPeek’s Free Country, a horse who began his career impressively with victories in his first two starts, a MSW and an allowance.  The allowance was at a mile and an eighth and he defeated Stately Character and Atomic Rain, both of whom have gone on to stakes competition, albeit without a great

deal of success.  He looked more like a struggling Third World Country when he moved up into stakes competition, where he finished 4th to General Quarters in the Sam Davis, and 9th and last behind Friesan Fire in the Louisiana Derby.  The switch from Desormeaux to Razo is hardly an encouraging move, and I am not happy with the removal of the blinkers that he wore for the first time in the Louisiana Derby.  Although he finished last, I think it was due to the track and the competition.  He needs to be closer to the pace to have a chance here.  I would have left the hood on for one more try.


You’re probably wondering why I chose this race for my Green Sheet rather than one of the other big races, the Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial.  The reason is that I think this is a race where you can make some real money.  The other races should have the top 3 finishing in the money with another $12 trifecta like you saw last week in the Florida Derby.  

This race has a recent history of at least one longshot hitting the exacta:

· In 2006, Sweetnorthernsaint won at 6-5 after stalking the pace set by Mister Triester, who finished second at 27-1.

· In 2007, Cowtown Cat (7-2) wired the field but 24-1 Reporting for Duty rallied for second.

· Last year, 15-1 Recapture the Glory won on the lead, with 5-1 Golden Spikes second.

Sometimes American Idol contestants forget the lyrics to their song (David Archuleta) and sometimes American Bridle horses stumble out of the starting gate (War Emblem in the 2002 Belmont), but usually that doesn’t happen.  Usually the expected happens, not the unanticipated.  So unless Perfect Song forgets his lyrics and stumbles out of the gate, he should quickly get the lead heading into the first turn.  Al Khali has shown some speed and will probably be his closest challenger.  Maybe Nowhere to Hide will be sent from the rail, along with Knight Shot from the far out side, but Perfect Song is just faster than all of these.

The real key to the race will be what Coa decides to do with Musket Man who has tactile speed if he elects to use it, but his judgment is crucial because if he is too close too early to Perfect Song he won’t have much left in the final sixteenth, and if he is too far back he will not be able to run him down.  How much Perfect Song has left will depend upon how fast he goes and perhaps more importantly, on how much pressure he will be under from the start and how long it continues.


You have to use MUSKET MAN in your trifetas; he is tested for class and is consistently in the money.  I have to take a gamble that PERFECT SONG is for real on the class question and I will use him also.

I would key them with AL KHALI and IL POSTINO.  Then it is a choice between NOWHERE TO HIDE, GRAND OAK, and FREE COUNTRY.  I really don’t like any of them, but Nowhere to Hide has the best pedigree, is trained by Nick Zito and has been training well.  I’m not sure why Zito is using Pascacio Lopez.  He will be the seventh different rider this horse has had.  Only Alan Garcia has ridden him more than once (4th both times).  His only win came with Jeremy Rose aboard and he will be on Perfect Song.

Speaking of Perfect Song he is so sure that he is going to win that he has arranged to have a special song performed in the Winner’s Circle following this race.  

It will be his tribute to both American Idol and American Bridle and it’s called:


Written and performed by


            1998, b, 16.3 hands

Unbridled's Song-Alizea, by Premiership

04 Apr 2009 11:20 AM

The Pamplemousse was just scratched from SA derby by state vets.

04 Apr 2009 1:08 PM

Grapefruit done.  Out.

04 Apr 2009 1:19 PM
Jason Shandler

The Pamplemousse has been scratched

04 Apr 2009 1:25 PM

I Think Choclate Candy

Has the Stuff To Get In The Derby

Also I Want Revange Will Do Very Well, If Pioneerof the Nile

Wins I'll Change my Mind About Him

04 Apr 2009 2:58 PM

I keep telling ya'll....Cali horses are the real deal this year.The Derby winner is coming from 'The WestCoast!  Let the reign begin.  BBL

04 Apr 2009 7:23 PM
Matthew W

I Want Revenge is now the most accomplished horse going into The Derby---more than Pioneer cuz he just got one heckuva serving of bad luck/kickback and won like a champ! Going straight to Kentucky? Hmmmm...the way they've been doing flying in from Hollywood Park....But I Want Revenge is certainly the "one to beat" and likely favorite...Pioneerof The Nile is a street fighter as well! He loafs but he makes lead/goes by with authority--I think he'll fetch a nice price in Derby as his #'s are below par--SO WERE I Want Revenge's #'s when HE raced in Cali...Freisan Fire, Quality Road, Dunkirk are all nice horses....The West is bringin' the street fighters to the party this year and may the best horse win!

04 Apr 2009 8:18 PM
Pat O'Donnell

Why is no one mentionong West Side Bernie? I am commited to this horse at better than 40 to 1 in the first derby pool. He is not even offered in the third pool, and after today's Wood, there is still no respect. All his races have been around two turns,and he is a closer. The extra eighth will bode him well, in my humble opinion.The owners have already said he will be at the Derby.

04 Apr 2009 10:47 PM

First, sorry to hear about The Pamplemousse. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, between now and May 2nd at least a couple of solid Derby contenders will be withdrawn due to injury or sickness. I hope Mousse can return quickly, and I know I am not alone in my disappointment in not getting to see him challenge Pioneer. As for the horses that actually ran:

Chalk city. The favorites win the 3 preps. But, wow, one performance REALLY stands out.

I Want Revenge is a MONSTER FREAK. I have never seen a horse (in my 20 years following the sport) win a grade 1 race like that. The other horses in the Wood were completely embarassed. Horses just aren't supposed to have that much trouble and win grade 1 races. Truly amazing. I would guess I Want Revenge was 10-15 lengths best in the race. I do recognize, however, that with Imperial Council bombing, I Want Revenge did not beat a great field. This should be reflected in what is likely to be a low/ordinary Beyer. However, the Beyer fig will not capture how many lengths IWR lost in the race. Whatever the figure, I would advise adding 15-25 points to it, and I am absolutely serious.

So, barring in any injuries or illness, it looks like we have 2 legit monsters for the Derby. Quality Road has put together back-to-back Derby preps rivalled only by Holy Bull and Silver Charm in recent history. His race times and speed figures make him one of the top Derby prospects in recent memory, and I think he is every bit as good as Big Brown and Barbaro were at the same stage of their careers. However, and this is a scary thought, I Want Revenge may be even better. IRW has already run a monster Beyer, and in the Wood displayed the heart, intelligence and raw ability to overcome substantial trouble/obstacles. This is a horse that has won on synthetics, dirt, and now mud, on the pace and from far back, on the East Coast and West Coast, and after much travel. For those that questioned IWR after the Gotham, claiming he had an easy trip and had everything his own way, the Wood is a testament to IWR's talent. IWR had almost nothing go right, yet he still won.

The other horses that ran in the Wood just do not appear to be in I Want Revenge's league. I was encouraged that West Side Bernie, a horse I had seen in person two weeks back in the Lane's End, run well for 2nd. Clearly, Bernie prefers dirt over Poly, and he proved himself again to be a solid graded stakes competitor on that surface. Unfortunately,he wasn't able to finish ahead of a horse that had an absolutely nightmare of a trip. Weird things can happen in the Derby, but for Bernie to win the Derby, horses like IWR and Quality Road would have to run well below their capabilities.

Imperial Council was a big disappointment in the Wood. After the Gotham, many argued that Imperial Council lost any chance to beat IWR when he was taken so far back by Maragh. Well, Prado had him alot closer to the pace in the Wood, but by having to use that extra effort and speed early, Imperial Council had nothing left for the drive. So, let's summarize what we know about Imperial Council. He does have a decent closing kick, but for it do be effective he needs to be taken so far back in the early going that he ends up at a huge tactical disadvantage. However, if he is ridden to show more speed and stay closer to the pace, that late run flattens out significantly. It just doesn't seem like he's fast enough for horses like Quality Road and I Want Revenge.

As for the Santa Anita Derby, all Piooner of the Nile does is win. That's 4 straight graded stakes wins, two of those being grade 1s. With the unfortunate scratch of Mousse', Pioneer was confronted, once again, with a pace-less race. Just like in the San Felipe, though, Pioneer demonstrated the ability to change tactics right on cue, and win while being outside of his comfort zone. Pioneer is such a classy colt, possesses a strong closing kick yet also has solid tactical speed. He's bred to get a distance, is trained by a 3-time Derby winner, and has already won more than one million dollars. Piooner is well proportioned, athletic and attentive, although he is not a particularly sturdy or rugged colt.  

There are only 2 major questions left concerning Pioneer of the Nile. Is he as good on dirt as he is on synthetics? And even if he is, is he fast enough to beat IWR or Quality Road? In my opinion, if he answers the first question in the affirmative, then the answer to the second is "possibly".

I view synthetic Beyers like I do turf Beyers, and turf Beyers are not directly comparable to dirt Beyers. In general, turf Beyers run 5-10 points lower than dirt Beyers for any given graded stakes level. Thus, grade 1 turf horses typically earn Beyers in the 103-110 range, while grade 1 dirt horses earn Beyers in the 108-116 range. Pioneer's Beyers are well below those of other top Derby contenders, and I expect the Beyer for the Santa Anita Derby to be in the 94-100 range. Although not accepted practice, I add 4-9 points to synthetic Beyers when comparing synth and dirt Beyers(particularly in graded stakes races), and doing so would put Pioneer in the 99-104 range. Those types of Beyers would give him a shot vs. IWR and QR, but he would probably have to improve AND those two bounce if he was going to beat them. Still, only very good horses are able to win 4 consecutive grade 1 or 2 races. In fact, Pioneer has had one of the most impressive Derby prep campaigns in recent Santa Anita history.  The fact Pioneer is not a clear Derby favorite testifies to the quality of this year's crop.

Chocolate Candy proved, without a doubt, he belongs with the best horses of his generation. Although at a definite pace disadvantage, Chocolate Candy did very well to make a strong move around the turn and into the stretch, made all the more impressive by the fact he was carried five wide. Chocolate Candy is a big but well balanced colt who takes very much after his father, Candy Ride. In his last 5 starts, Chocolate Candy has now won three stakes, one of them graded, while running 2nd and 3rd in two grade 1s. Chocolate Candy has a nice, long stride, distance breeding, and very good trainer in Jerry Hollendorfer. The pace for the Derby should flatter his running style, and he is bred to do well on the dirt. I am less concerned about CC on the dirt than I am Pioneer.

Mr. Hot Stuff ran another improved race in the Santa Anita Derby. This full brother to Colonel John obviously has some talent, but he still appears to be a race or two behind the other leading contenders in Cali.

Geronimo + predict:

Good calls on Musket Man. Geronimo, I know you were really impressed with Musket Man after the Tampa Bay Derby and thought, unlike some, that 9 furlongs would not be an issue. And it certainly wasn't. In my post before the race, I actually wrote that my top two choices were Perfect Song and Musket Man, so I was coming around to the horse. Even so, I was quite impressed with Musket Man's performance in the Illinois Derby. I'm not surprised he won, but the style and margin of victory was a little unexpected. This wasn't a particularly strong field, but Musket Man was very sharp, and I expect a solid Beyer (97-105 wild guess); a sub- 1:50 9 furlongs at Hawthorne this time of year is impressive. I won't be placing Musket Man near the top of my list, but he's definitely on it, and moving up. Giant Oak, the runner up, finally showed something, but it still wasnt the type of performance that his supporters had been promising. I think his trainer,  Chris Block, would probably be prudent to keep to his plans and keep Giant Oak out of the Derby. There is alot of money to win elsewhere, although one could hardly blame him if he were to go to Churchill. The others in the Illinois Derby were well beatem by these top two, and horses than run such poor final preps simply do not win the Derby (28 of the last 34 Derby winners ran 1st or 2nd in their final prep race).


Conhrats on that Aqueduct Pick 3 w/ IWR + Kodiak Kowboy.  

05 Apr 2009 4:58 AM

JASON.  What did you think of Chocolate Candy's performance?  

05 Apr 2009 2:47 PM
Jason Shandler

Householder: I really liked Chocolate candy's race. He was about six wide, lost a ton of ground and still lost by just a length. He will be a live longshot on Derby day. You?

I'll have a full recap of the weekend later.

05 Apr 2009 2:54 PM

Jason, I missed the live blog.  I was already sitting at the Spectrum in the Whirlaway room stuffing my face with the buffet.  Anyway, I just had a chance to read back through and I have to ask, do you still think IWR is no Quality Road?  That was as impressive of an effort as you're going to see and I like the fact that Talamo never went to the whip down the stretch.  He still had plenty of horse & saved a lot for the Derby.

    As for the SA Derby, I'm with you on Chocolate Candy.  I believe he'll be the highest Derby finisher from the West Coast (excluding IWR of course).  Now where exactly that places him in that field is anyone's guess.

 Finally, I have to give a little love to Musket Man.  I still don't think he has a shot in the Derby, but then again, for the most part a lot of people didn't think he would have a shot in his last 2.  Looking forward to next week's blog.

05 Apr 2009 3:57 PM
August Song

I was thoroughly unimpressed with I Want Revenge' s Wood race. It was an allowance race for nwx3, hyped as a meaningful Grade 1. Rest assured it was. I Want Revenge strolled out of the gate, lacklusterly, while the pace was moderately fast for the inconsequential types of horses he was meeting. Notice the half being run in 48, while the Excelsior run just before, they did 50. What better pace scenario for I Want Revenge to close into. Visually, the racing novices were impressed. Come May 2nd, I Want Revenge will not hit the board. Watch both races! In the 50 half race, nothing closed on the 2 frontrunners. In the 48, only the horse who was nowhere near the front, closed. I Want Revenge will cry, "What Happened? I Want My Money Back," as they start tearing up their tickets.

05 Apr 2009 5:24 PM
Matthew W

Jason I agree Chocolate Candy looked impressive--What about Mr Hot Stuff, who waited/came up rail---2nd time in a row they came up fence...Really would like to see him slingshot wide and finish as he's bred to get that extra 1/8 by Tiznow/Turkoman(Alydar)...does he even have enough ducketts to play on first Sat??...Would love to see Corey get the roses/Mr Hot Stuff is flying way under the radar/may love dirt as his bro Col John won Travers....1 1/4 miles is a true test/with many questions....Mr Hot Stuff ansewrs one: He'll get the last 1/8....

05 Apr 2009 6:20 PM


Good point about Talamo not going to the whip in the stretch of the Wood. IWR had all that trouble, yet still won easily, under a hand ride. Also, keep in mind the final eighth of the Wood was run in a strong 12 and 1. To close that quickly w/ such a trip, well...just awesome.

In my earlier post I may have overestimated how much ground IWR lost. But I would think 7 lengths and 13 Beyer points is a good starting point.

IWR's trip in the Wood reminds me somewhat of Touch Gold in the 97' Preakness. In the Preakness, Touch Gold stumbled at the start, spotting the field around 5 lengths. Touch Gold was full of run, though, and pulled McCarron up behind horses on the backstretch. However, Touch Gold dragged Mccarron right up on the heels of horses, forcing McCarron to check. The same thing happened at the top of the stretch when Touch Gold tried to sneak up inside of Free House on the rail. After all this, Touch Gold didn't stop running, and though only 4th, was beaten less than 2 lengths with a 116 Beyer. Touch Gold would come back in the Belmont, spoiling Silver Charm's Triple Crown bid with a half-length win. Touch Gold also won the Haskell very impressively before his tender feet got the best of him.

05 Apr 2009 7:27 PM

Jason.  I thought Chocolate Candy's race was pretty good given his lay off.  I think his performance against POTN and IWR proves he belongs.  Despite the crowd he was pretty relaxed in the paddock.  The additional 1/8, and a little more speed, will only help him.  

05 Apr 2009 9:33 PM
August Song

Are you kidding me? You can't make this stuff up. "I am shocked, shocked, that anyone like Mr. Mullins would try to give drugs to his horses in a detention barn."

"Our stewards are investigating an incident inside NYRA's derention barn on Saturday afternoon... NYRA security personnel advised the stewards that Mr. Mullins was observed attemting to administer an over-the-counter product called Air Power to [Gato Go Win] in the security barn. He had also apparently taken a syringe into the security barn."

Gato Go Win was scratched as a result. Why wasn't I Want Revenge scratched, too? They were in the exact, same detention barn. Who is not to say, that Mullins hadn't already administered some "Air Power" to I Want Revenge, before trying to give some to Gato Go Win? What if there was something additional in the Air Power? Did I Want Revenge get some of that "Air Power" for his Gotham? It makes one wonder why Mullins insisted on taking I Want Revenge back to California after his Gotham. Has Mr. Mullins a new drug that they haven't typed yet? How good is Michael Iavarone at picking Kentucky Derby horse trainers that use drugs on their horses? Does Mullins get suspended through the Derby? Can you trust any of I Want Revenge's performances now, and believe that they were legitimate? So, if Mullins gets canned or suspended, isn't in so reassuring that Dutrow is waiting in the wings to take over the training of I Want Revenge? And everybody knows that Dutrow would never stoop so low as to give his horses any drugs, right? You saw what happened to Big Brown in the Belmont, when he came off steroids. I can hardly wait to see how I Want Revenge runs the next time he races.

06 Apr 2009 2:37 AM
Mike Relva


That's exactly the primary reason why Mullins isn't on "my hit parade". I've never cared for his methods and while he has a great horse,I don't like him,period!

06 Apr 2009 2:54 PM

Relva: man-up again! you and Draynay must be suffocating with all that Ostrich "Egg in your face"..lol  I told you IWR is the Real Deal

06 Apr 2009 4:04 PM

The quality of the Derby is set for the road on Derby day.Some good old chocolate and candy  is good off the road.

10 Apr 2009 1:46 PM

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