Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby Analysis

Just three weeks until the big day now. I hope everyone is starting to narrow down their Kentucky Derby choices. After Saturday, we should pretty much know what the field will look like. Only next week's Lexington Stakes remains.

Just a reminder to join me right here for the live blog chat on Saturday, April 11 at noon EDT. We'll go over the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby in more depth and talk about the graded earnings picture. Should be fun.

And now on to races...

Blue Grass Stakes

Like last year, this looks like a wide-open field. On paper, I can make a case for nine of the 11 starters. Like always, I will look for a price, which means that even though I do like Hold Me Back a bit, I won't go near him at 3 or 4-1.

I'm going with Terrain in this one, for several reasons. First, he ran pretty well in his third-place Louisiana Derby, which came off a more than three-month layoff. He developed an illness which caused him to miss the Risen Star in February, so he definitely needed the race.

Terrain's last five races have come in graded stakes company and he has been solid in all but the tricky Delta Jackpot. He has more earnings, by far, than anyone in the Blue Grass. Most importantly, Terrain's best races have come over the synthetics. He ran second in the Breeders' Futurity over the Keeneland Polytrack last year and a good fourth in the Breeders' Cup juvenile on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride. In talking to trainer Al Stall on Wednesday, he reminded me that Keeneland is Terrain's home track, having trained over the strip from April to October of last year. That is a huge plus.

You know what else is a huge plus? Getting Julien Leparoux for the first time. Leparoux is off to a great start at Keeneland and just loves it there. In my opinion, other that Gomez, he is the best rider in the nation right now. He'll have Terrain in the right spot.

I'll fill out my exotics with Patena and Theregoesjojo. Patena makes his second start for Rick Dutrow after a disappointing run in the Louisiana Derby. But he needed that race too, as it was his first start since suffering a minor injury. And, he also looks like a horse that prefers Polytrack. His two wins came on The Woodbine Poly up in Toronto, including the Display Stakes in December. I also like that he drew the rail. I expect him to be part of the pace with Join in the Dance. If Keeneland is speed favoring, watch out. Will he really go off at 10-1?

Theregoesjojo will be making his first start on synthetics for Ken McPeek. If he takes to it, he'll be tough. He ran competitively against Quality Road in both the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, and as you know, I didn't think he received the best of rides in either. I like that he gets Calvin Borel here. All McPeek is looking for is an on-the-board finish, which will get him in the Derby.

I'll play a win bet on Terrain and an exacta box with Terrain, Patena and Theregoesjojo.

Arkansas Derby

Less than a month ago Old Fashioned was near the top of almost everyone's Derby contender list. It's funny how one second-place finish has made him the forgotten horse. I think he rebounds in a big way here and will be right back in the Derby mix after Saturday.

Old Fashioned gets a rider switch to Terry Thompson after Ramon Dominguez's suspect ride in the Rebel. Thompson was aboard Old Fashioned for the first two wins of his career and knows Oaklawn very well. I expect Old Fashioned to be more relaxed and sit back off the pace, which should be set by Papa Clem. I think he'll wait to make his winning move at the top of the lane this time. Let's see if can get the distance, which many believe he cannot.

Papa Clem is dangerous here. He looks like lone speed, like he was in the Louisiana Derby. He ran into a monster in Friesan Fire that day, but still did well to hold second over Terrain. Two races back he was a half-length from beating Pioneerof the Nile and was a length better than I Want Revenge. That is very telling. Now he makes his second start on dirt and should get better. He'll be tough.

I'll play an exacta box with Old Fashioned and Papa Clem, and if I play trifecta, will use Flat Out and Captain Cherokee.

Good luck this weekend! Who do you like?



Leave a Comment:


Well... I agree with Jason so I must be wrong but I like Terrain here too.

Terrain has a class advantage on the rest of the field and it should show up here.  In the Arkansas Win Willy is undefeated on dirt and should make it 4 for 4.  Win Willy stretched out for the first time and looked like a star.  He gets the same foe and added distance he should win with ease.

09 Apr 2009 10:44 AM

I like Patena too Jason. He is a legit stakes horse and should move forward off the last start. He may be 10/1 now but I don't think he'll be that race day. I still like OF as well, you can't knock a horse who won 4 straight and had excuses his last start.

09 Apr 2009 10:47 AM

Glad to hear you are on the Terrain wagon Jason. He needs to prove a little to me here, but I am confident he will.

09 Apr 2009 10:54 AM

The Blue grass comes down to Massone and Patena (IMO). West Coast form has held well this year, Massone will be a good price and Gomez never hurts.

Massone to win..Massone-Patena exacta box.

09 Apr 2009 11:11 AM

Lots of Sky Mesa's running...That  being said got to go with Massone,HoldmeBack, and Terrain,I too agree about Massone.

Just can't see Win Willy, maybe I'm wrong..however,going with Flying Private (love the pedigree) PapaClem,(always trys) Old Fashion too good to Be thrown out.

09 Apr 2009 11:32 AM
Jason Shandler

Forget about Win Willy

09 Apr 2009 11:38 AM
Greg J.

Hate to say this, but I agree 100 Percent with Draynay...

Win Willy will win, hands down(In my top three for Derby)...

1.Win Willy, 2.Old Fashioned, then Summer Bird/Captain Cherokee....

Blue Grass: 1. Terrain, 2.Hold Me Back, 3.Mafaaz....

09 Apr 2009 11:58 AM


I agree,just don't see it..his pedigree says no, but his running style is at odds with it. So I'm taking his last race as a one hit wonder,hope I wont be eating crow Sat.night!

09 Apr 2009 11:58 AM
Lady Ruffian

Im going with Old Fashioned Papa Clem and Hold Me Back in a trifecta box. Papa Clem is dangerous and should run very well here. Hold Me Back is on the improve and should hit the board. And Old Fashioned is going to make thoes who counted him out of Derby contention eat their words

09 Apr 2009 12:17 PM
Travis L

Saturday is time to make some money on General Quarters, watch his last race with all of his traffic problems. He didn't get running until the final 16th, he finished strongest of all in my viewing. Should love the added distance. And Sky Mesa colts seem to handle the sinthetic, which makes it a very interesting race.

09 Apr 2009 12:20 PM


   I agree with you, how does one second in a lifetime of starts with everything else being a win, drop you down from first to not even on some ppl top 10? I think if he relaxes, which judging from his last work, looks like he might be getting the hang of, and waits to make his move he'll be the winner with ease. I'm not even going to touch the Blue Grass, just watch for fun. Good luck to all.

09 Apr 2009 12:28 PM
anti draynay and thong song!

The bluegrass is a crap shoot if anyone hits a tri or exacta they got lucky since there is too many quality horses, got to go with jojo though gets a new rider and gets away from QR for once and can show how explosive he is!!! Speaking of explosive watch mr. willy aka killer willy this weekend and then let the blogging begin next week when everyone jumps on the bandwagon once again! Draynay is a believer in win willy finally something positive!!!

09 Apr 2009 1:20 PM


What's up with Jojo?  You loved this horse going into the Fl.derby, and thought he would have had a chance for the win if not for the sub par ride and the heel clip at the top of the lane.  Your commentary seems a little luke warm on him at best.  Clearly the speed bias @ GP wasn't to his advantage; wouldn't you say that even though it's poly that the closers are clearly better off @ Keeneland.  Synthetic or not, if you thought he could run with Quality Rd., don't you think he levels this field??  I do, he is my pick on the win ticket.

09 Apr 2009 1:25 PM

    The pace should be much slower for the AR Derby than in the Rebel.  That definitely helps Old Fashioned's cause.  Papa Clem has speed, but not Silver City speed.  I'll play Old Fashioned for the win and run Summer Bird for 2nd.  Summer Bird has already shown the ability to close into moderate fractions going 2 turns & I think the horse is improving.  I'll run Danger To Society, Papa Clem & Win Willy for 3rd.

    In the Bluegrass, I'm with you on Terrain Jason.  He has already ran a very credible 2nd at Keeneland to Square Eddie.  I like Leparoux in the irons.  Even though this is the 2nd time Julien has ridden Terrain, the last race was a very nice effort off of the 3 month layoff and in the mud.  I always thought this horse needed a jockey change.  Seems to me that somehow Theriot always put this horse in a bad spot.  Anyway, even though he's coming off a 7 month layoff, I'll play Charitable Man for 2nd, as well as Patena.  The connections obviously have serious thoughts of the Derby for Charitable Man and he's right there on the borderline for getting into the Derby so they know he needs to finish in the top 3 to pretty much assure himself a spot in the field.  McLaughlin won't have him cranked up, but he'll be cranked up enough to finish on the board.  The talent is definitely there.  As for Patena, Dutrow will have him ready for the Blue Grass.  IEAH paid a good deal of money for him with eyes towards the Derby.  He needs to finish top 2 in order to make the Derby field so they will have him cranked up for sure.  The slop in the LA Derby and the time off pretty much diminished any chance he had in that race.  He's switching back to what appears to be his preferred surface so a big effort is expected.  I'll run Hold Me Back & Massone for 3rd based on previous positive performances on sythetics.

   Both races appear to be pretty good betting races especially the Blue Grass.  Hope somebody hits it big this weekend.  Of course I hope that somebody is me.  Good luck to everyone.

09 Apr 2009 1:30 PM
Jason Shandler

Brettzky99: I do still like JoJO, but this is his first time on synthetics so I do have some concerns. Being down here at Keeneland, it is so obvious that horses who have shown form over the Poly before have an advantage. That's why I prefer Terrain and Patena  a little more. But I'd love to see JoJo hit the board and get into the Derby.

09 Apr 2009 1:43 PM

LDP... let me answer for you.  Look at all of Old Fashioned's wins and you will notice he has beat a cast of average horses.  He faces a good horse in Win Willy stretching out for the first time and gets beat. Old Fashioned is a miler he has no business going a 1 1/8th.  How long do you think he could run with a horse like Quality Road ???

09 Apr 2009 2:01 PM
Travis L

Why is everyone so high on JoJo, every race someone has an excuse for him. It is time for everyone to relize it's not going to happen.

General Quarters, Hold Me Back, and Chartible Man, Box these three and sit back.

09 Apr 2009 2:19 PM

Jason, Why no love for Willy?

09 Apr 2009 2:29 PM
The Rock

I agree with your Bluegrass selections, although I have to throw in Hold me Back. As much as I hate Desormeaux, he's been on a tear at that track. AS far as the AK Derby goes, it doesn't look like we're going to get 22 45 fractions here. Papa Clem and Old Fashioned aren't run off types. Plus I'd like to see how the track is playing. Last year was very speed favoring on AK day last year, and it's also been pretty formful since 04'. I don't think the faves have lost since then.

09 Apr 2009 2:36 PM
mike rullo


why dont you like charitable man?

09 Apr 2009 2:43 PM
For Big Red

This weekend's Derby preps will have the side benefit of giving at least a little read on where Friesan Fire fits among the contenders. Three of the horses who finished behind him in the Louisiana Derby will have their first races since then: Papa Clem in the Arkansas Derby, and Patena and Terrain in the Blue Grass.

In the LADerby, Papa Clem made the early pace and finished a game 2nd. Terrain raced in tight traffic early, then rallied to finish 3rd. Patena showed nothing.

So far, only two other Louisiana Derby starters have raced since then, and both improved on their finish in that race. Giant Oak, 4th in the LADerby, came back to run a nice 2nd in Illinois Derby behind Musket Man. Free Country, 9th (last) in the LADerby, came back to run 6th in Illinois Derby, beating the two favorites, Perfect Song and Al Khali.

09 Apr 2009 2:44 PM
Jason Shandler

longwaytomay: Win Willy might be better than I give him credit for, who knows. But this time he'll be the 2nd choice, not 56-1. I want to see him do it again. It would be a nice story if he wins, I just think he had the perfect set up in the Rebel. We shall see.

Mike Rullo: Charitable Man is coming off a 7-month layoff. Tough to win a grade I doing that. If he wins, he is certainly for real.

09 Apr 2009 2:47 PM
The Rock


He's proven to get 9f's at an even pace @ AQU in a Grade 2. If he gets the same pace scenario here, he could be long gone. There's no QR in the AK Derby, and he's arguable the classiest horse in here. Only other graded winner is Win Willy. One race at a time

09 Apr 2009 2:48 PM
For Big Red

TO DRAYNAY: You wrote, "Old Fashioned is a miler he has no business going a 1 1/8th."

I hate to disappoint you, but Old Fashioned won the G2 Remsen at 1 1/8 miles as a two-year-old.

He's only had five lifetime starts, making it difficult to draw sweeping conclusions about his capabilities. The Rebel was the first time he ran over an off track, so it's reasonable to conclude that contributed to his only defeat so far.

09 Apr 2009 2:59 PM

Jason, I agree Willy had the perfect set up. The same set up he might get in the derby. If you watch all three of his dirt races he sat of a fast pace and closed like a real race horse. He had to fight between horses in one and just bullied his way between horses. I know everyone will say who did he beat but with all the derby preps that now exist it seems all the good horses avoid each other untill the last prep or until the derby. Off subject, I would like to hear your thoughts on what happened at Paragallo's farm yesterday. I feel the powers that be should really lay the wood to this piece of crap.

09 Apr 2009 3:00 PM

Rock... Win Willy has never lost on dirt and is stretching out again and should improve with the added distance.  Any move forward by Win Willy makes him the horse to beat. Old Fashioned = Pyro

09 Apr 2009 3:04 PM
The Rock


If the track comes up dry, OF's never lost on a dry track..........

09 Apr 2009 3:19 PM
Greg J.


    I agree, I just read five articles on this complete scumbag, Ernie Paragallo, He and his sisters should be thrown in jail for the rest of there lives!, Over 170 horses, ALL were way to thin, sick, stalls contained no bedding, including those holding mares with just keeps going about all of the flagrant violations....Unbelievable!

09 Apr 2009 3:39 PM

JASON:  The way you've been handicapping lately, your throw out of "killer" Willy pays a big compliment to that one's chances in the Arkansas Derby.  I fancy Win Willy and Flat Out to tag Old Fashioned again up the lane.  Flying Private could spring an upset as he is at a stage of rapid improvement and his conditioner D. Wayne Lukas is hungry for the Derby limelight once again.

The Blue Grass is a trickier proposition because of the synthetic surface but Theregoesjojo is the class horse and should prevail ahead of Massone, Terrain and Patena.

09 Apr 2009 3:41 PM
Jason Shandler

Ranagulzion: You can keep taking shots at me, that OK. You're a regular comedian. But if you ever want to have a handicapping contest with real money, just say the word. I'll go head-to-head with you any day. All you do is pick chalk. I could do that too. I look for prices.

09 Apr 2009 3:47 PM

ROCK... Who has Old Fashioned or IWR beaten ??? Give me the names... name some good horses they have beaten... NOW LOOK at who Quality Road has reads like a whos who list and he did it in record time at his first attempt at two turns !!!  DO YOU NEED to get hit with a brick.  GEEEEZZZZ!  What the FOY and notice all the VERY GOOD horses he crushed and then watch the Florida Derby and notice the splits he runs and notice how he AGAIN crushes the field and sets a track record doing it.  WATCH....please....

09 Apr 2009 4:13 PM
anti draynay and thong song!

Killer willy baby he is the truth! I love how draynay comments always come back with Quality Road. We could be talking about 300 yards sprints and somehow quality road name comes up! Draynay how about enjoy the races this week and then a week before derby you can start talking about QR, do you have anything else to say about QR??? I havent heard everything yet about QR??

09 Apr 2009 4:15 PM
Jason Shandler

Ranagulzion: Before you start calling yourself a genius, make sure your posts don't include multiple spelling errors. A genius wouldn't do that, would he?

09 Apr 2009 4:19 PM
Easy Goer

Dray, you ask who has IWR beaten?  Were you not touting Imperial Council as a top three Derby prospect just a few short weeks ago?  That must qualify him as at least a pretty decent horse.  I love QR too but come on, give IWR his due.  His effort in the Wood was one heck of a nice race.

09 Apr 2009 4:31 PM
Lord Graustark

Papa Clem


Charitable Man

look best.

09 Apr 2009 4:32 PM
Travis L

All of you better keep quite about Draynay, bashing him about QR because when QR wins, do you relize he will have the last word on all of you. The best word of advice would be to leave any comments about QR alone. Don't worry Draynay QR will speak loud enough himself on May 2nd.

09 Apr 2009 4:50 PM
Travis L

I never knew this was a spelling Blog???? I barely have enough time to handicap let alone worry about my spelling.

09 Apr 2009 4:52 PM
The Rock


I saw the FOY and FL Derby. Impressed with both. I can care less about the track record. Records are made to be broken. I've could've broken the track record that day and set the same splits with the concrete they were running on. Look, I'm not getting in a debate with you about the Derby. I'll wait till the PP draw and make my decision. I'm just talking about the Bluegrass & AK Derby. I'm saying with the reasonable fractions OF is forecast to get, he can win this race? I think it's POSSIBLE, not a GIVEN, as everything to you seems to be. But of course, you've been incorrect ALOT more than once on this trail haven't you? How many bricks to the head did it take you to get on Quality Road? He ran last year didn't he? Couldn't figure him out then? You went through 5 or 6 horses to state the obvious. He's a true contender.

09 Apr 2009 4:54 PM

Jason:  You know a slip of the finger or the printer's devil on this side or even a honest spelling error will not improve your handicapping,don't you? However taking a few notes from Ranagulzion might are forcing me be get cocky ...I selected The Wood exacta on your blog as well as picked the winner of the Illinois Derby.  Tell me how I'm doing Jason.

09 Apr 2009 4:59 PM

Both of the preps seem to be salty,so I'll try and find some value in them.

Bluegrass: Look for General Quarters to rebound big-time here off his sub-par effort last out.Terrain definitely needed his last and should be at his best,while JITD will be a pace factor throughout.I'll box those 3 on top and use Patena on the bottoms in trying to beat the favorites.

Ak Derby: The pace should be pretty brisk,so I'll use Closers and Class...Old Fashioned will be tough to beat in here and Flat Out should enjoy the added distance,I hope he's fit & ready after missing the Rebel.And Win Willy seems to be legit.I'll box those 3 on top and use the ever dangerous Lukas(Flying Private)on the bottom of my exotics.

09 Apr 2009 5:09 PM

Charitable Man - Terrain  -  Patena  exacta  box.  CM  could  lead  throughout.  Connections  call  horse  SPECIAL  - and  they had  Invasor.

 Old  Fashioned  over  Flat  Out  &  Papa  Clem.  WW's  connections  said  that  if  he  doesn't  run  1st  or  2nd  they  would  give  him  a  rest ( doesn't  sound  like he  is  moving  forward)

09 Apr 2009 5:46 PM

Lady Ruffian-

Drove up to Tampa for Sam F. Davis.  Ignored the hype and bet the General.  He disappointed in TB Derby, but willing to give the big grey another chance in the BG.

09 Apr 2009 5:54 PM


   I didn't even address you, i was agreeing with Jason. What do you do, come here looking for a fight? I said nothing to you, only stated that i don't think it's right that one second place finish, where he had excuses beats four other wins in five start. Learn to mind your own business.

09 Apr 2009 7:03 PM

I'll bet that Old Fashioned hasn't forgotten about Win Willy :-).

09 Apr 2009 7:16 PM
Jason Shandler

It's not Travis, but if someone has enough ego to call themself a "genius" they better be able to spell correctly.

09 Apr 2009 7:48 PM
Jason Shandler

Thanks for confirming my point Ranagulzion. The Illinois Derby and Wood winners were both CHALK. Enough said.

09 Apr 2009 7:50 PM

I'm a regular reader and contributor in these blogs and i'm still astonished by some of these outrageous comments by some of you.

Draynay: You're a clown. I will be using QR in the derby based on he has the best Beyer Figures but deep down I hope he finishes off the board just to shut you up if that's possible. I would then look forward to hearing you're brilliant reasoning to why  he didn't win or hit the board.

I'm not going to bother calling anybody comments out today and instead i'm just going to  give you my play in Blue Grass .

$2 Tri Key = $24 Play

10 Hold me back


2 Join In The Dance, 3 TGJJ, 5 Mafaaz, 6 Terrain

I hit a $4 Ex with Hold Me Back & Flying Private in the Lanes End  and I got back $ 1173.60.  

I won't get that value like last time but this is the best horse for this race. Yes there are a couple of more classier horses as some of you pointed out but team Mott had the Lanes End & The Blue Grass as their goal for this horse.

They already achieved the first goal, I don't see why they won't get the second part of their goal. He likes Keeneland and he has the best beyer for synthetic.

I will go on record again and say that this race will have no affect on the derby besides derby earnings.  

They should make a mini triple crown that is run only on synthetic surfaces for horses like  Hold Me Back, Pioneer of The Nile and all the other good 3yrs that run well over synthetic but can't run on the dirt.

I'm sure Monba(Winner of last years Blue Grass) and Adriano   Winner of last years Lane End would of not ran last and second to last in their next start if the derby was run on synthetic. They both won their derby preps on the synthetic but were nowhere to be found in the derby. I'm sure Monba's connection were ok with running last in the derby, after all they got their Gr 1  winning the " Prestigious Blue Grass"  I'm sure the connections  decided just to run in the derby  because they had the earnings. They honestly knew that their horse hated dirt and had no shot running well in the derby. I hate this and that's why I feel like they should downgrade all the prep races that are run over synthetic surfaces.

Food for thought it will be a real shame for horses like  Dunkirk and future late 3 year old bloomers that have real potential to do something in the derby to get left out of the derby for horses that run bad on traditional dirt but because they run  great on synthetic and win races like the Blue Grass and Santa Anita Derby they basically our guaranteed a spot in the derby.

Dunkirk has already proved in a real short time he is one of the top 3yr old in the country. His beyer numbers alone tells you he is better than all of these horses in the Blue Grass. It's a real shame that the Dunkirk connections have to wait and see if they are going to get in. I'm not saying he would win the derby, but he would make the derby a deeper derby talent wise.

I would like to start a petition to remove all derby preps off synthetic surfaces or down grade The Santa Anita Derby and Blue Grass from Grade 1's to Grade 3's and upgrade the Ark derby to a Gr 1 and upgrade the other dirt races that our now GR 3's to Gr2.

I respect the history of both Santa Anita Derby and Blue Grass but times are changing and those races were meant to be run on traditional dirt. Since the switch to synthetic these preps have had no major impact on the derby.

Don't count Street Sense when we all knew that he already loved Churchill! If anything we could put a * next to Street Senses name when people argue that the Blue Grass has had a recent impact on the derby.

Since the switch from dirt to synthetic all  The Blue Grass & Santa Anita  derby have done is give the good 3yr turf/synthetic lovers a chance to get a grade 1 early in their career. The game has changed and we as a industry need to acknowledge these changes & act accordingly instead of sitting back and doing nothing.

09 Apr 2009 8:24 PM

I know that Mafaaz doesn't have to win but you'll see a very late run. Maybe enough to win.  I see a very cold exacta Theregoesjojo and Mafaaz.  Mr. Gosden will not be coming here for nothing, I can guarantee that. Check this out: Remember Raven Pass, Donatavin. Well they were both trained by Mr. Gosden and both won at the utmost echleon of the game. As we say in our language.....Soup!

09 Apr 2009 8:37 PM
Mike D

Jason you are being very generous when you said JoJo didn't get the best of rides in the Florida Derby.  I thought the ride stunk.  Thank God Calvin is aboard JoJo in the Bluegrass.

09 Apr 2009 8:51 PM

The BG is wide open so I'll take  a chance and box Patena/Terrain

/General Quarters/Massone in the exacta and tri.  In the Ark Derby, I'll probably bet Old Fashioned with Papa Clem and Ziegfield as a long shot.  Good luck everyone!

09 Apr 2009 9:00 PM


I am NOT a Ranagulzion(where's the dam spell ck for that one)fan by any means, but winners are winners. I too had them, but only because I handicapped the race they were in, not any future races. Just keep firing and let "other people" talk what talk they want. I sometimes hit for good tickets in races like that by shotening the list and enlarging the wager. I really don't concider $7 "chalk" myself. Back when I was going to the track daily, I always said give me 2 $8 horses a day and I wouldn't have to work.

The Wood on the other hand I can sum up in one word......WOW. Have to admit, THAT was a race that got my attention. QR, IWR and FF....thats my Derby 3, for now. LOL!

09 Apr 2009 9:05 PM

LDP... one more outburst like that and I am not taking you to Prom.

Rock... yes I had to kiss a few frogs but I found my horse in March just like I have for the last 3 years.

Travis... yep yep yep !

09 Apr 2009 9:07 PM
El Kabong

This weekend will tell us more about the horses we have chosen already more than add to our list. At Keeneland will see how Theregoesjojo does without Quality Road around? Can Patena fire now that Friesan Fire isn't around to throw dirt? Terrain certainly needed a race, but he too was destroyed by FF at FG. General Quarters will give us insight into Musket Man's legitimacy. Massone, raced well against both SA Derby 1-2 finishers. How will Papa Clem fair, also a victim of FF(I hope my closing argument is clear by now). One exception is Charitable Man. McGlaughlin has worked hard to bring this "very special colt" along to give him his chance at the derby and tosses him into a major prep without hesitation. There is your BG hot tip. In a perfect world, Patena beats Charitable man and they both go to the Derby. Papa Clem and Old Fashioned teach the wanna bees a lesson. The Conclusion? Friesan Fire in the Derby.

09 Apr 2009 9:13 PM

Marsha, I'll bet your right. Old Fashioned will see Win Willy and say 'not on your life this time buster'. O.F. will make amends Sarurday.

09 Apr 2009 9:40 PM
Karen in Indiana

I think it would be great if it was Join in the Dance, General Quarters and Terrain in that order so there would be 3 Sky Mesa's in the Derby. Has there been a sire that's had 3 or more in the same Derby?

09 Apr 2009 10:00 PM

Where will a 46 second opening half-mile come from in the Ark. Derby?  That is what Win Willy will need to close into to have a chance.  Old Fashioned and Papa Clem will remind us of Smarty Jones and Lion Heart.

The Blue Grass is a complete mystery -- a fitting situation for a race that has become meaningless. I'll root for Charitable Man, but I'll watch the race and save my money.

09 Apr 2009 10:07 PM

First of all, what a great year for good horses.  In the big six preps for the Derby, California (San Felipe-Santa Anita Derby), New York (Gotham-Wood Memorial), Florida (Fountain of Youth-Florida Derby), Kentucky (Lane's End-Blue Grass), Arkansas (Rebel-Arkansas Derby), and Louisiana (Risen Star-Louisiana Derby) there has never been a sweep of four of these races until this year, a rare feat.  Quality Road, Pioneerof The Nile, Friesan Fire and I Want Revenge swept their respective two-stakes schedules.  I’m not even going to count Chocolate Candy's two-race sweep of Northern California's Cal Derby and El Camino Real Derby.

The last time we had this many quality horses running was in the spring of 1989 when we witnessed Easy Goer dominate New York, rival Sunday Silence do the same in California and Western Playboy win the big two in Kentucky. But, again, we've never seen four regions swept until this year and much less a possibility of Nos. 5 and 6 this weekend.

For that reason alone I’m going to stay away from Hold Me Back and Win Willy.  I’m betting that they won’t sweep the last two major preps.  For what it’s worth these are the horses I like.

I like Charitable Man in the Blue Grass.  He is one of two Dual Qualifier’s in the race. He has had four good works in 21 days, undefeated, beat Friesan Fire by almost 4 lengths when they were 2 yr olds, I think they are setting on a monster.  I will play Charitable Man to place and box him with the only other Dual Qualifier in the race. That is Terrain.  If the track comes up anything but fast I will pass the race.

I like Papa Clem in the Arkansas Derby. Last three works were very nice, spaced six days apart and the race is six days from his last work.  I think he will get the lead and Bejarano will nurse his speed better for his 2nd start on dirt.  I look for a lot of improvement from his 2nd place effort on the slop.  I will also play him to place and box him with Old Fashioned.  Also, if the track is anything but fast I will pass.

09 Apr 2009 10:19 PM
Fire Slam

Everyone is once again over looking Flying Private. Put him on top. Cashed on him last time, and will cash again.

09 Apr 2009 10:39 PM

I look for Charitable Man to outclass the rest in the Blue Grass. I'm certain this horse runs well off a layoff (injury is not a concern). He'll only get better with distance , only needs to run second here, but still I look for him to win. He beat Freisan Fire without seeing the whip , and well I don't think anyone else here has done that. I'd play him just becauce Alan is riding. I think maybe General Quarters runs second, with Theregoesjojo third.

09 Apr 2009 11:02 PM

For the record I stand corrected I  forgot to mention Hard Spun who won the Lanes End in 07 &  was lone speed in the derby finished second to Street Sense in the derby. So I guess that's the best hope & strategy  for a synthetic horse running in the derby. To be lone speed and try to steal the derby. I'm sure one day it will work with the way tracks like to make the tracker faster for their big day.

09 Apr 2009 11:10 PM
Brian A.

Old Fashioned by daylight with Win Willy hitting the board!! (-:

09 Apr 2009 11:33 PM
Thunder Gulch

Mafaaz will light up the board on Saturday! The connections and breeding are excellent and I did put my money on him in pool #3 @ 75-1. See you in the winners circle!

09 Apr 2009 11:36 PM

Look I also see the blue grass as wide open. I love to play hold me back and charitable man but they are too of a price. I feel that you get Patena on top with terrain, general quarters and theregoesjojo. In the Arkansas I see Old Fashioned rating behind Papa Clem and finishing up strong. So I see OF on top with papa clem, poltergeist and win willy. I have that feeling

10 Apr 2009 12:43 AM

Flying Private in the Arkansas Derby. Something clicked for this horse during the Mountain Valley. He's effective off short rest, got a quick blow Wednesday, and i think Lukas has got him sitting on a big one. Old Fashioned and Flat Out fill out the tri.

I hate to go chalk in such a great race, but I love Hold Me Back in the Blue Grass. I thought he was awesome in the Lane's End and, in theory atleast, could improve 2nd off the layoff. Theregoesjojo is gonna get a MUCH better ride and find a hole on the fence w/ Mr. Bo"rail" for 2nd & Charitable Man for the show. I was huge on Charitable Man last year, and would love to see this horse make the Derby. Has the talent to win this one, but I hate the layoff and price to put him on top(But, Hold Me Back burned me 3 weeks ago, so ya never know)

10 Apr 2009 2:58 AM

Flat Out in the AD with Papa Clem 2nd. Terain in the BG, Leparoux is on fire there, and underneath in the tri Massone, Back in the Dance and C. Future

10 Apr 2009 9:15 AM

Rocker, I have to agree with you about synthetic tracks.  I think racing has shot itself in the foot with the proliferation of sythetics.  The Blue Grass and Lane's End don't resemble their former selves and certainly are not legitimate preps for the TC. California has further isolated itself from the mainstream by moving to these unnatural surfaces.  I guess the breeders are happy since it broadens the market; now we have synthetic sires as well as dirt and turf sires.  The jury is still out on the relative safety of these tracks.  Now we see different types of injuries; more soft tissue than bone.  That is indisputably a good thing.  On balance as an admitted traditionalist, I don't think it will be a good thing for racing in the long run.  As long as the TC races are all run on natural dirt, the significance of preps run on anything else is diminished.  Perhaps, indeed, synthetic horses should have their own TC?

10 Apr 2009 11:03 AM


    I'm a hot head, not red head, just hot head. Plus i play hard to get. I'm way out of your league pal, lol.

10 Apr 2009 12:17 PM

Awaiting the excuses

Theregoesjojo will get dusted and we won't have a Hall of Fame 3 time Derby winner and record setting for wins jockey to blame

Dutrow will surprise.

10 Apr 2009 12:33 PM

The Arkansas Derby has an interesting mix of experience and talent.  The most experience contender has made 9 starts and it’s no surprise that he is trained by Mr. Wayne Lukas. The least experienced in the field is Summer Bird with only two starts. Why is he entered in the Arkansas Derby with only a maiden victory to his credit? Probably his connections are crazy. Surely there must be easier opportunities that do not include running a maiden winner against graded stakes winners. Well, folks Giacomo won the Kentucky Derby (51-1) with only a maiden victory to his credit. His brother Tiago, won the Santa Anita Derby (29-1) with only a maiden victory secured in the steward’s room. The connections of Triple Crown winner Sir Barton choose the Kentucky Derby for the maiden colt’s 3YO debut.  Yes, it appear there are a lot of crazy people in the business.

Summer Bird is an interesting entrant from a pedigree stand point. He is inbred in his third generation to Storm Bird of Storm Cat & Summer Squall fame. He must be blessed with stamina as his sire, grandsire and great grandsire all won a leg of the Triple Crown i.e., Birdstone, Grindstone and Unbridled. His dam line is even more interesting. His first dam was sire by Preakness winner Summer Squall; his second by Derby & Preakness winner Alysheba and his third by 1970 English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky.

Some horses have already proven that they can out perform their lass than stellar pedigrees i.e., Win Willy. Others grossly under perform their high profile pedigrees. What has Summer Bird shown in his two starts to provide a basis for assessment? Well if he wins the Arkansas Derby it will be another Win Willy moment so I think it is appropriate to compare their records. Win Willy won his debut at 51/2 furlongs in 1:05. Summer Bird was beaten one length in his 6F debut in 1:11 2/5. Win Willy suffered his only loss in his second start on turf consequently that is thrown out for comparison purposes. He won his third start at 6F in 1:11 1/5. His winning time was only one fifth of second faster than the time that beat Summer Bird who went six wide on his debut. Win will next start in the 11/6 Rebel where he went four wide to defeated the celebrated Old Fashioned in a time of 1:44 2/5. Summer Bird second start was also at 11/6 mile. He went five wide for a 21/4 victory in 1:44. 3/5.

The last two races for both colts over the Oakland strip are carbon copies in term of final times recorded. However, there is a significant difference between them i.e., Summer Bird has the better pedigree. Most time pedigree means nothing in relations to ability. Summer Bird based on the preceding comparison has some ability, but is it enough for another Win Willy moment? If his unknown ability matches his known pedigree, it is certainly possible. I will be including this unknown colt in my exotic bets as he might be short on experience but he is very long on pedigree.

10 Apr 2009 1:16 PM

The foreign invader Mafaaz showed a lot of pace in Kempton Challenge. If he takes to the dirt I cannot see him not being competitive. A horse that runs that good a race in only his third start and off five months respite is no ordinary horse. I encourage posters to review the Kempton Challenge and observe how effortlessly this colt move from the back of the pack to occupy second position. I have not seen any of the US colts move so effortlessly. Also watch the gallop out of a colt that had not run in five months and was attempting the nine furlongs for the first time.  This a serious colt.

10 Apr 2009 1:24 PM

If Giant Oak get in the horse cerkeld 3 closing on the lead try that at his frame  at Hawrthorne?

10 Apr 2009 1:52 PM
CB Man

hey guys

I think Jason is spot on with this.

Old Fashioned is going to remind everyone exactly why he was at the top of all lists earlier in the year.

Look out for Patena in the blue grass guys.

10 Apr 2009 3:58 PM


10 Apr 2009 5:27 PM

I hope Old Fshioned does win tomorrow but if he doesn't just remember Larry Jones said last fall that Freisan Fire was the best horse he has trained. That being said Hard Spun came in second in the Derby in 2007.

10 Apr 2009 6:07 PM
DK Stables

Neither Win Willy nor Old Fashioned have the DI to win the derby, but this isn't the derby yet.  Those two with Papa Clem make an interesting Exacta and Triple box.  The Blue grass should also be competitive with General Quarters (remember him) flying past Hold Me Back and Patena making a nice  'xacta.

10 Apr 2009 7:35 PM

CLOSER, what are you trying to say or ask? It doesn't make sense.

10 Apr 2009 7:37 PM

"ROCK... Who has Old Fashioned or IWR beaten ??? Give me the names... name some good horses they have beaten..."  You know Dray, that's exactly what I was thinking before last year's KY Derby concerning Big Brown.  He beat Smooth Air (nice colt but not top tier) & ..... I'm waiting.  Look at the horse for what he/she is & not necessarily the competition they have been facing.  They can't pick who they run against.  Someone has already said it, but if Terrain & Patena come back to run 1-2 in the Blue Grass & Papa Clem takes the AR Derby (both are great possibilitie), then I would say Freisan Fire would own the title of the 3 year old who has faced the best competition and many other reasonable people would agree.  Does that mean you would change your Derby pick to FF since he would have faced the best competition to date?

10 Apr 2009 9:29 PM
Douglas Rutherford

I had made this statement before Old Fashioned last race, that he would get beat in his last two Derby Prep attempts. And last race proved worthy by placing second. Well, I am now even taking it a step further and predicting that Old Fashioned will not run big and be in the Trifecta. I will go out on a limb and say that Danger To Society will be in front of Old Fashioned at the finish line , and know-one is even mentioning this Danger runner needing a good solid finish to make it to the Derby. But not just that, Danger has the very best distance over-all pedigree in this field... yes , even out classes Flying Private in pedigree. EXACTA BOX Danger/Papa/Flying/Win $24, or play Danger Win/Place

10 Apr 2009 10:24 PM

"Jojo" and Papa Clem fire big shots on SAT and get out into the mix as real contenders on Derby Day.  This is shaping up to be a great Derby with 7 or 8 really strong contenders.  

10 Apr 2009 10:32 PM

7 or 8 strong contenders ??? Name all these "strong contenders"

IWR... lost when facing good horses in Cali...shipped east and found a group of allowance horses to pick on.

Friesan Fire... No Grade 1, No race longer than a 1 1/16th you have a better shot of winning the lottery than this horse has of winning the Derby.

Pioneer of the Nile ?  Can't break a 100 Beyer...PASS

Old Fashioned... Can't run to average fractions...

Quality Road... 2009 Kentucky Derby Winner.


11 Apr 2009 1:22 AM

Oaklawn has been playing towards speed so far this festival, especially in the two-turn stakes races. The Arkansas Derby doesnt have alot of speed, so the pace should be moderate and the horses upfront should have no excuses. I see Papa Clem setting the pace with Old Fashioned right off him, and Flying Private just a little further back. I believe OF and FP will be able to reel PC in, and then battle it out down the stretch. I give a slight nod to Flying private, given his pedigree and improvement; additionally, he should offer some wagering value.

I expect Old Fashioned to give a good showing, even if he "only" finishes 2nd. Papa Clem should be able to hold off Win Willy for 3rd. I think Win Willy can be more than a one-hit wonder, but the pace in the Arkansas Derby just doesnt look like it's going to be anywhere near the pace in the Rebel. So, I'm taking a stand against Win Willy not because I think he's a fraud, but because of the pace.

I also think the pace will play against Flat Out. In addition, Flat Out's Beyers, in the mid-80s, are considerably lower than Win Willy's Rebel. Of the others, Danger to Society is most intruiging. Lightly raced, Danger' figures to be mid pack and in the thick of things as the field enters the stretch. Danger is short on experience and class, but he also has alot of room for improvement, and he just might be able to take a big step here. Still, the bottom of the trifectas and superfectas is probably his ceiling.

11 Apr 2009 6:29 AM

I disagree with your assessment that Danger To Society has the best over-all distance pedigree followed by Flying Private. Summer Bird has that distinction. He has the winners of nine Triple Crown Races in his first four generations. His sire, grandsire and great grandsire all won a leg of the TC. His dam was sired by Summer Squall (Preakness) is a grandson of Northern Dancer the greatest grandsire in derby history. Northern Dancer's sons were dam sires of the last two derby winners and five of the last 13. Overall Northern Dancer's sons and grandsons have been dam sires of 17 winners of TC races. Danger To Society sire line Harlan via  Storm Cat is not on the derby board. His dam sire also hails from ND line. However, the great grandsons of Northern Dancer are not as influential as his sons and grandsons although Deputy Minister has been dam sire of three Belmont winners. If Summer Bird is what I think he is, he will finish ahead of both Danger and To Society Flying Private

11 Apr 2009 7:04 AM

NEVER underestimate a MEADOWLAKE...

11 Apr 2009 9:04 AM
Ann in Lexington

Does it bother any of you Mafaaz backers that he has never run on a left-handed circuit? (Kempton is right-handed, Newmarket is a 10f straight.)

11 Apr 2009 10:52 AM

gotta believe Mafaaz will be 5/1 or less...McLaughlin runner just may provide some value...gonna use Ziegfeld in my Arkansas Derby exotix....Romans/Johnny Court, a cupple guys who been around the block...pedigree as good as any, puts the "cheaters" on off a decent effert at Turfway, and he be a nice price!

11 Apr 2009 12:06 PM
Matthew W

Flying Private and Wayne-o today at Oaklawn.....Kent and Billy Mott today at Keeneland....but Go Go on #11 Massone has a real shot to come with # 10 Hold Me Back.....will play Flying Private and Hold Me Back to win/place...then box FP with Old Fashioned...and HMB with Massone....I'm sure Team Dunkirk are rooting for Hold Me Back!

11 Apr 2009 12:31 PM
Matthew W

Bill--I'm not sure Cal has "isolated" itself via synthetics---The SoCal dirt tracks had ALWAYS been a form of "isolation" because of their less-sandy make up/faster times....Heck, Bill, they've only had a couple of Synthetic Derby starters and Col John won The Travers! Here comes I Want Revenge, Pioneerof The Nile, Chocolate Candy...seems to me, with all of the SoCal shippers doing so well back East(incl Dubai)...seems to me SoCal has closed the gap a bit with the East...

11 Apr 2009 12:50 PM
Ann in Lexington

Congrats Travis L. you nailed the exacta. Hope you cashed big-time.

11 Apr 2009 6:29 PM

Congrats to those like Travis, Slew em All, and EMD who didnt give up on General Quarters. For those fearing that the Blue Grass would be inconsequential and take Derby space from more legit contenders, don't worry now.  GQ is already a graded stakes winner on dirt, and his Blue Grass was impressive. Distance doesn't seem to be a problem for GQ given how he finished in the Blue Grass, and he seems versatile enough to adapt to any pace. With the slow pace today, he was asked by Coa to sneak up and then responded strongly down the lane. While the early pace was a typically slow synthetic pace, the field ran the 4th quarter in 24 flat and General Quarters ran the final eighth in a strong 12 seconds flat. I think the Beyer should be strong for a synthetic race (synthetic Beyers are like turf Beyers and lower, per class level, than dirt Beyers); I'm thinking the Beyer will be high 90s/low 100s. And remember, GQ ran a 102 Beyer when he won the Sam Davis over Musket Man. This certainly validates the Tampa horses, which frankly I was not particularly impressed with at the time, and I think GQ would have to be rated alongside Musket Man. Add another solid contender to the fray. The Derby will have an "underdog" "sentimental" story w/ GQ and his connections.

Having seen Hold Me Back in person at Turfway, I was really high on him and was confident he would run well in the Blue Grass. He was my choice, and although he lost I thought he ran very well in the Blue Grass. There was absolutely no pace, which seriously compromised his late run. The big question is dirt. If he takes to it, this is a horse with serious talent and he should get a much better pace in the Derby. Also, while the Santa Anita Pro-Ride advantages stretch runners, the Polytrack at Keeneland, like the Polytrack at Turfway, favors stalkers/mid-pack runners, like General Quarters. Combine that with the slow pace, HMB did quite well to get 2nd.  I'm quite optimistic about this horse's future. Worst case scenario, he hates dirt and becomes a strictly synthetic/turf runner. However, that's not a particularly bad thing, given the Breeder's Cup will be run on a synthetic surface (although one that appears quite different from Polytrack).

An intersting note: Unbridled's Song mares produced the top two finishers, GQ and HMB.

In trying to handicap the Blue Grass, I threw out Loch Dubh, Cliffy's Future,Mafaaz, Caritable Man (not because of talent, the layoff), and Massone. Well, I was wrong about Massone. He showed surprising early speed and then did well to hang in there down the stretch. This certainly validates the credentials of Chocolate Candy, because on paper this horse appeared outclassed. However, the El Camino was a weirdly run race, with a pace scenario that favored neither Chocolate Candy nor Massone. The California horses continue to impress outside that state.

Terrain ran well, nothing spectacular. He came with a nice late run and it appears he can run a classic distance, although his pedigree suggests he would be best at middle distances (Sky Mesa, Forty Niner mare). I'm not sure he has the natural talent/speed to win the Derby as he had only a career high Beyer of 91 coming into the Blue Grass. He has solid two year old back-class and has the earnings to get into the Derby. His best performances have been on synthetics, but he did run well on the dirt at Mountaineer last year. I see him more as a fringe contender.

Join in the Dance performed only moderately and doesn't seem suited for classic distances or the talent level that will be in the Derby. He still has a nice future, but a drop in class and distance to 8-8.5 furlongs would do him well.

I thought Charitable Man ran decently given this was his first start in about 7 months and first beyond 7 furlongs and at two turns.  Charitable Man is going to be on the earnings bubble, but I really hope McLaughlin doesn't point him to Churchill. This is a talented colt and I think patience would do him best; I don't want to see him rushed into something that may be too stressful.

Hopefully, the classy John Gosden will keep Mafaaz out of the Derby. Going into the Blue Grass, I had "narrowed" my picks to Hold Me Back and then Jojo', General Quarters, Terrain and Patena for 2nd-5th. Well, at least I was in the ballpark for 3 of them.  Jojo' and Patena are done, at least as it concerns the Derby. So much for Kent D. being the source of Jojo's ruin.  Once again, I hope McPeek and Dutrow do the right thing and keep them out of the Derby. Remember, all of the last 34 Derby winners ran at least 4th in their final prep, with 28 of them running 1st or 2nd in that last prep. Fortunately, Jojo' and Patena are short on graded earnings and probably won't get in anyways.

11 Apr 2009 7:49 PM

Can sombody please explain to me why the Bluegrass is still a grade 1 event???? other than Street Sense using it for a tune-up race before the derby its no longer a major prep unless your a bottom feeder looking to get graded earnings late in the game....

11 Apr 2009 8:10 PM

ALISHA... You were right to like Summer Bird, good call!

11 Apr 2009 8:36 PM

Add Papa Clem to the list of Cali synthetic horses that have gone on to win huge dirt stakes. In addition to I Want Revenge among the 3 year olds, there has been Albertus Maximus taking the Donn, Two Step Salsa and Gayego running 1-2 in the Godolphin Mile, and Well Armed running away with the Dubai World Cup.

I'm actually not sure what to make of the Arkansas Derby. Visually, it appeared to be the weakest of the major Derby preps. Old Fashioned ran the first quarter in 22 and 3 and then the half in 46 flat, but the final time was an ordinary 149. Watching the race, Papa Clem did not appear to be travelling particularly well on the backstretch, with Flying Private and Captain Cherokee moving up on his inside while still 4 lengths behind an uncontested Old Fashioned. Surprising to me, Papa Clem was not on the lead, nor was he in 2nd or 3rd early, as Bejarano, wisely as it turns out, took him back behind the quick pace. In another good move, Bejarano kept Papa Clem to the outside, and avoided the retreating Ziegfeld. Papa Clem was not sensational, nor did he flash a brilliant turn of foot; instead, he was methodical, moving up steadily on the turn, and had enough of a kick to run down Old Fashioned while holding off the late runs of Summer Bird and Win Willy.

There are alot of things to like about Papa Clem.  He has good tactical speed, and has some class, with his 2nd in the Bob Lewis, just a half length behind Pioneer of the Nile and ahead of I Want Revenge, looking huge now. And similar to General Quarters, Papa Clem's connections, trainer Gary Stute amd owner Bo Hirsch, bring a sentimental element to the Derby, with both trying to follow in the footsteps of famous parents/uncles.

The final time of 149 does not appear overly impressive at first glance. What is particularly troubling is that after that :46 half, they went the next two quarters in :25 and :25 and 3, for a second half of :50 and 3. So, around the turn, these horses were not moving fast, which is why Papa Clem was able to remain in contention and then move towards the lead without making an Afleet Alex type of surge.

However, upon further review, the final time appears more flattering. Although Oaklawn was favoring speed/stalkers, the track was acually playing on the slow side. Optional calimers only went 8.5 furlongs in 1:46, and lower-level claimers went 8.5 furlongs in 1:46-1:47. Additionally, the $75,000 Northern Spur for 3 year olds went in 1:37 and 3 for a mile. In comparison, that 1:49 for 9 furlongs in quite strong.

The time also compares well with past runnings of the Arkansas Derby. Last year, the fractions for the Ark Derby was 46 and 3, 1:11, 1:36 and 4, and 1:49 and 3. In 2004, Smarty Jones ran fractions of 46 and 4, 1:11 and 3, 1:36 and 4, and 1:49 and 2. Smarty earned a 109 Beyer for those times, while Gayego was given a 103 last year. Given the slower times earlier in the card and the Beyers for past runnings, I expect Papa Clem's Beyer to be near 103 (98-105).

For those discussing the imprtance of early fractions, Papa Clem has now demonstrated that he can lay close to a quick early pace, yet have enough late to win a $1 million race. With his tactical speed, Papa Clem should be able to stay with a horse like Quality Road early in the Derby. Whether Papa Clem can finish strong enough, particularly with his breeding (by Smart Strike out of a Belong to Me mare), is the big question in my mind.  Even so, I think one would have to make Papa Clem a legitimate challenger, although I would place him below the big Beyer horses Quality Road and I Want Revenge, as well as Friesan Fire and Pioneer of the Nile, the horses that finished ahead of Papa Clem in his previous two starts.   Papa Clem is further evidence that if Pioneer of the Nile takes to dirt, he is good enough to throw a huge scare into Quality Road and IWR. On synthetic surfaces, like turf, class seems to be more important than Beyers. By having defeated I Want Revenge, Papa Clem, and Chocolate Candy, Pioneer' has proven himself to be of the very highest class; it's all about the dirt now.

I have mixed feelings about Old fashioned's performance. For the second straight race, OF was passed by a horse in the stretch. However, for a second straight race he carved out very fast early fractions, running a first quarter in 22 and 3 and the half in 46 flat. Given that the track was not fast, OF was really flying early. I suppose he does deserve some credit for hanging on as well as he did, fighting to the very end. However, OF was able to set that lead without being pressured, and Terry Thompson was able to give him a significant breather, running the second half in 50 and 3. Given this, I really think if Old Fashioned was as good as so many thought earlier in the year, he should have won this race.

It's hard to feel confident about OF going 10 furlongs at Churchill, although the pace for the Derby is not shaping up to be very quick. One thing is certain, if Larry Jones does enter him in the Derby, OF will have a HUGE impact on the shape of the race. For here is a horse that can go out and run quarters in 22 and halves in 45.

Win Wally ran moderately. The early pace should have helped, but the middle fractions were soft, and Oaklawn has been playing to speed the last few weeks. Still, Win Willy was passed by the inexperienced Summer Bird around the turn, something which does not suggest a Derby win for Win Willy. I thought that, at the very least, he would be finishing fastest of all.

Flying Private lost any chance when he was forced to check when Ziegfeld started "moonwalking" rapidly around the turn. I am not going to claim Flying Private was going to win the race, but he was moving up on the inside of Papa Clem when Ziegfeld ran back into him. Valid excuse or not, it is hard to like Flying Private in the Derby, even with Lukas. In the past 34 years, no horse has won the Derby after running worse than 4th in their final prep, and Flying Private ran 5th in the Arkansas Derby.

Summer Bird is unlikely to have the graded earnings to get into the Derby, but he is certainly one to watch out for later.

11 Apr 2009 9:18 PM

Old Fashioned sustained a non-displaced slab fracture to his right knee during the race. He's off the Derby Trail. Certainly this injury affected the outcome of the race.  I didn't understand those fast early fractions at all and I though the game plan was for him to track Pappa Clem.  I'm still scratching my head. He ran with courage, despite the injury. I hope he heals well.

12 Apr 2009 1:14 AM


I'm going to give you some props, but in case others feel I'm *ss-kissing I will say that until this Saturday you have certainly been taking your lumps. However, and this is the main point, congrats on that Arkansas Derby tri. I noticed on the preview you were going to use Papa Clem and Old Fashioned for the top two places in the tri and then maybe Flat Out or captain Cherokee underneath. However, this morning on the webchat, you said you were going to use ALL for the bottom of the tri. Did you, in fact, use ALL. If so, good call. And you were rewarded with Summer Bird in 3rd. However, I did notice the Oaklawn fans gave Summer Bird much more of a chance than the national handicappers, and, as a result, his odds at Oaklawn were not outrageously high.

As for your Blue Grass trifecta, if it was for all 3 finishing out of the money, you would have won :)

12 Apr 2009 2:11 AM

Old Fashioned suffered a fracture to his right knee during the running of the Arkansas Derby, and his career may be over. Given this, I marvel at how well Old Fashioned was able to fight in the stretch.

12 Apr 2009 2:24 AM
Matthew W

Thought The Bluegrass was top to bottom by far the strongest field of three year olds this year so far, which is kinda weird, as Freisan Fire/Quality Road/Pioneerof The Nile/I Want Revenge have so dominated in their locales...But General Quarters really impressed me today---I said after Fountain Of Youth I thought JoJo was not a two turn horse---General Quarters has now won two graded two turn has I Want Revenge as has Pioneer as has Freisan Fire as HAS NOT Quality Road/Dunkirk--I'm gonna let those two beat me/I won't be putting them "on top" so to speak...but Gen Quarters will fight things out on Derby Day---and Kent has a live longshot as well....Good to see a Stute in The Derby again! Papa Clem's an improving colt/well bred/Raphael rode a great race at Oaklawn....Plenty of questions this year: Is Pioneerof The Nile fast enough? Can Quality Road do it again in Kentucky?...Is Freisan Fire as good as people have told me?...Can Dunkirk turn the tables on a more fair track?...enter General Quarters...He repeats his earlier smashing win at Tampa over Musket Man in tough Bluegrass...lots of questions/The Gen answered his today--he fits!!

12 Apr 2009 6:26 AM
Jason Shandler

Thanks Gun Bow. I certainly was way off on the Blue Grass. The Ark. Derby did make up for it however. A full report on Monday.

12 Apr 2009 12:22 PM

Gun Bow,

    I agree with you, considering OF sustained the fracture during the race i admire the hearty he showed. I know that some say the second half was slow comapared to the first, but if you look a the last furlong, they came home in a strong 12 1/5 seconds. That is to me very impressive, considering OF did fast opening fractions. I have to wonder if he hadn't gotten hurt if he would've won.

12 Apr 2009 3:18 PM
Matthew W

Heard a SoCal radio tout say Gomez should go with Dunkirk if he can...Seems like the "waiting to commit" tactics favor that choice---To me, Bob Baffert deserves better, but when you're GoGo you get to make'em wait---I'd love to see Gomez jump ship--then POTN will go off at 10-1 and they'll be sayin' "Bob got me again!!!" NO WAY can I toss out POTN---nor will I toss out Gen Quarters---This looks like one of those years when you'll get your price on anyone! To me, I think the only guy that goes off under 6-1 is I Want Revenge....Freisan Fire, Quality Road, Dunkirk I think will all be lower odds than POTN...that's right, especially if GoGo defects--Pioneerof The Nile, the only multiple Gr 1 winner in field/longest winning streak (all graded stakes)---will be no more than fifth choice on First Sat! NO WAY will I pass on that!

13 Apr 2009 12:08 AM
Matthew W

This is one of those weird years when all the good horses have stayed away from each other and beaten up on lesser.....As good as we think these guys are, I simply cannot throw out the one/two finishers of The Bluegrass---Hold Me Back had an awesome prep! And General Quarters, he's for real as well! Keenland seems a bit tiring--good! Both of those guys should get the whole Derby Distance--The beauty of The Derby!--No one knows! I just know this--MOST horses in The Kentucky Derby cannot get 1 1/4 vs Gr 3 horses--let alone Gr 1--I think Hold Me Back and Kent will be way 'live" on first Sat

13 Apr 2009 12:25 AM
El Kabong

Right now, I'd have to say we will see Regal Ransom, Quality Road, and Square Eddie(if he runs) on the lead. Only Quality Road will have the gas to hang but I don't see the strength in Pedigree or the strength in his schedule to get him 10F after maintaining his speed in the first 9F. That leaves the best shot for one, probably two, of the mid pack cruisers with the tactical speed to be in the first group behind the front runners, a great opportunity to prevail in the stretch. I see Friesan Fire, Desert Party, General Quarters, & Musket Man, with the best chance of winning. If Friesan Fire gets the ride, he wins, but Desert Party has Dettori, a master at the game of big fields. I like those two best of all.  No Nile, No Candy. Two words explain why-Colonel John.  I Want Revenge, if you look at the fields of the Gotham and Wood, didn't beat anybody. Bernie the Mush stayed with him. Take a look at who Bernie lost to in the past and tell me IWR will hold up to this bunch. Dunkirk may get up for 4th,deep closers usually do in this scenario,but I just don't see a horse with that little experience dealing well with the crowd, especially if Gomez rides the Nile. Papa Clem or Giant Oak has a better chance of scrapping a low hanging 4th. I'll Key Quality Road 2nd on one ticket and 3rd on the other. He makes the ticket reasonable if he hangs on for either position. I'll put down the crystal ball before Sauron sees me. Ok, shred away.

13 Apr 2009 2:41 AM


I forgot to put the final eighth fraction in my post. I believe it was 12 and 2. So, Old Fashioned put together a solid late kick.

Although the was the rider change on Old Fashioned, from Ramon Dominguez to Terry Thompson, Old Fashioned ran very similar races. In both races, the early pace was very fast, with a first quarter and half in 22 and 2 and 46 in the Rebel, and a 22 and 3 quarter and a half of 46 for the Arkansas Derby. In both the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby Old Fashioned was given a breather, travelling a second half in 50+. In the stretch runs of both races, Old Fashioned finished decently after being given that breather.

The irony is that, given the injury, Old Fashioned finished better in the Arkansas Derby than in the Rebel. Larry Jones was clearly able to put some foundation and endurance into Old Fashioned between the two races, especially if the injury is taken into account. It is possible that the injury occurred after he had crossed the finish line. However, if it is assumed he suffered the injury during the race, the fact he was able to finish faster in the Ark Derby than in the Rebel testifies to Larry Jones as a trainer, and the talent and courage of the horse. One would have to conclude that w/o the injury Old Fashioned was sitting on a big performance and would have been tough to run down, especially with an uncontested lead and that breather during the second half.

Although I think most do not want to see any of the Derby possibles injured, the connections of Quality Road as well as his fans and those with Future bets on him are probably resting easier in the aftermath of the Old Fashioned injury. I am not saying that the Quality Road camp feared Old Fashioned, but if Old Fashioned were in the Derby he would have represented, by far, the best frontrunner Quality Road has faced. Old Fashioned is not This Ones for Phil or Casey on Call; Old Fashioned was classy speed, and could carry that speed at least 9 furlongs. He might not have been with Quality Road at the wire, but he would have stuck with him for a long time. Things are alot easier for Quality Road with Old Fashioned on the sidelines.

13 Apr 2009 3:40 AM

Nice call on the Arkansas Derby Jason.

13 Apr 2009 7:39 AM

I did have Summer Bird under PC (who I thought was due) and OF (who I think is (was) one of best), it was my second TF of the weekend.;-) There was no "savvy" about it...I just have a soft spot for Birdstone he looked awesome...nice athletic colt who ran an easy race and was full of run down the stretch.

13 Apr 2009 8:13 AM
Greg J.

Old Fashioned sure showed courage to run like that with that type of injury, Hope he heals well, even though, I believe his racing career is over...

I just read that "Win Willy" will not be in the Derby, The owners want to give him a break...

By that happening, Dunkirk has a spot in the derby...

"Summer Bird" is being pointed towards the Belmont, His connections have said...

I did well with the Arkansas Derby!


   I have you to thank for that, I had OF, WW, Summer bird....I read alot here on what was said about Papa Clem, so I  took WW off tri ticket..

I Had $24 tri box with OF, PC, Summer Bird...

Hit for $1,100.00, so thanks again!

13 Apr 2009 1:06 PM

as for the arkansas derby my though was this old fasion was going to set the pace he did a typical larry jones horse move that i have seen everytime he gets way out front to set the pace and cant hold it. it doesnt matter who the jockey is domiguez or thomas was quite suprised after the race when they developed and injury i knew after the race he couldnt run in the derby anyway and all he can do is run 1 1/8th of a mile and that doesnt get the job done as for win willy bigges one hit wonder i have ever seen when did that hosre get like 5th or soemthing? and for all you theregoesjojo fans in the blue grass calvin wasnt going to help the situation anyway i knew that horse was medyoker to begain with and i really got to laughing at mufaas for ha horse that was shiped from england he wasnt really a factor anyway a horse i was sighly impressed with was general quater i was look at his stats last night he has the same stat sheet as pioneer of thenile 4 or 5 vitories and one 5th place finish the diferance is would i be willing to take him in the kentucky derby i dont know if that horse can handel that short of a turn around i wil tell you what i mean by that youare asking a horse ro run a race 3 weeks from the derby want him to win it and have him run in the derby and want him to do it in techincally in 2 full weeks

14 Apr 2009 11:04 AM

How good does POTN look now?  He's beaten Papa Clem, IWR, and Chocolate Candy...not to mention racked up a million in earnings.

14 Apr 2009 2:15 PM
Jason Shandler

Greg J: Nice hit! Summer Bird getting third made our tri a decent price. Glad you cashed.

14 Apr 2009 2:16 PM
Greg J.


     Thanks, You are correct, That was a Great Tri, BUT I should have kept Win Willy on for the super, Would have been $2000.00 for a $2 bet !, Oh, Well....We will take what we can get, lol...I can't wait for "Summer Bird" in the Belmont!


    I will agree that  "Pioneer of the Nile" has beaten those three horse BUT,

"Pioneer of the Nile" has never run on dirt, Rumors that he doesn't like the dirt, Went to California apparently to take advantage of the synthetic surfaces there, Bill Mott, his previous trainer, had the feeling that Pioneer of the Nile was not at his best on dirt,raced him as a 2-year-old on turf at Saratoga, where Pioneer of the Nile won once, tried him on the synthetic surfaces, most notably at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita, where he encountered traffic problems but still finished only three lengths behind the winner. He reminds me of Colonel John, Who went to the Derby as the best of the West and was sent off as the second choice, but he spun his wheels in his dirt debut and finished sixth.

14 Apr 2009 3:17 PM

Gun Bow,

   I did the math, though it may be wrong, on the final furlong for the AK Derby and got 12.26, which normally ppl will count that as 12 1/5. You are right, it does seem Jones put more foundation into him this time, and it is a shame he got injured. I feel had he not he would've come back and won that race. I hope everything works out ok with him, he is too good a horse for it not to.

14 Apr 2009 3:44 PM

I'm still not convinced that Col John was a synthetic to dirt disaster. He seemed to make a big move into the stretch but just flattend out like a lot of dirt horses do as well.  I think the synthetic to dirt thing is over played.  A lot of quality horses seem to transition well (IWR, Papa Clem, Zenyatta, Well Armed) I'm now questioning whether or not Col John was good enough to win a Kentucky Derby.  But your right Greg J. It would be nice to see all of the horses have one run over the Churchill surface prior to betting time as a lot of "dirt" horses tank on the sand as well.  

14 Apr 2009 6:56 PM

I too am wondering if the synthetic to dirt stuff is being over dramatized, at least when concerning the west coast tracks to east coast, i think the east synthetics play more like turf than the west. Also, CJ was not a disaster when he switched, he actually had a fantastic work on the Churchill Downs dirt, then made a big move in the Derby, but flattened out, then redeemed himself with a gutsy Travers win. This year the west has strutted it's stuff with Well Armed, Papa Clem, and IWR. What's to say POTN can't do the same. His pedigree has dirt, he has a nice big long stride, that can be much more effective on dirt, and he's already shown his versitility by being able to win from anywhere, and on two surfaces. This horse is an all rounder, so who's to say this horse can't handle dirt? I say he can, and if he takes to it you'd better watch out.

14 Apr 2009 8:43 PM

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