The Brock Talk

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Setting The Scene for the First, of the Two Most Exciting Minutes In Sports

Saturday in New Orleans and Sunday near El Paso, we will be treated to perhaps the preambles to the first minute of the most exciting two minutes in sports. Because this weekend, two of the top three big front runners on most Derby lists, Discreetly Mine and Conveyance, make their final tune-ups for the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands to be run May 6. The other, Sidney's Candy, runs in the Santa Anita Derby next week.

To make matters more interesting, both Conveyance and Discreetly Mine, are from two powerful stables that also include the current Derby favorites, Eskendereya and Lookin' at Lucky. Three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert trains Conveyance and Lookin' at Lucky among other Derby hopefuls, while Todd Pletcher (left) has Discreetly Mine and Eskendereya in his arsenal. According to the Paulick Report, those two have won seven of the 20 graded races for 3-year-old males this year.

If the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands were run tomorrow, the first 60 seconds would likely include the three speedsters mentioned above near the front end of the race with the two favorites tucked neatly away mid-pack. It's a great mystery as to what happens next, but after Sunday, we should have a better idea about what should happen up to that point.

Discreetly Mine runs Saturday in the $750,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. 2) in his final prep for the Derby and appears the most likely to be leading the pack around the first turn of the 1-1/8 mile race - just as he did in winning the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Feb. 20.

If Discreetly Mine should have any early challengers, Wow Wow Wow and The Program are among the canidates.

Wow Wow Wow, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, led the grade 3 Gotham Stakes in New York through the first half-mile but faded badly to finish eighth. Although he has a trained nicely since, he is 30-1 in the Louisana Derby morning line.

Bob Baffert ships The Program in from California where he showed speed early in his career until he faded to fourth after leading the CashCall Futurity (gr. 1) in December. Since then, it appears Baffert has wanted The Program to settle into more of a patient running style as show in his last race, finishing third behind Alphie's Bet in the Sham Stakes (gr. 3) at Santa Anita.

Should Discreetly Mine be allowed to run unchallenged again, that could mean trouble for Tony Dutrow trainee A Little Warm; and Pletcher's other entry, Drosslemeyer, the second and third choices on the morning line respectively and both stalkers.

In New Mexico, the undefeated Conveyance (right) looks to be in a similar boat with no other obvious front runners likely to get the early lead in the Sunland Derby if Baffert and jockey Martin Garcia want it for the 9-5 favorite.

Only two other runners in the Sunland Derby have gate-to-wire victories to their credit, and both were against maidens. Endorsement did so against maidens last time out at Oaklawn Park, and Tempted to Tapit the same at Aqueduct in the mud in January.

Several things stand out about Tempted to Tapit however, making him the 3-1 morning line second choice. He achieved a big 100 Beyer Speed Figure in that one-mile maiden race, then came back to run second to Discreetly Mine in the Risen Star. The son of Tapit breaks from the eleven hole Sunday however, possibly compromising his ability to get to the front.

Breaking from the six hole just inside Conveyance in the seven, Nacho Friend will have every opportunity to pressure whomever finds themselves in front. Third behind Awesome Act and Yawanna Twist in the Gotham, Nacho friend was forced to race four-wide after racing near the front in the early stages of that race. He has the talent to pressure and honest pace from Conveyance, but I'm sure trainer Kelly Breen would like to have some help from Tempted to Tapit or perhaps Classical Slew, 3rd in the San Vincente behind Sidney's Candy.

So I look for both Discreetly Mine and Conveyance to have big races this weekend, simply because both seem to have an pace advantage over their foes. Baffert is certainly not afraid to take a front runner to Kentucky having saddled wire-to-wire Derby winner War Emblem in 2002 and Pletcher, I'm sure, will take his first Derby win nearly any way he can get it. So I don't look for the running styles of either runner to change.

What I am looking for though, are more clues to that second minute mystery in Kentucky in May.

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