The Brock Talk

Monday, May 3, 2010

Thoughts, Comments and Questions about the Kentucky Derby

First question: Has anyone seen my Derby pick Awesome Act? He disappeared shortly after the break of the Run for the Roses and hasn’t been seen since… There are many reasons to be a happy for a trainer who just won the Kentucky Derby, but I’m glad Todd Pletcher’s 0-24 Kentucky streak is over. Whether speaking of Pletcher, golfer Greg Norman not winning the Masters, Buffalo Bill quarterback Jim Kelly not winning the Super Bowl or any other great athlete who never won the big one, it is an overplayed, sensational angle that is both unfair, statistically flawed and boring… Would anybody expect ex-jockey and current television commentator Donna Brothers to be on any horse other than Bob Baffert’s pony Cowboy for the Derby telecast? Just the day before, Cowboy dumped Brothers during a live feature on NBC’s The Today Show. Brothers bounced to her feet, continued the feature and joked about the incident with Al Roker in a later segment. (Video replay shows the wreck was Roker’s fault BTW)…

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You know you’ve got problems with the weather gods when Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel is on the broadcast team… You know you’ve done something to please the weather gods when they give you that short ray of sunshine as the horses are loading for the Derby… In Februay of 2007, I was in the racing office at Oaklawn Park listening to Calvin Borel’s agent Jerry Hissam tell me that Calvin was planning to retire at the end of the year. My how life has changed for that team three Kentucky Derby victories later…

Seperated at Birth
Churchill Downs Vice President Tom Jenkins (left) and comedian Martin Short (right). It was Jenkins who toted the gold suitcase filled with $100,000 to place the bet for NBC’s Kentucky Derby Dream Bet Sweepstakes winner Glen Fullerton of Houston… Fullerton bet Super Saver and cashed for more than $900,000… At 6.3-1 final odds, Lookin at Lucky was the longest priced favorite in Kentucky Derby history, exceeding the 6.0-1 odds of Harlans Holiday in 2002. At 31-1, Discreetly Mine had the smallest odds of any the previous longest shot in the Derby since Halo Sunshine in 1995 at 28-1. That year the Derby had 19 runners but only 12 betting interests.

One Lucky Winner
Although Looking at Lucky was anything but lucky in the Derby, Blind Luck was nothing short of spectacular in winning the Kentucky Oaks (gr.) Friday at Churchill Downs. Blind Luck did not win the Oaks by 20 lengths as Rachel Alexandra did last year, but she did finish the last sixteenth of a mile in a blazing 6 and change to get up for the nose victory… Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer now has three Kentucky Oaks wins as Blind Luck joins Pike Place Dancer (1996) and Lite Light (1991) as Oaks winners from the Hollendorfer barn… Speaking of Lady Luck, I thoroughly enjoyed Claire Novak’s report from Churchill Downs on the TVG program of the same name. Her knowledge is obvious but her enthusiasm and chemistry with hosts Christina Olivares and Nancy Ury added to an already good program and I hope the producers turn to Novak often in the future… If principal owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen are not going to have a knee jerk reaction to 2009 Rachel Alexandra’s second loss this year in the La Troienne Stakes Friday at Chruchill Downs, I’m not either. While there is plenty of reason for doubt, I would not be surprised if she begins to run like the old Rachel in upcoming races.

11 comments:

Fredericka said...

Are you blind, Short looks nothing like him.

John said...

Brock,

I read in the Racing Post yesterday that Awesome Act may be going to Steve Asmussen's barn.

On the Derby: I'm very happy for Todd Pletcher, Super Saver, and Cavlin (who deserves a lot of the credit), but I was disappointed in the race generally. The sloppy track compromised many of the horses. I was hoping Sidney's Candy would rate better after saving ground and he really didn't, then abruptly stopped at about the quarter pole. Not sure if he had a physical issue, but there was a remark about this. My heart goes out to Lookin At Lucky, who had another horrible trip. Ice Box was compromised as well, but made a strong late bid to finish second. Looking forward to his return in the Belmont Stakes, hopefully.

I'm ecstatic about Blind Luck in the Oaks, and the way she was picking off horses, while circling the wagons, made me feel she would probably make it. Kudos to Evening Jewel as well and with the performances those two fillies gave, it's too bad they didn't finish in a DH.

Brock Sheridan said...

John,

It makes sense that Awesome Act may be going to the Asmussen barn as that is where he has spent most of his time in the US while Noseda was back in Europe. In fact, Noseda thanked the barn on NBC briefly.

I don't know what the connection is, but the Asmussens have had a presence in Europe since the 1980s when Cash began riding there.

I agree a DH or an Evening Jewel win in the Oaks would have been nice. But happy to see the popularity of Oaks continue to grow.

Ian Lozada said...

Apparently Awesome Act was pulled up with lameness in his right foreleg.

I don't think the track was that big a factor-- this year's horses just aren't that good.

Brock Sheridan said...

Ian,

I always resist the "the is a bad/average" crop generalization, but this year it is pretty evident.

And thanks for the update on Awesome Act.

John said...

Interesting that you gentlemen feel it's a weak crop. Ever since the year started, I tended to feel it's been a good crop, very competitive. We've lost a few of the very good ones within the past few weeks as well: Eskendereya and Endorsement, not to mention Winslow Homer and Buddy's Saint earlier in the year.

As far as the track conditions, I think one of the riders said it felt like running in "peanut butter," or some comment like that.

We'll also have a few new shooters in the Preakness, notably Caracotado, a very nice horse, who probably belonged in the Derby himself if he'd had sufficient earnings. And before we decide its really a weak crop, I think it's always better to wait until late in the Fall, after the Breeders' Cup to really have a gauge on the quality. It's good to remember that the Spring classics are when these horses are generally still developing mentally and physically.

Brock Sheridan said...

John,
No doubt that the final grades on this crop should not be given out until much later in the year after these colts get a chance to prove themselves further.

But my first trimester grade (of say B-) is based on the fact that so many of the final prep races were won by long shots and the Beyer par time for the Derby seemed particularly low (although I haven't researched it.)

As I mentioned before, I resist the "bad crop" generalization so feel free to fire away at me on this one... (even as the year goes on.) I'll be happy to say "uncle."

Maddie4361 said...

Doesn't the record handle and attendance at least give some indication about the quality of the field or least the popularity?

John said...

Fair enough, Brock. I wasn't trying to be confrontational, as I'm sure you know. It's good to have a variety of opinions, and when you mentioned the long shots winning and the Beyer figures, you got my measure there. I'm a bit weak in the Beyer speed figure and analytical departments, areas I need to learn more about.

So much of the time, my own input comes I'm afraid, with a limited knowledge base.

Waquiot said...

Brock, yet another great article I look forward to reading it. I still think the best separated at birth is you and Chris Lincoln or Pat Pope and Catwomen

Brock Sheridan said...

John,
Yes your comments are always welcome... pro or con.

Waquoit,
You on the other hand...