The Brock Talk

Monday, May 9, 2011

Kentucky Derby Thoughts, Comments and Questions

A couple of rattlings before pondering the Preakness…

You won’t be alone if you don’t expect Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. 1) winner Animal Kingdom to win the Preakness (gr. 1) and Belmont Stakes (gr. 1) and become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1977. But is too much for horse racing to want to see a Kentucky Derby victor win a a race after the big win at Churchill Downs? Not since Big Brown won the Monmouth Stakes over Proudinsky in September of 2008, has a Kentucky Derby champion won race after the Kentucky Derby. Since then, Mine That Bird and Super Saver have been 0-12 during their post Kentucky Derby careers.

If you're not a big fan of Animal Kingdom, you’re not alone either. It is difficult to root for owner Team Valor’s manager Barry Irwin after he told NBC’s Bob Newmeier that he chose Graham Motion to train Animal Kingdom because he was “just tired of other trainers lying to me and I wanted a guy to tell me the truth.” When pressed by Newmeier as to how many trainers are liars, he responded “plenty.” Then a slick, “hey listen, I’ve gotta go”… Justified or not, replacing jockey Robbie Albarado at the last minute because of injury concerns to the jockey’s eye and broken nose, isn’t helping Irwin’s popularity either. There was no reason to make the jockey change the day before instead of waiting to see if Albarado could ride. Especially after Albarado won the grade 1 Humana Distaff earlier on the Derby card with Sassy Image.

Churchill always seems to fall a little short on the star power of the their Kentucky Derby day National Anthem singer. “Grammy-nominated, platinum selling artist,” Jordan Sparks did little to change that notion. But she got all the words right…

Calling the Kentucky Derby for the first time for NBC, Larry Collmus was flawless. In text book track announcer fashion, he described the action up front early while the field settled. He then went horse-by-horse through the entire field with out a stumble and was observant in picking up horses making their moves around the far turn. As Neho and Shackleford battled down the stretch, Collmus immediately picked up Animal Kingdom and his late rally from the middle of the pack. I give Collmus an Excellent, A+, top of the bell curve 10.

With Animal Kingdom paying $43.80 to win the Kentucky Derby, the trend continues. The average win pay-off in six grade 1 races this year for 3-year-olds is $28.71. That includes Dialed In winning the Florida Derby and paying $7.80 on the low end and Archarcharch paying $52.40 to win the Arkansas Derby on the top end of the long shot spectrum.

It was a very clean race by Kentucky Derby standards. My Kentucky Derby top choice, Mucho Macho Man, broke well from the 13 hole and only had to check once in the charge to the first turn when he was mildly brushed by Soldat. Winner Animal Kingdom probably had a similarly minor check at about the same time. There was some other bumping, but nobody was eliminated by the calvary charge that is usually the Kentucky Derby clubhouse turn.

Kentucky Derby television ratings dropped 6% from last year but still had a strong 9.7 overnight rating which translates to 9.7% of households in 56 urban markets according to USA Today. In comparison, the Los Angeles Lakers playoff loss to the Dallas Mavericks Sunday drew a 6.5 rating which was up 27% from last year. NBA playoffs were also up across the board over the weekend while NASCAAR, like the Kentucky Derby was also down compared to last year.

A finally a Kentucky Derby seperated at birth?

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan and Parks and Recretation start Aziz Ansari


Thoroughbred Ed said...
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Thoroughbred Ed said...

I don't take Irwin's interview as a negative. I have spoken to several owners and people on the backside relating to Barry Irwin's statement and the are glad he made the comment. Obviously, not “all trainers” are liars and airing our dirty laundry on a national venue can further alienate an already skeptical public. But the inability of the sport to properly enforce even existing rules and regulations is an embarrassment. The frustration of owners is real and growing each year. Our industry must understand that the status-quo is unacceptable. I hope the industry gets the message and starts to make changes from within.

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