The Brock Talk

Monday, April 20, 2009

Derby Developments – thoughts, comments and questions.

Louisiana Derby (gr. 2) winner Friesan Fire worked over the Keeneland track Sunday morning as trainer Larry Jones supervised from his pony horse.

With jockey Gabriel Saez aboard, Friesan Fire went a mile in 1:39.6 and covered the last three-eights of a mile in 37.87. Jones seemed happy with the work saying “he came home well. He was blowing very little. It was easy for him, so that was good. He needed a semblance of a little scrimmage.”

What doesn’t show up on the clocker’s list is that following the official work as the son of A.P. Indy was galloping out, another horse raced up along side Friesan Fire. Reportedly, Friesan Fire then re-broke forcing Saez to work another half-mile before convincing him to pull up. This looks to me like a horse that is ready to run and more importantly, doesn’t like other horses getting’ up in his bidness.

Having the horse train at Keeneland instead of Churchill Downs before the Derby would normally be somewhat of a concern for me, just because Keeneland has an artificial racing surface and Churchill is natural dirt. However, Jones has finished second in the two previous Derbies with Hard Spun in 2007 and Eight Bells last year, both of whom came into the Derby from a base at Keeneland.

With jockey Garrett Gomez choosing to ride Pioneerof the Nile in the Derby over Dunkirk, the Derby musical saddles is nearly over. Edgar Prado, who won the Derby with Barbaro in 2006 will pick up the mount on Dunkirk. Last week Eibar Coa choose to ride Illinois Derby (gr. 2) winner Muskat Man over Bluegrass Stakes (gr. 1) winner General Quarters.

What does all this mean for those of us who would like to cash a ticket on the Derby? Really not much in my opinion. The list of great jockeys choosing the wrong horse to ride in the Derby is “as long as long can be” as 80s SNL character Ed Grimley used to say.

Jockey changes can be much more important when handicapping everyday races, but a Derby horse is going to attract the nation’s leading riders. You don’t loose or gain much with jockey changes at this level.

Giant Oak departed from the Derby picture Monday because “physically he was right. Mentally is was not,” according to trainer Chris Block. That paves the way for Arkansas Derby (gr. 2) third-place finisher Summer Bird to make the Derby entry box. Horses qualify for the Kentucky Derby based on earnings in graded stakes races. Trainer Tim Ice said he didn’t think Summer Bird’s $100,000 in graded earnings would give them a trip to Churchill Downs but has already made plans to ship into the Churchill Downs stable area Wednesday.

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