The Brock Talk

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Rough Holiday Weekend For Derby Class of '09.

It was not a good holiday weekend for horses from the Derby class of ’09. Derby winner Mine That Bird finished eighth in the grade 2 Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs Sunday; Regal Ransom (8th in the ’09 Derby), finished fourth in the Suburban Handicap (gr. 2) while Hold Me Back (12th in the Derby), lost his jockey to a bad breathalyzer test before the Dominion Day Stakes at Woodbine even started Friday. And even though I Want Revenge (photo right) didn’t start in the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands last year, he was the prohibitive favorite before being scratched the morning of the race. I Want Revenge didn’t fair much better Saturday, just defeating Regal Ransom for third in the Suburban.

Hold Me Back apparently made the pre-race curfew that Kent Desormeaux missed, because he eventually won the $216,400 Dominian Day with replacement jockey Tyler Pizarro. And forgive me for not being too harsh on the other three.

I Want Revenge was making his return to the races in the 9 furlong Suburban after fifteen months off with his last race being his remarkable Wood Memorial (gr. 1) in April of last year. Around the far turn, eventual winner Haynesfield moved passed Regal Ransom, who had set the Surbuban fractions and began to pull away down the Belmont Park stretch as Regal Ransom and I Want Revenge began to tire. Regal Ransom was also making his first start of the year, having not raced since finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November.

In a bit of Suburban irony, Haynesfield was a Kentucky Derby prospect in March of last year before he finished eighth in the Gotham (gr. 2) behind I Want Revenge.

Like, Regal Ransom, Mine That Bird (photo left) was making his first start since a poor Breeders’ Cup Classic as he finished ninth that day at Santa Anita. And the 2008 Canadian Champion had a few additional obstacles to overcome as well. Making his first start under the direction of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Mine That Bird had been pointed to an allowance race earlier in the week on dirt, but the race didn’t fill. The Firecracker was also Mine That Bird’s first start on turf, and judging by the performance, may be his last.

Lukas has said that they are now pointing Mine That Bird toward the grade 1 Whitney Handicap on the dirt at Saratoga August 7. There he is expected to meet the leading older male horse in the country at this time, Quality Road, with the grade 1 Metropolitan Mile and grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park this winter among his 2010 credits.

On a side note, Quality Road worked Sunday at Belmont Park going a half mile in an easy :48.84 for trainer Todd Pletcher. “It was just an easy maintenance breeze for him,” said Jonathan Thomas, Pletcher’s assistant. “He went well.” Quality Road was among the favorites for the 2009 Kentucky Derby as well before an foot injury forced his withdrawl just days before the run for the roses.

No news as to the next start for I Want Revenge from trainer Dick Dutrow’s barn nor on plans for Regal Ransom, from Saeed bin Suroor on plans for Regal Ransom. Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, said plans for Haynesworth will not be determined in the near future either.

Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen said “[Haynesworth] came out of the race well. We’ll wait until he comes back and breezes, and then begin talking about it.”


John said...

Brock, I think you meant Haynesfield, not Haynesworth.

I thought the Suburban, after such a long layoff, was too much, too soon for I Want Revenge, and I'm not surprised at his finish. But he's obviously a very talented horse, and I trust he'll eventually be back in a big way.

As for Mine That Bird, let's get him back on dirt, going at least nine furlongs. Still not sure if Lukas will try to adjust his style, get him closer to the action, or let him keep trying to roll very late, but whatever he does, I wish this gelding nothing but the very best and a lot of success.

Anonymous said...

I didn't think I Want Revenge ran an terrible race after such a long layoff and against good competition. It will be interesting to see how he comes out of the Suburban and where he is pointed.
Mine that Bird hated the turf apparently and I think he's going to run some great races this year. His works have been too good recently for him to keep losing so badly.

John said...

This might be a silly question, but I wonder if when you take a horse who is obviously a dirt runner, put him on grass as perhaps an experiment, the result is that the turf may seem comparable to a deep dirt track or Polytrack. What I'm trying to say is, would a deeper surface serve more to condition him? I'd have to think Mine That Bird is in fairly good condition already, but I'm just wondering if this change was meant to either give him more conditioning or perhaps try and build more speed into him, so that when he goes back to a dirt track, one which in all likelihood will be dry and fast, he'll be able to perform better.

I'm just taking a wild guess here.