The Brock Talk

Friday, April 22, 2011

Louisiana Derby May Have The Fire and Machismo For Kentucky

Upsets in nearly all of the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. 1) prep races this Spring will without doubt make this one of the most difficult crops to decipher on the first Saturday in May.

We are all left wondering if Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial (gr. 1) winner Toby’s Corner is a one hit wonder.

Is Santa Anita Derby (gr. 1) upset winner Midnight Interlude so much on the improve that he can win the most prestigious race in North American?

What about Uncle Mo? (photo) He was looked upon as unbeatable before his loss in the Wood Memorial.

Don’t forget The Factor. Before his dismal performance in the Arkansas Derby (gr. 1), Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia made the Bob Baffert trainee the favorite to win the Run for the Roses.

Anybody remember Soldat? As pretty as he looked winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. 2) in February, he looked just as ugly running fifth in the Florida Derby (gr. 1) won by Dialed In. And there was that allowance race in January that he won by more than 10 lengths. What happened to that?

So Dialed In is your favorite? Care to explain his schedule. He won the Holy Bull (gr. 3) in January then we didn’t hear from him in February. When trainer Nick Zito does start him, Dialed In is running against older horses in an optional claiming race. Then almost another 30 days go by and Dialed In comes bouncing down the Gulfstream Park stretch to win the Florida Derby. You remember all of those Kentucky Derby winners that have taken the Fountain of Youth-Optional Claiming-Florida Derby path to Kentucky... don’t you?

Look at the graded stakes earning list and you’ll see Comma to the Top at number three – right behind Archarcharch. Really? We’ve been listening to the connections of Comma to the Top tell us the Kentucky Derby is not an option since his fourth-place finish in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. 2) in March. Trainer Peter Miller said then, he had concerns about the colts ability to win at 1-1/4 miles. Comma to the Top then runs second by a head behind Midnight Interlude in the Santa Anita Derby and plans suddenly might change.

Archarcharch won the Arkansas Derby at 25-1 odds. He has the Cinderella story with long time midwest training stalwart Jinks Fires legging up jockey Jon Court with the same heartland credentials. The son of Calumet stallion Arch, is also one of four horses to win two Kentucky Derby prep races this year joining Dialed In, Toby’s Corner and The Factor. Archarcharch also won the Southwest Stakes (gr. 3) at Oaklawn to go along with his Arkansas Derby tally. So does he go from Arkansas long shot to Kentucky contender in one race? Or is it two out of the last three races after running third in the Rebel behind The Factor?

Just more than two weeks from the Kentucky Derby and it seems we must find the horse with the fewest strikes instead of the horse with the most accomplishments.

Is such a race the Louisiana Derby (gr. 2)?

Pants on Fire was a surprise but logical 6-1 winner of the Louisiana Derby defeating favored Mucho Macho Man. This may be an improving colt and wouldn’t it be nice to see jockey Rosie Napravnik become the first female jockey to adorn the blanket of roses in the Churchill winner's circle?

Louisiana Derby runner-up Nehro is trained by Steve Asmussen of Rachel Alexandra and Curlin fame; and third-place finisher Mucho Macho Man lost a shoe in the Fair Grounds showcase.

That’s very shallow handicapping admittedly. But the other contenders in this year’s Derby, don’t seem to pass that simple litmus test like the Louisiana Derby contenders.

Everybody likes to talk about the depth of the Florida Derby this year – and justifiably so. Fountain of Youth winner Soldat, Dialed In, To Honor and Serve and Gotham Stakes (gr. 2) winner Stay Thirsty were among that group. But look behind the top three finishers in the Louisiana Derby and Elite Alex, Machen and Wilkinson – all promising Derby contenders in their own right – rounding out the top five finishers.

So much can and will change in the next two weeks before the Kentucky Derby. Contenders will likely scratch and wise-guy horses will begin to appear from the darkness and fog of morning works at Churchill Downs. There will be speculations, calculations and reservations between now and that famous moment when the field of 20 breaks from the gate at Churchill Downs.

It seems now, however, that one needs look no further than New Orleans to find the Kentucky Derby contender with the least voodoo.


Nicholas said...

Thanks Brock, that helped a lot. :)

Was in La. and was very impressed by the field there. Admittedly cashing a ticket on Nehro helped that.

Are you worried about the 6 week layoff between that race and Yum! Derby?

Unknown said...


Yes the 6-week layoff is a concern. But the horse I really like (now) for the Derby is Mucho Macho Man. He's a late foal that may improve greatly this time of year.

Unknown said...

Well said Brock..instead of pulling out my hair I am going to be playing the horses I think I know and that will probably change a few more times before the gate opens on derby day.
brilliant speed
not in any special order.
May need to pull my hair out..

Unknown said...

If you can get the winner of this year's Derby, it will likely be a very good day for you Roseann. Like your choices and I'll be swinging for the fences right along with everybody else this year on Derby day.

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