JC / Railbird

Guessing Game

Three weeks from the Kentucky Derby, and about all that’s safe to predict is that the winner won’t be predictable. With yesterday’s wins by 25-1 Archarcharch in the Arkansas Derby and 19-1 Brilliant Speed in the Blue Grass, the average win mutuel of the last four Grade 1 preps works out to $35.45. In the Arkansas Derby, if you had the ten-cent super, you cashed for almost $3000. In the Blue Grass, you signed for more than $6400. Jaycito, redirected to the Lexington after missing the Santa Anita Derby because of a foot problem, now sits on the Derby earnings bubble with $250,000, and jockey Corey Nakatani, second with Nehro at Oaklawn yesterday, has his choice of Derby mounts, but Calvin Borel has none. It’s anyone’s year.

The Factor was the latest favorite to falter. Taken out of his element from the start, out-hustled to the front by JP’s Gusto and Dance City, The Factor finished seventh as the 4-5 favorite in the Arkansas Derby. I didn’t think the colt was a nine-furlong horse, much less a 10-furlong one, but I expected he’d be a pace factor at Churchill and it was a shame to see how little he did when taken back. Trainer Bob Baffert said The Factor may have flipped his palate. (In which case, he’s out of the Derby? “We’re just going to see how he’s doing.” Just like that, Midnight Interlude becomes Baffert’s best chance.)

All the upsets along the Derby trail have left Dialed In, the only prospect one of only two prospects* to have won two graded preps this spring, as the most consistent of the bunch and the likely Kentucky Derby favorite. (“I mean, who else?” said Derby oddsmaker Mike Battaglia.) Forgive me if I’m not wild with enthusiasm about a horse who won the Florida Derby by a nose dueling a 68-1 shot and running a final eighth in more than 13 seconds. And there is the matter of how trainer Nick Zito plans to bring Dialed In to the Derby with only one workout between April 12 and May 7, done in seclusion at Palm Meadows.

“Pardon me for being a wee bit cynical and not buying it,” writes Jeremy Plonk. “The last time seclusion and serenity were used as reasons for staying at Palm Meadows, 2010 would-be Derby favorite Eskendereya turned up lame.”

Pure speculation about Dialed In, of course, just as it is that Uncle Mo, diagnosed with an intestinal infection after the Wood, is being treated with antibiotics and still not feeling so hot, based on a Facebook update:

I want to run in the Derby sooooo bad!! Uncle Todd and Uncle Mike said ONLY if I’m 100%! I know they have my best interests at heart. I’m taking my medicine (I hate the taste)!!! Uncle Todd says if I take it, he will let me go out and play with my friends. I galloped today, and felt great. I’m eating a lot but not as much as Uncle Todd and Uncle Mike would like.

Hm … I don’t know what I’m going to do with this week’s PDI top 10.

If there were any chance he’d ship to Churchill Downs, I’d make Frankel #1 off his glorious romp in the Greenham at Newbury at Saturday (replay). In his first start of the year, and only 80% according to trainer Henry Cecil, Frankel brought his undefeated record to five with the four-length win. He’ll start next in the Guineas in two weeks, the overwhelming favorite.

*Thanks to o_crunk for the correction. Archarcharch is the other dual graded prep winner headed to Churchill. I assume The Factor is no longer a Derby prospect, but if he were, he’d be the third to have won two graded preps.

8:20 PM Addendum: Apparently, The Factor is going to Kentucky. The Derby, maybe. Beyer speed figure of 98 for Archarcharch in the Arkansas Derby, 89 for the not-so Brilliant Speed in the Blue Grass.


Am I the only one sick of horses making Facebook posts in the first person?

Posted by Bill on April 18, 2011 @ 9:29 am

Bill: No.

Posted by EJXD2 on April 18, 2011 @ 11:13 am

How about: “Why does Uncle Mike let that bad man stick a needle in my neck 4 hours before every race?”

Or perhaps “Please Uncle Todd, I am tired of being locked in my stall 23.5 hours a day, let me go play with my friends.”

Posted by Bill on April 18, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

Judging by the responses on Facebook to the many twee horse voices on the network, we’re in the minority as dislikers.

Posted by Jessica on April 19, 2011 @ 7:55 am

[…] of us can do — guess (BF). “It could be a Giacomo year.” It’s anyone’s year (JC). There are still more twists and turns likely to unfold (JP). So keep looking for a Derby horse […]

Posted by Jessica Chapel / Railbird - Conventional Chaos on April 20, 2011 @ 6:09 am