JC / Railbird

Pyro “Didn’t Do Enough”

– Pyro came out of his tenth-place finish as the even-money favorite in Saturday’s Blue Grass “bright-eyed and looking full of run,” which has trainer Steve Asmussen concerned the colt didn’t get enough out of his final Kentucky Derby prep and prompting a change to Pyro’s training. Bill Finley reports the colt will get some competition in his next work:

“I’m definitely worried that he didn’t do enough in the Blue Grass,” Asmussen said. “I would have worked him by himself. Now, his next work will definitely be in company. I just can’t look at the Blue Grass as a hard race.”

I’m doubtful Pyro can turn things around in three weeks, working in company or not. He lacks a good final prep at nine furlongs (defined as winning or finishing ITM or within three lengths of the winner) and his Blue Grass Beyer is 73. In the last 15 years, no horse has won the Derby coming off a speed figure less than 91 and only Street Sense — who had other factors in his favor — has won the Derby off anything resembling a regression.
– Saying his decision would depend on the Ragozin numbers and how she trains over the next couple weeks, owner Rick Porter is considering entering Eight Belles in the Derby:

“We know she’ll get the distance, number one, and we know she has a lot of heart,” he said. “She can run on the front, she can stalk and come from off the pace … she’s a very talented filly and with the competition out there, with the colts this year, she fits right in with the top three or four 3-year-olds in America.” (Blood-Horse, via Valerie)

If entered, Eight Belles would go into the Derby off four wins, and the 99 Beyer she earned in the Fantasy is one of the better numbers run in a two-turn stakes this season. Porter is leaving his options open, however, and said that he might cross-enter the filly in the Kentucky Oaks, determining which race she would start in only after the post draw:

“The only negative is she doesn’t break sharply from the gate, and if she got an outside post in the Derby that wouldn’t help us,” said Porter. Then we’d have the option of running in the Oaks, but I think she can run with the boys.” (AP)

– Gayego ships to Churchill this morning. “He’s doing good,” said assistant trainer Martin Morales of the Arkansas Derby winner on Sunday, “and he’s ready for the next one” (BRIS).
– “Big Brown is going to be the favorite,” said oddsmaker Mike Battaglia of the Derby morning line after Saturday’s prep races (Courier-Journal). Colonel John will be second. What to do with Pyro is the question.


How would you like to be the connections of whichever horse is 21st on the graded stakes earnings list, knowing that Eight Belles is entered in the Derby but would scratch if she doesn’t get the right post.

Posted by EJXD2 on April 14, 2008 @ 2:14 pm

I agree, EJ. How aggravating is that? And yet, remember, there is no mandate the gate must be filled. The hysteria around this race is amazing. If more owners and trainers entered because they honestly believed they could win and not for other reasons, we probably would have 14-horse fields for the Derby once in awhile. All more the reason the Preakness is the truer test. (Diving down into the safety of the bunker after that one)

Posted by John S. on April 14, 2008 @ 2:40 pm

It seems no more aggravating than getting bumped by a horse like Anak Nakal or Massive Drama. Too bad there’s no AE list.

Posted by Jessica on April 14, 2008 @ 3:18 pm

Yes, Anak Nakal was going to be in my response to John. I guess they figure he likes the Churchill surface since he did win a stake over it last year, but come on.

Posted by EJXD2 on April 14, 2008 @ 4:05 pm