JC / Railbird

Sports Illustrated


Tim Layden on preparing to write his Sports Illustrated Triple Crown story:

Among the anecdotes I hoped to use involved Team Baffert and its use of the Spanish slang word chingon, which came up frequently. Journalists are hard-wired to protect what they think—or know—might be exclusive information. At one point during Belmont week, when I was alone with Baffert, I said to him, “You’re a chatty guy. Do me a favor and let’s keep chingon between us.” He did, and I’m thankful for that, too.

That’s access.

Notes for 2009-05-05

Sports Illustrated cover for May 5, 2009– For the first time in five years, a horse has made the cover of Sports Illustrated. (That’s the power of an upset in America’s best known race and a fantastic, scrappy backstory.) “Miracle in the Mud: Derby Long-Shot Winner Energizes Horse Racing,” asserts the headline accompanying the photo of Mine That Bird and Calvin Borel after the wire. Even with a few days to think about it, I’m still not sure what to make of the freakish Kentucky Derby results. I believe this, though: There are no miracles, and there are no fairy tales; there is only missing information. Something essential about Saturday remains unknown. I’m waiting for the Preakness, as Superfecta advises, before coming to any conclusions about Mine That Bird, this year’s 3-year-old Classic contenders, or what the Derby means for racing. Maybe after the second leg of the Triple Crown, I’ll feel energized. For now, I remain slightly stunned and disoriented.

– All the mentions of Canonero II in the wake of Mine That Bird’s big upset in the Kentucky Derby reminded me of a post from last year, when the mysterious Venezuelan Derby winner’s name came up often in relation to then unknown Peruvian Derby contender Tomcito. Here’s an excerpt from that old post, with the still-relevant links to articles on Canonero II in the SI Vault:

The two are terrific racing stories: Both Kentucky-breds, each was purchased for a modest price at a Keeneland sale and shipped to South America, where both became winners. Canonero, however, arrived in the United States two weeks before the Kentucky Derby, losing four days training time in quarantine, and little was known of his record when he went to post at Churchill. His 3 3/4-length Derby upset was considered a fluke, a notion dispelled when he won the Preakness in record time. Canonero then headed to New York to try for the Triple Crown, where he stunned fans by finishing fourth in the Belmont as the 3-5 favorite.

Dan Illman has much more on the 1971 Derby winner, including video links.

– For conspiracy buffs, a theory.

– For Borel fans, proof of form.

– New debut date for Zenyatta: After scratching last Friday from the Louisville Distaff due to rain, trainer John Shirreffs has set the May 23 Milady Handicap at Hollywood as the race for the mighty mare’s return.