JC / Railbird


Classic Orb

Kentucky Derby winner Orb is already on his way back to New York back in New York, where he may breeze once at Belmont Park before shipping to Pimlico early Preakness week. The colt was given a Beyer speed figure of 104 for his 2 1/2 length win over the sloppy Churchill Downs track — a nice jump forward off his matching winning figures in the Florida Derby and Fountain of Youth. “He hasn’t been overcooked,” trainer Shug McGaughey told Jay Privman, saying he expected Orb to run as well in two weeks as he did on Saturday.

For the third year in a row, the Thomas Herding team tipped the winner, calling out Orb as their “top rated horse” in this year’s Derby, for a slew of reasons that included grit, versatility, and what you might call will:

Orb always runs his own race. He doesn’t react to the other horses in his environment. They react to him.

That’s what it looked like when he geared up in the stretch to pass the five still in front. According to Trakus, “Orb’s final quarter mile winning the Kentucky Derby was :25.88,” the only sub :26 final quarter in the field. DRF has him at :25.97 for the quarter, which is still faster than next best Revolutionary, who closed in :26.02 DRF time (:26.09 Trakus time) to finish third.

Orb was the post-time favorite at 5-1, and is the first Derby favorite to win since Big Brown in 2008. (He’s also the first since Barbaro in 2006 to have more than two preps.) After a few years in which longshots seemed to rule, it’s refreshing to have the horse pretty much everyone agreed was the best going into the Derby emerge as the best horse out of it. Orb didn’t break any rules winning (not that there are many left), but he didn’t have to — he’s a Kentucky Derby winner in a classic mold (as are his connections).

Odds and Ends

In June 2011, Courier-Journal reporter Gregory Hall live tweeted the John Veitch-Life at Ten hearing. It was superb coverage. “My 140-word tweets give fuller picture of the Veitch hearing than my newspaper story tomorrow will,” he wrote then, a realization that helped lead to yesterday’s launch of Hall’s new blog, HorseBiz, which promises “inside baseball” for racing folk. I’ve already added it to my RSS reader. You should too.

Few use 140 characters as effectively as @o_crunk, who tweeted about Trakus:

Trakus could be so much more — efficient data distribution, an open API for developers, etc and this is what they come up with?

Trakus could be the group that leads industry out of the .pdf past performance dark ages. But here’s jockey efficiency ratings, have fun!

Trakus could be. Why isn’t it?

Also seeking answers re: New York racing …

Liz O’Connell pursues information on the New York Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety and its delayed report on Aqueduct breakdowns (via):

On May 30, 2012, I made a freedom of information request to Racing and Wagering that was partially answered after the maximum number of delays allowed by law; then the information was mailed to the wrong address.

Frustrating. And the information she does get is illuminating only in what it reveals about the current state of New York’s racing stewardship.

In happier news: “After a period of time, IHA regained his calmness and he [grazed] in stately fashion just like a star.” Big Red Farm’s weekly I’ll Have Another updates are delightful (via).

Thursday Notes

Jaycito returned to the track this morning for the first time since his runner-up effort in the San Felipe last Saturday. He’ll be getting blinkers on again in the Santa Anita Derby, reports Steve Haskin, “after losing his focus a bit while apparently bored being at the back of the pack …” The San Felipe was the first career start the colt, my PDI #2 #4, made without blinkers. “I love the way he took dirt and settled well off the pace,” said trainer Bob Baffert replying to an emailed inquiry about Jaycito. “He will improve more next time.”

Dick Jerardi defuses angst about Uncle Mo’s so-so Timely Writer speed figure (DRF+): “It only went down that way because of the way the race was run, something that does happen in Beyer World, but not all that often.” [TT reports a Ragozin number of 4 for Uncle Mo, adjusted for the slow pace.]

Colin’s Ghost wonders whether a Triple Crown winner will appear again.

A potential rivalry? “Whether Premier Pegasus will be the one to push Uncle Mo and give us an incredible rivalry is open to debate,” writes Bob Ehalt. “Maybe he’s another Sunday Silence, or maybe he’s another Buzzards Bay.”

Churchill Downs could install the Trakus system in time for the spring meet, putting an end to the occasional Kentucky Derby chart error.