Weekend Overview: Kentucky Derby weekend is a weekend of celebration for racing fans. It is quite a shame that both Oaks and Derby day were marred by high profile breakdowns but if one was able to look past the tragedy there was a ton of good racing on display. One cannot say enough about how good Big Brown is and may still become. Proud Spell was dominant in a picture perfect Oaks. Ginger Punch came back to form and Einstein solidified his status as the best Turf horse in the nation. Elite Squadron put in quite a race and suddenly looks like one of the better 7f horses in the nation. We had favorites, longshots, tight finishes and overpowering performances. It really was all a racing fan could ask for.
Performance of the Week: There are three horses in the Kentucky Derby who should be singled out for special praise. The first is obviously Big Brown. Dutrow was right, this was a bit of an easy race. It probably shouldn't have been but clearly we're looking at a horse who is as special as any we've seen in recent years. Big Brown has still never been seriously challenged and injury seems like a bigger threat to a Triple Crown sweep than his competition does. Eight Belles also deserves special mention. She ran a whale of race and without Big Brown she'd have been a most impressive winner. I think she was somewhat disadvantaged around the far turn when Big Brown made his easy move and she tried to get revved up but had to stop in behind horses. It would not have changed the order of finish but she would have finished closer. Recapturetheglory also deserves a nod for his game 5th place finish. I have to admit I thought this horse would be contesting 19th place but he stayed on very well even after getting passed. It left you with the impression that this horse could still improve and he likely has another few stakes wins in him as well.
Race of the Week: If you love racing then you loved the Humana Distaff. What a race, I still have no idea how Hystericalady got beat. It really was a shame because she did all the hard work and was clearly the best horse but Baroness Thatcher and Intangaroo made the race an absolute thriller. It seemed impossible that they'd get there but somehow they nipped the classy favorite right on the line. This has to be an early contender for race of the season.
Flop of the Weekend: I'm inclined not to give it to any horse exiting the Derby. Sure Colonel John let a host of his fans down but I'm not sure if it's a case of him flopping because his trip wasn't great. Instead I'm going to focus my ire on Sugar Swirl. She really had no excuse. I have no idea why her rider insisted on being right on the pace. It forced her way wide, meanwhile a horse she can handle easily, Baroness Thatcher was sitting in the catbird seat just waiting for the speed to fold. That should have been Sugar Swirl and we ought to have seen a better performance from her.
TCR Mover’s and Shakers: Big Brown leads the shake up in the TCR standings. Courtesy of his Derby win and undefeated record he shoots to the top ahead of Einstein ending the reign of Bustin Stones who enjoyed 4 weeks at the top. With the Preakness seemingly at his mercy Big Brown appears to be a solid choice to hold the #1 spot for the next few months or at least until Curlin gets back. Einstein has had a phenomenally consistent year and is clearly the top Turf Male. Intangaroo continues her shocking season with another G-1 victory at long odds. She is the top Female Sprinter and top Main Track Older Female as well as being the 5th ranked horse in the nation overall. The tragic hero Eight Belles owns the #1 spot in the Three Year Old Female division narrowly over stablemate Proud Spell. Little Belle, Golden Doc A and Bsharpsonata who finished together in the Oaks are tightly grouped in the rankings as well.
Tip O’the Cap: In times past it behooved a gentleman to doff his cap to a lady. You rarely see such behavior now except when inspired by the presence of a great lady. I have a feeling that many a cap was removed following the Kentucky Derby when the gallant Eight Belles met an unfortunate end. It was such a cruel time for a tragedy as it came just moments after her greatest achievement. Eight Belles was no match for Big Brown but she did handle the rest of the field with ease. She put in a phenomenal performance to run a clear second and was the best filly in the nation in my opinion. Her injury was just a freak occurrence. It had nothing to do with the Derby itself or Jones running a less than fit horse, it was just one of those things. My condolences go out to Larry Jones, Rick Porter and everyone at Fox Hill Farms. You never get used to things like this but I am glad that we got to witness how good she really was. And so I tip my cap to Eight Belles, a great lady of thoroughbred racing.
KC Handicapping: Another slightly negative week but at least this time the signs were there. Had some tough beats with Hystericalady getting caught in the last jump and Chelokee breaking down while my second and third picks in that race filled out the exacta. The most shocking defeat of all was seeing Bayou's Lassie beat Dreaming Of Anna at her own game. After seeing how speed was holding up on the grass I thought Anna was a cinch. So I lost money on these straight picks but I did have some live horses and usually I had someone to cheer in the lane.
Cumulative record of selected horses: 16(12)-4-3-2 (-$4.20 -13.13% ROI)
Overall record: 518(261)-95-90-73 (-$84.60 -8.17% ROI)