Pretty much the only thing going on other than workouts and speculating over the fitness of Quality Road is ironing out all the riding assignments.
Garret Gomez and agent Ron Anderson made the biggest call of the spring when they chose Pioneerof the Nile over Dunkirk. I thought I'd take a look at the records of horses with new Derby jockey's as well as look at some of the past calls riders have made.
Horses that had a jockey who was riding them for the first time in the Derby went 66-2-2-1. Most of them failed badly because most of them were the no-hopers that none of the big names wanted to ride. The two exceptions were War Emblem who got the jockey change thanks to the sale and new stable and Charismatic.
It has commonly been held as a bad sign when the jockey that rode the horse in the last prep chooses not to ride that horse again in the Derby. That's probably fair but a study of the decisions jockey's have made from 96' to the present reveals that not all them make the right calls.
I looked at every case where a rider was on a different horse than he rode in the final prep or if he was on several in their final preps. I'm assuming that in all cases the riders them selves made the decision to get off a certain horse. I realize that sometimes it's the trainers decision but it's hard to gather that data. Riders made the right choices in 23 of the 40 cases. Meaning the horse they chose finished ahead of the horse or horses they did not choose.
Hardly any of these calls involved eventual race winners. In fact just three did. Kent D decided to stay on Big Brown instead of Cool Coal Man. I'm not sure if that even qualifies as a call, I'm sure no one in North America would have made the opposite one. Prado also elected to stay on Barbaro, resisting the temptation to ride the speedy Keyed Entry.
Easily the worst call since 1996 was Jerry Bailey's decision to ride Worldly Manner, a horse that had not started since the previous September over Charismatic, a horse that Bailey had won the Lexington on just two weeks before the Derby. I wonder if that was on Ron Anderson's advice?
Actually Anderson's last two big clients, Bailey and Gomez are a combined 2 for 5 in the Derby when it comes to making the right choice.
Of course none of this actually impacts the decision they made this year but I thought it was at least an interesting little tidbit of information.