Weekend Overview: This weekend for me illustrated once again that the Breeders' Cup is a much better event than the Derby for racing fans. Because the focus is centered completely on one race when a horse like Mine That Bird comes away the victor many people are left with a "I waited 5 months for this?" feeling. A lot of excellent performances by horses like Informed Decision, Einstein and Tizaqueena got swept under the table somewhat. While the Breeders' Cup does always culminate in the Classic the focus is definitely spread over several races. It's a better event for our sport to focus on. Mine That Bird was the best horse on Derby day, it's still pretty unbelievable that he was able to dominate everyone else so thoroughly. There were certainly very few clues that he was capable of such a performance. I think Rachel Alexandra ultimately emerged as the star of the weekend. She wasn't facing much in the Oaks but there is little question that she looks as good or better than any filly we've seen in the last two decades.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: Despite the Derby victory by Mine That Bird it was not enough to get him into first in his division. The top Three Year Old Male is still Pioneerof the Nile. He was the head of the class going into the race and he emerges as still the best of the bunch. It's a ranking that I would not be surprised to see confirmed in the next Triple Crown race. Quality Road and I Want Revenge remain in the top 5 despite not taking part in the biggest race in the division. Einstein is a main contender for Horse of the Year, Main Track Older Male and Turf Male. He just keeps getting better and while he is still narrowly behind Well Armed the feeling is that he'll be the horse to beat. Informed Decision and Tizaqueena have taken control of their respective divisions and although talented horses like Ventura and Forever Together will still have a major say in the divisions these horses both look like top notch contenders.
Power Rankings: Rachel Alexandra is the top Three Year Old Female but comes out only 4th when compared against all three year olds. It'll be interesting to see how that shakes down in the next few weeks. The Male Sprinter division is absolutely horrendous this year. The girls are embarrassing the boys in that respect. Well Armed still holds onto the #1 spot but only just over Einstein.
Performance of the Week: Like everyone else I was blown away by Rachel Alexandra. She was simply peerless. I think the lack of quality opponents has taken a bit of the gloss off her race but it shouldn't. This was the best Oaks I've ever seen and perhaps the best of the modern era. I don't think the race needs much description. Rachel Alexandra always looked in control even when stalking the pace and from there she simply ran away.
Race of the Week: I thought the mazy finish of the Humana Distaff was entertaining but the ultimate failure of Game Face soured the race for a bit. That's the unfortunate things about having favorites. So with that race out of the running Einstein vs Cowboy Cal in the Woodford Reserve wins this category narrowly over Miss Isella vs One Caroline in the Louisville Distaff. If the Derby result got you down a bit I recommend watching all the races mentioned if you haven't already. One race result may not go your way but racing itself is still as fantastic as ever.
Flop of the Week: Take your pick, a horde of well meant horses ran poorly. Durkin blew the Derby call and even the Derby itself was anti climatic after the two best horses pulled out. Zenyatta and Justwhistledixie also avoided racing on a card that would have been better with them. Fans were even robbed from an all around feel good moment when Four Gifts rallied to deny Larry Jones' Just Jenda in the first Eight Belles stakes. Discontent is a far easier emotion to conjure than fulfillment. But to avoid getting too downcast I'll just single out Kodiak Kowboy as the worst of the flops. He has coming off a G-1 win at similar conditions, he has always done well at Churchill in the past and he was simply terrible. He even lost a bit of ground in the stretch. It was certainly a pathetic effort from a usually classy horse.
Tip o'the Cap: Some people were turned off by the initial reaction of Chip Woolley in front of the NBC camera's but I think one somewhat crusty response can be forgiven when you take into account the timing of the interview and the nature of the questions. I was completely impressed with the class of the owners and trainer. There has been misgivings over the feel good story of Tom McCarthy because of his refusal to give any credit to the trainer that helped him out in Tampa but Woolley stepped up and thanked Canadian David Cotey for the work he did with this horse as a 2yo. That was a very nice gesture during a time when he was certainly entitled to the limelight all on his own. The connections decision to hand out the roses from the winners blanket to fans the next day went above and beyond anything that was expected. It's the first time I've heard of such a thing being done. Mine That Bird did not look like a very deserving winner based on his past performances. In fact I'd say he's worst Derby I've ever seen but his connections are top class and I can't help but feel good for them. Their post race conduct was a credit to the game and I wish their horse every success on their behalf.
KC Handicapping: It was a pretty bad weekend for me at the windows. I was encouraged by my results on Oaks day. I would have hit the consolation Pick 6 and was just about break even with win wagers but Derby day was a disaster. Only two winners on top from 13 races and 5 winners that I would not have used in any way. Ultimately it was simply a forgettable weekend.
Weekly Record: 13(8)-1-2-2 (-$17.60 -67.69% ROI)
Overall Record: 747(409)-129-120-97 (-$118.90 -7.96% ROI)