A profitable weekend for our plays, as we went 1-2 on Saturday. It wasn’t a major score, but any BLACK numbers are always a good thing.
A few things to pull from the Florida Derby:
- Orb has just reinforced my confidence in him all along – and if anything has made me more confident in his ability. John Velazquez had him much closer to a MUCH softer pace than he ran into during the Fountain of Youth, which I think makes Orb that much more dangerous. He showed that he doesn’t have to be coming from miles out of it to have a great chance at victory. The most impressive thing about his race to me was the kick he showed in the final sixteenth of a mile, giving every indication that he would LOVE more track. The Kentucky Derby is all about staying power, and Orb is demonstrating that he has it. Add in the notion that I don’t believe Shug McGaughey had him that cranked up for this race…if he stays sound and healthy for the next five weeks – look out.
- The two other major players in this race confirmed what I had suspected all along – they have distance limitations. Shanghai Bobby needs to focus on races between 6-8 furlongs. He’s extremely talented, but he just doesn’t want to go any farther than a mile or so. I’d love to see him ambitiously placed in the Met Mile.
- Some will argue that Itsmyluckyday will stay on and that he just needed a race – I don’t buy that. Although this was a prep for him, he NEEDED the points to get into the Derby. It just seemed to me like Itsmyluckyday was gassed for the final half furlong, whereas Orb was really just starting to hit his best stride. He’s got enough points to get into the Derby now, but I’m really skeptical about him even being a contender to round out the exotics on Derby Day.
Thoughts on the Louisiana Derby:
- Maybe this sounds like me being bitter/complaining, but I truly believe my selection, Palace Malice, would have won this race had he not been BURIED behind a wall of horses once the field turned for home. The middle move he and Edgar Prado made was truly a thing of beauty, but unfortunately that’s the risk you run when you hug the rail – you get stuck down there. It will be interesting to see what the connections do from this point forward…Todd Pletcher mentioned that the Bluegrass Stakes was still an option, so that will be something to monitor. This isn’t necessarily meant as a slight to this field, but I would literally Palace Malice over anyone else that ran in the Louisiana Derby – including the winner…
- Revolutionary ran a much more professional race Saturday than he did in the Withers last month, so I need to give him some credit for that. He also took the scenic route around the far turn, being hung out seven wide. He ran a solid race in the Louisiana Derby…yet somehow I’m still not thrilled with him. He’s bred to make the running, which is definitely a plus. I have to trace my questioning of him back to a maiden special weight back at Aqueduct in the fall – a race in which he was odds on and soundly defeated by another horse on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. His name? Orb.
Thoughts on the UAE Derby:
- Generally I don’t put much credence in the UAE Derby, mainly because of the Tapeta surface at Meydan Racecourse and the fact that the race is generally won by horses that do their best running on turf…but this year is different. I’m supremely intrigued by Lines of Battle because he has the pedigree of an American dirt horse, not a European turf horse. A son of War Front out of an Arch mare, Lines of Battle has a nice blend of speed and stamina in his pedigree. Many people are throwing him out already because of the slow final clocking and because the vast majority of the Dubai runners don’t run well in America. I’ve also read that people are questioning his overall ability, saying that they don’t believe he “idled” down the stretch once he hit the lead – go back and watch the stretch drive again. Much like Shanghai Bobby in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Lines of Battle drifted out and looked to lose interest until being prompted on the inside by Elleval. Once that horse was back in his line of sight, Lines of Battle took off and was never in danger of losing the lead. If you want to throw him out because of past history, be my guest – but I’d suggest you look a little deeper into this runner before you dismiss him.
Other various thoughts:
- Animal Kingdom proved that he is an exceptional talent winning the Dubai World Cup. It’s a shame he potentially only has one race left in his career, but I can’t blame the connections. They stuck with him through injuries and continued on to run him again. The easy choice would have been to retire a Kentucky Derby winner and whisk him off to stud. Instead, they proceeded to rehab him and do what’s best for the game and run him again. A truly great champion.
- As eye-catching as Animal Kingdom was in Dubai, the flashiest victory of the weekend had to go to Dreaming of Julia in the Gulfstream Park Oaks – a race in which she won by over 20 lengths. The race was visually stunning, and the 114 Beyer Speed Figure she earned is equally as stunning. The Kentucky Oaks is shaping up to be an absolute firecracker of a race – Dreaming of Julia, Beholder, Midnight Lucky and…
- My Kentucky Oaks choice (at the moment), Unlimited Budget. She’s done nothing wrong in any of her starts and can now add the Fair Grounds Oaks to her resume. She isn’t flashy in the slightest sense of the word, but she is incredibly professional. Generally speaking, I want the horse that takes care of business rather than the horse that shows the most flair. The Oaks should be a wonderful race, and at this point – I like Unlimited Budget.