I haven’t posted on here for quite some time – I’ve been in Louisville since last Wednesday for Derby Week, and what a week it was. Let’s recap some of the highlights of Derby Week 2013:
- Take Charge Indy ran a monster race in the Alysheba as part of the Kentucky Oaks undercard. If he can run races like that consistently, he’s going to be a major player in the handicap division for the rest of the season.
- Princess of Sylmar made some people very happy winning the Kentucky Oaks at odds of 38-1. Of the quartet of fillies Todd Pletcher saddled for the Oaks, Princess had to be “number 3” on the depth chart going into the race, behind logical contenders Dreaming of Julia and Unlimited Budget. The victory also gave rider Mike Smith his first victory in the Kentucky Oaks.
- Speaking of Dreaming of Julia – what a disastrous start for her. She was slammed very hard at the beginning of the race, essentially eliminating her from contention. She made a valiant run down the lane late, but it was to no avail. An intriguing scenario that is being considered is running Dreaming of Julia in the Belmont Stakes. She’s bred to run for days, and with a clean break…she could be a handful at “Big Sandy” in five weeks.
- Unlimited Budget, the filly I fancied in the Oaks, ran her race – it just wasn’t good enough on this day. She’s another Pletcher filly that is at least being considered for the Belmont Stakes.
- Aubby K ran a nice race in the Grade I Humana Distaff, but by no means was this a true Grade I race. The field was a strong Grade III, possibly a Grade II at best. Nonetheless, Aubby K is now a Grade I winner.
- The exact opposite can be said about the Grade II Distaff Turf Mile. Stephanie’s Kitten won the Grade II race, but in reality it was flooded with Grade I talent. Stephanie’s Kitten took a step forward that I didn’t anticipate, and maybe it’s as simple as her coming into her own as a four-year old filly. She took down the likes of Daisy Devine and Hungry Island, and she did it impressively. The margin of victory wasn’t much, but the move that she made was as impressive as you’ll see. She’s a nice filly that looks to be part of a very deep division this season.
- Delaunay has become an absolute FORCE in the sprint division, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down any time soon. With Rosie Napravnik aboard, Delaunay sat just off pacesetter Trinniberg and dispatched him with ease, eventually drawing off to win the Grade II Churchill Downs convincingly. If he stays healthy and stays in form – look out…the rest of the sprint division could be in for a world of hurt this season.
- The big showdown never came to fruition as Point of Entry was scratched due to the soft footing, but Wise Dan put on a show in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. There isn’t a classier horse in training at the moment. Dan dances all dances – firm turf, soft turf, yielding turf – it doesn’t matter. Wise Dan is here for one reason and one reason only…to win. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the season has in store for Wise Dan, but one thing is inarguable…there’s a reason he was named 2012 Horse of the Year.
- I’m going to take a quick moment to gloat and brag…I’ve been preaching him since December 2012, and he did me proud Saturday afternoon. Orb was sensational in winning Kentucky Derby 139. The move he made on the far turn is one of the most impressive moves I’ve ever seen a horse make. There really weren’t many bad trips to speak of, with the exception of Will Take Charge, who had any chance taken away from him when Verrazano stopped turning for home. All in all, Orb showed that he’s clearly the best three-year old male in the nation, and it’s on to Pimlico in two weeks for the Preakness Stakes. I fully expect Orb to win the Preakness, but the Belmont Stakes could be a very intriguing situation if Dreaming of Julia runs in the race. The storyline would be fantastic – Orb running for the Triple Crown at Belmont Park, and his biggest competition happens to be a filly? Where do I sign up?
- One last thought – Joel Rosario has already locked up the Eclipse Award for Top Jockey, right? The Dubai World Cup, Kentucky Derby and a new record for wins at Keeneland all before the second week of May? Nobody is hotter than Joel Rosario right now.