LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 01: The field leaves the gate at the start of the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
They'll be plenty of time to speculate on the Preakness over the next two weeks but I wanted to post some thoughts on the performances from yesterday based on the standard and overhead replays following the race. The overriding caveat for any Derby analysis is the fact that some of these horses may have just hated the wet track, but instead of repeating that line over and over again to describe a bad performance, I'll try to point out something a little bit different, if I can think of anything.
I'll go in order of post position cause...well, that's how I started typing it and I didn't want to cut and paste everything into running order. Yes, I got lazy this morning. Too many mint juleps yesterday. Woodford Reserve...quite nice.
1st UPDATE: Churchill Downs has posted the Derby replay on their YouTube page. I have embedded the video at the bottom of this post.
2nd UPDATE: I received a great email from a reader with some observations about Dublin's pre-race demeanor (or lack there of) which I added to the re-caps below. I'd like to also add that I greatly appreciate the feedback either in the comments or emails as to things that I miss that others picked up on - horse racing is certainly a game where you have to be willing to listen and learn from as many people as possible. Always good to hear how others view a race or a horse.)
3rd UPDATE: For what it's worth, according to the DRF, the Beyer figure for the Derby has come up at 104. Ice Box was assigned a 100. I'm actually surprised at how high the figure was given the slowness of the race. Looks like this was a big-time projection method figure which probably makes sense given the volatile nature of the main track at Churchill yesterday.
1-Lookin At Lucky: Everybody thought the awful draw would cost him a shot at the race and it certainly did as Lucky got beat up within a furlong of leaving the starting gate. He finished up pretty good and, given all things he had to deal with, ran a very credible sixth.
2-Ice Box: Given the fact that horses were able to make late gains down the center of the track all day long (even if they didn't win) I can't fathom why Ice Box's jockey, Jose Lezcano, attempted to go inside along the rail before swinging his mount to the far outside. I won't go so far as to say Super Saver wouldn't have won if Lezcano had gone wide, but Ice Box would have had much more momentum and a lot better chance to run down the leader.
3-Noble's Promise: He inherited the lead at the top of the stretch after Conveyance was done but he didn't have a finishing kick at all. It appears that the various concerns about his ability to handle a mile and a quarter were justified. He did, however, hold on fairly well, something the two early pacesetters were not able to do. I'll give him some credit for that.
4-Super Saver: It seems that his ability to rate in the Arkansas Derby truly was the turning point for this colt as he was perfectly content to allow Borel to take him back and stalk the early speed. It was a great ride by Borel but it's also a great training job by Pletcher to get this horse to finally rate at Oaklawn because that gave him the chance to win.
5-Line of David: This horse hadn't worked well at Churchill all week in the off going and it followed through to Derby day. He was third after about a half and then proceeded to back up the rest of the way, finishing a well beaten 18th.
6-Stately Victor: He was kind of the hot closer pick for much of the week and he was able to make up a good amount of ground in the stretch going from 17th to 8th, but he was never a serious threat to win at any point in the stretch.
7-American Lion: A colt that has preferred to be up near the lead in all of his races, American Lion never got going out of the gate and was in 7th position after just a quarter of a mile. He never improved his position from there and faded to 11th at the wire. American Lion looked good in his works at Churchill this past week, but I think his long, easy strides made it difficult to position himself in a good spot early on as he didn't have that quick burst of energy from the gate.
8-Dean's Kitten: This horse appeared to be up against it going into the race and that's exactly how it played out; 15th after the first quarter and never better than 12th during the entire race. He didn't show near the early speed that he did on Polytrack at Turfway in the Lane's End (which was a concern going in).
9-Make Music for Me: The last horse to draw into this year's Derby made a huge move from 20th position to finish in the superfecta. Make Music for Me was almost 30 lengths back after a half mile but finished just 4 ¾ behind the winner.
10-Paddy O'Prado: Going in it looked like this colt would show a little more speed (although that was just a guess off of his non-dirt form) but he was willing to sit back early around position 10. He then made a spirited charge to the front to grab a top 3 finish for trainer Dale Romans; a very nice race for Paddy.
11-Devil May Care: The filly ran a credible race, sitting mid-pack early on and making a move to get into contention around the mile mark when she was only a length or two back from the front, but she tired badly in deep stretch and only could manage a 10th place finish.
12-Conveyance: When you analyze this colt's run in the Derby with his run at Sunland, I think it's now clear that he's a miler and not a classic distance horse. His race yesterday was very similar to his Sunland race in that he was pretty much through once they got about midway on the far turn.
13-Jackson Bend: Another one of the early speed/presser types that didn't get into that position, which pretty much ended any chances of him winning. He was able to get to about 8th position with a quarter of a mile to go but then faded to 12th, nineteen lengths back of the winner.
14-Mission Impazible: Showed a decent amount of pace early on that saw him sitting fifth but never threatened to be in serious contention.
15-Discreetly Mine: You could make the case that his race was over by the time they ran a quarter of a mile as this colt had never shown the ability to rate in any of his races. He ran in the middle of the pack most of the race and faded to 13th in deep stretch.
16-Awesome Act: He broke fine from the gate but didn't show a lick of desire to run in the early stages and was essentially done before they even hit the backstretch. His only saving grace was that he was faster than Backtalk otherwise he would have finished last.
17-Dublin: Dublin did what Dublin continues to do and that's find himself shuffled back early, made a decent run to get into contention, and then flatten out in deep stretch. Dublin ran the second fastest third quarter of any of the horses in the field (:23.74), but that might have been a little premature, as he wasn't able to maintain that momentum for the final half mile. (Update: Received a great email from reader noting that Dublin was apparently washed out and nervous before the race. I'm not a visual handicapper at all so that was something I missed completely and definitely something to take note of going forward.)
18-Backtalk: I could come up with something to say about this colt, but he lost by 70 ¼ lengths...I think that says it all.
19-Homeboykris: I seriously can't believe this colt went off at 27/1 when the gates opened...yeah, Joe Torre, yadda, yadda, yadda...this colt had no chance to win and was essentially done after four furlongs, which shouldn't be surprising since he hadn't run a race since the end of February.
20-Sidney's Candy: If you watched the overhead replay you saw the Santa Anita Derby winner absolutely stop about midway on the far turn after running much faster early on than he had in any of his prep races this spring. He raced in second through six and was in an excellent stalking position, even with the good pace, but he had nothing left by the time they had run a mile.