I've had some time to look over the results charts and to watch replays of both the Blue Grass and the Arkansas Derby in order to digest the chaos that took place yesterday. I don't know that I've changed my mind as to the either of the performances but here's a list of the things I'm taking away:
I'm expecting the Beyer figure for the Arkansas Derby to come up pretty big, despite the fact that I believed that the race was poor from a visual perspective. (UPDATED: According to the DRF Formulator charts, Line of David's Arkansas Derby win registered a 98 Beyer figure, lower than I would have thought which probably means that the track was playing a bit fast on the day. Stately Victor's Blue Grass win came back at 94. All in all, both of these races come back as garden variety 2010 preps...in other worlds, they weren't awful, but they weren't great.)
The six furlong split by Line of David was the fastest six furlongs in any race run at Oaklawn yesterday, route or sprint. There were only two sprints on the card and neither was a high-class event, but the fact remains that the pace of the Ark. Derby was brutally fast. I don't follow Oaklawn reguarly enough to make a determination as to whether yesterday's racing surface was playing fast or slow, but it seems clear that the Arkansas Derby produced a testing pace.
Taking all this into consideration you have to at least be impressed by Line of David's performance and his ability to hold off the field in deep stretch after setting such testing fractions. The jury is still out as to whether this performance makes me like him as a Derby winner, but at the least I figure he rates alongside Rule as potentially one of the top speed horses in the field.
*The 12th race was a marathon, 1 3/4 mile race, which led to a predictably slow pace.
- There was a little bit of a Merry-go-Round nature to the Arkansas Derby - horses 1-2-3 at the half mile mark finished 1-2-3.
- Uh Oh Bango closed pretty well at Oaklawn and would make an interesting long shot play in the Derby...if he makes it. He now has $237,952 in earnings, good for about 21st on the current list with still one prep to go (Lexington). He'll likely need some defections to make the field.
- I thought going into the Blue Grass that Odysseus was probably the worst best in the race (and one of the worst bets on the card), and I was, unfortunately, right. I say unfortunately because I think Odysseus is a very talented colt and I would have loved to see him in the Kentucky Derby. His problem yesterday was, in my opinion, all about the surface.
Hindsight might be 20/20, but I think the connections should have either sent Odysseus to Arkansas or raced him last week in Illinois, where the uncertainty of a surface switch would have been lessened. Tom Albertrani is a very good trainer by I think this was an extremely poor spot for this colt.
- An article in the DRF today indicated that Noble's Promise came out of the Arkansas Derby with a lung infection, an affliction that could explain why this colt seemingly had nothing in the tank in the stretch. Also, watching the race replay made me think that I was probably a little too hard on the performance of this colt as he was squeezed badly leaving the gate and then appeared to check coming out of the first turn. Don't know if I'm going to give up on him yet, although he now appears questionable for the Derby.
- I don't know that it cost him the race but I thought Kent Desormeaux's ride on Paddy O'Prado was below par, to put it kindly. While watching the race live, I could not believe that Kent asked Paddy for more run just as they were entering the far turn when his horse was a) cruising along, and b) would likely have inherited the lead from Odysseus without much urging. Watching the replay my opinion didn't change on bit - there was no reason to move that soon.
Desormeaux has had a really good Keeneland meet and he obviously knows how to ride and win over this surface, which is why I was so stunned when he was willing to use up his horse on the turn instead of being patient and waiting until he at least hit the top of the lane. Again, I don't know that it would have made a difference in terms of winning or losing, but I would have liked to have seen how Paddy would have finished up if he hadn't been asked to run so early.
- According to DRF Formulator, Stately Victor ran the final 1/8th of a mile of the Blue Grass in 11.98 seconds. Line of David came home in 12.85 seconds.
- It's odd, Dublin finally gets a clean, trouble-free trip, along with a great pace to run at, and he still couldn't get it done. I'd say that he's starting to feel like a money burner but "starting" is surly the wrong word. Right now, he is a money burner.