California Chrome won and won easily on the first Saturday in May, like many expected he would. But, as usual, every smart horse player is poking holes in his performance. I think there are two key things to factor in: 1) Espinoza did everything he had to win and 2) there was a very strong headwind in the home stretch the entire day. Its tough to ask (or expect) California Chrome to put up a huge speed figure when he's stalking a moderate pace, then as he turns for home he does so on the lead, he is exposed to the pretty strong wind, and still opens up on the rest of them. Sure, gearing him down at the line might have also cost him a couple ticks, but he deserved that, he was so good. But for me, the 93 (97?) Beyer and the 103 Bris figures aren't too troublesome, since he just beat the hell out of 18 of the best 3 year olds in North America.
Twitter is aflame with (especially with) writers from the Form crying about the slow time, the bad Beyer, the fast track that day, as to why Chrome is a bad Derby Champ. Guess what? There is no absolutely "bad" Derby champ. No matter how you slice it, the winner still beat the best of his competitors and peers. The Kentucky Derby is run by the best three year olds of any give crop, not by the champions of yesteryear. So you don't have to run faster than Fusaichi Pegasus to win the Derby, you just have to run faster than your fellow three years olds. Did Chrome reach the bottom to beat them on Saturday? I believe only a fool would say yes. Contrast that with Orb most likely having used everything he had to win the 2013 edition of the Derby, and you see that just because the time was slow doesn't mean he's not much the best.
Does that mean someone can't come along and steal the Preakness? Of course not. But do you see anyone in the Derby field that is 1) willing to run back in 2 weeks and 2) is actually faster than Cali Chrome and just got unlucky in the Derby?Social Inclusion could wire the field, I guess. Danza could get a perfect rail trip like he did in the Arkansas Derby. Hoppertunity, who I haven't heard anything indicating he is going to run in Baltimore, might grind out a win. But I'm definitely not going to say Cali Chrome can't win based on a speed figure when there are tons of mitigating factors.
Oh, except all of what I just said, well, throw it out if Untapable runs. While it doesn't appear that she will, that filly is the real deal. Rosie has herself a superstar. And one that can definitely beat the boys, if they choose to do that.
Dan didn't run very well. He was so rank for the first 3/8 of a mile that the fact he still had enough left in the tank to hold off all comers is impressive in and of itself. But what top everything was the look on Charlie LoPresti's face as he gave Dan a huge hug in the winners circle. I'm not sure there's any picture that sums up the relationship between the horseman and the horse better. Always great to see Dan do his thing.
I had a pretty good weekend at the (virtual) window. But I went 4/5 on both Pick 5s, really frustrating there. Also got spited out of the Derby Trifecta by ANOTHER Dallas Stewart horse. Next year, I'll make sure to include his starter and that'll be the year that he finishes last.
Buddy had an interesting two days at the window. He killed the undercards and hit nice tris on the lid lifter both Friday and Saturday, but struggled to stop throwing money away the rest of the day. However, he did miss a couple huge trifectas by a nose, so his weekend could've been completely different.
If anything shows that there was a bit of a bias both days it was WTC not firing at all. After his performances at both Santa Anita and Gulfstream where he closed into a pace that should have been supported completely by the track bias, I cannot believe he didn't run a step on that surface. I got smoked as I keyed WTC in the top two spots to try to make a buck on the race. But if I had followed my handicapping (duh) it pointed to a no play, but God forbid I do that!
Global View finally ran the race I thought he could, and it paid me handsomely. in fact, discounting the inflated payouts from the futures pool, it was easily my biggest score of the weekend. Always makes me smile when a horse whom I am high on finally doesn't disappoint. Now if my actual racehorses could do the same I'd be very appreciative!
I'll be doing a couple Pedigree Profiles here on the newcomers for the Preakness, and I hope to see the amazing traffic the site generated repeated. It's great to have so many new voices, opinions, and tips in the comments, FanPosts, and FanShots. Hopefully we hear from everyone the whole year (or at least, the Triple Crown, the Travers, The Big Stakes Weekends, and Breeders' Cup) cause it is really the comments that makes this fun.