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Blue Grass Stakes & Arkansas Derby Recap

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Some random thoughts on this Sunday after the Blue Grass and the Arkansas Derby.

Matthew Stockman

Well, that was an interesting Saturday afternoon. Some good racing at Keeneland and Oaklawn. Another great effort on the downhill turf course at Santa Anita. A really bad race by last year's Breeders' Cup Classic winner. And a race you have to see to believe at Pimlico.

  • First, and probably most importantly, did you see the 11th race at Pimlico yesterday? Good lord, that was crazy. Check out the video below if you didn't catch it yesterday. Watch the leader about mid-way on the far turn.

    Pimlico doesn't have Trakus, so it's just a guess as to how much ground that horse lost during the race (and I don't know if Trakus would have picked him up when he ran to the other side of the starting gate), but that was a hell of a run.
  • As bad as Fort Larned was yesterday in the Oaklawn Handicap (and he flopped pretty badly for a BC Classic winner), Cyber Secret was very impressive. Oaklawn was probably favoriing speed just a bit on Saturday, which certainly didn't hurt Cyber Secret, but he was still much the best of the field.

    Going forward from the Oaklawn meet the question becomes: how good is Cyber Secret away from Arkansas. He's won six races in his career, five of them at Oaklawn (including four in a row). If he can transfer that Oaklawn form to New York this summer, he could be a major player this fall.
  • Mizdirection continued her dominance of the downhill turf course at Santa Anita by nipping Schiaparelli at the wire of the Las Cienegas, but she continues to show her versatility each and every time she leaves the starting gate. In the BC Turf Sprint, she closed from well-back of the leaders. She's won on the lead (2012 Clockers Corner Hcp.), stalking (Monrovia), running in mid-pack, and on and on and on. And even more to the point, she's one of those horses that just seems to really understand what the whole point of the game is about: finish first.

    Mizdirection is a fun filly to watch and I look forward to seeing her run on the Belmont undercard in the Just a Game. However, trainer Mike Puype, during an interview on HRTV yesterday morning, repeatedly stressed the point that this filly loves the firm ground at SA, which could be an issue at Belmont where even a firm rating is probably not as hard as the ground in SoCal. Just something to keep in the back of our minds going forward.
  • Okay, the Derby preps yesterday...

    -If Oxbow's connections wanted to know whether he could take back and run from off the pace, they got their answer in spades. The iso replay NBC ran after the Arkansas Derby didn't paint a pretty picture as Oxbow seemed to hate the dirt kicking back into his face. I'm guessing their Derby strategy (if they go to Kentucky) is pretty clear at this point: go to the front. They may not have to put him on the lead, but I don't think they want to try running him five or six lengths back in a 20 horse field.

    -I thought Palace Malice ran a great race to run second to Java's War in the Blue Grass considering everything in his pedigree suggests that synthetics aren't his surface of choice. It probably didn't hurt that he got a much cleaner trip in Kentucky than he got in Louisiana.

    -And a good win by Java's War, a colt that seems to be peaking at the right time of the year. He's not a great starter, as evinced by several slow breaks from the gate, so I'm a bit concerned with him in Kentucky depending on the draw. On the good side, this colt should have no trouble going 10 furlongs.
  • And with yesterday's races, the 2013 Road to the Kentucky Derby is essentially over. We've got the Lexington and the Derby Trial still to come, but for the most part, the field is set (barring any dropouts from now until May). While it remains to be seen how this crop of three-year-old colts run over the course of the Triple Crown (and the summer racing season), I feel like this group is not quite as talented as the group from 2012. But, of course, it's always hard to predict how any of these young horses will develop in the next few weeks and months.