This weekend's Derby prep races were rather uninspiring to say the least. I haven't been one to criticize 3-year old crops in the past, but jeez this group just doesn't seem to step up when the spotlight's on. Maybe it's because they are pretenders and those that already have the necessary graded earnings are only pointing towards a peak effort on May 7th.
Mucho Macho Man, who is basically already in, finished third versus a rather ordinary bunch, which included a couple hopefuls in Machen and Wilkinson, in the Louisiana Derby. Pants on Fire, with Rosie Napravnik aboard, netted the win and at first glance all this horse will be is a public interest story come Derby Day. His only win came on a sloppy track in seven efforts before hitting the Fair Grounds. After poking around his pedigree however, his grandsire is A.P. Indy and his damsire Cape Town won both the Florida Derby and Bluegrass Stakes. So the jury is out on this one.
The Spiral Viral or whatever it's called was run at ice cold Turfway Park and it could have been a Disney Theme Park for all it mattered since a horse named Animal Kingdom took it down. He did make a nice move at the top of the stretch, but no horse has come out of this race (other than Hard Spun) since it's been run on synthetics that's even sniffed the winner's circle in Louisville. Interestingly (and for what it's worth), his sire is Leroidesanimaux (BRZ), who also sired the longshot claimer who finished second in the Tampa Bay Derby, Crimson Knight. To think that ESPN used to actually cover this race as a Derby prep makes one chuckle.
The Sunland Derby was won by a 25-1 shot Twice The Appeal. Well, at least he beat Beer Meister this time. Has a nice wet rating, but can't see him finish any better than 10th. Some will say Astrology (finished a tiring second) has a shot, but I just don't see it. An easy toss.
The race that probably produced the best contender of all, but probably won't show up, was a filly. The UAE Derby winner, Khawlah, was very impressive at Meydan Race course in Dubai, for Godolphin, who had a particularly good day during the World Cup Carnival. She would spice things up if she came across the pond to race the U.S.' best.
If ever there was a year where a Triple Crown was there for the taking, this has to be it. Maybe I should be following the Oaks...that may just turn out to be one helluva race.
Sunday, March 27, 2011