With the Kentucky Derby only 12 days away, it is a good time to start back with daily blogs.
All of the preps have been run, the top 20 colts by earnings are all set, and trainers have begun planning their charges’ final polishing workouts. I started my Infield Survival List, but more on that as the Big Day gets closer. I will say that I hope the infield has wireless internet access, and I also hope I can get my tablet into the Downs. Infield Live-Blog, anyone??!
Saturday was Last Chance Weekend for the horses on the bubble, those colts hoping to make the earning requirement in the Coolmore LExington or Tesio Stakes.
I don’t see the winners of either race making a Charismatic-like impact on the Derby, but the Preakness will be interesting.
Slew’s Tizzy defied all trends and bucked the odds, at 40-1, to run away with the Lexington in wire-to-wire fashion. A frontrunning winner at Keeneland used to be the status quo, but since the installation of the Surface Savior, closers have finally gotten their revenge. See the Blue Grass week before last: crawling early fractions and a 4-horse free-for-all photo finish at the wire. But Slew’s Tizzy managed the impossible. He set opening fractions of :23+ and :48+, and finished the 1 1/6 miles in a solid 1:43:20. Place horse Starbase was right behind ST the whole way around and managed to hold on for 2nd. The closer in the field, Forty Grams, couldn’t make a run and was 3rd. So, see there? Races on Polytrack do not have to be run like turf races. It is going to take a re-imagining by jockeys of how to run with early speed, sure, but :26 opening quarters are not neccessary, and ridiculous to boot.
I applaud tracks for trying something revolutionary to protect the health of our athletes, but I side with Andy Beyer in lamenting the loss of subtlety in the game if all tracks switch off dirt. American dirt racing is the most difficult circuit in the world, with the best horses and most prestigious races. Switching to Polytrack seems to me to have the same effect of lowering the GPA admissions standard at Harvard.
On the flipside, if Churchill Downs eventually goes synthetic then Secretariat could rest easy about his Derby record ever being broken.
Kentucky Derby record: 1973 Secretariat 1:59 2/5