The Kentucky Derby is less than 3 weeks away, and I am so stoked over this year’s contenders that I practically twitter myself into a pool of rose-scented goo every Saturday when I watch the preps. But you wouldn’t know that reading this blog, because life and work and school have trampled the Infield lately. Here’s my take on the latest Derby headlines:
OLD FASHIONED, my #1 Derby pick back on January 1 has been RETIRED! GAahhh! The grey colt with the white tail ran a fabulous pace-setting race in the Arkansas Derby, and nearly ran away with the whole shebang. In the shadow of the wire, California invader PAPA CLEM got his head in front and drew off to a half-length victory. PAPA CLEM was trying dirt for the first time and will be going to the Derby. OLD FASHIONED suffered a knee injury during the race. Today, owner Rick Porter announced the colt’s surgery went well, but he will never be able to race again at the top level, so Porter has sent him off to stud! WOW. That’s the Derby Gods for ya. I still think Larry Jones will win the Derby — he’s still got Freisan Fire for this year.
Meanwhile, GENERAL QUARTERS ran off with the Blue Grass Stakes and will enter the Kentucky Derby the Sentimental Favorite. GQ is the one horse in the one horse stable owned by Tom McCarthy, a former high school teacher. McCarthy does all of the training and grooming for his star, too. He is living every racing fan’s dream of having a colt good enough to make the field in the Derby. You can’t overlook outsiders like General Quarters in Derby picks — remember Funny Cide?
THE PAMPLEMOUSSE scratched out of the Santa Anita Derby because of tendon problems, totally deflating my early Derby enthusiasm. I really wanted to see that colt in the Derby, you have no idea how much. He will be out for the year recuperating, but the connections plan to bring him back to the races. I will be eagerly awaiting his return.
I WANT REVENGE won the Wood Memorial last weekend in an impressive performance on a sloppy track. The colt split horses in deep stretch and drew off with powerful acceleration. He is dangerously good on dirt and will probably be the morning line favorite on May 2. IEAH has done a swell job replicating their Big Brown success, and they appear poised to defend their roses.
QUALITY ROAD is the top Florida colt, having won the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby in scintillating fashion. He’s fast up front or just off the pace. He soundly defeated Dunkirk, who will make it in the Derby though I don’t think he belongs (he may be Todd Pletcher’s 4th last-place finisher in a row).
Who do I think will win the Derby? The horse who has beaten Papa Clem and I Want Revenge, who had to run out of his comfort zone and set the pace in the Santa Anita Derby, who is by a Belmont-winning sire and who is trained by a man who’s seen the winners’ circle three times before: PIONEEROF THE NILE
I’ll have more to blog about the contenders in the weeks to come, as well as the Infield itself!