Tag Archives: Papa Clem

THE INFIELD OFFICIAL DERBY PICKS

After today’s Oaks win by Rachel, the Derby has a tough act to follow. 

1.  PIONEEROF THE NILE:  This colt has been so good that he has overcome his name and found a place at the top of my list.  Bob Baffert was just elected to the Hall of Fame in Saratoga, which is good luck for those trainers with Derby horses:  Neil Drysdale was elected the year FuPeg won, and D. Wayne Lukas was elected the year Charismatic won.  Steve Haskin says the PNile had the best workout at CD and was the best-looking contender in terms of coat condition and attitude.  On track, the son of Empire Maker has done nothing wrong, except not race on dirt.  But the way he looked in his CD workouts put my questions to rest.  He has shown that he can win off the pace, or up on it, as he did in the freaky running of the Santa Anita Derby.  He has already beaten I Want Revenge twice, Chocolate Candy twice, Papa Clem and Mr. Hot Stuff.  He breaks from post 16, not bad for his usual closing style.  Garret Gomez chose PNile over Dunkirk, and I think he made the right choice.  Jon White says he will win the whole Triple Crown if he can capture this first jewel.    I won’t go that far.  Yet.

2. I WANT REVENGE :  Got out of Cali to avoid PNile and became the Morning Line Favorite by his brilliance on dirt.  TV star jockey Joe Talamo will ride the near-black colt, which will pull some bets in from the teenybopper set.  I Want Revenge has shown speed, heart and stamina with his wins in NY.  Trainer Jeff Mullins has won big stakes before, and owners IEAH have lived the Derby dream before, with Big Brown.

3.  GENERAL QUARTERS:  He is the sentimental favorite with the heartwarming story.  He is also a gritty competitor who has been versatile on a variety of surfaces. 

4. PAPA CLEM:  Can’t leave out the Arkansas Derby winner — beat Old Fashioned in a thrilling stretch duel.

5. FRIESAN FIRE:  If it’s a sloppy track, this son of AP Indy will be dangerous.  The Larry Jones trainee has been consistent all year.  He has never run over 1 1/16 miles, however, and the 7-week layoff is worrisome.

Longshots that I will play in my exotics: CHOCOLATE CANDY… REGAL RANSOM … DUNKIRK … and whoever else I get a hankering about before Derby.

GOOD LUCK, PLAYERS!  COME HOME SAFE, COLTS!

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THE PLOT THICKENS

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!

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MARCH MADNESS RACES of the WEEK

Pioneerof The Nile is sharp for the San Felipe on Saturday. Photo from KentuckyDerby.com

Pioneerof The Nile is sharp for the San Felipe on Saturday. Photo from KentuckyDerby.com

This weekend the FOUR! Big Kentucky Derby Preps feature returning favorites and a few “bubble” horses who could jump onto the list in huge ways.

REBEL:

OLD FASHIONED looks to add another easy victory in Hot Springs.  Silver City comes back to challenge, but I think he’d be better sticking to sprints.  Poltergeist is also back after a lackluster performance in the Southwest, and though I hope he runs better this time, I don’t see him winning.  D.Wayne Lukas has Hamazing Destiny, a maiden winner, entered, and savvy players know you shouldn’t ignore a Lukas horse.  Old Fashioned’s owner, Rick Porter, chose to be at Oaklawn on Saturday instead of New Orleans, where he has Fresian Fire running in the Louisiana Derby.  I think he should make plans to dress for a winners’ circle photo.

LOUISIANA DERBY:

This is the best betting race of the entire weekend:  a nice field of dangerously good colts.  FRESIAN FIRE has dominated the Fair Grounds and is the morning-line favorite.  IEAH’s Patena ran a great 2nd in the Risen Star and is the wiseguys’ pick.  Giant Oak has run well all winter and could be sitting on a huge race.  Then there is Terrain, making his first start of the year.  The Cali-shipper Papa Clem hopes to replicate I Want Revenge’s poly-to-dirt powerhousing, and I think he just might be able to do it.  He ran 2nd to Pioneerof The Nile in the Bob Lewis Stakes in only his 2nd start; he is by Smart Strike, a triple-threat sire whose get include turf champ English CHannel and repeat HOTY Curlin!  My tickets will have Freisan Fire and Papa Clem at the top.

TAMPA BAY DERBY

Street Sense started his 2007 Derby-winning campaign in this race, where he nearly dead-heated with Any Given Saturday.  I don’t see anything like that happening this year, but still, this makes for an interesting Florida prep.  Hello Broadway is out from under Capt. Candyman Can and Quality Road and up against Sam F. Davis winner General QUarters.  Also stopping by is Zito-trained Nowhere To Hide, a son of Vindication who was 4th in the Risen Star.  I like Nowhere To Hide and General Quarters for this one.

SAN FELIPE

Many of the horses PNILES has defeated have shipped out for dirt tracks, like I Want Revenge and Papa Clem.  Facing the Baffert trainee at Santa Anita are six colts praying for PNiles to have a bad day.  Jeranimo looks promising, and I would not ignore this maiden winner sired by Congaree.  Also New Bay and Feisty Suances…but really, PNiles is the big horse, hooves and shoulders above this group.  I kinda wish Bob had shipped him out to a dirt oval, just for some better competition.

And that’s The Infield March Madness !!

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