# Thursday, May 1, 2014
Hello all!


1. a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite.

2. this Kentucky Derby rant

So...if you are allergic to calcium carbonate or anything close to it...you might want to avert your eyes. Or at the very least, call your private physician and alert him or her to the possibility of you having to be admitted to the local ER.


The best horse doesn’t always win. A Kentucky bred doesn’t always win. A champion doesn’t always win. The Kentucky Derby is rarely about the best horse. It may be about the strongest, or the most courageous, or about the slickest ride, or about the one guy that can handle the slop or the lightening fast pace. But this early in the season, it often isn’t about the best horse.

Unless you are Slew. Or Big Red.

But it is almost always about the favorite. That of course, is where the discussion begins, and it is always that point of departure that makes for such a great outcome. If there is one 'fact'...heavily disputed each year by management...which of course in my mind, is enough to validate the rumor, or lore, or whatever...well, if there is one fact it is that with either a fast or drying out track on the first Saturday in May, the race is on in a bigger way than usual.

After all, this is THE KENTUCKY DERBY. Pace seems always to be an issue. One that can crush both the participant as well as the hopeful connections.

So looking at some of the prep races, one has to be impressed with the anointed pre-race favorite, California Chrome. With opening SA Derby quarters of 22.89, 24.13 and 23.79 you would figure a good setup for someone...anyone...laying in wait. At 1:10.81 for the six furlongs and 1:35.03 for the mile, you would expect anyordinary horse to figure he had already earned his oats.

Apparently, California Chrome is no ordinary horse.

Next year, we will be able to use some of the Keeneland races in this analysis, as they are moving back to that stuff you always got on your Sunday goto-meetin'’ clothes when company was coming over. You remember those whoopings, right? But this year, with 6 furlong runs of 1:12.74 in the Blue Grass and 1:13.17 in the Coolmore, they just don’t appear to be relevant. Especially when you consider that the Santa Anita Derby ran a half a second faster than the Gr. III that preceded it which was run on the turf.

It would have been faster still, had Victor Espinoza not geared CC down, so as not to completely embarrass the professional athletes bringing up the rear.

Which was the entire rest of the field.

Now, one might normally say that he didn’t face nuthin’, and that might indeed be a legitimate observation. But it isn’t always the win that counts the most, but rather the manner in which one executes the winning plan. And this horse appears to be mindful of that important fact., because his execution is flawless. For example, compare his ramrod straight final 1/8 to that of the Wood victor, Wicked Strong. My feeling is that Mr. Strong was figuring his take for the day by counting the house and Rajiv had all he could do to convince Mr. Strong that the finish line was that-a-way.

Not the kind of ADD (the learning disorder, not the math operator) you want from your 3 year old Derby student.

Conversely, you have to admire the fortitude and determination of the Fountain of Youth winner and Florida Derby runner up Wildcat Red. He raced for the entirety of the 1 1/16 Fountain and battled tooth and nail to the wire in the Florida Derby, with the Fountain being run in sub :24 quarters thru the first 6 furlongs. Not to mention that he runs like Wicked Strong's daddy and one of my favorites, Hard Spun. You will find that name scattered in these prose from time to time, as he was the Marvin Hagler of his day, and has passed that enviable trait to some of his progeny. So 20-1 on the ML? Well, two dogfights in a row always raises some eyebrows, as the weaker among us cannot imagine there is a 3rd fight left.

Don’t tell that to Messrs. Ali and Frazier.

Like either one of them, Mr. CC Sir (as his friends call him) is the kind you want in your corner.

So my Derby observations can now be fully and completely discounted because not a single other horse impressed me to any great degree, nor did the races they ran. And with comments like the one Jay Privman made regarding Candy Boy: “Think he was hindered by pace in SA Derby...”, which is a nice way of saying he couldn’t keep up with a horse that keeps running, you have to wonder about the race if CC brings anything even close to his “A” game.

As for my strategy, it doesn’t change that much. Last year, it was simply to play the Oaks-Derby double, and the pick 3 and double leading into the Derby, using that as a win bet on my guy Orb. But last year, I had Wise Dan. I doubt we’ll get that lucky this year, although we’ll see how the entries unfold and decide on a final strategy sometime around 4:00 AM on Saturday. And as always, I’ll consult the Slew oracle to see what else might be of interest.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention that should the hope of California cross the finish line first, it would not only give one of my favorite jockeys his second Derby win, but would also be two in a row for the good-guy trainers.

At 77 years of age, former jockey Art Sherman is one of those real life horse trainers. A venerable staple west of the Rockies, few would dispute his acumen with the blue collar lunch pail equine types. But here, he gets to make the coveted Derby walk with one that might not only go into the record books, but one who also has the chance to define an entire subset of the breed...the Cal bred. And while there are only a total of 4 wins between his mom and dad, you don’t have to dig too deep into his family history to find the likes of Mr. Prospector, Cozzene and Northern Dancer coursing through the young horse’s veins.

I imagine then that if he scores, most people would be disappointed because their long shot...almost every other horse...did not.

Not me.

That’s how I see it. However you see it...

...good luck, good ‘capping...and don’t blink!

- Slew

posted on Thursday, May 1, 2014 12:57:26 AM UTC  #