Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky Derby’
We’re almost upon the First Saturday in May, which, of course, means the 136th Kentucky Derby is almost upon us. Throughout it’s long history, there have only been three fillies to win horse racing’s individual crown jewel. Will the 2010 running yield a fourth? If so, the odds are good that filly could wind up being Devil May Care. According to some, Devil May Care, much like Rachel Alexander was in 2009, could be the best three-year old racing horse for the 2010 racing season.
In order to quantify the hype — at least to casual horse racing fan (guilty) — Devil May Care will need to win the Derby, something a filly hasn’t accomplished since 1988. The question is, how good are her chances to become the fourth winning filly ever? According to her trainers, the odds are good:
Well, THAT was unexpected. Mine That Bird, a 50-1 long, long shot, won the Kentucky Derby Saturday in dramatic and incredible style. Coming from the dead last position, Bird delivered an incredible run down the stretch, one that saw him overtake the ENTIRE FIELD from the inside position, as jockey Calvin Borel masterfully maneuvered his horse to the front of the pack and into horse racing history. A quote from longtime Louisville-now-ESPN scribe Pat Forde, who has seen his fair share of Derby stories, details just how surprised the horse racing universe is by Mine That Bird’s amazing win, and just how much his win resonates:
It’s the First Saturday In May in Kentucky. What could be afoot? Horses? Roses? Bourbon? Hats? Legal Gambling? General disarray? Professor Chaos? Derby Pie? Yeah, something like that. My question is, can we get a repeat performance? Something like what Big Brown provided last year? You know, where the favorite dominates the field, except for a courageous filly? Can I Want Revenge live up last year’s favorite’s performance or will a great story like General Quarters warm America’s heart? I Want Revenge has been impressive in the qualifying racing, so it wouldn’t be surprising, but this is horse racing and these are million dollar animals — anything can happen.
It’s the Kentucky Derby, folks, otherwise known as the only time the rest of the world cares about the Bluegrass State and the sport of horses. Regardless of the cynicism, the Derby is still a massive deal — or party, depending on your point of view.
Speaking of which, rumor has it that Billy Gillispie is going at the Derby Infield. That should make for some entertaining pictures.
31 years and counting. When the Kentucky Derby kicks off on May 2, 2009, there will be 31 years between Triple Crown winners in the world of horse racing. There was an opportunity to have such a winner last Saturday at the Belmont Stakes, but alas, Big Brown just didn’t have it in him. Instead of finishing first and rejuvenating the horse industry — not to mention keeping the memory of Eight Belles alive — Big Brown finished dead last while the long shot Da’ Tara (33-1) won the race, leading it wire-to-wire.
Granted, jockey Kent Desormeaux pulled Big Brown up towards the end, but nevertheless, for some reason, the horse didn’t have it in him on Saturday. Was it the heat? Was it the fact that Brown got kicked after the start? Was it the lack of the steroid Winstrol in his system? Or could it be the chickens came home to roost after Rick Dutrow’s bombastic bragging about Big Brown? ESPN’s Pat Forde expands on that thought:
No, talking trash didn’t get Big Brown beat. But it came back to smack Dutrow in his fresh mouth when the foregone conclusion fell apart.
Forde goes on to say:
Problem is, Dutrow never entertained the possibility of a problem during this Triple Crown run. Even after watching all the Triple Crown near-misses of recent years — Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in ’98, Charismatic in ’99, War Emblem in 2002, Funny Cide in ’03 and Smarty Jones in ’04 — he failed to absorb the singular truth of this three-race series:
It’s incredibly hard to win. That’s why it’s been done just 11 times in the history of the sport. That’s why great horses like Spectacular Bid and Point Given didn’t get it done.
As it stands, there appears to be nothing wrong with Big Brown which led some folks with ties to horse-racing industry to believe simply this — Big Brown didn’t want to run on Saturday and there’s nothing anyone could’ve done about it.
Whatever the case, the horse that looked so dominant in May was not the same one that ran on Saturday. In case you didn’t see it, here’s YouTube to the rescue:
And with that, the horse racing season comes to a close (for those of us that only follow the Triple Crown). See you next year when the Kentucky Derby gets ready for action.
What can Brown do for me? How about winning the Triple Crown for starters. Is that too much of a request, considering just how common of an occurrence it really is? In other words, yep, there’s one more horse race for you to pay attention and then the industry goes back on the shelf until May 2, 2009 — at least in the eyes of the sporting world; unless, of course, you like to play the ponies.
If that’s the case, carry on, sir/ma’am.
For the rest of us, horse racing only means something A. when it’s the Kentucky Derby and B. if there’s a Triple Crown storyline to follow. This year, like the last few years before us, we do, in fact, have another horse with Triple Crown aspirations. So, is this the year the string gets broken or will Brown fail during the 1.5-mile Belmont; a distance that can tire the strongest horses?
If Vegas is your guide, then yes, it does look like we’ll have our first Triple Crown winner in 30 years. It also doesn’t hurt your chances when the horse with the perceived best chance to beat you — Casino Drive — bruises his heel. Because I’m no horse-racing expert, I can only give you my hunch. Considering the time between capturing all three titles, I wouldn’t be surprised if Big Brown actually did lose the Belmont. However, I’m also inclined to agree with trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr:
If Big Brown gets the lead, especially down the stretch, it’s hard to see any of the other horses catching him. The one question I do have has to do with Big Brown’s inside position. He’s drawn the number 1 slot, meaning he’ll be up against the fence. Can the other jockeys box the favorite in and block his path to history? Will they if they can? We’ll find out Saturday.
Anyway, here are the post positions along with the odds related to the horse, compiled by Vegas Watch:
(1) Big Brown, 2/5
(2) Guadalcanal, 40/1
(3) Macho Again, 30/1
(4) Dennis of Cork, 10/1
(5) Casino Drive, 10/3
(6) Da’ Tara, 33/1
(7) Tale Of Ekati, 16/1
(8) Anak Nakal, 33/1
(9) Ready’s Echo, 40/1
(10) Icabad Crane, 35/1
One more thing, does Big Brown’s previous steroid use concern you?
Because we are in the grips of horse racing’s run for the Triple Crown, the subject of horses and their safety has been brought back to the forefront — especially when you consider the tragedy of Eight Belles. With this in mind, I pursued an opportunity to interview Dr Lawrence Bramlage, the
attending on-call* veterinarian of the Kentucky Derby.
Dr. Bramlage also oversaw the euthanasia of Eight Belles after determining the severity of her injuries; something he’s never before witnessed during his career as a medical expert for the thoroughbred industry.
In our interview, we asked Dr. Bramlage some questions about the Eight Belles injury, potential prevention methods, Big Brown and Derby Pie. Needless to say, Dr. Bramlage went to great lengths to educate some of us who may have been in an uproar about animal cruelty and horse racing. Our interview was conducted via email and because I’m no expert when it comes to matters of the horse-racing industry, some of my questions may seem elementary.
Thankfully, Dr. Bramlage’s answers were not:
Intentional Foul: Dr. Bramlage, thank you for taking the time speak with Intentional Foul. In your report, it was revealed Eight Belles had fractures of the cannon and sesamoid bones in both front legs. What, in your professional opinion, contributed to the severity of these injuries? Was Eight Belles fighting the “slow down” commands she was being given or did she perhaps step incorrectly while she was slowing?
Dr. Bramlage: She was slowing down perfectly just like you want a horse to do. She was decreasing her momentum without abruptly stopping. She was relaxed and the jockey had her perfectly balanced. There is no good explanation for how she got the fractures. In her last three strides she showed lameness in the right front on two, then dramatically shifted her weight to the left. That is when the left fractured and she went down. Obviously she overloaded the right as well.
There is no indication of anything wrong until those three strides. Horses occasionally sustain injuries during a race that shows up as they slow down, but no one associated with racing that I have talked to has ever seen anything like this event.
The Preakness is tomorrow and while you are enjoying all the debauchery, be sure to remember there’s a semi-important horse race going on tomorrow. You know, if going to a horse track to watch horses race is your type of thing — a legitimate question for all the in-field attendees.
If you are actually interested in the race, the other questions surrounding The Preakness are can the horse who launched a million UPS trucks (not really, but he did get his name from the shipping giant) win the second leg of the Triple Crown? If he does, will anyone in attendance be sober enough to appreciate it? Another question, deftly tackled by Pat Forde, is whether or not two-weeks is a sufficient enough lay-off for modern horses to compete the Triple?
I’m not sure Seattle Slew or Affirmed had these issues to worry about, but nevertheless, the concerns are out there. Others tend to stem from the Eight Belles tragedy and while they are legitimate, I’m not sure if they won’t just fall on deaf ears. The horse racing industry is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry (especially if you include the gambling aspect) and while the immediate destruction of one of these beautiful creatures leaves a lasting impact on the general sporting public and generates tons of shock waves, it won’t derail horse racing from moving forward.
We are in the middle of the Triple Crown season and it’s the industry’s time to shine and if the Barbaro saga didn’t dampen their spirit, nothing — not even the destruction of Eight Belles — will.
Anyway, enough op-edding for now; let’s look at the race. Can Big Brown complete and win leg number two of the Triple Crown? Considering the fact he’s a 1-2 favorite (for every $2 spent, you get $1 in return), it’s pretty obvious where Vegas’ feelings lie. When you look at the rest of the field’s odds, you can get the distinct impression Big Brown is the only horse worth paying attention to.
The second lowest odds are for Gayego, who comes in at 8-1. After that, the rest of the entires have double-digit odds. To me, this seems to indicate either Big Brown will destroy the field (in a winning way) or some enterprising gambler is going to make a lot of money off the likes of Macho Again (20-1) and Riley Tucker (30-1). With that in mind, I’m going to go out on a limb here and pick Big Brown to win, place, and show.
In other news, ESPN’s Randy Moss looks really intense. God, I love bad choices in online video freeze-frames.
Don’t take any crap from that ESPN 2 crew, Randy.