April 29, 2009

Kentucky Derby 135 Week - Post Positions

The post position draw occured late Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs in a radical departure from recent years. Rather than having a "made for tv" event with emcee, interviews, etc., the draw occured in obscurity... a sign that interest in thoroughbred racing continues deteriorating. Furthermore, for the first time in many years, Friday's Kentucky Oaks will not be broadcast via live television. This is quite a change over a few generations, when companies and factories would close down on days when horses such as Seabiscuit, Count Fleet and Citation would make a scheduled start. I guess I can't blame the average Joe (not to be confused with Joe the Plumber) for lacking interest after the fatal breakdowns of Barbaro and Eight Belles in recent years, not to mention the steroid scandal with Big Brown and the lack of a national policy on drug and safety matters. Which makes tracks such as Oaklawn Park and even Lone Star near Dallas the model for racing after increasing purse money and attendance in recent years by incorporating more promotions (casino in the case of Oaklawn) and special events to draw the casual racing fan to an afternoon of fun. Oh well, enough of my tangent, let's get to the official post positions and odds!

Post Horse Trainer Jockey Odds
1 West Side Bernie Kelly Breen Stewart Elliott 30-1
2 Musket Man Derek Ryan Eibar Coa 20-1
3 Mr. Hot Stuff Eoin Harty John Velazquez 30-1
4 Advice Todd Pletcher Rene Douglas 30-1
5 Hold Me Back Bill Mott Kent Desormeaux 15-1
6 Friesan Fire Larry Jones Gabriel Saez 5-1
7 Papa Clem Gary Stute Rafael Bejarano 20-1
8 Mine That Bird Bennie Woolley Calvin Borel 50-1
9 Join in the Dance Todd Pletcher Chris DeCarlo 50-1
10 Regal Ransom Saeed bin Suroor Alan Garcia 30-1
11 Chocolate Candy Jerry Hollendorfer Mike Smith 20-1
12 General Quarters Tom McCarthy Julien Leparoux 20-1
13 I Want Revenge Jeff Mullins Joe Talamo 3-1
14 Atomic Rain Kelly Breen Joe Bravo 50-1
15 Dunkirk Todd Pletcher Edgar Prado 4-1
16 Pioneerof the Nile Bob Baffert Garrett Gomez 4-1
17 Summer Bird Tim Ice Chris Rosier 50-1
18 Nowhere to Hide Nick Zito Shaun Bridgmohan 50-1
19 Desert Party Saeed bin Suroor Ramon Dominguez 15-1
20 Flying Private D. Wayne Lukas Robby Albarado 50-1

Not really any shockers with the draw choices, especially after considering Dutrow's bold move last year of selecting post #20 for Big Brown even though there were several spots left to prove his horse could overcome anything! Baffert made some puzzling comments that he was hoping all day to get in the 16 post, which they ended up getting. That may force Pioneer of the Nile to show a little more speed on the first turn to save some ground, but all other outside horses are long-shots.

Does anyone have an angle on the Dubai horses, Desert Party and Regal Ransom? If so, please send me comments as I'm balking on my initial thought to toss them completely due to the passive race regimen this spring. My current "fear" horse is late blooming Hold Me Back at 15-1 after his win and runner-up finish on synthetics. I would love to discount these races due to his success primarily on artificial surface -- that they WON'T be running on at Churchill Downs. But then you see I Want Revenge who made the switch easily in New York from California tracks to the traditional tracks of the East. Would love to get the thoughts of my "railbird" friends!

Trivia answer: Stewart Elliott was the last jockey to win The Derby in his first attempt with Smarty Jones in 2004. After another big win in The Preakness, many thought he actually cost him the coveted Triple Crown when he moved Smarty in the Belmont Stakes through a swift 6 furlongs with more than a half mile remaining. Ultimately, he was passed in the last sixteenth of a mile by Nick Zito trained Birdstone in my only triple crown attended event to date. On Saturday, 19 year-old phenom Joe Talamo tries to duplicate this feat on the likely favorite, I Want Revenge.

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