May 3, 2015

American Pharoah leads California sweep of Derby 141

To all the handicappers who went with Dortmund because Pharoah wasn't "battle tested," he dang sure had to grind in that last sixteenth to wear down an ultra game Firing Line.  Like a tweet from last night stated, Victor Espinoza landed more right hands than Mayweather - Pacquiao combined! It was a great feeling to hit all exotic bets multiple times thanks to Firing Line's effort to fight on for second. What a gutsy little colt who runs with his head low, giving him an efficient stride that counters the lack of stamina in his breeding line. The closing quarter mile and final furlong were run shockingly slow to stop the clock in 2:03, but final times won't be relevant if Pharoah becomes the 12th triple crown winner we so desperately seek. Chalk another Derby win up for the Fappiano - Unbridled sire line!

Dortmund had absolutely no excuses as he set the slowest fractions to date, wasn't hounded on the front end (thanks to Materiality being left at the gate) and saved ground the entire way. This proves how difficult it is to win the Derby on the lead, a lesson I need reminding of from time to time (see my Verrazano pick 2 years back). Further, this result proves that favorites still do win The Derby (3 in a row) with a fair break and the best horses in this Derby finished as such. Materiality certainly was compromised and still made a great late run to prove this son of Afleet Alex could be dangerous in the Belmont sitting off Pharoah's hip for a change. Upstart ran very poorly while just moderately wide into the first turn but had mucho dirt caked on his face after just a few furlongs and may have simply checked out. Carpe Diem laid an egg - another in a long line of Pletcher horses at Churchill Downs. Slightly cramped early, but then had a dream trip saving ground fourth on the inside and Johnny V had no gas under him turning for home. Kudos to Danzig Moon as the only long shot to threaten, being 4th-5th all the way around the track. If he could have held onto fourth from Frosted I would really be grinning this morning with my winning tickets! 

One of our racing stable mantras is "live in the moment" and while I loved this outcome, it is human nature to think ahead of what might be. This horse I've come to really admire getting to see up close at Oaklawn Park did what I knew he could. But now I want more. There will be plenty of critics after yesterday's victory but I can't blame people since I was "that guy" last year against California Chrome. But to American Pharoah, a job well done and I pray you stay healthy for "round two" in Baltimore in 13 days. And after that, who knows, I just may happen to be in New York a few weeks later for a little horse race going on there... 👑

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