Saturday May 4, 2002

Saarland

The 128th Kentucky Derby
9th @ Churchill...All carry 126

 


1. Johannesburg...Stevens...The juvy curse will continue. Sooner or later the guys across the pond will have to come around to our way of thinking. Will he shoot out from the rail and try to gain the early lead? Possibly, but he's going to be sitting in the gate for a long time and the huge crush that 19 horse to his outside will provide are likely to have an effect. Either he goes out too fast, and wings it, seeing how far his pedigree will send him, or he gets shuffled back and forgotten. We'll know very quickly which it will be. He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

2. Wild Horses...Douglas...Perfect post for this one as he'll have the early speed to get into good position. I don't think he's got a shot to win, but he could hold on to the bottom slot in the super. He had traffic problems in the Arkansas Derby, then Douglas lost the whip and used a pair of goggles to urge him to a 2nd place finish! If he's got another forward move in him, he could hit the bottom of the super.

3. Perfect Drift...Delahoussaye...I would have preferred that he be closer to the middle of the gate, but nothing can be done about that. He is very intriguing to me. Despite the fact that he's a gelding, and hasn't raced in 6 weeks, he has the ability to get this. If the Turfway numbers are to be trusted, he's sitting on a winning effort. He's been working very smartly at the Churchill training center, far away from all of the maddening buzzards. He's displayed tremendous heart in his races and comes in here very sharp. Like most others, he's got negative points. But he's got less than most, and some of his knocks are historical misnomers. Strong candidate to hit the board, perhaps even win.

4. Lusty Latin...Corbett...Stone cold closer that looks nowhere near fast enough to make his presence felt here.

5. War Emblem...Espinoza...Illinois speedball was picked up by Baffert after the front-running victory in the Illinois Derby. He was alone on a very easy lead that day though. Something he won't get here. Up the track most likely.

6. Ocean Sound...Solis...Would have to improve immensely just to make exotics. This isn't the race to have to move forward in just to be any kind of factor.

7. Request For Parole...Alberado...He looks as though he is through developing for awhile. And he shows no signs of being interested in 10 panels. True, he was holding his own in the Spiral, but his last furlong told on him. I don't expect he'll be nearly as close when the winner hits the wire here.

8. Essence Of Dubai...Flores...Hasn't looked especially comfy here. Dettori chose to stay over there which can't be viewed as a positive. He is coming off of two wins, the last of which at 1 1/4, the only one in the field to have run that far. Caliber of competition was questionable. Still, he's got a shot for exotics. Not a BIG shot, but a shot.

9. Medaglia D'oro...Pincay...I was really high on this guy earlier in the week. Then he worked and it was learned that he had a slight cough. That in and of itself may be no BIG deal, but when you are coming into this race the cards must all fall perfectly. And a cough in derby week is like drawing the third 2 when you needed another queen to complete the full boat. Not necessarily a killer, but certainly deadens your chances a bit. Lack of 2 year-old experience doesn't help either.

10. Buddha...Day..SCRATCHED

11. Private Emblem...Meche...Finally came to life in the Arkansas Derby. Trouble is, it might have been too much to recover form in just 3 weeks. He ran the effort of his life against a pretty week field. Exotics not out of the question, the win would be I would think.

12. Castle Gondolfo...Bailey...The BIG mystery horse. Another son of Gone West gets first time lasix, and Bailey for the ride today. I'd be lying if I said I had a clue as to how he will run. His last was on the all-weather surface and he handled it easily in respectable time for his only start this year. I really don't think that is enough, especially piled on top of the trip across the pond. I might be inclined to use him on the bottom of some supers, but can't really go further than that.

13. Proud Citizen...Smith...Can lightning strike twice for Lukas? In 99 Charasmatic came in off of a non-descript claiming career and a Lexington Stakes win to steal this. I don't think this one has the same base and this son of Gone West probably just knocked himself out for awhile with that Lexington effort. Plus, he'll have plenty of company on the front end and this isn't speed favoring Keeneland.

14. Harlan's Holiday...Prado...The likely favorite has done nothing wrong, except during the final week. He's been like a dynamo never running worse than 2nd in 10 starts but it is my belief that the trail has taken it's toll. For his last work on Tuesday he was combative, rank, and looked just plain uninterested in finishing his business. He might be ready for a break after 4 tough races this year. He does own a win over this surface which is to his advantage. His work on the 24th was sparkling. Maybe he just had a bad day on Tuesday. I'm still inclined to use him in a minor way, but his price will prohibit me from using on top.

15. Came Home...McCarron...It's tough not to like this guy. He tried his heart out in the Santa Anita Derby to gut out the win after missing training time due to getting cast in his stall one morning. He's an extremely talented colt, but I can't help but feel that 10 furlongs might be just out of reach. Yet another speedy type that could hang on for a piece. In fact, I'm more likely to use him on the bottom of some of my tickets than any of the other front-runners. Chris McCarron. There's nobody I'd rather have on my Derby mount so a BIG plus there.

16. Saarland...Velasquez...I've had a feeling about him for a long time. Sometimes this works for me, sometimes it doesn't! He parallels a lot of past winners with his running style, his preparation, and his luck. Mostly Alysheba, which whom he also shares the fact that both underwent the same surgery within 40 days of the Derby. He is certainly poised to move forward here and I'm thinking the myectomy that he underwent for the entrapped epiglottis will help him do so. He's had a nice foundation which we have learned is very important in this race. He's coming in relatively fresh and off of improving efforts. His breeding says he'll run 10 furlongs and barely feel it. His connections are top notch and don't show up here every year with their trunk loaded with beer looking for a courtesy car, an owners box, and spouting sound bytes. Karma Angle: Ogden Phipps, who was a cornerstone in this industry in the U.S., won every BIG time race but this one. He passed away April 22 but at the time of his death he owned 5% of Saarland. Is this a sentimental choice because I've touted him since October? No. This race is set up perfectly for his running style and he his sitting on a BIG one. Just sit back and watch him gobble up that last furlong.

17. Danthebluegrassman...Desormeaux...Totally unrateable. Will absolutely gun for the lead possibly encouraging others to follow. His entry probably just ensured that a closer will get up for this. I'm not sure why Baffert decided to enter.

18 . It'sallinthechase...Martin...I really don't think he belongs. He hasn't won since November 24th at Remington.

19. Easy Grades...Chavez...Stevens must not have had a whole lot of confidence in him, even after the bridle incident in which he still managed to finish 2nd in the Santa Anita Derby. He doesn't appear fast enough on Ragozin or BRIS. On Thorograph he looks like he could contend for exotics. Works over the track have been okay. What to do? 

20. Blue Burner...Nakatani...Raunchy post position for a guy I've been following pretty carefully all winter. He looked great in his opener at Gulfstream closing on that track on opening weekend. Remember, the track at GP was very heavy for about the first 3-4 weeks of the GP meet. By the Time the Fountain  rolled around, it was back to its old speed junky self again, and he fought the bias there, and in the Florida Derby. Mott took him to New York for the Wood and AQU was on the speed favoring side as well. Churchill playing fairly. I'm a bit concerned that Mott pushed him so hard in his last work. We'll see how that plays out. I love his breeding, and the race sets up for him, but I don't know if he can make it past 3rd or not.

 


      He's been touted for the last week or so and it seems the price will be nowhere near the 15-1 morning line, but I still think this race is Saarland's to lose. He should be chugging late and he was made for this. Thank you Ogden!

     I have to think that Perfect Drift is going to run real BIG here. The 6 weeks should help him and he's going to be a nice price. I'll use him on top as well.

     Harlan's Holiday has done nothing wrong so far this year. He also  ran very fast as a two-year old. Perhaps too fast as it appears he is on the decline a bit now. Still, he should have enough left for 3rd.

     With the scratch of Buddha, I've decided to elevate Came Home for the 4th spot. He's got a lot of good experience and has taken to the track well. 10 furlongs may be out of reach, but he could be hanging around for a piece at the end.

     Blue Burner and Castle Gandolfo will round out my exotics.

1. Saarland

2. Perfect Drift

3. Harlan's Holiday

4. Came Home

5. Blue Burner

6. Castle Gandolfo

SUPER- Saarland, Perfect Drift/Saarland, Perfect Drift, Harlan's Holiday/Saarland, Perfect Drift, Harlan's Holiday, Came Home, Blue Burner/Saarland, Perfect Drift, Harlan's Holiday, Came Home, Blue Burner, Castle Gandolfo, Essence Of Dubai, Medaglia D'oro, Private Emblem

TRI-Box Saarland, Perfect Drift, Came Home, Harlan's Holiday

 

Best of luck everyone!

2002 bBra

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