So what did we learn from the Florida Derby. Honestly not a lot for me. No surprise Pletcher wins another Florida Derby. I was looking for Shugs Greatest Honour to do a little better. He is not a count out for me yet. A deep closer has a hard time at Gulfstream, the most speed biased track in the country.
I was surprised at Soup & Sandwich ... love the name. Wasn't expecting that much from him, but he hung in there. Was surprised Greatest Honour did not do better either; the pre-race commentary basically had him locked in for the win. Almost a sure sign he would NOT win, LOL.
Thoughts will go one by one during the day . Starting with the Wood. Yes very exciting. Huge upset. And here's one of the things we will do in prep for Derby day is look at all these races and see how they figure into the big one. And in the Wood what sticks out the most when getting past the excitement is the fractions.
This was slow. Crawling even. It's what set up the big finish. 50 at the half isn't good at all, and certainly won't be pace at the Derby. 1:14 and change for 3/4 isn't not only stakes time, it's not great for Nickel claimers at Delta Downs on a Tuesday night.
Not taking away from Bourbonic. But in watching coverage, or listening to analysts talk you will hear stuff like race fell apart, or a horse needs the race to fall apart. That's what happened here.
The Bluegrass- much better and much more honest fractions. For those that might be newer, the difference between:50 and change in wood, to :48 and change in Bluegrass may not seem like much. For reference 1 second is roughly 5 lengths.
But looking deeper, what you see is this bunch held their speed and picked it up. The first bunch was giving from the opening quarter all the way around.
Yes Essential Quality will have to go on the ticket for the Derby. Will probably be post time favorite. There are some things to like. He is by Tapit. Distance will never be a problem. With Mr Prospector on bottom, speed won't be either. The downside is Liuis Siaz is up.
re: Bourbonic. It seems like every year, the NY preps are getting less and less relevant. Growing up in NY, I don't remember it being that way. The Wood was a real "sending" race. Is it just that the big Derby trainers focus on CA and LA/FL preps more now? I am failing on my trivia, but I can't think of the last horse to win the Derby after winning the Wood. Funny Cide?
I guess it makes me sad that the NY circuit (Saratoga excluded I guess- though the changes to the Saratoga meet haven't been kind to downstate meets) has really lost its luster. I'm not very good with change
Editing my own post because I was curious: Funny Cide didn't actually win the Wood, Empire Maker did. So, it was a race that mattered in that year!
Edited again after a visit to trusty Wikipedia, and a reminder that the Wood has produced some pretty heavy hitters, even in the recent past. Maybe they don't all go on to impact the KD, but they do seem to be horses that make a name for themselves over time.
It certainly seems that way and has that feel. I guess just thinking off the top of my head a few reasons more of opinion than fact.
Last few years we have had 2 Triple,Crown Winners that never even sniffed New York.
When Barbaro win the Florida Derby and then went on to win the Kentucky there was a huge focus on it. Big discussion about the 5 weeks out instead of traditional 4.
The points system, as opposed to graded earnings meant that you didn't have to travel to New York. So top horse don't have to pile in the Wood. Look at the Bluegrass, it used to be a last ditch effort to get in Derby. Now it's a destination with benefit of an hour away van ride.
The point system has had some benefits. By spreading it out a little more, more tracks get a boost which is good,for the sport.
Last big on is the Arkansas Derby this weekend. It's always been a big prep as it's said to have the most similar surface to Churchill. And for a while now Baffert brings some of his over.
We will see how this goes. This hy has a different feel. While several nice horses, no wow horse. Doesn't mean they won't become that. Gunrunner didn't win his year. Going to be fun to try to figure this one out.