“Hey Big A, What Do You Say?”

I haven’t been excited going into a weekend in the manner I was this past Saturday since the Breeders’ Cup last November. A ton of great racing was slated for Dubai, Gulfstream and the Fair Grounds and my 37th birthday was all set for Monday.
The way I figured, I’d win four figures Saturday, watch the Kentucky game with my HRRN Live! tag-team partner Chad Summers on Sunday then blow it out with family and friends, including my main man Jack Daniels on Monday.
But you know what they say….man plans and God laughs. I took a financial and emotional beating Saturday as my can’t-miss Kentucky Derby winner could only muster a fourth place finish in the one they run in Florida, had an allergy/flu-like symptoms that could have wiped out a small village and couldn’t even think of hearing Summers chirp about Cairo Prince’s sub-par effort. Momma and JD, of course, did not disappoint.
Getting back to Saturday, I really don’t know what to make of the Florida Derby. Wildcat Red and General a Rod can’t seem to get enough of each other as they set the pace once again, while your eventual winner Constitution sat the dream trip in third. I know most have said he took some dirt for the first time and handled it with a plumb but I’m not willing to anoint a horse who has run three times, all over a course he is built to LOVE, off of a pair of perfect trips the Kentucky Derby favorite.
In fact, I would have loved to have seen what would have happened had Johnny V. aboard Wildcat Red NOT have let Constitution up the rail. I think he finishes third, personally, and is on the outside of the Derby gate looking in as opposed to being assured a spot.
As for outside looking in, I wish I had an excuse for Cairo prince but I don’t. He wasn’t in the best spot going down the backside but it wasn’t a bad one either. He was produced by Luis Saez in the same manner he was produced in his emphatic Holy Bull tally but just didn’t fire. Perhaps the nine weeks off were too much and maybe he has distance limitations but I’m not buying that he’s not good enough as he was beaten under four lengths The problem is Kiaran McLaughlin has said he won’t run again before the Derby and they’re just going to hope the 24 points get them in.
In Louisiana, Vicar’s in Trouble actually impressed me a bit with his gate-to-wire score in the Louisiana Derby. With the majority of the other speed drawn to their outside, Rosie Napravnik did the prudent thing and put her charge on the front end. It helped that none of the other front running types but any pressure on and that second place finisher Intense Holiday, the Risen Star winner, looked more like a drunken sailor through the stretch than a Kentucky Derby contender, but Vicar’s in Trouble kept on a runnin’.
Intense Holiday actually hit the rail twice through the stretch, a terrible sign in anybody’s book but especially mine, and is one I won’t be following to Louisville, Third place finisher Commanding Curve showed signs of life late after getting wrangled back to last and immediately to the rail once they sprung the latch open but only has 20 Derby points. Common sense says Peter Pan/Belmont with him but I sure hope he gets into the Derby and rattles some cages.
As for the Kentucky Oaks, Untapable stamped herself the favorite for the Lillies with another impressive score in the Fair Grounds Oaks on the heels of her scintillating score in the Rachel Alexandra last out. In fact, if Untapable had enough Derby points to run in the race, she’d be my pick to win the roses right now.
In Tune stamped herself a contender for Pletcher when she extended her record to three-for-three in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. Pletcher, of course, lost Onlyforyou to a fatal injury during a workout in the weeks leading up to the Oaks but still appears loaded for bear for the race.
Palace Malice looked absolutely fantastic winning the New Orleans Handicap just three weeks after a gutsy win at Gulfstream going a mile in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. His versatility and proven ability going a distance of ground, namely in his Belmont Stakes win last year, makes him a dangerous hombre in each and every major stakes race for older horses this year.
Just a few more shots at Derby points, including the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and Santa Anita Derby this coming Saturday. We’ll cover those races as well as try to get a better grasp on the points system next week. See you then!!!