WOOD YOU BELIEVE?
Recent events would make one think the producers of "Jockeys" will have no
problem recruiting riders for the second season of their hit cable reality series.
After all, the stars of the first season seem to be doing just fine.
Jockey Gryder scored the biggest victory of his two-decades career on Well Armed
in the $6 million Dubai World Cup.
Jockey Talamo will be riding the favorite in the Kentucky Derby.
Jockey Smith keeps on winning races big and small, Stardom Bound's Ashland defeat
And jockey Court has 30 winners -- including a couple of stakes -- at Oaklawn Park.
Speaking of Oaklawn Park, the Mad Bomber had a close call at the Hot Springs venue
on Saturday afternoon.
Long after all the big 3-year-old races were decided, they ran the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn.
Only five 4-year-old fillies showed up, only two mattered -- Acoma and Seventh
The Bomber, a Pennsylvania-based attorney who supplements his income by
making five-figure (and up) show wagers on sure things, hasnn't lost a show play
in three years, and always has been particularly fond of Oaklawn because Arkansas
is one of the few states in the Union that offers a $2.20 -- rather than $2.10 --
That said, the Bomber got down big-time on Acoma in the Apple Blossom.
Sometimes it pays to be lucky as well as good...and this was one of those times.
As Seventh Street was blowing the field away on the front end, Acoma lagged last
for most of the race. She finally managed to get up for third by a head, beaten a
dozen lengths overall.
Aware he was playing with house money, the Bomber struck again on Sunday at
Only five 3-year-old fillies showed up for the Fantasy, and the fabulous Rachel Alexandra was 1-9.
Oaklawn mutuels' manager Bobby Geiger, feeling good about alma mater North
Carolina's presence in the title game Monday night, this time eliminated show betting.
"That will show him," said Geiger, or words to that effect.
So the Bomber merely called an audible, and wagered a small fortune on Rachel
The MB never had an anxious moment as Rachel went right to the front, and won
from here to Arkadelphia, looking more a Derby filly than an Oaks filly.
Meantime, Mad Bomber wannabees bet a total of $467,000 to show on I Want
Revenge in the Wood Memorial on Saturday.
Sent off at 1-2 from the rail, broke in the air, spotted the field 10 lengths, and still
got home first, only because West Side Bernie neglected to shut him off at the
Turf writers would fall over themselves praising jockey Talamo for a great ride.
Can you imagine what they would be calling him if West Side Bernie doesn't
let him through?
Talamo, like the Mad Bomber, was quite lucky. Three of his five horses on Saturday had gate problems.
But it's good to be 19. There was ol' Joe back on a plane Saturday evening to Los Angeles, and he rode two winners Sunday at Santa Anita.
As for the turf writers, a week after proclaiming Quality Road the sure-thing winner of
the Kentucky Derby, they lined up to make I Want Revenge the Derby lock.
The Bandwagon, once a great Astaire motion picture, remains as popular as ever.
As for me, at this point I don't have a clue who I'm going to take in the Derby, but
fortunately I still have a month to make up my mind. For the present, I'm sticking
with Friesan Fire and Old Fashioned one-two (see my DTT below).
Meantime, trainer Pletcher had to have mixed emotions in the wake of the weekend events.
The Toddster got shut out with his four starters in the three Derby preps, but since
all three races were won by the favorite, it stands to reason that the Derby field
will shrink. The Pamplemousse, for one, already has dropped out due to a tendon injury that forced him out of the Santa Anita Derby.
This is important to the Toddster, still a Derby maiden, because Dunkirk, who may
or may not be the cream of the 3-year-old crop, is on the graded earnings bubble
to make the race.
Dunkirk currently stands tied at No. 23 on the Derby list with the $150,000 he earned
with his second to Quality Road in the Florida Derby, but he can move up because
Bittel Road (No. 17) is a stablemate, while the connections of several others in the top 20-- notably Square Eddie, Vineyard Haven, Charitable Man, Terrain, Crowded House and Giant Oak -- may decline.
Oh, yes. Regal Ransom remains the the money leader with $1.2 million by virtue of his victory in the Dubai Derby as opposed to the Dachsund Derby that entertained the
folks at Golden Gate on Sunday.
As mentioned early, Talamo may find himself on the Derby favorite inasmuch as
I Want Revenge closed the 9-2 favorite in the third and final pool of the Churchill
Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Book.
Quality Road is the 6-1 second choice, followed by Friesan Fire at 8-1, Pioneerof
the Nile at 9-1, Dunkirk at 11-1, and Old Fashioned at 12-1.
Of those, only Old Fashioned will have one more start before Louisville -- the
$1 million Arkansas Derby Saturday at Oaklawn. Win Willy, who will be second
choice to Old Fashioned in the AD, is listed at 16-1 in the Churchill futures,
with the mutuel field 17-1.
Rick Porter, the owner of Friesan Fire and Old Fashioned, had a mixed bag over the
weekend. He won the Carter Handicap with Kodiak Cowboy, who joined Regal Ransom as a millionaire, but Honest Man got beat a pole by It's a Bird in the Oaklawn Handicap.
That's one of the things that kind of annoys me about racing: the locals sweat and strain to win peanuts, but when they put up the big bucks, it's the New York and Florida guys who ship in for the day to collect...in this case Seventh Street in the Apple Blossom and It's a Bird in the Oaklawn Handicap.
Rachel Alexandra is a rare exception.
And, speaking of Oaklawn, kudos to Tim Doocy for his 5,000th career win.
But if Doocy wants to make the Hall of Fame, he'd better move to New York or California, and win another 5,000.
Speaking of California, I have to feel a little sorry for jockey Solis -- for two
First, with The Pamplemousse down, Solis still will be looking for the first Kentucky
winner of his career.
Solis has said many times that The Pamplemousse is the best horse he has ever ridden.
It may or not be a coincidence he said that because his son Alex Jr. is a partner in the
horse, and that the Sheiks are always in the market for a ready-made 3-year-old. See
Speaking of Solis reminds me one of my favorite Derby stories.
On May 7, 1983, I went to the jocks' room in the wake of the Derby victory by Sunny's Halo, and found a very angry Laffit Pincay Jr.
It seems that Pincay was going to win his first Derby on Caveat only to get forced
15-wide by a horse named Current Hope on the stretch turn, and settle for third, beaten two lengths and a nose.
Current Hope's rider?
A kid named Alex Solis, whose idol was Laffit Pincay Jr.
When I arrived in the jocks' room, I found Pincay cussing out Solis in several languages,
and had to be restrained from maiming the kid.
As it developed, Pincay would win the Belmont five weeks later on Caveat - and would
get his Derby the next year...on Swale.
And we are, a quarter-century later, Solis is still riding, and Laffit Pincay Jr. gets to cover him on TV.
So let's up wrap up with the only Derby Top Ten that counts:
|1. Friesan Fire
||Training up to the Derby at Keeneland
| 2. Old Fashioned
||Working lights-out at Oaklawn
| 3. I Want Revenge
||Did nothing right in the Wood, and still won
| 4. Quality Road
||They spiked his Beyer from 103 to 111
|5. Chocolate Candy
||Came flying for second to Pioneer
| 6. Win Willy
be make or break
||Chances of making the cut improved
| 8. West Side Bernie
||His Wood was much more like it.
| 9. Pioneerof the Nile
||The king of
|10. Musket Man
|| Ill. Derby
|| Ky. Derby
||The change to Coa worked out OK
See you back here Wednesday.
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