MORE POST DERBY NOTES - CHURCHILL'S PICK-6
Boy, was I wrong!
I'm not talking my Derby selections. Like the rest of the western world, I was dead wrong with those.
No, I'm referring to how wrong I was about the impact of Mine That Bird's stunning Derby victory.
At first, I thought the Derby result would be yet another black mark against racing -- in a year-plus of black marks.
After all, starting with the Derby futures, mega-millions of dollars were wagered on the Kentucky Derby, by the pros down to the once-a-year amateurs. And, in the space of two minutes, 99 per cent of that money went up in proverbial smoke.
Hell, a good chunk of that cash was lost well before the horses loaded -- on the likes of The Pamplemousse, Old Fashioned, Square Eddie, Beethoven, Win Willy, Quality Road and I Want Revenge.
What's more, millions of words were written -- thousands by this columnist alone -- on the Derby...and nada about the little horse from New Mexico named Mine That Bird.
Never saw Mine That Bird's name on anyone's Derby Top Ten, and, as far as I could tell, not a single public handicapper had him 1-2-3-4 in his or her Derby picks.
Hell, 50-1 was an underlay. He should have been 200-1!
And, let's face it; no one knew Mine That Bird existed until that frenetic moment leaving the furlong pole when a brown blur in dark silks exploded to the lead down on the rail.
It's the eight.
Who the hell is the eight?
Scan the program.
It's Mine That Bird!
Even Tom Durkin, who never blows it, blew it. Mine That Bird was three in front before Tom picked him up.
Grab the Form.
The first thing you notice is that Mine That Bird is a gelding. Not a big-time gelding like Funny Cide, the Wood Memorial runner-up who upset the '03 Derby. Not even close.
Scan down the Derby horses.
Whadda ya know? Mine That Bird is the only gelding in the whole field. Eighteen colts and one gelding. Pity the Kentucky breeding industry. OK, maybe Funny Cide was a genetic fluke. But Mine That Bird?
How are the breeders going to explain this?
This has to be the worst thing that can happen to racing.
Boy, as I said at the top of this column...was I wrong?
As we all know, in the aftermath of the Derby, Mine That Bird and jockey Borel have become rock stars. They are all over the papers, the internet, the TV Friends and strangers stop you on the street. It’s Mine That Bird and Calvin Borel 24/7.
And check out Sports Illustrated at your local newsstand. Mine That Bird is the cover story. First time since Smarty Jones in '04 that racing makes the SI cover.
No way that happens if Pioneer of the Nile, or Dunkirk, or Musket Man wins the Derby.
The only possible other way the Derby makes the SI cover is if General Quarters had won the race. And that's debatable.
Yep, I was wrong. Mine That Bird is the best thing that's happened to racing since...well, since Smarty Jones.
The Smarty Jones Story didn't end all that great.
All we can do now is speculate on what lies down the road for Mine That Bird, and that fabulous cast of characters that surround him.
After all, this literally is not their first rodeo.
If Mine That Bird wins the Preakness, surely the sky's the limit.
But what if he drags home fifth, beaten double-digit lengths?
There are a lot of what-ifs yet to answer.
In the meantime, thanks to Mine That Bird and Calvin Borel, there is a 781K carryover awaiting the Pick Six players on Wednesday afternoon at Churchill Downs and various simulcast sites.
The sequence -- comprising two allowances, two claimers and two maiden races – kicks off with race four at 2:21 p.m. EDT.
So let's take a look...
The key to this six-furlong maiden-claimer for fillies and mares is first-timer Morning Magic. She is by Tale of the Cat, she is working well for trainer Kenneally, and jockey Leparoux, who had almost as good a weekend as Borel, takes the call from the one-hole.
Emily D. has been close several times while going 0-for-18. Her trainer is 1-for-29 this year, but that's a better number than the Derby-winning trainer's
Five Star Sweetie was a three-time beaten favorite at Tampa.
Silie has been racing OK on the synthetics. Did you notice that the 1-2-3-5 finishers in the Derby prepped on synthetics?
Yankee Player flies Victory Gallop's colors.
No Image is the best closer from the worst post in this six-furlong allowance for 3-year-olds and up. She also gets a rider change to Smilin' Jon Court, and is the only one in the race with a win over the track.
Formal Dannie, trying her eighth racetrack in 11 starts, is a .400 lifetime hitter, and may shake loose on the lead.
Gatorize (Nicks/Theriot) will be favored off her Keeneland placing. She's passed through the hands of Tom Amoss and Helen Pitts since October.
Pitts runs an uncoupled entry of Maria's Moon and G Mom in the mile/16 grass event for maiden fillies and mares, while mentor McPeek has Mimi's Kid, who was second as the favorite three-back on the Gulfstream weeds.
Maria's Moon is first-time Borel. Mimi's Kids is first-time Albarado.
High Quail, a 160K yearling, shows good Fair Grounds form.
Transformationlady is a firster by Buddha, who was the last major horse before I Want Revenge to scratch from the Derby the day of the race.
Have to wonder why they paid 240K at Keeneland for Doo Woppa Do.
Silver Bayer, off his three-back second in the Smarty Jones Stakes on opening day at Oaklawn, may go favored in this wide-open $50,000 claimer for 3-year-olds at seven-eighths.
Stratos was fourth at Oaklawn to Dance Caller, who is headed for the Travers.
Chapel by the Sea is the only horse with a winning race over the track - a five-length blowout.
Guadalcanal, no relation to the Guadalcanal who beat Kelso, will always be remembered for bumping Big Brown at the start of the Belmont Stakes. Borel takes off him in this 11-furlong grass allowance to ride My Happiness for Bob Barnett.
On Derby Day, Borel rode a winner (Jazz in the Park) for Barnett.
Hidden Glance has a shot for trainer Howard, who is due to get going.
In the absence of speed, look for Tap Dancing to walk 'em through slow fractions.
In addition to capping the pick six, this nickel-claimer for 3-and-up at a mile/16, also offers a super high five carryover of 251K.
Jolly Ol' Nick was twice second for this price over the track last Fall.
Shot Gun Cliff beat richer in Tampa finale, but jockey Lanerie is 1-for-31 at the meet.
Painted Forest had wide trip in the first race on opening day.
Seems certain that the pick six will get hit...but, then again, we know there is nothing certain in this game.
Good luck; see you back here Friday.
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