Location: one hour from Suffolk, Rockingham, and Scarborough, United States

I'm one of the co-authors of Point of Hopes, Point of Dreams, and The Armor of Light (which, contrary to some reviews is NOT a Points novel). Proud member of CoastLine SF, Piscataqua Obedience Club, and admin for Horseboard.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Derby week

I have my own personal handicapper, from Saratoga Springs, no less, and I still haven't a clue about this year's Derby.

No one has come along and wowed me as both Monarchos (2001) and Smarty Jones (2004) did. I do better when a horse hits that one note inside me, a note felt, not heard. That's not to say I'm not impressed by certain of this year's three year olds. This is the crop that was hit by MRLS, by the way.

But no one has made "the move," as Monarchos did in his Florida Derby. And no one has -- for me -- put together a string of consummately professional races, stepping forward each time to confound the naysayers, that Smarty Jones did. I like Afleet Alex, High Fly for some reason that I cannot explain, so maybe he's the one? Nah, that didn't work with Brancusi... Wilko could be the one to break the curse of the Juvenile Eclipse Award winner. I really liked Rockport Harbor, and his connections (that's one of my favorite parts of Maine), and it would have been wonderful to see John Servis win back to back Derbies. But I admire Porter and Servis for stopping on the colt for now. Maybe with any luck, he'll pull a Tiznow in the autumn, and maybe we'll also see him race as a 4 year old, shocking as that might be.

Strangely -- and Jeff would probably say this is heretical -- I wonder if the Preakness won't shape up to be the more interesting race, with horses who either couldn't draw in to the Derby, or who felt that the distance was just a little beyond them, showing up.

Jeff also rightly pointed out that the Belmont is probably the only time these horses will race that mile and a half distance.... though I was intrigued to note the very full field for the Elkhorn at Keeneland this past week. 13 horses going a mile and a half on the turf. I wasn't too surprised to see Macaw win, though I'm not very familiar with his trainer, but the second and third place horses were trained by folks who know (a) grass and (b) distance -- Michael Matz and Jonathan Sheppard.

The question with the Derby, and then the Belmont, is not so much as "can he get the distance?" as "can he get the distance faster than anyone else?"

Last year, Smarty and Birdstone proved they could, head and shoulders above anyone else in the Belmont.

All I know is that someone there is in Saratoga Springs who does not love the idea of Bellamy Road winning!


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