04/30/2010 3:18PM

Churchill: Alysheba strangeness, or outside bias?

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What was that all about? Slow pace in the Alysheba (the 24.86 was into the wind, but the 48.95 to the half was half into headwind, half tail or cross), but pace-setting Friesan Fire was nowhere at the finish, and most of the pressing crew had nothing late, either. Winner Arson Squad came from well back, and runner-up Flying Private ran even later thant he winner. Comebacking Macho Again had barely the glimmer of a kick, while Friesan Fire was obviously very disappointing. State of the older-male route division? Not great, using this race as a barometer.

Having seen the Alysheba, and going back through the whole card, I think one could easily make the case that the rail is dead today. Yes, Ravi's Song broke from post 2 in the opener, but her winning run came way out in the middle of the track. Race 2 was 3-wide first, 4-wide second, and 3-wide third. Race 4 was 4-wide stalker Funny Feeling barely over 4-wide closer Fuzzy Britches. Race 6 was 4-wide Unrivaled Belle wearing down Rachel Alexandra to her inside, with Borel keeping RA well off the fence throughout. Race 7, the Ky. Jockey Club, had three-wide rallying winner Lou Brissie over five-wide looping Boys at Toscanova, a first-time starter who was the longest shot in the field. In all these cases, the horses stuck down inside backed away tamely.

Looking to take advantage of this in the KY Oaks, which looks fast-paced. Stretch-running clunk-up from bomber Jody Slew, anyone?