04/29/2010 12:39PM

Churchill Downs: Just five horses in the opener, but two with brutal trips


Let's hope the 20-horse Derby doesn't unfold like the first race Thursday at Churchill....40 percent of the field, in this case two of the five starters, had awful trips.

Watching the race live, it was apparent that Falling Knife, the eventual third-place finisher, had all kinds of trouble, getting boxed in and stuck behind a slow pace - when it seemed he had the speed to be sitting one-two from the start. But by the time he found daylight in the stretch, he seemed to be intimidated by being asked to rally up the rail.

Upon watching the replay, it was clear his trouble was minimal compared to that of Luv Gov.

Leaving the gate Luv Gov's apprentice jockey, Freddie Lenclud, lost his left iron and he was never able to regain it. Unable to restrain his mount and with his bottom repeatedly bouncing in the saddle, it was amazing this horse actually managed to run second to victorious Chef Eric. The horse never quit, nor did Lenclud.

Though he erred in losing his iron leaving the gate, Lenclud still gave 100 percent, riding the horse as he would any other race. A lot of jockeys would have simply pulled the horse up or given him an easy trip around the track.

Both Falling Knife and Luv Gov merit watching if they return against similar $30,000, nonwinners-of-three claiming company.

Meanwhile, Chef Eric is a subsequent horse to play against, having capitalized on the misfortunate on the two opponents immediately chasing him.