05/07/2011 11:30AM

Kentucky Derby Day 2011 Blog


11:30 a.m.: Happy Derby Day, where the first headline was " 'Uncle' Romps at Churchill" -- not the scratched Uncle Mo in the Derby, alas, but Uncle Pink, a runaway winner of the opener, a starter-allowance for 3-year-olds who have raced for a $25k tag.

The opener went off at 10:31 a.m., and there are 12 races to go. The stakes racing -- six graded stakes culminating with the Derby at 6:24 pm -- is scheduled to begin at 1:19 p.m. The $2 pick-6 starts there with the G3 Turf Sprint; the new 50-cent pick-5 (which handled $359k on Oaks Day) begins at 2:08 p.m. with the G1 Humana Distaff; and the day's only all-stakes pick-4, on races 8-11, is scheduled for a 2:59 pm start.

Forecasters say there's a 60 percent chance of "scattered" showers, beginning as early as 1:30 p.m. No one seems to have a clue whether it will amount to a drizzle or a soaking. 

The NBC "family of networks" coverage began a few minutes ago on Versus and runs until 4 p.m. It then switched to NBC proper for a one-hour "Red Carpet" show that is supposed to include the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, and then continues with a conventional Derby telecast from 5 to 7 p.m.

I'll be back in about an hour with a horse-by-horse breakdown of the stakes races. At the moment I'm leaning away from the pick-6, due less to the lack of a carryover than to the massive coverage required to have a puncher's chance of getting through not only the Derby but also the nearly-as-inscrutable Turf Classic. Navigating the pick-5 and 8-11 pick-4 will be plenty tough enough.

In the day's second race, 4-year-old Worldly, last year's Northern Dancer and Ohio Derby runner-up, outfinished odds-on 3-year-old Bind to win a N1x allowance route in 1:43.61. After winning his debut at the Fair Grounds with a dazzling 105 Beyer, Bind has now run second at short odds in two subsequent stretchout starts,running second at 1-to-10 in a FG allowance and second at 3-5 today.


12:30 pm: Here's the cheat-sheet for the six Derby Day stakes, with ML odds, late scratches, and preliminary ABCX grades:



1:30 pm: It's official: People will bet Calvin Borel on anything on Derby Day, and I'm not talking about Twice the Appeal. Henry's Time, 30-1 on the ML for the Twinspires Turf Sprint , looked more like 300-1 on paper. Facing three of the country's best turf sprinters in Bridgetown, Chamberlain Bridge and Regally Ready, 1-for-16 Henry's Time was probably entered as a favor to help fill out an eight-horse field. With his lone victory coming in a $30k maiden claimer and an 11th-place finish the only time he tried grass, his true odds were north of 100-1. WIth Calvin in the saddle, he was 10-1 with 10 minutes to post and drifted only as high as 17-1 at post time, attracting over $96k in the straight pools alone.

As for the race, Regally Ready ($8.80) prevailed over Bridgetown, with Chamberlain Bridge along for a distant third  while looking short of his best form. Regally Ready, a 4-year-old More Than Ready gelding, was winning his fourth straight and may be headed for Royal Ascot. The first three are all prime contenders for the BC Sprint this fall at Churchill.

Henry's Time trailed throughout.


2:00 pm: Here goes on the pick-5:


2:10 pm: Well, that didn't last very long. Congrats to Sassy Image ($34.20), who is apparently all the way back to where she was two years ago and then some, and to Robby Albarado for getting a Grade 1 victory on a card where he was bumped off his Derby mount yesterday. Hilda's Passion, second at 3-5, beat the ones I thought she had to, but was second best today in a quick (1:21.01) race.

Guess I'll reload similar tickets to those above for the pick-4.


3:15 pm: There are few more depressing sights than the "Countdown to the Derby" clock on Versus showing over three hours to post time....with only two races during that long span.

The CD DIstaff Turf Mile went to Aviate ($13.20), the Juddmonte filly who figured to move up off her U.S. debut and did. I'll give another chance to Fantasia, who came from last to be third after a choppy and tentative trip.

The start was delayed when Vivo Per Lei acted up in the gate and was scratched. 

Looks like we're going to get lucky with the weather: Just a few sprinkles so far, and the Doppler pictures make it look like Louisville's clear for the rest of the day.


4:05 pm: Aikenite ($28.60) just nipped Apriority at the wire in a hotly-contested Churchill Downs S. Ibboyee made a remarkable run from last to be a close third, and Capt. Candyman Can suffered his first defeat at 7f after perhaps moving to the lead a touch too soon.

Two hours and 19 minutes till the Derby, with just the WR Turf Classic between now and then.

Preliminary Beyers for the Oaks card, where the routes were running a little slower than the sprints: a 95 for Plum Pretty in the Oaks; a 94 for Blind Luck in the La Troienne; and a 97 for First Dude in the Alysheba, where the first six under the wire --separated by two necks, a head and two noses -- all got figs of 97 or 96. In the two sprints for 3-year-old fillies, Might (Blame's full sister) got a 90 winning a N1x while Victoria's Wildcat received only a 79 winning the Eight Belles. 

Alive 4x7 (5,8,9,12/1,8,11,13,15,17,19) for 50-cent pick-4's and starting to wonder -- after four losing favorites and three double-digit winners -- if it's another year where we'll be chasing a carryover out of Derby Day. If so, Churchill goes dark for four days after today and reopens Thursday.


4:32 pm: Early favorite for the 141st Derby in 2015: It was just announced on NBC that the Curlin-Rachel Alexandra foal due in February is a colt.


5:00 pm: When Little Mike was scratched from the WR Turf Classic this morning, I had a fleeting thought: Would that leave Get Stormy all kinds of loose on the lead? The thought promptly fled my mind, only to return as Get Stormy built an insurmountable lead through an opening six furlongs in 1:15 and change. Had him if Apriority had won, but not on the same ticket with Aikenite. Bah.

Only 84 minutes to post time for the Derby. WIth $17.2 million in the win pool, it's 5-1 on Dialed In, 7-1 (!) on Pants on Fire, 8-1 on Midnight Interlude, 9-1 on Mucho Macho Man and 10-1 on both Nehro and Twice the Appeal.

Looks like there are no live Pick-6 tickets.


5:35 pm: Possible BWI (blogging while intoxicated) Alert: I made a token win bet on my scratched-into Derby "pick" of Mucho Macho Man, poured myself two fingers of Maker's Mark, and will try to find a couple of Wint-O-Green Life Savers for garnish to call it a julep. Good luck to all and I'll be back after the race.


7:30 pm: If John Velazquez was going to win this Derby, it was supposed to be on Uncle Mo.

If Graham Motion was going to win it, it was supposed to be with Toby's Corner.

If a horse with only four career starts was going to win the Derby, it was supposed to be Dialed In.

If it was going to be a horse who had never raced on dirt, it was supposed to be Master of Hounds.

But it was Animal Kingdom who did all of the above, and congrats to him and those who backed him at $43.80. As Derbies go, this one was pretty clean and straightforward. The winner was best and is obviously a very noce horse to have run at five different tracks and performed well on three different types of surfaces in just five career starts. You'd think that the first four finishers are Preakness-bound along with beaten favorite Dialed In (8th), who is still eligible for that goofy Preakness $5 million bonus for having won the Holy Bull and Florida Derby.

The Derby winner was sired by one of my favorite turf horses -- Leroidesanimaux (right), the champion grass male of 2005 when he won the Kilroe, the Fourstardave and the Atto Mile before finishing second on a bad foot to Artie Schiller in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Leroidesanimaux was a Brazilian-bred son of Candy Stripes, a son of French-bred Blushing Groom. Animal Kingdom's dam, the German-bred Dalicia, is a daughter of the German-bred sire Acatenango.

Back tomorrow with further reflections, and then on to that $514,582 pick-six carryover at Churchill on Thursday. 





Regina Phalange More than 1 year ago
You should check out this new web-based animal reality show called Animal Movers. It is about a pet transportation company that moves animals all around the world. They move many different types of animals. The latest episode was about transporting horses to the Kentucky Derby. It was very interesting and family friendly. You can find it at www.animalmovers.tv
Ryan More than 1 year ago
Shiznik, Little Mike was scratched before the running of the Oaks...only would have been a conso had scratch been announced after.
Kyle Crince More than 1 year ago
I'm tired of reading about everyone hating on camera angles, poor race calls and expensive food. It's obvious all these haters are just mad they didn't come up with animal kingdom, so they have to complain about something. I thought everything was fine, but that may be because i hit the tri for four grand. I look for nothing but great things from AK, he can be what the racing world needs which is a triple crown winner and a superstar. Somebody has to fill the void that the great Zenyatta left and hopefully he is the one. GO ANIMAL
Bernard Downes More than 1 year ago
I promised not to submit any more comments to these blogs, but I am so amazed by the earlier "call" comments I hope I can make an exception. If I have a substantial win bet on a single horse, I am not interested in the announcer hyping up the excitement, or coming up with some clever words. The ONLY thing I am interested in hearing is confirmation of where my horse is placed in running, and at the wire.
Dan More than 1 year ago
Does anyone else think that was the WORST called Kentucky Derby in history?
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
One thing I was guilty of was not seeing that Animal Kingdom actually had a win at two going 1 1/8 Miles, which to me has always been a very important foundation few two year olds have a chance to get. It might not have made him the pick, but that, coupled with his efforts made him a much bigger contender than he was made. So Graham Motion now gets the chance to try and win the second leg of the Triple Crown on his home track, which is going to add some drama to the Preakness. Finally, if this was the last Kentucky Derby in daylight, it probably will only continue to get bigger if it actually is at night next year. Given many would go just so they could say they were at the first nighttime Kentucky Derby, if it really is at night next year, I suspect we would be looking at 200,000+ at Churchill for the Derby and 150,000+ for the Oaks on Friday (as that would also be at night). If the TV rating is anywhere close to the last two years (and remember, it was opposite an NBA Playoff game on ESPN), then I think Comcast (new majority owner of NBC) will be insisting on the Derby being in prime time, but that may not even matter because Churchill likely has to be looking at how much handle could come from the Asia-Pacific region for both Oaks and Derby Days (where it would be Saturday morning for the Oaks and Sunday morning for the Derby).
jerry More than 1 year ago
Did he come home in 23.2? THATS impressive. Saw that same MOH move up the inside on overhead shot. Preakness looks like a great race if all goes well. My guess is a full field. If Uncle Mo has recovered I don't suppose JV switches back. After winning on AK did they ask JV if he was going to Disney? As for Derby at night; I guess eastern tracks could run 3pm posts. [Animal Kingdom did not come home in 23 2/5. The final quarter of the race was run in 24.55 and he was 2 1/2 lengths behind after a mile, so he ran his final quarter around 24.12. -SC]
tony v More than 1 year ago
Well another awful ride by Julian loses me the tri and super . Get the horse in the race !!!! I never like to bet this guy on the dirt now I learned my lesson the hard way . I had AN King and Neuro with him up and down. Burned again . Also as the one poster stated it was a classless move to take Robby off that horse . Not to mention I had him on a 16-1 shot earlier in the card which he won in great closing style . However we all feel you can be sure he feels worse . As for Julian Zito thinks he was crying before he must have really been crying when he saw that ride . When there's 19 horses in front of you you gotta move sooner no matter what the horses style is . Just an awful derby in many ways .
cigarvacation More than 1 year ago
Random thoughts: As far as the Derby call, I have always been a fan of Larry Collmus. I thought he did an admirable job for his first Derby. Durkin is one of my all time favorites but it's my understanding the "stress" of this task has worn him down. I don't quite understand although I think the heat he took for missing Mine That Bird caused his premature national retirement. That and the fact admittedly his calls seem to be suffering with age. Don't know if Steve is the boss of Mike Welsch but if you could pass on this info. it would be appreciated. His review of the works over the last several derbies has benefitted me greatly. He does an awesome job of relaying what he sees and anybody that pays attention to him should have had a punchers chance at cashing some tickets on the last few derbies. The horses he reviews for 12 days of watching them gallop or work, generally run the race he describes based on his observations. In my opinion he is an invaluable asset to DRF. P.S. I am not related nor do I personally know him, lol.
Jim More than 1 year ago
Steve, Im thinking after that performance, and he can beat Nehro at pimlico, Animal Kingdom can win the triple crown. Turf, Synthetic, and now Dirt. This horse may be a champion in the makings. I usually like betting horses that do not back up in their past performances for the Derby, but to be honest i totally overlooked this horse due to the synthetic/turf races. Just to use an old cliche: The Great Ones Run On Anything! Anyone get a line on what Barry Irwin was talking about after the race. Was he referring to the previous trainer?