05/04/2009 3:04PM

A little Birdy told me


Out of the mouths of babes come the darnedest things.  Watching the Kentucky Derby with friends and family, I asked for a consensus selection in the moments leading up to Saturday's Run for the Roses. 

"Friesan Fire."
"Desert Party."
"Friesan Fire."
"Regal Ransom."
"Chocolate Candy."

Looking down at my two-year-old niece, Olivia Katherine Duckworth, I noticed her striking resemblance to Cindy Lou Who from that favorite Dr. Seuss story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  Last year's Derby was Olivia's first and, showing my non-existant paternal instincts, I threw her ten feet in the air when my longshot selection, Recaputuretheglory, made a short-lived lead on the final turn.  Thankfully, Big Brown soon dashed Uncle Danny's Derby dreams, and I was able to retrieve the darling child before she crashed to the floor. 

This first Saturday in May, I was determined to put the kid to work.

"Pick a horsey, Liv," I asked in honeyed tones as she lined up her Wonderpets stuffed animals.

"Horsey," replied the tot, looking as cute as a button in her Peppa Pig tracksuit.

Clearly, I hadn't gotten through to the child.  But Uncle Danny still had one trick left up his sleeve.

"What's your favorite number, kiddo?"

The tiny angel looked up at her favorite, and only, uncle with baby blues shining, and yelled with as much gusto as her little lungs could muster, "Eight, Uncle Danny!"

Quickly, I scanned the past performances.  Mine That Bird was number eight.  I sighed discontentedly.  Her first-ever selection wasn't going to be as memorable as mine some twenty-five years before.  That day, Cagey Exuberance paid $11.00 in the feature at the Big A, and I thought I had found the key to riches and wealth. 

Looking on the bright side, I thought, at least she hadn't picked Musket Man.  If she had, I'm sure an uncomfortable hush would have fallen over the room as she received her first spanking since the December poopy-pants incident (sorry, vicstu, I couldn't resist). 

The race went off, and various members of the party were screaming out names and numbers when a lone horse shot up the rail like he was propelled from a cannon.  No one knew who it was.  Heck, Tom Durkin didn't know who it was.  No one save one. 

"C'mon, number eight," squealed two-year-old Olivia Katherine Duckworth.

I couldn't have been prouder if she was beating her fist with a rolled-up Daily Racing Form.

And that, dear bloggers, is the story of the 135th Kentucky Derby. 


In the "never let the truth get in the way of a good story" vein, the media will proclaim Mine That Bird as a Cinderella tale, a $9,500 yearling that bounced around the bushes of New Mexico with no success.  They will forget to mention that he was Canada's champion two-year-old of 2008, and was purchased for mid six-figures prior to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.  Granted, it's still the equivalent of George Chuvalo plodding in from the Great White North to knock out Muhammad Ali, but you get my drift.  General Quarters is still the rags-to-riches tale of the 2009 Derby trail.


Some other thoughts from the weekend's action:

*Methinks Rachel Alexandra is a pretty good horse.

*Einstein didn't win pretty in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, but he got it done.  Perhaps we'll see him on dirt in the Stephen Foster.

*Somebody must have told Bribon that the Westchester was really an optional claimer. 

*Nice to see one of my favorites, Cosmonaut, return from serious injury to win the Fort Marcy. 

*Accredit is a different horse on wet tracks.

*Calvin Borel's weekend revolved around Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird, but he absolutely schooled Edgar Prado with his Borail-skimming ride on Miss Isella in the Louisville Distaff. 

*Give Laragh an easy lead and she'll make you pay. 


Here are the winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's stakes races:

*Kentucky Oaks (CD):  Rachel Alexandra (H. Wiggins/C. Borel) - 108
*Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (CD):  Einstein - Brz (H. Pitts/J. Leparoux) - 106
*Westchester (Bel):  Bribon (R. Ribaudo/A. Garcia) - 105
*Kentucky Derby (CD):  Mine That Bird (B. Wooley Jr./C. Borel) - 105
*Fort Marcy (Bel):  Cosmonaut (P. Serpe/J. Lezcano) - 103
*Panhandle (Mnr):  Trust Or Bust (P. McClelland/G. Almodovar) - 103
*Churchill Downs (CD):  Accredit (M. Maker/J. Leparoux) - 102

*Timeless Native (AP):  Coragil Cat (G. Geier/D. Sanchez) - 98
*Aegon Turf Sprint (CD):  Chamberlain Bridge (W. Calhoun/G. Gomez) - 97
*Humana Distaff (CD):  Informed Decision (J. Sheppard/J. Leparoux) - 96
*Louisville Distaff (CD):  Miss Isella (I. Wilkes/C. Borel) - 96
*Beaugay (Bel):  My Princess Jess (B. Tagg/C. Velasquez) - 96
*Alysheba (CD):  Bullsbay (H. Motion/J. Rose) - 95
*Senorita (Hol):  Mrs Kipling (N. Drysdale/D. Flores) - 94
*Wilshire (Hol):  Gorgeous Goose (M. Puype/C. Nakatani) - 93
*Tony Gatto Dream Big (Atl):  Hesa Big Star (H. Wolfendale/H. Vega) - 93
*Edgewood (CD):  Laragh (J. Terranova II/E. Prado) - 93
*Chris Thomas Turf Classic (Tam):  Dinner in Odem (P. Wasiluk Jr./P. Teator) - 91
*Tellike (EvD):  Flawless Gold (M. Chatters/N. Puello) - 90
*George Royal (Hst):  Seminole Brave (M. Snow/I. Mosqueira) - 90
*Golden Circle (PrM):  Slater's Peanuts (K. Smith/T. Doocy) - 90
*Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (CD):  Tizaqueena (M. Stidham/H. Theriot II) - 90

*Need for Speed (EVD):  Call Me Collect (K. Bourgeois/D. Dugas) - 89
*Double Delta (AP):  Afleet Deceit (S. Becker/C. Emigh) - 88
*Eight Belles (CD):  Four Gifts (S. Asmussen/S. Bridgmohan) - 88
*Federico Tesio (Pim):  Miner's Escape (N. Zito/L. Garcia) - 88
*American Turf (CD):  Orthodox (J. Glenney/J. Court) - 88
*Bouwerie (Bel):  Sapphire Sky (D. Donk/J. Velazquez) - 88
*Nassau County (Bel):  Flashing (T. Albertrani/J. Castellano) - 87
*Richard Radke Illinois Owners (AP):  Voy Por Uno Mas (M. Yanez/J. Alvarado) - 86
*Hasta La Vista (TuP):  Highland Games (L. Rollins/M. Hernandez) - 85
*Angenora (Tdn):  Pay the Man (M. Feliciano/R. Feliciano) - 84
*Naked Greed (Crc):  Prince Joshua (B. Rose/L. Colon) - 84
*Jack Cole (SRP):  Some Ghost (J. Alley/K. Tohill) - 83
*Queenston (WO):  El Brujo (M. Pierce/P. Husbands) - 81
*Snurb (Crc):  First Passage (M. Wolfson/J. Bridgmohan) - 80
*Desert Sky (TuP):  Star of Whitney (D. Sowers/R. Eikleberry) - 80
*Fury (WO):  Woodsmoke (M. Keogh/T. Pizarro) - 80

*Kentucky Juvenile (CD):  Aegean (W. Ward/R. Douglas) - 79
*Babst/Palacios Memorial (Beu):  Left On Base (D. Rowe/E. Paucar) - 78
*Al Swihart Memorial (Fon):  Miss Missile (C. Smith/B. Butler) - 78
*Silky Sullivan (GG):  Feisty Suances (D. Vienna/K. Kaenel) - 77

*ATBA Spring Sales (TuP):  Espresso Springs (J. Guerra/V. Guerra) - 64
*Alyssa (Beu):  Donamour (J. Woodard/Y. Yaranga) - 61

*Brighouse Belles (Hst):  Heaven On Hold (T. Taylor/F. Perez) - Not available
*Seattle (EmD):  Kruger Park (C. Moreno/J. Matias) - Not available

Here are the lifetime past performances for the highest and lowest Beyer Stakes performers of the week:

Download RachelDon


As many may know they owned the Eclipse Award winning champion 2 YO filly Stardom Bound whom I saw run often at Del Mar last year -- before they sold her to IEAH in November of 2008.  I usually check drf online daily and never remember seeing anything mentioned so I wanted to share the news -- though I may well have missed it if it was buried in a story.

Here's Steve Andersen's story on Mr. Cono's passing from the 4/9/09 DRF:



Wow, I thought this would be like 1995 but the track came up like it was 1994 and the result was more like 1993!
Any chance we could get those two Derby's PP's as well.

Here they are:

Download Derby 1993

Download Derby 1994


the boys run and lose to a gelding wouldn't you seriously consider running RA against this group? Calvin would have to make a choice. One good thing that might come from this is the Preakness and Belmont Stakes should have full fields for a change don't think this one will scare everybody off as has happened the last couple of years do you
Peter Vescovo

I don't think Borel will have to make a choice,  Rachel Alexandra's connections still would have to supplement her for a lot of money in order to start in the Preakness.  I'm guessing they won't. 

Besides Mine That Bird, horses looking at the Preakness include Big Drama, Charitable Man, Conservative, Friesan Fire, General Quarters, Join in the Dance, Miner's Escape, Mr. Fantasy, Musket Man, Papa Clem, Pioneerof the Nile, Sky Gate, Take the Points, and Terrain.

The biggest loser over the weekend could be Lone Star Park.  It's possible horses that were hoping to take the conservative route in this Saturday's Lone Star Derby will now look at the Preakness as an option.  Mine That Bird probably won't be scaring anyone away.


We witnessed history today.
If you go by the DRF chart, Mine that Bird ran his last quarter in 23 1/5, which nearly approximates Secretariat's come home time.
Dan, could you verify MTB's last quarter?

According to FormulatorWeb, Mine That Bird ran his final quarter in 24.00 flat. 


Hey Dan, who do like in the Preakness! :)
chicago gerry

Right now, I don't feel qualified to make picks of any sort.


Did anyone benefit from ranking Derby horses back in February?

No, but it's fun, and if it can enhance awareness of the sport, then it's okay by me.  I'll take Mission Impazible as my #1 on the 2010 Derby list, but be cautioned...it's still early.


Dan wrote the following, based largely on Beyer figures:
"#8 MINE THAT BIRD is simply too slow with a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 81.  He has never won on dirt, and is overmatched in this spot."
No one saw this coming, but you can thank those WORTHLESS Beyer Speed Figs for making you think MTB was simply too slow. Yet another example of Beyer's post race downward adjustments. 5-10 BSF points are routinely knocked off for whatever whim Beyer comes up with. Like Alan stated, MTB was a victim of track bias, although his best Beyer would have been 92 or 93.
"#2 MUSKET MAN looked a tired horse when switching back to his wrong lead in the waning strides of the Illinois Derby.  That should have been expected as he's bred to excel at shorter distances, but Musket Man has already outrun his pedigree.  He's a likeable colt, but probably a cut below the top contenders."
Really? Well, MM blew past the two Dubai contenders like they were standing still. Its the Dubai contengint, NOT MUSKET MAN, that proved to be a cut below the top 3-4 finishers here.
With the exception of MTB, MM was the only one of the front 10 horses that was making up substantial ground in the Derby stretch. As clearly indicated by the overhead cam view link above.
...Jay Privman called MTB a bottom feeder and garbage

I went back to the Form after the race, and blotted out every horse's Beyer Speed Figures.  I then blotted the speed rating and variant, and I came up with this conclusion about Mine That Bird. 

"Mine That Bird is simply too slow.  He has never won on dirt, and is overmatched in this spot."

Musket Man lost three lengths to the winner from the stretch call to the wire, and finished his last quarter in 25.70 (last half-mile in 51.10).  Instead of making up substantial ground, it's probably better put that he lost less ground to the winner than the other horses in the field. 

I doubt that Mr. Privman made those statements, but I would love to see the quote if you could find it.


Congrats to Turnbackthealarm for "winning' the HandiGambling contest.  She gets to make the selection for Wednesday's race.


What an intriguing weekend!

Take care,


Katieattherail More than 1 year ago
Good morning, all... Hi Jeanne, a belated welcome for me, hanging by the rail. If you want the uber-tutorial to handicapping, look no further than www.thoroughbredink.com from our very own Uncle Steve. It will explain what's between a Maiden *and a claimer, an MC is really down there* and a GR 1 like the Derby. Thanks for the pointer about Jon C. riding 'em into the winner's circle ever since he listened to Mrs. C. about returning to the Blue Grass state! Good luck to all, Katieattherail
Jeanne More than 1 year ago
Katie and Dan, Thank you both for the class information!! Jeanne
Blue Horseshoe More than 1 year ago
Andybeyerforpresident, Frankly, I think the BSF assignment for the KY Derby is completely meaningless, a mere placeholder in the past performance lines for the participants... It's a sloppy track and there was no form to test against... I do agree with those that have suggested that if there was no MTB, then the exciting 3-way finish would have earned a figure of at least 100... It looks to me like they made a subjective judgement call which basically drew upon prior figures for the runner-ups and then solved forward for the winner... On this type of surface with minimal prior form, anything is a guess and this one seems reasonable enough for placeholder status in the PP lines... Regardless of the figure assignments for this race, they would have no predictive quality for races over a fast dirt surface so what does it really matter anyway???
Calvin L. Carter More than 1 year ago
Blue Horseshoe, That post will be recorded in my book as one of the most memorable FormBlog posts. Are you on Facebook? I am a Facebook member and have a lot of friends from the FormBlog as well as other friends from the horse racing industry. The next time that you are in Louisville, I would like to meet you. I'll give LarryK a call and maybe we can meet with Ray Manley - another FormBlogger that I would like to meet.
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
vicstu; Dude...your killing me here man...everytime you go into a post about Musket Man or Hard Spun, I think that it is a post that I have written. Sometimes I look in the mirror, and hope I don't see you (no offense!). And yes, you are correct...Jim Rome is the only sports-talk guy who talks about horse racing. This publicity is immense, and should not be understated. Like him or not (I do), he is actually a serious voice for this great game. He is an owner. He is fan. Truth be tod, he now just happens to be afan who is an owner, and it didn't start that way. He influence is large, and the possibilities are large as well. He reaches millions, and I swear that he is converting many, many sports fans. When he finished his Friday interview with Bily Koch, he lamented that only four people cared about what they had just talked about, and I was swerving in-and-out of traffic screaming "no...no...lots of people care".... I can only hope. late
Alan More than 1 year ago
TBTA, If you're still looking for a HandiGambling race, I gotta head scratcher: CD9, the last leg of Wednesday's P6. I just spent about an hour trying to figure it out and will likely go 3-4 deep on my "minnow" ticket (which is saying something!)
andybeyerforpresident More than 1 year ago
I am a huge Andy Beyer fan. I think he is the last honest voice in racing (along with Randy Moss), and he revized handicapping as we know it. However, can someone please explain in plain English how Smarty Jones ran a 2:04-1/5 in the slop under similar track conditions and temp. and received a 107 BSF? Lion Heart runs it in 2:04-3/5, and gets a 103 BSF? Now we have Mine That Bird run it in 2:02-3/5 seconds and get a 105 BSF? Say what? Go back and check the times of the races before and after the 2004 Derby. Something is not right here. Track conditions on a sealed track on the same surface do not change by that dramatic amount, even several years later! I (sadly) suspect that those suggesting that the low BSF was given to justify the prior BSFs of the 2nd and 3rd place horses are correct. There is no rational explanation. Either the variant is way off, or Andy is beginning with a 95 BSF in mind and working backwards towards a Derby BSF. This is the same exact surface that Smarty Jones won over. 2:02 and change is an exceptional time for a wet, sealed track. It is faster than either Sunday Silence or Smarty Jones won the Derby in. I agree most of the others were laboring in the stretch, but the fractions were solid and the track was tiring out there... Someone make some sense of this...all the speed fig guys and gals say this proves the BSFs for POTN and MM were right. To me, it proves nothing other than the BSF in the Derby was set to prior avg. BSFs for POTN and MM-and to look correct on BSFs on synthetics post hoc. Time-wise, MTB ran this race 8 lengths FASTER than Smarty Jones did.
C More than 1 year ago
Blue, I agree with you. MTB did not seem to hit the quarter pole 2 full seconds later and, at that point, was probably around 6 1/2 lengths behind. vicstu, I suppose anything could've happened. I really don't know. I'm going to resist the temptation to respond to the idea of Hard Spun running on turf in Europe... he's been retired for a while now, which is why I'm trying my best to hold back on that one.
Annie More than 1 year ago
Anyone think little Olivia is hooked for life. LOL! In a few years she'll be like me at that age, with my box of little plastic horse figures, all colors and breeds. Ah yes, I used to race them against one another. Didn't know anything yet about betting. :) Annie
Jeff More than 1 year ago
vicstu - I almost died reading this: "that is Mine that Bird closing speed." Would you have ever thought in a milion years (prior to Saturday) that you would write such a thing in your life? "The only question is, if BD and MM both run in the Preakness, does Coa stay on MM, and which jockey would best ride BD?" That's not the only question. The only question worthy of discussion (with just a hint of sarcasm) is which one would you pick?