04/24/2008 4:33PM

Lottsa Derby talk, Count Fleet (Steve T.)

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Steve T. was kind enough to send in this piece on Count Fleet:

The Count

It was May 1943, and World War II was raging full blast on two fronts. It finally looked like the tide was turning, but there was an awareness that there were  many bloody battles yet to come. At home, people looked for anything good and decent; they found it in a three year old colt by the name of Count Fleet.

Count Fleet was born March 24, 1940 at Stoner Creek Stud Farm in Paris, Kentucky, the son of the 1928 Kentucky Derby Winner, Reigh Count and the Haste mare Quickly (great name for a dam!). Owned by the wife of John D. Hertz (yes that Hertz), he did not exactly make a great initial impression. Mr. Hertz was less than taken with the brown colt and wanted to sell him straight off, until his “go to” jockey Johnny Longden begged him to keep the colt.

TWO YEAR OLD SEASON

His two year old season did not start off with a bang, finishing second in his first start on June 1, 1942 on the Widener straight course at Belmont Park. A second start at Belmont resulted in the same result, another second. He broke his maiden in his third start at Aqueduct. He ran three more times at Aqueduct, winning an allowance, finishing second in the East View Stakes, and then winning the Wakefield Stakes.

Trainer Don Cameron took Count Fleet to Washington Park in Illinois. His first race was an overnight that he won easily, then he just missed winning the Washington Park Futurity by a neck. Shipping back to Aqueduct, he won an overnight then went on to Belmont Park winning a straight course race looking to the Futurity Stakes in October.

While preparing for the Futurity, his last work was a scorching 1:08/1 six furlongs, Cameron almost had a stroke, his up and coming colt had just run a 1:08/1 six furlong work four days before the Futurity. He had left his speed on the training track and finished third in the Futurity, the worst finish of his career. But the talented colt would never lose again. His next ten starts would stamp him as one of the greatest race horses ever.

One week after losing the Futurity, he exploded in the Champagne, cruising to a six length victory in 1:34/4 breaking a 20 year old track record. His record for a mile stood until Seattle Slew ran a 1:34/2 in the 1976 edition. After his dominant Champagne, the country was talking about the “Count”. He won an allowance at Jamaica and then was shipped to Maryland for the Pimlico Futurity. He was matched against a colt that had beaten him early in his two year old season, Occupation. The “Count” was the second choice of the bettors, the last time he would not be the favorite in a race. There were only three entrants in what was one of the highest dollar preps for two year olds.

Count Fleet and Occupation both went to the front, and stayed head and head until they hit the ¾ mark, then The Count started pulling away hitting the wire 5 lengths in front in 1:43/3, equaling the track record. There was no longer a question about who the best two year old in the country was, it was Count Fleet. He finished up his two year old season with a 30 length victory in the Walden Stakes, where he went off at 1/10. He had run 15 times as a two year old, and had become a dominant force. What would his three year old season bring?

THREE YEAR OLD SEASON

The first target was the Wood Memorial, then run at Jamaica. The Count was all business and becoming a handful. Mindful of the earlier disastrous work, Cameron decided to enter the Count in the St James, a race on the Tuesday before the Wood Memorial. The press bemoaned the Count passing the Wood. Cameron responded “We’re not passing up the Wood, the horse needs some work”. The track was a muddy disaster, deep and slow. But no matter he coasted to an easy victory. Four days later he was at the gate on a cold afternoon to meet his seven competitors in the Wood. Going off at 1 to 4 he ran the first mile in 1:36/2, a full two seconds faster than the track record. Longden eased his to the wire in 1:43, missing the track record by 2/5. The press questioned why they had not gone for the track record. The answer from both Cameron and Longden was “Why?”.

It was Derby time, and the whole country knew it was a one horse race, and the Count didn’t disappoint, winning by a geared down three lengths. Again the press questioned why they didn’t go for the record. In the Preakness he won by eight after Longden let up on him with over a furlong to go. Now the press was at full volume, wanting the horse to “go for it”. Hertz, Cameron and Longden were in agreement, they would finally turn him loose in the Belmont. But Count Fleet was becoming restless and full of himself. They couldn’t run him between the Preakness and Belmont, could they? Remember that in 1943 the Preakness was ONE WEEK after the Derby. Count Fleet had run in the St James, the Wood, the Derby, and the Preakness in the last month.

Can’t just have the horse sit in the barn for four weeks (modern trainers pay attention), so between the Preakness and the Belmont they entered him in the Withers. He went off at 1/20 and cruised through the mud to win by five lengths in 1:36. The record holder for the Withers? That would be Man ‘O War at 1:35/4.

By the day of the Belmont only two opponents remained and neither had the class to put any pressure on them. Cameron explained to the press that they would turn him loose, but without someone to run against, it would be more difficult than they thought. As usual he came away from the gate like a shot, but this time he was being ridden, in the blink of an eye he was ahead by 5, then 10, then 15, by the top of the stretch it was 20. He crossed the line 25 lengths ahead, a record that would stand for 30 years until some big red colt broke it.

Within hours after the Belmont the trainer saw that there was a problem with a hind leg – yet he told the press that he would be good to go by the Fourth of July. He never raced again. Count Fleet had a successful career at stud, at Stoner Creek of course and died in 1973, the same year that Secretariat broke his record. An incredible record for any horse, much less a horse who did it in a shortened one year career.

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I just got back from the track.  A 14 year old just won the 3rd race here at Sunray Park.  Yes 14!!!  Anyone know if thats a record? 14 year old winning a race
I see you had the chance to see Elusive Schemes in person.  He's the next horse that I'm gonna try to claim if I ever get the chance.  How did he look in person?  Was he washy in the paddock?Anyway, hope everyone has a great Sunday.
Sam

I believe the magic number is 18. Five horses have won races at that age with the latest being Sonny Somers over the jumps in 1980. 
Elusive Schemes was well behaved in the paddock.  He wasn't washed out, but he didn't look like a million bucks...like you would expect from a Darley horse.  He disappointed yet again in his synthetic debut, finished sixth with a 64 Beyer.

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Good Morning-
Dan, a quick question: How much do you normally invest in a pick 4? Also, I know a lot of handicappers use "A, B, tickets etc. but I just can't bring myself to do it. (If I had all 4 horses but not on the same ticket it would irritate me too much, and while I like to make money like everyone else, my primary reason for playing the horses is enjoyment)
Stephen Taylor

I will be very aggressive if I can find two vulnerable favorites in a sequence.  In this case, I thought that Morakami  (7-5) and Jazzy (9-5) would be overbet so I played several tickets (A, B, C) totaling a bit more than $100 (remember that it's a 50 cent bet at Keeneland).  The Pick 4 paid $1,072.70 for 50 cents, and if Samba Rooster held on for me, it would have returned much, much more. 
The amount invested obviously depends on the circumstances, but for me, I'll really try to pound it if there are some beatable underlays in at least two of the races.

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Getting Derby Fever... Don't have any ties with the connections of The Colonel.. but i do have a vested monetary interest to the tune of 200 at 19-1 in the first future. I feel like an expecting father waiting these 2 weeks, you never know what can happen,look at War Pass. I am getting to a point here, any suggestions on how to approach wagering on the Derby, I really hate hedging.Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
John D. Srongosky

If you don't want to hedge and still love Colonel John, then load up on the exotics as he's going to get bet on the First Saturday in May (I'm guessing second choice in the win wagering).  Play him in exactas, trifectas, etc., and go for the score although I would put a couple of bets in with him in the second or third slot...just in case.

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Dan, enjoyed the PP's earlier this year when we looked at all the foals of Vue, War Pass's Momma good insight, can se see Big Browns mama foals pp's.
CraigJ

Not much to go, but here they are:

Download 04240815124156265.PDF

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I did get home in time to put a minnow SA P6 together and was knocked out right away (my single in SA6 came in 2nd) by Iggy Puglisi!!  Dan, when is the last time he won a race??
Alan

Puglisi's prior win came on March 27, 2005 at Bay Meadows aboard Blushing Ciel.

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Did anyone see the Vindication firster Light Sentence and Jeremy Rose breaking his maiden at Delaware Park on Sunday?  He showed a professionalism in deep stretch when angled out and surged for the win.  Anybody know anything about this horse?
PP

Light Sentence has a fantastic pedigree.  His dam, Lite Light, won the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, Las Virgenes, Santa Anita Oaks, and Fantasy Stakes, and has already foaled Nite Light, a three-time stakes winner for Todd Pletcher.  An Edward Evans homebred trained by Tony Dutrow, Light Sentence earned a 74 Beyer Speed Figure for his debut victory at Delaware.

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any links to derby graded earnings thanks.
john

http://www.drf.com/tc/kentuckyderby/2008/DerbyEarnings.jsp

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Dan,
Here is a question for you:
If Behindatthebar's BSF's were 91-94-96-90 vice the 84-87-89-83, would it have influenced your picks in the Lexington?? Honestly. And if the numbers influenced you, what do they do to John Q. Public?...
Steve T

In all honesty, I would have liked Behindatthebar much better if his numbers were higher.  My handicapping process begins with the Beyers.  They are a starting point for me where I can easily eliminate the "slow" runners, and then concentrate on the "contenders."  Now that I've narrowed down the field, I can move on to the good stuff:  trip, pace, distance, trainer intent, workouts, pedigree.  Hopefully, the third or fourth or fifth "fastest" horse in the race stands out on one or more of these criteria because it is impossible to get a price on the high Beyer runner.
If I had my way, the Beyers that are either projected or based on limited data (synthetics) should be marked with either an asterisk or a P (Projected) or a + (which means could be at least five points higher).  Timeform uses similar symbols when their figuremakers are confused.

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To the "Blue Boxers", you know who you are and to the King of the "Blue Boxers" Dan, what a great forum, long time ,first time.
Can someone please explain  why I could not wager on Calder today (ha ha why would ya)@twinspires, they own the #@&* track, just drives me crazy all the RED @#^%$ TAPE.
sorry for the rant.
All the Best
Cheers
PR

Welcome aboard!  Check out this piece from Matt Hegarty:

http://www.drf.com/drfNewsArticle.do?NID=93910&subs=0&arc=1

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...I totally just rambled so forgive me, but just curious what is the highest route figure ever given on poly or syn for that matter? Tiago?
Pru

I believe Heatseeker's 110 in this year's Big 'Cap was the biggest route Beyer ever on synthetics.

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Can we get PPs for Eight Belles in case she runs in the Derby? She should probably be listed as contenders on Watchmaker's page this year. Thanks.
Lane

Here they are:

Download EightBelles.pdf

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Dan,
Do you have the past performances for Bob Black Jack's sire Stormy Jack?  I can find information on Bertrando and Skywalker but not on Stormy Jack.
Thanks.
Calvin Carter

Here they are:

Download StormyJack.pdf

Stormy Jack is a half brother to multiple stakes-placed Kinky Kinky (by Prized, 18-5-3-3, $261,858), and is a full to juvenile stakes-placed sprinter Tit for Tat (4-1-1-0, $34,000).  There isn't a lot of blacktype in his immediate female family, but he was a fast Cal-bred.

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Dan,
Colonel John has two full siblings, Mr. Hot Stuff (2006) and Kayce Ace (2007). Who in your estimation were the best two full siblings of all time? Intercontinental and Banks Hill?
Steve T

Personal Ensign and Personal Flag were a pretty nice 1-2 punch.  How about Tiznow and Budroyale?  With Intercontinental, you could go with Banks Hill or Dansili or Cacique or Champs Elysees.  Hasili is such a wonderful broodmare. 
Mineshaft and Tomisue's Delight (or Rock Slide)?  On a lesser scale, there's Unbridled and Cahill Road.  I'm sure I'm missing several good ones.

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For anybody: am I correct that a horse that is currently qualified for the Derby may drop out if it pulls a post that stinks on Wednesday? That would allow another on "the waiting list" to move up, correct?  I am truly hoping for DoC, my original crush, to somehow show up in the gate on May 3.
Katieattherail

Unfortunately, there isn't an also-eligible list for the Derby.  Once the field is set at twenty, there will not be any additional entries even if there are scratches due to post, injury, etc.

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Lots more comments to address tomorrow as well as some stakes opinions.

Take care,

Dan