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.

***

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.

***

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.

***

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

Take care,

Dan

Virginia Streeter More than 1 year ago
Sick abt the loss of Eight Bells!!! How awful to be psyched up for the race only to watch Eight Bells run her heart out to end up breaking both front legs and die on the track. And NO mention of it from the supposed "fans" of hose racing. They only care about the money, not the wellfare of the animals and that is shameful!!!! May they all go straight to hell.
chicago gerry More than 1 year ago
Calvin, Thanks for the weather forecast. I am thinking New Albany is right across from Louisville. In regard to kickback, it is probably a minor issue in some ways (but think of all the other minutia (sp) and nit-picking a handicapper is exposed to), but, at a minimum, it is going to interesting to see how the colts, coming off synthetic surfaces, are going to handle it. Young runners back up when exposed to kickback because they don't like it, or they don't know what to make of it. At this point, what was a minor issue,becomes a major issue in terms the outcome of a race. Trainers try to have them experience kickback beforehand. Sometimes it doesn't seeem to help, because it takes the heat of competition to learn not to be so intimidated. It should be fun to watch. If I got it right, Smooth Air is out. There goes one of my Future Bets down the drain. I will be looking for your selections toward the end of next week. Good luck.
chicago gerry More than 1 year ago
Dan, I was able to find the chart in the article I was reading regarding Doxa and Fritzeete (sp). The only two colts that have a connection to one of these two dams, if you believe the article, are Anal Nakal and the Semi-Truck. I thought it was interesting about the similar backgrounds of BBJ and Big Truck. While the distance might be somewhat problematic for Big Truck, I have him in the Futures Pool, and will be using all the BG no shows, somewhere on the bottom of some ticket. Dan, Eight Belles background does indeed look pretty nice. I think she has accomplished as much as many of her male counterparts, and I would really like to see her run in in KD 134. Also, see that her colors are white and red. ----------------------------- Other, Danny B, AlHattab, and Alan I enjoyed reading your handicapping procedures sent to Steve T the other day. Also, I was wondering if some of the contributions such as handicapping 'angles' were being sent directly to Steve T., or just written up in the formblog. The reason I ask, is because I have a few handicapping angles that I could throw in. ___________________________ Lenny, Your Quirnin (sp) spreadsheet was terrific. __________________________ Laura, I got a lot out of your confirmation post the other day. The examples of Empire Maker and Secretariat and a long shoulder was great. I read where Asmussen referred to Pyro's "big shoulders" recently. I didn't take that to mean 'long shouldered' but I am going to look at him closely next time I see him. Also, I had never seen a 'gait analysis' before, so your link to that was suprising, enlightening, and appreciated. ______________________________ Other, I am looking for white and red and gold and red amongst the Derby contenders; also was reading a little Jung. I was thinking that, part of my dream regarding two jockeys on the California colts, was telling me that kickback could be a factor in regards to them. I am still reviewing the rest of it, while at the same time looking into the position of the stars and birthdays for the KD contenders.
Calvin Carter More than 1 year ago
Laura, Great post on A to the Croft! I'm looking forward to further excellent analysis of the Kentucky Oaks fillies. Steve T., Dan, Another great Past Champions retrospective. Thanks so much! vicstu, svhill. A while back we had hanging chads now we have the THG and FHBPA. What's going to happen with this mess? http://news.bloodhorse.com/viewstory.asp?id=44801
cayman01 More than 1 year ago
Dan, How many horses in the last 25 years have hit the board in the Derby off a one week layoff? How about off a turf prep? I know that Don't Get Mad came in 4th a couple years ago, and in the distant history of the Derby it was a regular occurence. Nowadays it seems pretty unheard of. The reason I ask is there is a race we've all overlooked and that's the Grade 3 $400k Calder Derby this weekend. Can Wise Answer rise from the ashes like the Phoenix and punch his ticket? Yes, I know it's doubtful, but the fact is the winner of this race has a ticket to the Derby if they want it. And yes, I know it's a turf race, but that doesn't matter and several of the entrants only have dirt form. The 2008 Derby might just have one more strange twist before it's all over.
Steve T More than 1 year ago
Afi, You win the kewpie doll! That is exactly what Alan and I have been saying. The interesting exercise would be to evaluate all of the Beyers for the horses that cam in behind the winner, which I believe will be significantly (and artificially) higher than they should be. Also we need to look at the finishing length of the field, where I think the field is more compact than in a dirt race (from first to last place). Anyway we are dedicated to getting to the bottom of this. Laura, Send me an e-mail at wildcat@wirelessmail and then go on to the site and register (www.thoroughbredink.com). I will set you up with your own blog and walk you through the process and tools (not hard at all). Steve
Johnny Z More than 1 year ago
BigEasyBigChok, If I owned Eight Belles and thought she was talented enough win the Derby, and or hit the board I would Enter her. If I was being honest with myself on that decision I would run her regardless of her post draw. With that said, I feel post postion could possibly effect some of wagers on May 3rd. Kind of double talk, but a horse either belongs or, they don't
Alan More than 1 year ago
Dan, Pride does look like a good pick in KEE1 today (of course, as usual that's the "Kiss of Death"!) The 10sec bullet you mentioned at OBSFEB08 translated into a Gr1 BF = 79 (10-over PAR, highest at sale) and SL 24.97 (+1.75 above avgSL.) Pletcher is 7-3-3-0 with a $3.49 ROI for baby 4.5f KEE races this meeting! When's the last time you got such a nice win ROI on Pletcher?.....certainly NOT in the Kentucky Derby!! :-) Speaking of the Derby, how the h*** are they doing this Calder Derby - Kentucky Derby double?? Are they really using Pool3 of the Derby as the 2nd leg (I guess War Pass is a scratch?) I won't worry too much since I can't bet on it anyway... Uncle Steve and Afi, To prove "our" (now you're in this too...Afi) theory, we need the LOSERS' BOOK - the Beyers for the last place horses!!! Working on my minnow KEE P6 now in between taking apart bookcases (we must de-clutter MORE according to our agent!) Will chalk rule?? GOOD LUCK TODAY!!!
BigEasyBig Chok More than 1 year ago
Johnnyz, Thanks for the response to my question on eight bells. Also agree with the sentiment that cross entering the filly is legally within the rules but somewhat unfair to others who would definitely commit to Derby. Having said that, what would you do if you were the owner of eight bells? You have an opportunity to run in the Kentucky Derby with a horse that seems to fit numbers wise and run against a group that has not consistently impressed anyone other than possibly 1 race from BB. I'm thinking I would do the same and if a bad post, run in Oaks rather than knock out my filly for the rest of the year. If eight bells is your horse what do you do? BigEasyBigChok
Steve T More than 1 year ago
Laura, Sorry I didn't give you the whole e-mail address, it is wildcat@wirelessmail.us (not .com)