02/11/2013 9:51AM

Point of Entry, Graydar, and the Kentucky Derby Future Wager

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A few weekend thoughts:

I understand why people might say that, given the way the race unfolded, Animal Kingdom was best in finishing second to Point of Entry in Saturday’s Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. I just don’t agree with it. At all.

Yes, as a deep closer, Animal Kingdom was compromised Saturday by slow early fractions of 25.07 and 50.52. But to say Point of Entry had a huge advantage because he was able to prompt the pace ignores a fact that was obvious before the race: Point of Entry is a far more versatile horse. He can close from downtown when necessary, as he demonstrated in his near miss in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last fall, a race in which he was much the best. But Point of Entry can also be right with a pace if circumstances require, as was the case Saturday. Animal Kingdom has yet to show he can be more than one dimensional in top company. That is a weakness, not an excuse card that can be played anytime his fans want.

Maybe Animal Kingdom moved a little too aggressively in the initial stages of a third quarter mile Saturday that went in 22.72 to join the leaders. But frankly, I didn’t have a big problem with the strategy. Jockey Joel Rosario on Animal Kingdom was being proactive instead of reactive. He was trying to win, and as a rider who has done nothing but impress since moving east last year, I think it’s silly to question his decision. But what is being forgotten here is Point of Entry absorbed Animal Kingdom’s attempt at a knockout blow. Point of Entry responded immediately when the pace suddenly heated up and maintained his position with the leaders.

Moreover, Point of Entry was three wide on the far turn while Animal Kingdom saved every inch of ground. That was significant ground loss for Point of Entry, a notable disadvantage. So was the nine furlong distance of the Gulfstream Park Turf, which seemed a far better fit for Animal Kingdom than it did for Point of Entry, who is most effective in races at 11 or 12 furlongs, which we all know is really a completely different game. Hey, Animal Kingdom had a narrow lead in upper stretch. He had no excuse not to win from that point. Instead, Point of Entry overtook him in the final furlong and won going away.

The Gulfstream Park Turf was a terrific, enormously entertaining race. But the best horse was without question the winner. To me, it’s not even a debate.

I tip my hat to Graydar, winner of Saturday’s ostensible feature at Gulfstream, the Donn Handicap. Graydar was making only his fourth career start. It was his first attempt around two turns, and not only was the Donn his first Grade 1 attempt, it was his first stakes start of any kind. And Graydar ran hard every step of the way, setting a strong pace near the inside and pretty much spread-eagling the field at the finish.

However, there are a couple of nagging things that remain about Graydar that I would like to see him address before I put him up alongside Fort Larned and Wise Dan in the handicap division. One is obvious. Graydar is now 3 for 4, and all three of those victories came at Gulfstream. His only loss, a blah third, came at Belmont, his only career start that wasn’t at Gulfstream. So while I don’t really believe Graydar can’t win big at another track, I still would like to see him do it.

The other thing is the way the main track at Gulfstream seemed to play as the day went on Saturday. Specifically, the inside seemed to be live. Park City won the fifth with a rail rally, Saint Vigeur was inside speed in the sixth and won, and Fort Loudon in the ninth race (the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship) was pinned down inside in a wicked three horse speed duel, and had every right to chuck it. Yet he prevailed. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Graydar’s Donn score was bias-aided, but I suspect it was with the flow of the track.

Pool 1 of the 2013 Kentucky Derby Future Wager concluded Sunday evening and as usual, the “All Other” option closed the favorite at 8-5. Without any significant 3-year-old stakes during this betting period, Sunday wound up a day for value shopping. Between the close of betting Saturday night and the closing of betting on Pool 1 Sunday, the field drifted from 7-5 to 8-5, Verrazano drifted from 9-1 to 11-1 (but remained the favored individual betting interest), Revolutionary drifted from 10-1 to 13-1, and Shanghai Bobby drifted from 11-1 to 14-1. That left a lot of room for the odds on many other individual betting interests to drop, and many did. Among the more notable ones were Flashback, who fell from 15-1 to 12-1 (that was a pure market correction), Itsmyluckyday, who received steady support going from 14-1 to 13-1, and Normandy Invasion, who fell from 19-1 to 15-1.

Now, I like Normandy Invasion (as a prospect with lots of potential, not at 15-1 in the Derby at this point in time). But I found it interesting that the horse who nosed Normandy Invasion in the Remsen, Overanalyze, was there to be had at 33-1. Delhomme, who finished less than a length behind Overanalyze and Normandy Invasion when third in the Remsen, closed at 55-1. And that was only after Delhomme dropped 29 odds points Sunday, more than anyone else.

Leslie Burke Fernandes More than 1 year ago
normandy invasion dropped the most out of any horse over the weekend. on friday he was 68-1 and close on sunday at 15-1
Alex More than 1 year ago
Graydar is a joke, a Pletcher Gulfstream specialist. When he goes wrong physically very soon everyone will just blame the fast that his sire produces fragile horses.
Jay Goldtrap More than 1 year ago
lol
Jeff Brown More than 1 year ago
not in his class Bruce? as i recall, they both got beat in the breeders and if AK had less trouble, he would have beat Wise Dan. and AK can surely win at a longer distance. its unfortunate they aren't keeping him in the US for 2013, so he could put POE in his place as the races get longer and more meaningful.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
AK was never going to beat POE. Point of Entry is a special horse, who is PROVEN at the distance. AK is not in his class.
Jeff Brown More than 1 year ago
Point Of Entry is a very special horse, but AK would have beat him handily. Rosario went directly contrary to AK's running style when he made that ridiculous pre-mature move. Truly the worst move I have ever seen a rider make in a big race.
Ron Gillaspie More than 1 year ago
As far as the Derby goes and the results of Pool 1. It's very unlikely that the eventual winner is not tucked somewhere into the field horses at 8-5 odds, so betting the pool 1 is probably a "wing and a prayer" situation. A horse you might want to watch and consider is currently at Oakland Park by the name of Proud Strike. The trainer is Asmussen which is no stranger to the winner's circle. If the horse earns his way into Pool 2 or Pool 3 or maybe the starting gate in Kentucky, you better beware. His odds so far are 8-5 because of the field in Pool 1 but on race day, he will be so much better. He is bred from my home state of Virginia and the last time a Virginia bred won the Kentucky Derby, it was Secretariat.
billp More than 1 year ago
Maybe he did what he needed to do to get ready for Dubai?? Run him hard like that and he gets something more out of the race to move forward!! Remember it was a prep and he had 2 races in a year!
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Please do not buy into the prep BS. AK is not ready for first level races. They are just getting him ready to sell.
Terri Zeitz More than 1 year ago
I think he has been sold already. He is going to stand at stud in Australia.
Cary Stanford More than 1 year ago
Animal kingdom is fast becoming one of the most overrated horses of late.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
You are 100% correct!!!
russell More than 1 year ago
I don't agree. He is a talented horse. A lot better than most Derby winners. He got beat by multiple Gr 1 winners in Wise Dan and P.O.E. No shame in that.
Ron Gillaspie More than 1 year ago
Rosario and John V. are both excellent riders. John V made the call to ride POI and he won the race. Simple situation!!! Also, POI apparently is going to stay home, unlike AK so this race was more of a race to win. AK wouldn't have minded winning if you handed the purse over easily but his connections have a 10 meg. race in mind. They might have met again but AK has only one more race in his future. The race Sunday was a two horse race and they finished one-two. What else could you ask for from the riders, horses or connections??? Wished every race came down to the best two horses!!!!
Terri Zeitz More than 1 year ago
Yes, I agree, they are terrific riders. But Johnny V is the most brilliant tractical rider on the circuit today. And don't forget his mentor and handler, Angel Cordero, Jr. Johnny is a fast thinker and has learned from the best.
Ronald Dodgen More than 1 year ago
I totally agree with Watchmaker and could not have said it better. Think of it like this if Rosario had waited till the top of the lane to make his move he still gets smoked. The best horses have the longer runs Point of Entry last 5 furlongs in 56.48 seconds!!!. That's after running 4 furlongs bro.!!!