05/07/2014 2:58PM

Unstoppable Untapable

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The best 3-year-old in the country will not compete in next Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Old Hilltop.

CALIFORNIA CHROME deserves all of the accolades accorded to a deserving and popular Kentucky Derby hero, but it was UNTAPABLE that stole the show last week under the fabled Twin Spires.

The 3-year-old filly, mired in the far outside post for her first attempt at nine furlongs in last Friday's Kentucky Oaks, never looked like a loser. Although lathered up a bit on her neck heading to the gate, she broke sweetly under Rosie Napravnik and never gave up too much ground, racing three wide within striking range of the leaders. After chasing moderate-to-slow fractions of 23.67, 47.80 and 1:12.24, Napravnik let Untapable run and the filly swept to the lead on the far turn with a three-wide burst. She stayed straight and strong in the stretch, finishing her final three furlongs in 36.34 with a last eighth in 12.52. Untapable completed the nine furlongs in 1:48.68 and received a 107 Beyer Speed Figure. It was the second-fastest Kentucky Oaks in history (Bird Town holds the nine-furlong stakes mark with a 1:48.64 in 2003) and the winning Beyer is tied for the second-highest since BSF's were first published by Daily Racing Form for the Oaks in 1990 (Rachel Alexandra's 108 in 2009 is the best).

"She came out of the paddock a little hot," Napravnik told Churchill track publicity after the Oaks. "But she really calmed down when she got on the track and there was a lot more space and less people. I wasn't worried about the post like some people were. We got into a great position. She runs her best when she can get into a great stride and she relaxes so nicely. She has grown up and she is maturing. She is magnificent."

There was a gate scratch in the Oaks as outsider EMPRESS OF MIDWAY flipped in the starting stalls. That added to the pressure felt by Untapable's trainer, Steve Asmussen. "The anxiety level once they backed them out and reloaded them took it to a whole new level but once she was away smoothly it was all good from there," Asmussen told Churchill track publicity. After the bad race in the Breeders' Cup I think the filly got back on track, ran a little bit better in the Starlet, but once we moved her to New Orleans, I thought the filly grew up a lot, filled out considerably."

Untapable has now won her last three races by a combined 21 3/4 lengths with Beyers of 100, 106 and 107. Like California Chrome, she boasts wonderful positional speed as well as the ability to break races open on the final turn.

Whether the reluctance to try Untapable in the Preakness is due to not wanting to rush her back in two weeks, as has been mentioned by the connections, or if it concerns the scorching PETA scandal that torched Asmussen's reputation, is irrelevant. She has proven to be a special filly this year and one that would certainly contend if she were to run in the Preakness.

Instead, the connections mentioned the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at one mile on the Belmont Stakes undercard, or the Grade 1 Mother Goose at 1 1/16 miles at Belmont on June 28 as alternative next options.

*California Chrome is a very good horse - he has to be to defy "The Illman Curse" as well as win five races in a row between seven furlongs and 1 1/4 miles. He proved himself prior to the Derby with blowout victories in both the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby, is the blue-collar poster boy the great game hoped for after the nuclear PETA/Asmussen fallout and, with the unlikely appearance of Untapable in the Preakness, is way the horse to beat once again in Baltimore thirteen days from now.

I like just about everything about the colt. His excellent tactical ability allows his rider, the shrewd veteran Victor Espinoza, to place him anywhere he wants. If the speed doesn't materialize, as it didn't in the Derby, California Chrome can stick like velcro to the pacesetters. If the pace is faster, he can still stay close without the additional stress sapping his stretch kick. He can win races on the final turn, as he did in the Derby, and play catch-me-if-you-can when it counts the most.

As I said, I'm a California Chrome fan, but the "what ifs" keep buzzing around my head, especially with some folks talking about this being the year that we finally get that elusive Triple Crown winner, the sport's first since 1978. Perhaps I'm just becoming an old curmudgeon, but I wonder how the Derby would have played out if Shared Belief didn't go down with injury?  How about Cairo Prince? Honor Code?  New Year's Day? Constitution? The 2014 Triple Crown Trail is littered with the battered bodies of promising sophomore colts that didn't get anywhere near the hallowed Twin Spires. How would they have fared against California Chrome? Do we know how good the Derby winner really is?  Very, very good? Very good? Pretty good? Could he have handled Untapable if the filly ran in the big one? I just wonder how history will wind up reviewing the 2014 Triple Crown series. Did an unstoppable superstar win the Derby? Or, did a very good colt benefit from a rash of injuries to other top horses? 

The fact remains. A deserving horse won the Kentucky Derby and we should enjoy the ride he takes us on over the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

*A remarkable streak finally came to an end as WISE DAN, following 15 consecutive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, put up a 94 in winning the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the Derby undercard. Somehow, I have a feeling that the connections won't mind as Wise Dan won for the 21st time from 29 races and his earnings crept closer to the $7,000,000 mark. But, one must wonder if Wise Dan is slowing down somewhat at the ripe old age of seven. His number decreased for the fourth consecutive race.

Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (4/28/14 - 5/4/14):

1. CENTRAL BANKER - 107 - Churchill Downs Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Churchill
1. UNTAPABLE - 107 - Kentucky Oaks (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles - Churchill
3. FURY KAPCORI - 103 - Precisionist Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - Santa Anita
4. DEPARTING - 100 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 Mile - Churchill
4. FIVE IRON - 100 - Fort Marcy Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Belmont
4. MOONSHINE MULLIN - 100 - Alysheba Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - Churchill
7. CATRON - 99 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - Belmont
7. HEY LEROY - 99 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
7. INTEGRITY - 99 - Elusive Quality Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Belmont
7. MARCHMAN - 99 - Turf Sprint Stakes (G3) - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Churchill
7. MASOCHISTIC - 99 - Md Sp Wt 53k - 6 Furlongs - Churchill
7. TARPY'S GOAL - 99 - Clm 50000 - 1 Mile - Churchill
13. CASTLETOWN - Alw 22000NC - 6 Furlongs - Turf Paradise
13. COOL COWBOY - 98 - Golden Circle Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Prairie Meadows
13. SAILOR'S REVENGE - 98 - Alw 36800N2R - 1 Mile - Parx
16. CALIFORNIA CHROME - 97 - Kentucky Derby (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - Churchill
16. GROUND TRANSPORT - 97 - Drosselmeyer Stakes - 1 1/4 Miles - Belmont
18. HONEY HUES - 96 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles - Churchill
18. PARISE - 96 - Alw 71081N1X - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Woodbine
18. PROHIBITION - 96 - Alw 45500N1X - 1 Mile 70 Yards - Parx
18. RPRETTYBOYFLOYD - 96 - Md Sp Wt 57k - 1 1/16 Miles - Santa Anita
22. COFFEE CLIQUE - 95 - Distaff Turf Mile (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Churchill
22. GOOD BYE GREG - 95 - Md Sp Wt 38k - 6 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Arlington
22. LEGEND - 95 - Md Sp Wt 75k - 1 Mile - Belmont
22. MIDNIGHT LUCKY - 95 - Humana Distaff (G1) - 7 Furlongs - Churchill
22. REGALLY READY - 95 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Churchill

*The past performances for CENTRAL BANKER AND UNTAPABLE are available at the bottom of this blog post.

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Dan,
Do you have any idea what is going on with Lea? He last worked on March 30th and nothing since and I have seen nothing about him anywhere.
AZ Wildcat

LEA took ill prior to the Charles Town Classic and had to be withdrawn from consideration from that race. He is back in training, but we may not see him until the Whitney at Saratoga.

***
 
*The links to the previous blogs (and blog comments) are listed below:

http://www.drf.com/blogs/kentucky-derby-non-opinions

http://www.drf.com/blogs/davona-dale

http://www.drf.com/blogs/can-hudson-landing-still-go

http://www.drf.com/blogs/tricky-elkhorn

http://www.drf.com/blogs/hail-mary-claim

http://www.drf.com/blogs/grounding-hawk

http://www.drf.com/blogs/cat-burglar-creeping-upward

http://www.drf.com/blogs/3-year-old-filly-sprinter-watch

http://www.drf.com/blogs/tale-two-wins

http://www.drf.com/blogs/beatable-favorites

http://www.drf.com/blogs/baker-cooks-calder

http://www.drf.com/blogs/keeneland-baby

http://www.drf.com/blogs/derby-prep-thoughts

http://www.drf.com/blogs/fishing-opinions

http://www.drf.com/blogs/keeneland-its-spring-again

http://www.drf.com/blogs/sprinter-rise

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You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman

All of the weekend's graded stakes videos should be available at the following link by Friday afternoon.

http://www.drf.com/events/weekend-stakes-previews-picks-analysis-more

***

Congrats to Ron Z. for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling race.

Rick M's scoresheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

On tab 2 you will see each HG Race we've held and they are color coded to denote if the race was run on Turf, Dirt or Poly.

We'll go with Friday's eighth race at Prairie Meadows for this week's HandiGambling event.

PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.

SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to streamline all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...

With so many new people attending Dan's Formblog we thought it would be a good time to update the Handigambling Guidelines and Rules as we go forward in 2014.

Let's remember WHY we began the HandiGambling races in the first place. The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses and why we're betting them the way we are. We are not asking for a novel but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.

HANDIGAMBLING:

-  Please start your post with  HG or HANDIGAMBLING to better recognize and find your entry.

-  You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose and that is available for that HG race.
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.

- Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF THE POST.  Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST sign yourself at the end (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to recognize you .

- (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes.  Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.

- Separate your analysis from the wager and use the horses # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.

-In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.

- The winner will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan"

As an example :

HG 2014
The speed in this race goes to  horses # 1, 4 ,6 ..Ennie , Meenie, and Mo
Since it's a sprint I don't see any closers catching them.. like # 9 Miney.
I think trainer Groucho with the #6 Mo has the best stats in this condition, route to sprint.. just a gut feeling at large odds ML 20-1

HG wager
50$ Ex box 1-6
total $100

Thanks Dan!

Harpo
---------------------------------

A MORE DETAILED ANALYSIS IS ALWAYS APPRECIATED !
 
REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE; PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE.

ALSO, IF THE WINNER WOULD LIKE TO SELECT THE FOLLOWING WEEK'S RACE, PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM NO LATER THAN THE FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY MORNING (A FRIDAY RACE IS MOST IDEAL).

AttachmentSize
CENTRAL BANKER.pdf655.42 KB
UNTAPABLE.pdf613.76 KB
Copy of Formblog Kentucky Derby 5-3-14.xls74 KB
HGPRM.pdf185.24 KB