04/20/2012 3:29PM

Hovdey: Good luck making sense of this year's Kentucky Derby preps

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Benoit & Associates
I'll Have Another (left) was one of just four 3-year-olds to win two preps on this year's road to the Kentucky Derby.

Nothing’s harder in these frantic times, when the media has become not only pervasive but social as well, than catching one’s breath. Okay, maybe there is a period of relative calm well past midnight, when the dogs are sleeping and the tweets are just beginning to dribble in from Western Europe. Then comes the dawn, and the onslaught begins anew, rendering even the most diligent blog jockeys behind before they start, the information piling as high along with the demand for its immediate digestion.

Then, every once in a while, the noise abates, as if the guy outside with the jack hammer decides to knock off for lunch. The window opens, the air is fresh, and there is suddenly time to consider the cards on the table.

As of Friday, 30 of the graded stakes races leading up to the Kentucky Derby listed on Daily Racing Form's 2012 Road to the Kentucky Derby had been run. The Jerome and the Lexington were to be contested on Saturday, while the Derby Trial will help kick off the Churchill Downs meet on April 29, but little more.

Those 30 races, beginning on Jan. 8 with the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita and bracketed by the Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes of April 14, were won by 26 different 3-year-olds.

There are four two-time winners among those 26: the sprinter Trinniberg, who won the Swale and the Bay Shore, both at seven furlongs; the California-based I’ll Have Another, who won the Robert Lewis at 43-1 and the Santa Anita Derby at 4-1; Daddy Nose Best, winner of the El Camino Real Derby on Golden Gate’s Tapeta surface and the Sunland Derby on dirt, and Secret Circle, winner of the Rebel Stakes and a division of the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Out of Bounds, winner of the Sham, subsequently fractured a cannon bone. Thunder Moccasin, winner of the Hutcheson Stakes on Feb. 11, has not raced since. Algorithms, winner of the Holy Bull, injured a leg and went to the sidelines. Secret Circle was removed from Derby consideration this week and is undergoing physical evaluation.

Twelve of the 30 preps were run at 1 1/8 miles or more, including the nine-furlong Palm Beach Stakes on the Gulfstream turf (Howe Great) and the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby on Tapeta at Meydan (Daddy Long Legs). Only Daddy Nose Best won more than one of the dozen.

This year Gotham Stakes winner Hansen lost to Algorithms in the Holy Bull and to Dullahan in the Blue Grass. Fountain of Youth winner Union Rags lost to Take Charge Indy in the Florida Derby. Arkansas Derby winner Bodemeister lost to Creative Cause in the San Felipe Stakes, while Creative Cause lost to Drill in the San Vicente Stakes and to I’ll Have Another in the Santa Anita Derby. Lecomte Stakes winner Mr. Bowling finished last behind El Padrino in the Risen Star, after which El Padrino finished fourth to Take Charge Indy in the Florida Derby. Battle Hardened beat Prospective in the Sam Davis and Prospective beat Battle Hardened in the Tampa Bay Derby, but then Prospective finished sixth to Dullahan in the Blue Grass. Withers winner Alpha lost to Gemologist in the Wood Memorial.

There are other tidbits of info to consider as the Derby approaches, though not readily gleaned from the data on the Road to the Derby chart:

◗ For the first time this year there will be an also-eligible list of entrants accepted for the Derby, poised to join the fray in the event of any 11th-hour bailouts and virtually guaranteeing a 20-horse field.

◗ The Old Farmer’s Almanac offers a long-range forecast of cooler and rainier than normal weather in Louisville during Derby Week.

◗ The 2012 Kentucky Derby will coincide with the celebration of Cinco de Mayo – but you already knew that.

◗ In the last 10 runnings, Kentucky Derby winners Funny Cide, Mine That Bird, Giacomo, and Super Saver somehow neglected to win any of the preps on the Road to the Kentucky Derby list.

Santa Anita meet noteworthy tidbits

Santa Anita wraps up its meeting on Sunday with 10 races, topped by the marathon San Juan Capistrano and David and Jill Heerensperger’s 2010 winner Bourbon Bay, who will be attempting to join George Royal, Niarkos, and T.H. Approval as two-time winners.

In the meantime, congratulations to champion jockey Joel Rosario, who ran off with his second straight Santa Anita title, and to Bob Baffert, who also won his second straight title and 10th overall, dating back to 1995.

Credit where credit’s due, though, going past the top names. Joe Talamo, third in the standings behind Rosario and Rafael Bejarano, recorded win number 1,000 at the meet in a career dating way back to 2006, when he was 16. In terms of age, that puts Talamo about two years ahead of when Russell Baze nailed his first grand. But then, who’s counting?