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?

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nothing needs to change about the Derby. It's going strong. Record crowd last year. Record betting. Everybody loves it. If it's not broke don't fix it.
charles mcgee More than 1 year ago
It must be Derby time. I feel it. So many opinions scattering my brain. If I keep reading I will be tearing up my tickets at 7:20 PM, just as I have done in past years. So much information, so little brain power to process it. Last time I won was Giacomo.
Nicholas Carraway More than 1 year ago
If you had Giacomo, you're still ahead of the game. :-)
Harry Castleman More than 1 year ago
Smaller field would definitely be likelier to reveal the best and not just luckiest horse in dramatic looking cavalry charge spectacle that the Derby has become and will continue to be, until there's that deadly 1st turn crashup that JP fears but none of us really hopes for. I grew up in Louisville and live in Boston where they now let the elite runners in the Marathon start ahead of and out of the way of the rest of the hoi polloi. Maybe something to consider for CD! But seriously, even if CD (stock symbol CHDN) has a sport of kings epiphany (fat chance) and decides to limit the field before such a disaster happens, how to really fairly separate the best from the rest, as Hovdey and all of us here are searching for?
Kevin Potts More than 1 year ago
Churchill opens on the evening of the 28th, not the 29th, and yet I trust you to give me accurate racing information.
Nicholas Carraway More than 1 year ago
OMG. What a horrendous error. People from around the world will be flying in to Louisville a day early because of that misinformation. If only we were all as perfect as Kevin Potts.
Kevin Potts More than 1 year ago
They would be a day late you tool.
edb More than 1 year ago
Still need a good horse and some racing luck in the derby. No way Animal Kingdom was a great horse, but he had a great moment. It was right place at the right time. Mine that Bird is another example. Should be almost 20 equal horses going for history. Still think Hansen leads into the stretch going 6f in 1:11 and 2/5 and then the closers will take over. After that, it is wonderful gambling
J.P. Rivera More than 1 year ago
As a fifteen-year kid from eastern Queens working for HOF trainer Mickey Walsh, the sit og a horse being put down after failing to negotiate a jump was unnerving, to say the least. My greatest fear in these 20 horse fields in the Derby is the possibility of a catastrophe going into that 1st turn. Only then will the powers that be, will even consider reducing he Derby field to a more manageable and safer run.
Willian J. Brune More than 1 year ago
Cut the KD field down to the 14 best. Now, who are they???
Tina Hines More than 1 year ago
Good idea, I would love to see a one gate field, but one of my top 3 might not make the cut if it's a 4-horse field. Great writing Jay--as always.
Shirley Olson More than 1 year ago
I agree that a 14 horse field allows better, fairer competition. Less luck, more talent bias. You have to draw the line at some point anyway. Unfortunately, the larger field is a decision made from a financial standpoint, rather than horsemanship concerns.
Richard Hagen More than 1 year ago
While "Only DNB has won two of the 1 1/8 M races" is technically true I think Bodemeister should be included in a top list of horses because of his one mile MSW win, by 10 lengths, on 0211 with a time of 1:34.45. The fastest 1M time of all the prep races since 012712. Don't forget Bode's loss to CC by 3/4 L, about .15 seconds, at SA on 031012 (1 1/8M). Also I think that Dullahan should be included on the short list because of his defeat by a nose to Howe Great on 031112 (T). That race time was 1:46.56, the fastest time of all prep races since 021812.
st More than 1 year ago
New Kentucky Derby Rule,, Only six horses in the race based, the entrants based soley on Beyer Figures, should make everyone happy and its more realistic to the races run in this country on a daily basis.
Ron Fox More than 1 year ago
Beyer? really! Your probobly betting Bode and Trin. just give that money to a good charity.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
What would Jimmy Buffett do???