By Seth Kochera
Nothing changed in the picture for the Kentucky Derby on the racetrack this week. The winners of the two graded stakes races did not pick up enough graded earnings to crack the top twenty. However, both winners had notable performances.
In the Jerome (Grade 2), The Lumber Guy (Grand Slam) put in a very game front running spectacle. At the top of the lane, it appeared he was beaten, but he found another gear, running away from his challengers to prevail by almost three lengths.
The Coolmore Lexington Stakes (Grade 3) is usually the last stop for horses looking to pick up coveted graded earning to help them make the Derby field, but this year, it will not be producing a Derby starter. It was memorable for a shocking upset by All Squared Away (Bellamy Road). The 70-1 shot pulled off his stunning victory by 1 1/2 lengths over favorite Summer Front (War Front). The lone Lexington runner that had a chance to crack the Derby top twenty, Castaway (Street Sense), was forwardly placed early, but tired badly, finishing ninth.
Off the racetrack, the Derby picture changed quite a bit. Major defections from the field included, Florida Derby (Grade 1) runner-up, Reveron (Songandaprayer) and Rebel Stakes (Grade 2) winner Secret Circle (Eddington). With the latter withdrawing, the connections of Trinniberg (Teuflesberg) announced their intentions to run, after previously stating they were unlikely for the Derby. The son of Teuflesberg will certainly be showing off his speed at the front of the Derby field, but the major question for him is how far will his speed carry him. (He has never run a race beyond 7 furlongs.)
This week has only one graded stakes race, the Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (Grade 3). This race seldom produces a Derby starter anymore, and even though it has a very rich history, it has not produced a Kentucky Derby victor since Calumet Farm’s Tim Tam (Tom Fool) in 1958.
It appears that the Derby Trial will not produce a Derby starter due to the record high for graded stakes earnings needed to make the Derby field this year. The main things to watch leading up to the big race are the jockey carousel, the workouts, and the post position draw.
Last year, the jockey carousel even changed at the eleventh hour, which proved successful for the connections of the eventual winner Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux). The jockey can make all the difference between a win and a loss on the first Saturday in May, so watch where the jockeys go. There has been a bit of shuffling the last couple of days.
The workouts are most important. The horses that are training well at Churchill Downs are obviously very dangerous. The post position draw can make or break a horse’s chances. A stat to remember here is that no Kentucky Derby winner has ever started from either positions #17 or #19.
Talk Pedigree To Me: Gemologist
Undefeated Gemologist (Tiznow) began his career last September with a victory in a maiden special at Turfway Park. Staying on the Kentucky circuit, he won an allowance optional claimer at Churchill Downs, before closing out the season with a score in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) again at Churchill Downs.
He got a late start to his 2012 season, winning an allowance at Gulfstream Park in March impressively over Currency Swap (High Cotton). He scored his biggest victory in the Wood Memorial (G1) defeating the highly touted Alpha (Bernardini).
Gemologist is by Tiznow. The son of Cee’s Tizzy certainly could go 1 1/4 miles on the racetrack. He is still the only horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) twice, including once over the Derby course back in 2000 en route to the Horse of the Year title that year.
Tiznow has shown the ability as a sire to get horses of the top caliber to stay at least 1 1/4 miles. Included in this group are Dubai World Cup (G1) Winner Well Armed, Belmont Stakes (G1) Winner Da’ Tara, and Travers Stakes (G1) Winner Colonel John.
Gemologist’s dam is the unraced Mr. Prospector mare Crystal Shard. Although she herself was unraced, her progeny has shown the ability to win over 1 mile. She has produced stakes winner Clear Destiny (Deputy Minister) and stakes placed Perfect Cut (A.P. Indy), and both of them have an average win distance of over 1 mile.
Now for the question, does Gemologist have a “Derby pedigree?” I would think so. His sire certainly could get the Derby distance as a racehorse, and he has shown the ability to get it as a sire as well. His dam has shown that when bred to a source of stamina, she can get horses that can run over a distance of ground.
Top Ten Derby Horses (Week 10)
1. Union Rags
Worked well at Keeneland last Friday, will have his final pre-Derby work at the Downs.
The very talented son of Empire Maker will have Mike Smith back aboard for the Derby.
3. I’ll Have Another
Has been prepping at Hollywood Park, will ship to Louisville this coming Saturday.
Had a fine workout with Grade 1Winner Overdriven at Palm Meadows last Friday.
Trainer Dale Romans has been brimming with confidence in his horse to the media.
6. Creative Cause
Will have one more work at Hollywood Park, his last work will be at Churchill on May 1.
Roman Dominguez is going to ride The Champ in the big one over Godolphin’s Alpha.
8. Take Charge Indy
Still down in Florida at Palm Meadows, will likely ship to Churchill Downs on May 1.
9. Daddy Long Legs
Will make the trip from Ireland early next week, Colm O’Donoghue will get the Derby ride.
10. Daddy Nose Best
Garrett Gomez will have the Derby mount, has been training well at Churchill Downs.
Keep an eye on: Alpha, Sabercat
Dropped from the list: Secret Circle
4/21/12 – The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (G3) (1 mile, Churchill Downs) $200,000
Last Week’s Races
4/21/12 – Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G3) (1 1/16 miles, Keeneland) Winner: All Squared Away
4/21/12 – Jerome Stakes (G2) (1 mile, Aqueduct) Winner: The Lumber Guy