ELMONT, NY, MAY 1, 2011--For a group that held such promise as juveniles, it’s all become unraveled. Still, no one knows how anything will turn out on Saturday and beyond--all the way to the Breeders’ Cup.
This class has been so snake-bitten that even the fillies have gotten into the act. R. Heat Lightning, who will now miss Friday’s Kentucky Oaks due to a knee issue, can beat half the horses running on Saturday, maybe more. Hope she resurfaces at one hundred percent.
So, almost all the important work has been done--only Master of Hounds possibly notwithstanding--and now all must have another good five days until Saturday. Then, of course, there’s a little matter of the weather, the wildcard when handicapping any horse race, especially this one.
The long range forecast for the Louisville area is chance of showers on Thursday night, chance of showers for Friday--both chances are 4-1 shots according to weatherforyou.com--and the promise is partly cloudy for Saturday.
Remember, too, that virtually no track plays as fairly as Churchill Downs does when it’s wet, and Butch Lehr has a well deserved reputation for getting a surface to dry out in virtually no time flat.
As if there weren’t enough questions surrounding Derby 137 already. All that’s left now is Wednesday’s post position draw--is there a really good reason it has to be held as late as 5 P.M.?--which is always significant given the 20 entrants.
Wonder what would happen if Midnight Interlude ever drew the rail?
A look at HRI’s Derby Power 10, Week 12 edition:
1. Dialed In (36) For the Derby’s tenuous divisional leader who sports one timed workout in the five weeks since he won the Florida Derby, it’s only gaining familiar with the surface that remains. That and 19 rivals.
2. Uncle Mo (27) Depending on the answer to one question yields how highly one rates his chances for victory. Can he replicate his Juvenile performance over the same track on which it was made. If not, he has very little chance; if so, his rivals have very little chance.
3. Archarcharch (22) Extremely versatile in terms of running style, his consistency, toughness and incremental improvement gives the Arkansas Derby hero a big chance to smell the roses. Seems to handle Churchill and energy level remains high.
4. Nehro (19) Bandwagon horse thanks to his last two starts, troubled trips and flying finishes, especially his Arkansas Derby. With three races closely spaced, interesting to see how he handles Derby stress.
5. Mucho Macho Man (16) Coming in six weeks fresh, an historical no-no, but has been training up a storm with old school style. Said it last week and it’s worth repeating: He’s more honest than Abe Lincoln.
6. Toby’s Corner (15) Had his final purposeful work at his home base in Fair Hill and comes in very under the radar despite winning the high profile Wood Memorial. Training having great season and jockey may be getting very close to breaking through.
7. Soldat (12) Worked his way back into the Derby picture with two strong workouts at his Palm Meadows base. It’s almost certain he will run back to his Fountain of Youth, not his Florida Derby, but will it ultimately be enough to matter?
8. Midnight Interlude (9) Historical profile works against him but not his Herculean Santa Anita Derby score. After one disappointing trial, his second work at Churchill Downs was more like it. But he’s still a tough read.
9. Pants On Fire (8) Louisiana Derby winner is consistent, courageous and fast working. Another not flattered by historical trends but the karma is good with regular rider Rosie Napravnik, the first female to win the Fair Grounds riding title.
10. Master Of Hounds (5) His pedigree indicates that he will run as far as they write races, he’s shown quality in classy competition and hails from world class connections. But this race is difficult enough without having to transition to dirt.