With the exception of a handful of tracks, horse racing is virtually shut down. This must explain in part why bettors, seemingly desperate for action, wagered over $213,000 in Pool 4 of the Kentucky Derby Futures last weekend.
Maybe Bob Baffert’s comparing his brilliant undefeated-in-two-starts Charlatan to Justify helped prime the Futures pump, as his handsome chestnut closed 5-1 co-favorite with highly accomplished Tiz the Law.
Predictably, “all other three-year-olds” was the consensus favorite at 3-1.
As all know, the Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled for the first Saturday in September, a day before the NFL season is slated to open. But given the Covid-19 updates, it’s fair to speculate when either might start–assuming they happen at all.
We’re not being alarmist, just realistic: No one knows, including experts, when all of this will peak. Nut unlike horseplayers, scientists are looking at Apex PPs trying to predict the where and when Covid-19 will strike hardest.
So thank the Diety for Derby Futures… any distraction in a pandemic.
Churchill Downs recently delayed the opening of its stable area for the second time this season, now scheduled for the end of the month. Amid the uncertainty, who really knows for sure? A personal anecdote:
The Surgeon General has said this is “Pearl Harbor” week; so stay at home. I handicapped the Florida situation and said to Toni that “my guess” is two weeks here. Cable news then said in Florida, because the Governor is a jerk, [parenthetical mine] it would be more like three.
The front page of today’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported the latest Florida model predicts April 21, with the worst day estimated for May 3. I’m not sure what that means.
So tomorrow it’s off to Publix; old-folks hour, 7-8 am.
Churchill promised more Future Pools to come, dates pending. Well, at least NYRA and the Maryland Jockey Club are talking about Preakness and Belmont scheduling and, of course, NYRA also has Saratoga to consider.
Local newspapers in New York’s Capital District are not sure Saratoga is a given. If it is, what happens to the Travers, 2020’s “Prep of Midsummer?”
The Haskell? Will Monmouth Park open for racing this year? With New Jersey cases currently escalating, could the Shore track become the next field hospital, or worse?
So what will the racing calendar look like in the Northeast this summer? Will there even be one? Parimutuel wagering was down 22% in the first quarter of 2020. That dip might look good when second-quarter figures, normally propped up by Triple Crown handle, are tallied.
Obviously, this racing commentary and guesswork is trivial when compared to real-life events on the ground. Then that’s why on a dark day God created ADWs. Stay safe; isolate. The life you save may be mine.
Wesley Ward Right to Have Lofty Goals with Kimari
Not long after Kimari put in a devastating late run to win Oaklawn Park’s Purple Martin Stakes in the slop on Saturday, her trainer let his aspirations be known.
The Keeneland-based trainer, the first American to achieve notable success by making an annual pilgrimage to Royal Ascot “a thing,” is pointing hso filly to the Commonwealth Cup June 19, when and if Royal Ascot is held.
“She’s going to be just a pure sprinter, dirt or turf,” Ward told the Oaklawn press staff. “We’ll stick a little bit to the grass to keep her sound; the ultimate goal would be the Breeders’ Cup Sprint…
“Keeneland is my home base and hers as well, so we would like to go against the boys. It’s a 6-furlong dirt race…
“I think she’s really going to jump up as we get through the season, numbers-wise. She’ll be right up there as a serious contender against the boys.”
With no hyperbole intended, Kimari looks like she will develop into a champion and perhaps even a sprinting immortal. Consider:
Kimari began her career breaking maiden on debut by 15 lengths, on the engine throughout. After early splits of 22.20 and 44.80, she stopped the timer in 51.00 for 4-1/2 furlongs, earning a BRIS speed rating of 104.
Two months later in her turf debut at Royal Ascot, she finished second to streaking Raffle Prize by a head. Twenty-three fillies finished behind her.
Two months after that, she won Saratoga’s Ballston Spa wire to wire. But a funny thing happened in her next start back home at Keeneland another two months later. Well, maybe not so funny; bumped at the break, she raced last of nine with three-sixteenths to go in the 5-1/2 furlongs sprint.
At that point, Mike Smith angled her to the extreme outside, she launched but at the stretch call was still seventh. She wound up beating the boys by a half-length, showing a completely new dimension.
A month later at Santa Anita, she faced 11 males in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. At headstretch she was 11th of 12.
In the stretch she made up a tad less than eight lengths, finishing fourth, beaten 2-1/4 lengths by colt stablemate and favorite, Four Wheel Drive. She galloped out ahead of the field.
Whoever rides her, they are mindful of keeping her in the clear, even if they need steady her to do so. That was the case in the Breeders’ Cup and again on Saturday.
Kimari has proven that she is relentless, doesn’t mind trouble and has gears, everything you need in a champion sprinter. Hopefully, there will be races for her to run in.
For Independence Hall, One-Turn Racing a Good Call
Grade 3 winner Independence Hall, fifth in the recent Florida Derby, has been taken off the Triple Crown trail and has returned to his Fair Hill base.
Reported to have come out of the race “very well,” one in which he had striking position but remained one-paced when it counted, will be freshened briefly before resuming training for the resumption of racing.
“It never seemed like he was all that comfortable out there and when the real running started, he really offered up no bid,” said Eclipse Thoroughbreds managing partner, Aron Wellman.
The Florida Derby was his second loss after three consecutive wins, two in stakes, to begin his career. In his three-year-old debut he was second in Tampa Bay’s G2 Sam F Davis, in which he lost a tongue tie and threw a shoe.
“If he earns his way back into two-turn races, great, but we’re going to focus on recapturing his brilliance around one turn for now,” explained Wellman.
Tiz the Law, New York-Bred Horse of the Year, 2019
His defeat in the Jockey Club Stakes might have cost him an Eclipse Award for outstanding juvenile but the son of Constitution earned top prize in the state when he recently was voted New York-Bred Horse of the Year, 2019.
Chester and Mary Broman were named the state’s top breeders in 2019 for the fourth straight year and seventh time overall.
Linda Rice was the top trainer of New York-breds, an honor she received six times in the last decade.
Jockey Manny Franco finished the year with the most state-bred wins and earnings, breaking a six-year streak alternately owned by the Ortiz brothers. Franco is also regular rider of Tiz the Law.
For a complete list of champions in all divisions, visit the New York Thoroughbred Breeders’ website at https://www.nytbreeders.org/ .