Week of April 18, 2011
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
If you had hit the dime superfecta in both Kentucky Derby prep races you would have made almost $10,000. To say that longshots ruled the Derby preps this weekend would be an understatement of epic proportions. In fact, it hasn’t only been this weekend: “Average winning payout for the winners of the four Grade I Kentucky Derby preps of the last two weeks: $35.45.” In the Blue Grass Stakes favored Santiva came in 9th and in the Arkansas Derby favored The Factor was no factor, finishing 7th. Despite both of their non-efforts, The Factor and Santiva both seem to be shipping to Churchill Downs for a potential run in the Kentucky Derby. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that this year’s Derby is going to be a guessing game.
Local Archarcharch capped off a successful Oaklawn prep season by overtaking Sway Away and holding off a fast closing Nehro in the Arkansas Derby. Archarcharch won the Southwest Stakes (replay) in February and came in third in the Rebel Stakes (replay) in March. Nehro had the best closing kick getting the final quarter in a solid 12:42 and looked like he would’ve won the race with more distance. Nehro’s performance also flatters Louisiana Derby winner Pants on Fire, where Nehro also ran a game second (replay). Archarcharch and Nehro will meet again in the Kentucky Derby.
The Blue Grass Stakes seems less likely to will have an impact on the Derby and more of indication that we could see several interesting turf and synthetic specialists come out of this race. The top five finishers all showed very nice acceleration in the final quarter with winner Brilliant Speed, fourth place finisher Newsdad and fifth place finisher Crimson China all getting it in under 12 seconds. It should be noted that the Blue Grass was run very much like a turf race: slow early, fast late. The fact that the Arkansas Derby had a continuous fast pace makes Nehro’s accomplishment more inline with likely Derby conditions. Blue Grass winner Brilliant Speed will go on the Kentucky Derby and third place finisher King Congie will consider a run in the Preakness.
Elsewhere, 2010 Derby hopeful Aikenite scored a sentimental win in the Grade 2 Commonwealth at Keeneland. Finally scoring his first graded win, he also won his connections a coveted gold tray from Keeneland in honor of their eighth stakes victory at the track. While that may not sound like a striking achievement, only 16 other owners in Keeneland history have earned a gold tray.
In the Charles Town Classic it was Duke of Mischief who scored in the mud, holding off Game on Dude and Tizway (replay). Florida winning-machine Tackleberry saw his three race winning streak come to an end when he placed fourth. Havre de Grace finally scored her first Grade 1 in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park Friday, gamely running down Switch. Her main summer goal will be the Delaware Handicap.
Former Kentucky Oaks contender Turbulent Descent proved that her connections plan to keep her as a sprinter/miler paid off when she demolished the Grade 2 Beaumont field at Keeneland. Plans for the daughter of red-hot sire Congrats include the Acorn Stakes on the Belmont Stakes under card and The Test at Saratoga.
This week at the site we’ll continue our foundation posts with an introduction to speed. We’ll also take a look at the Jerome Handicap in Ten Things You Should Know About. We also rolled out a new version of the Beginners’ Corner! Whether you’re new to Hello Race Fans or new to racing, you should be able to more easily find content suited to your needs.
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And as always, keep up with all the 2011 Kentucky Derby and 2011 Kentucky Oaks commentary at Raceday 360 Wire!
Last Week’s Races
2011 Vinery Mason Stakes Replay
Shotgun Gulch runs down Amen Hallelujah.
2011 Makers Mark Mile Replay
Get Stormy wins it running on the front.
2011 Apple Blossom Handicap Replay
Havre de Grace keeps on rolling, besting Switch in the stretch.
2011 Distaff Stakes Replay
Nicole H wins easily.
2011 South Beach Stakes Replay
Miss Blakely if you’re nasty!
2011 Shakertown Stakes Replay
Stratford Hill gamely comes on in the lane.
2011 Commonwealth Stakes Replay
Aikenite surpasses Cool Bullet and pulls away.
2011 Jenny Wiley Stakes Replay
Never Retreat pulls away from the field.
2011 Blue Grass Stakes Replay
Brilliant Speed win the photo in an all longshot blanket finish that produced astronomical payouts.
2011 Arkansas Derby Replay
Archarcharch picks up the pieces and carries the hopes of Arkansas to Louisville.
2011 Beaumont Stakes Replay
Turbulent Descent cuts back in distance and pulls away.
Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker
See you at the track!
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What do you think of Stay Thirsty? Some write that Toby’s Corner winning the Wood has flattered Stay Thirsty, but you could turn this around and say that the Wood was an average race and Stay Thirsty didn’t beat anyone significant in the Gotham.
I had high hopes for Starship Caesar because I loved his name. Oh well.
That’s a good question. Generally speaking I like Stay Thirsty but worry about his fitness level given that Pletcher is Mr. 4F. His work tab is nothing special and I feel like their keeping him in as a strategic angle to occupy a spot that might otherwise be taken by someone with a shot. Cynicism aside, I think he’s probably got the right pedigree for the distance (I’m looking forward to our annual “Who can get the Derby Distance” article, I need it!).
Last year I was really pulling for Gerard Loves Beer for the same reason. I’m also concerned that Pants on Fire will be a name play since I do like him!