It rained, it poured. The track might’ve been muddy and the crowd might’ve been wet but, for my money, Kentucky Derby 139 was still a huge success. Like most derbies, there were horses who came in with a lot of hype and, like most derbies, so many of them didn’t live up to it. At the end of the day, one horse did perform as advertised and, in the process, has once again given all horse racing fans hope of a potential Triple Crown winner.
Orb: As advertised and then some. The only surprise was that Orb was 7-1 on the tote board with about an hour to post. Sure, there were questions about whether he could handle a sloppy track but with the exception of only a few others in the race, the same questions applied to just about the whole field. The final time of 2:02.89 didn’t set any records but was still incredibly fast for the sloppy surface the race was run over. The way he ran Saturday and his pedigree both bode well for Orb’s chances looking ahead to Pimlico and, fingers crossed, Belmont.
Golden Soul: I wouldn’t go as far as to say he ran a better race than Orb but watching the replay of the Kentucky Derby, Golden Soul ran as huge a race as anyone. Not only did he also close from way out of it, Golden Soul encountered more trip trouble late than any of the other top 5 finishers. You have to give Robby Albarado credit for pulling him off the rail, allowing the horse to weave through, split horses and fly once clear. The connections say he won’t make the quick turnaround to the Preakness but I’m really looking forward to what this derby overachiever can accomplish given more ground to cover at the Belmont Stakes next month.
Mylute/Rosie Napravnik: There were many story lines coming into the derby that revolved around race, age and sex. While they might’ve all been ultimately overshadowed by Orb’s victory, we must take a minute to stop and acknowledge what Rosie Napravnik has accomplished. By finishing a very strong 5th (with some luck, the horse could’ve finished 3rd, even 2nd) Rosie reset the bar which she initially set herself two years ago, when she finished 9th aboard Pants on Fire. It looked like Mylute had flattened out some at the top of the stretch but Rosie kept at him, getting every bit of effort she could have out of the horse. In the process, Rosie not only made women everywhere proud, she also made a statement about her place in the sport today – right up there with the very best in the game!
Goldencents: Ridden by Kevin Krigger, perhaps the jockey talked about most leading up to the derby, Goldencents hardly showed up on Saturday. Krigger, who was trying to become the first African American jockey to win the Kentucky Derby since 1902, told me a few weeks ago that he was positive his horse was the best in the race. After attempting to chase a hot pace early, Goldencents steadily dropped the through the field. At about the same time Orb had struck the lead, Krigger was essentially standing up on the Goldencents and pulling him up near the back of the field. I do expect a much stronger effort from this one moving forward at the Preakness.
Itsmyluckyday: This horse was a complete non-factor in the Kentucky Derby. Bet down from 15-1 on the morning line to just under 10-1 at post time, Itsmyluckyday was touted by a lot of people who were convinced his domination in the Holy Bull was one of the best races run by any horse during the prep season. However, Itsmyluckyday couldn’t repeat that effort in the Florida Derby and looked even worse in Louisville. He either peaked too early or might just be in need of a cutback in distance. He was previously 1 for 1 in the slop, running his best race as a 2-year-old over it. So, I’m not willing to chalk his race up as Itsmyluckyday simply not taking to the track conditions.
Verrazano: Maybe the general public was on to something. Initially installed as one of the morning line favorites, the previously undefeated Pletcher trainee went off at nearly 9-1. Reports during derby week indicated Verrazano looked sluggish and hadn’t galloped out well after working in the morning. As for the 14th place finish, perhaps he didn’t take to the off-track or maybe he just had nothing left after chasing the hot pace set by Palace Malice. Whatever the case, Verrazano simply did not live up to the promise he showed in his past five races and will go down as one of the biggest derby disappointments in recent memory.
The Weather: I read recently that it has never rained in the actual two-minutes during which the Kentucky Derby has been run. Amazingly, on Saturday, skies cleared and the rain stopped within an hour of post time and it remained dry until shortly after the race. However, the steady stream of rain (starting at around 9am) preceding the derby, made the track a nightmare for some horses. It also put a damper on the day for fans who’d shelled out big money to be at Churchill Downs for the day.
Report compiled & written by DanonymousRacing.com