Each year, we have those cappers that look back in the rear view mirror, and remember who won what prep. This is good research, but there can be many ways to enter the winner’s circle on that first Saturday in May.
Remember when the great Charismatic danced home? Under the guided hand of Chris Antley, this former $62,500 claimer rolled like a billion dollar sales ring special. He prepped at Keeneland on the dirt, and won the Lexington Stakes. On the big screen, this is the little brother to the Bluegrass Stakes. Now, the next year, the Lexington was the race to watch…. How many have won since?
When Mine That Bird stormed home to give Chip Woolley and Calvin Borel the roses, nobody paid much attention to New Mexico racing, and couldn’t name five runners in the last meet. But now we start looking, as Bob Baffert will ship in with his California brethren and steal the big pot.
The jinx theories, and how many starts has a horse had, have been put to bed. The 20 post is not a death call. The rail can benefit any horse, just give Calvin Borel a call. Morning workouts can shed light, and leave a race on the track in the morning. So, what are we to do?
Let’s keep an open mind. Every week read some of the major rags to keep up to speed. Don’t start campaigning for a runner just yet, as I believe we have not seen the entire field. We have runners making a maiden break, and they could be that diamond in the rough. As far as works, look for a solid pattern. I would take four timely efforts with a tight pattern. Not too fast, and not too slow… Just right. I do like to see a little quicker work in the end, and if the works are increasing in distance, I tend to smile greatly upon this as well. You get extra credit by going back and watching race replays. Nothing like a first hand opinion.
For me, I like to see at least three races. I think anything less would be a guessing game. Trainers are changing methods, and most believe a runner has just so many races. So, use them wisely, or fire away. This is important as we get closer. Look for the patient trainer. Possibly one who has been there, or has worked for an operation that slings winners. Nothing like good old fashioned experience.
Don’t get Oaks fever, and blow your Derby. I was doing a radio show with my cohort attending the Oaks and the Derby. He was all excited, and was going to call in to give a first hand account of the big race. Nothing like being there on that day…… But, he went broke and came back that next morning with me. So, pace yourself. Enjoy the day, but focus on the few races you really like. There is a next day, and it will go on with or without you.
Last of all, remember that everyone is a racing fan on this big day. Take their bets to the track, get a group to go, and make some plans. If you can’t be there, the TV coverage is incredible. All of the races, and the great commentary. Get your kids involved, go ahead and cry when they play “My Old Kentucky Home.” Feel the energy, and enjoy the history. At the time of this writing, we are 70 days away from the Derby. I could be wrong, but I feel that the big horse has yet to show himself. Plenty of time, and tons of preps. Sit back, take it all-in, and enjoy… It is the greatest sport on Earth, and the Kentucky Derby happens just once a year.