Coming Up Roses

About this time you’re reading who is shipping in, and how the final 20+ days will take shape. We have seen so many incredible races, and to think it all comes down to a full gate of three-year-old runners. Do you have a favorite runner? Will you go to the Derby, or watch the full coverage on TV? Are you a Derby party goer, or will you enjoy the race at home? There are so many options, and you only have about 20 days to make up your mind.

If you’re a fan of trivia, or Derby jinx talk. Here is some fuel for your fire. Remember, there is a first for everything, and records are made to be broken. Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!

California Chrome = We started the year not having an idea who would be the favorite. Now we are pretty sure the “Left-Coast” invader will be short on the morning line. But before we etch anything into stone, someone should let C.C. know that only three California-breds have won the Derby. – Morvich (1922), Swaps (1955) and Decidedly (1962). By the way, the exercise rider for Swaps was Art Sherman, the trainer of California Chrome.

Vicar’s in Trouble = This son of Into Mischief brings some interesting firsts. – Could this be the year a lady rider wears the roses ? – This could be the year that not only a lady rider could win the Derby, but she could pull off the Oaks – Derby double as she will be riding Untapable in the Kentucky Oaks. Rosie Napravnik’s husband Joe Sharp is the assistant trainer to Mike Maker. We could have a husband-wife duo getting their picture taken in the winner’s circle. Oh, and don’t forget that only three Louisiana-bred runners have competed in the Derby, and he’ll be the first since Zarb’s Magic in 1996.

The “Apollo” Jinx = It’s not a hard rule, but there’s been no runner since Apollo in 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without racing a two-year-old season. Somebody needs to tell: Constitution, Bayern, Social Inclusion, Divine Oath, Hoppertunity, if they all make the gate with Derby points.

Could Bob Baffert join the next level? He belongs to an esteemed group of trainers who have won three Kentucky Derbies. He could join D. Wayne Lukas (4), who could win with Strong Mandate to become the oldest trainer to win since Charlie Whittingham (76) with Sunday Silence in 1989. About 94% of the Derby winners must have finished 1st-2nd-3rd in a prep race, and runners must have won a 1 1/8th race in their career before going on to wear the roses. There are more stories this year than hot dogs will be sold at Churchill Downs. With all of the Derby fever that will take hold; take a deep breath and enjoy the “greatest two minutes in sports.”