May 7, 2005


Rosy Outlook for Select Few; Nagging Doubts About Rest: Most of 20-horse field will be out of the running early; the trick is to identify the real contenders. (Bill Christine, May 7, 2005, LA Times)

For a Frenchman, trainer Patrick Biancone has a good grasp of the Kentucky Derby.

"Half of the 20 horses will lose the race in the paddock," Biancone said the other day. "Five more will lose it coming out of the gate. That leaves five horses, and our job is to figure out which five those are."

More or less, trainer David Cross made the same point after the fact at Churchill Downs in 1983. After Sunny's Halo had won the Derby, Cross said, "I saw all those so-and-so's dripping wet in the paddock and knew we only had a few to beat."

What the field needs minutes before the running of today's 131st Derby is the placidity of a Gato Del Sol, the longshot winner here in 1982.

"You could have shot off a cannon next to that colt, and he wouldn't have flinched an inch," Gato Del Sol's late trainer, Eddie Gregson, once said.

Greater Good came unhinged running fifth three weeks ago in the Arkansas Derby, so the vibes aren't good for him today, when he's scheduled to run in front of an estimated 150,000 in sunny, 75-degree weather. But Greater Good is 20-1 on the morning line and might be a betting throw-out, anyway. [...]

[B]ack to Biancone. The refugee from Longchamp, who trains in California and New York now, ran second to Smarty Jones with Lion Heart in last year's Derby, and looks to have a say-so today with Spanish Chestnut — if only for the first half-mile or so.

Spanish Chestnut, at 50-1, and with two demoralizing losses since leaving Santa Anita, doesn't belong with this deep bunch, but he has a quick turn of foot and Bobby Frankel, the trainer of High Limit, says Biancone's colt will be on the lead, giving Bellamy Road something to shoot at.

"What I don't understand," Frankel said, "is why they don't quit messing around and call [Spanish Chestnut] a rabbit. Because that's what he is. There's nothing illegal about it, it's been done for years, so why not just say what you're doing?"

Odds won't be enough for Bellamy Road (JIM O'DONNELL, 5/06/05, Chicago Sun-Times)

A new Kentucky Derby champion is trying to blip through the crystal ball this weekend, and his name isn't Bellamy Road.

The husky dark bay -- with or without Yankee pinstripes -- is certain to attract significant support at the parimutuel windows Saturday at Churchill Downs, and there is ample reason for that favoritism.

None is larger than the colt's amazing run in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct four weeks ago, when he dashed to a comfortable lead and just kept going. His final time of 1:47.16 for nine furlongs tied a 32-year-old track record held by Riva Ridge and earned a mammoth Beyer Speed Figure of 120. Beyer filberts later reported that was the highest BSF recorded in a Derby prep since the figures first became available to the general public in 1991.

Additionally, going postward in the Kentucky Derby is no longer the kiss of death it once was. After 20 straight Derby chalks went down to defeat since Spectacular Bid won at 3-5 in 1979, two of the last five -- Fusaichi Pegasus (2-1 in 2000) and Smarty Jones (4-1 last year) -- have prevailed. And Empire Maker (5-2 in 2003) finished second.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 7, 2005 8:47 AM

Afleet Alex, in a come from behind victory.

Posted by: pj at May 7, 2005 8:57 AM

Giacomo! At least I got the come from behind part right.

Posted by: pj at May 7, 2005 7:14 PM