May 5, 2007


Guesswork is running wild: No clear choice among this 20 (Mark Blaudschun, May 5, 2007, Boston Globe)
The first question to be answered today will be about the pace of the race. Hard Spun, a Philadelphia-bred who some consider in the mold of 2004 Derby winner Smarty Jones, drew everyone's attention Monday when he turned in a blistering 5-furlong workout time of 57.6 seconds, the fastest Derby week workout since General Assembly's 57.4 in 1979, before finishing second to Spectacular Bid.

Hard Spun, Cowtown Cat, and probably Teuflesberg will attempt to take the early lead. If Hard Spun runs like he did Monday, it will be a matter of chasing him down.

"He has a high cruising speed," said Hard Spun's trainer, Larry Jones, who is also looking for his first Derby victory. "I think he will come close to the front end."

Once the lead has been established, it then becomes a matter of the jockeys figuring out the best way to challenge. Look for the soft Derby choices, such as Scat Daddy and Great Hunter, to make their runs. And for Curlin's jockey, Robby Albarado, to make the moves that resulted in the 10-length victory in the Arkansas Derby.

The feeling here is that Hard Spun will work his magic at the start and then ward off the challengers down the stretch, especially Scat Daddy, who may be Pletcher's best horse. Also look for a closer, such as Tiago, the Santa Anita Derby winner, or Circular Quay, who even Pletcher admits will not be a factor early, to make a charge that will be too late.
Likely rain makes Kentucky Derby even harder to analyze (Paul Moran, 5/05/07, Newsday)

No starter in this Derby has won a graded-stakes race on a wet track. Hard Spun and Teuflesberg won ungraded sprint stakes on sloppy tracks last year. No horse in this field has won over a wet track at Churchill Downs, a sometimes-quirky surface when wet that many horses simply don't handle.

Scat Daddy was an easy winner of his career debut on a muddy surface at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., in June.

A dozen others, including several key contenders, have not yet raced in wet conditions.

Affinity for a wet track sufficient to improve performance is largely a function of pedigree and the most genetically suited include the Steve Asmussen-trained Curlin and Zanjero; two of Pletcher's quintet, Cowtown Cat and Any Given Saturday; and Hard Spun.

The lineage of others suggests a wet track will neither compromise nor aid performance, and their reactions to the uncertain conditions will be entirely individual and unpredictable.

Derby has a variety of possibilities: The 20-horse field at Churchill Downs is without a strong favorite and rain in the forecast further clouds who might be the best bet to win. (Robyn Norwood, May 5, 2007, LA Times)
Queen Elizabeth II is to witness her first Kentucky Derby from a clubhouse dining room that will remain dry — at least in the literal sense — while the masses revel in an infield soaked by two days of rain for a $40 admission fee.

The contrast in accommodations could be a metaphor for the 20-horse field that will load into the gate for the 133rd running of the world's most famous horse race.

The owner of Nobiz Like Showbiz, Elizabeth Valando, is said to have turned down $17 million for her imposing but distractible colt.

Teuflesberg, one of the last to make the field, was bought for a mere $9,000, and the owners of another longshot, Storm In May, paid $16,000 for a gray colt that is blind in his right eye.

Curlin, the slight 7-2 favorite over 4-1 Street Sense on the morning line, was named for Charlie Curlin, a former slave who joined the Union Army in 1864.

One of the part-owners is Curlin's great-grandson, a controversial Kentucky lawyer named Shirley Cunningham Jr. who would be the first African American to own a share of a Derby winner since 1891 if Curlin won.

Mint Julep (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 4, 2007)

Several fresh mint leaves, for drink and garnish

1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar


Crushed ice

2 1/2 ounces bourbon

Put a few fresh mint leaves in the bottom of a glass or julep cup with confectioners' sugar (not granulated sugar) and just enough water to dissolve the sugar.

Muddle the mixture with a wooden spoon handle.

Fill glass with crushed ice. Add bourbon. Pack in more crushed ice, and garnish with several mint sprigs.

Insert a straw short enough that you have to put your nose in the mint to reach it. Sip slowly from the bottom.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 5, 2007 7:12 AM

You don't need the water. Just splash a bit of bourbon on the sugar and mint leaves and then crush.

Put the filled glass in the freezer just for a few minutes.

Posted by: Tom Wall at May 5, 2007 6:24 PM

The key word is "sip."

Posted by: Bartman at May 6, 2007 7:44 AM