Kentucky Derby 2007

Bloged in Kentucky Derby by admin Tuesday May 1, 2007

Beyer speed figures. Dosage indexes. Post positions.
Track conditions. Past performances.

Put them all in a jockey’s cap, toss them up in the air,
watch where they fall, and then try reading some sense
into them. You’ll have as much chance as anyone of
picking out the name of the 2007 Kentucky Derby winner.

As with every Kentucky Derby, the one set to take place
this Saturday will have its share of proven starters who
should be there, starters just now reaching their
potential who should be there, and starters whose owners
have more money than horse sense, or just like a reason to
buy a big hat. The unfortunate thing about the starters
in Category #3 is that, because two or three of them
managed to scrape together enough earnings to make the Top
Twenty among horses eligible to run, two or three others
who might actually have a chance will not get in.

One case in point is Chelokee, a big, gorgeous, and very
professional son of Cherokee Run, who in his last start
finished third in the Florida Derby after an absolutely
horrendous trip. Chelokee is of interest because he is
trained by Michal Matz of Barbaro fame, and because at the
end of his most recent workout at Keeneland last Friday,
the right rein on his bridle broke. Although he had
already completed his scheduled run, Chelokee’s rider was
unable to pull him up, and Chelokee did another circuit of
the track on his own.

It seems fairly obvious that Chelokee is willing to run as
far as horses have to, and that the mile-and-a-quarter
distance of the Kentucky Derby would not have fazed him.
But with earnings of only $161,000, he was #22 on the
earnings qualification list. And Michael Matz, rater than
shipping him to Churchill Downs without knowing for
certain that he would make the final Derby cut, decided to
pass, saying there are other Derbies. Chelokee will have
the afternoon off on Saturday, and focus on the Preakness.

It would have been great for racing if Michael Matz had
been able to repeat his 2006 Derby win, and I beg to
differ with him on one point. There may be other Derbies
for Chelokee to contest, but there is only one Kentucky
Derby. Just as there was only one Barbaro.

I hate Kentucky Derbies with twenty-horse fields because
the horses who shouldn’t be there take up a lot of the
running room from those who should. But among those who
should be there is a ‘street fighter’, last year’s
two-year-old champion Street Sense. Trained by Carl
Nafzger, who is undoubtedly one of the best Thoroughbred
trainers you never heard of, Street Sense has raced only
twice this year, setting a track record in the Tropical
Park Derby and losing the Blue Grass Stakes by a nose
after ducking in right before the finish line. It was a
very crowded finish line, with four horses separated by a
half-length.

It would not bode well for his chances next Saturday if
Street Sense ducked in because of the close quarters at
the Blue Grass finish line. With nineteen other horses
taking up track space, he is not likely to have much spare
room as he thunders down the home stretch.

So I am picking as the winner Curlin, the horse who has
won each of his three races by an average of nine lengths.
I know he’s not experienced, but I like that he did not
have to undergo the stress of racing as a two-year-old.
And his breeding is simply flawless, with his sire, Smart
Strike, being another of those perfectly balanced sons of
Mr. Prospector, and his dam, Sheriff’s Deputy, being a
daughter of Canadian champion Deputy Minister.

But what I really hope to see from this Kentucky Derby is
all twenty of its starters, no matter their order of finish,
returning to their barns safe and sound. Racing doesn’t
need another catastrophe.

Pictures of the Kentucky Derby 2007 Contenders :

1. Picture of Street Sense

2. Picture of Nobiz Like Shobiz

3. Picture of Scat Daddy

4. Picture of Curlin

5. Picture of Circular Quay

6. Picture of Any Given Saturday

7. Picture of Great Hunter

8. Picture of Great Hunter

9. Picture of Tiago

10. Picture of Dominican

11. Picture of Cowtown Cat

12. Picture of Stormello

13. Picture of Zanjero

14. Picture of Liquidity

15. Picture of Sam P

16. Picture of Chelokee

17. Picture of Cobalt Blue

18. Picture of Sedgefield

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