THE KENTUCKY DERBY began May 17, 1875 when the mighty Aristides, carrying just 100 pounds, won the first running. In actuality Aristides was really not mighty, just a small chestnut at 15 hands who was an entry with his stronger running mate Chesapeake.
The winner netted a whopping $2,850 with the second place finisher getting $200. The Derby has come a long way since and so has the purse. So here we are now trying to uncover the winner in this 20-horse field before we know the ever important post positions and likely track conditions.
Last year I had “animal vision” between Master of Hounds and Animal Kingdom. Half of it got there when Animal Kingdom scored but Master of Hounds finished fifth costing me the tri and super. So where do I go from here on Monday morning?
The other day I came across an old menu from a supper club called the Colonial Manor where my dad, “Broadway Bennie” Saber, was the head chef. This was a Lebanese supper club located right outside Pittsburgh.
In the 50’s Bennie became friends with one of the performers at the club, Danny Thomas, who became a very famous Lebanese actor/comedian and founder of the wonderful St. Jude’s Hospital.
It was the night before Easter Sunday when Bennie and Danny showed up at our house in Steubenville, Ohio, with two little live bunny rabbits. My mother, Mary, was very excited about Danny’s visit, but not thrilled about the live bunnies. Danny just looked at her and said “don’t worry, Daddy knows best.”
It was a play on his hit TV show Make Room for Daddy. Danny had a real nice nose as did one of the characters on the show, his eccentric “Uncle Tonoose,” played by Hans Conried who also had a very large protrusion from his face.
After going down memory lane it all came to me in the name of a horse that is running in this year’s Derby (you guessed it, Daddy Nose Best). This horse could come flying down the long Churchill stretch with jockey Gomez yelling “make room for daddy.”
Say Daddy Nose Best gets up to win by a nostril. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Daddy Long Legs trained by Aiden O’Brien (who also had Master Of Hounds), got up for second? That would key one juicy exacta not only for Broadway Bennie and Danny watching from above but for my pocket as well.
I’m glad to have found that old menu from The Colonial Manor.
This year’s edition of the Derby is one of the deepest in recent times with six to eight horses sitting at the top of contention. The likely favorite goes off at 6-1 or higher.
Bodemeister is one of the hype horses and on my Horses to Watch list. He may end up as one of the favorites off his rousing win in the Arkansas Derby, but will need to overcome much in this, his fifth lifetime start. Bodemeister never started as a 2yo and the last horse to win the Derby with no 2yo starts was Apollo back in 1882 carrying just 102 pounds, so I don’t think so.
Union Rags is one I will be using in the top two spots if the post position is right. Union Rags was second by a head to Hansen in the BC Juvenile. There are an unprecedented nine horses in the Derby that ran in the Juvenile, which has become one of the biggest key races in a long time.
Union Rags is trained by Mike Matz who had the ill-fated Barbaro. Rags just happens to be bedded down in the same stall Barbaro was in at Churchill Downs. Word is Rags is looking spectacular.
There are several other main players in the race: Creative Cause with Rosario, Take Charge Indy with the always dependable Calvin Borel, Alpha, second by a neck behind the undefeated Gemologist, who is two-for-two over the Churchill strip. We have Dullahan with Kent Desormeaux riding and Kent knows this track as well any.
It keeps getting deeper and deeper with colts like El Pedrino who could wake up big time as well as the late running Sabercat the stablemate of Daddy Nose Best. Also there’s the Santa Anita Derby winner I’ll Have Another but at the wire I must remember what Danny Thomas told my mother Broadway Mary.
PALACE, TAKE II
This Thursday in the Palace Station race book we will have our annual Kentucky Derby seminar. The posts will be drawn and Ralph Siraco from Race Day Las Vegas radio show and the Bad Beat radio show along with his bartenders will be there.
I’m kindly talking about the infamous Rich Rose, the ever knowledgeable Lou D’Amico, Vic Vivio from Palace Station race book along with yours truly supplying color commentary. We will go over the race horse by horse.
The seminar is free with free cocktail service and some great pizza. It begins at 6 p.m. sharp so be there and remember we gave out longshot Animal Kingdom last year.
I have a horseplayer friend at Palace Station by the name of Rick Foster (aka Chicken Horse) who gave me his summation of this year’s Derby.
“Alpha, Bodemeister, El Padrino, Mark Valeski and Trinniberg were all dressed up in their Union Rags trying to Take Charge Indy. Went The Day Well until a Liaison showed up with his Sabercat and informed them the race was in Kentucky.
“Now I’ll Have Another look at the Derby through the eyes of Gemologist. He told me Daddy Nose Best and Daddy Long Legs had a Creative Cause to be in Kentucky and that was to deliver a Rousing Sermon to the race fans. When he was Done Talking the crowd cheered as they watched Dullahan gather the Roses.”