The final Kentucky Derby workouts are underway.
Retired jockey and current XBTV analyst Richard Migliore uses a very wise saying all the time when watching workouts: “It is not how fast you are going, it is how you are going fast.”
A prime example of that old proverb may have been evident at Santa Anita last Sunday.
Santa Anita Oaks winner Midnight Bisou, a major contender for the May 4 Grade I Kentucky Oaks, worked five furlongs at 4:30 a.m. in what appeared to be a rather ordinary time of 1:01.60 under jockey Martin Pedroza.
The final time is far from the main story, however. Midnight Bisou broke off slowly on purpose, clocking her first quarter mile in a harness-like 26 seconds. She finished in an absolute rally, coming home the final quarter mile some 15 lengths faster than she started in a blazing 23 seconds flat.
Santa Anita Derby runner-up and Kentucky Derby probable Bolt d’Oro worked later Sunday morning. He worked seven furlongs in a sharp final time of 1:24.10 under jockey Victor Espinoza.
In stark contrast, Bolt d’Oro broke away from his lead pony and got right into high gear, setting race-like fractions of 35.00 seconds for three furlongs, 46.60 for the half mile, 58.80 for five furlongs, and went by the six furlong marker in 1:11.40. Espinoza had to ask Bolt d’Oro to finish in deep stretch, however, during a final quarter timed in 25.60. That final quarter mile is about 13 lengths slower than what it took Midnight Bisou to complete her workout.
Much will be made of the final workouts for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders next weekend. It may be best to remember there is no purse money on the line in the morning and Migliore’s well-earned view (he was one of the best jockeys I have ever seen working horses in the morning when he was based in California) should be taken to heart.
Most of the final workouts should be available on demand next week through www.xbtv.com. I recommend keeping close tabs since it is not only important to see who is working well going into the Derby and Oaks, it may be even more important to see who is not going into those races the right way.
Perception or reality?
Back in the old days in California, horses who ran in the same race trained by the same trainer were automatically coupled in the wagering. The purpose was to protect the public from the perception that one of the horses may be well meant while the other may be used to help the other like insuring a fast pace, costing him/her their best chance to win.
Horses that were owned in part or entirely by one ownership entity with more than one horse in a race, whether they were trained by the same trainer or different conditioners, were also coupled in the wagering to discourage any perception the ownership group may be “trying” with one and not the other.
Horses all race as single racing interests in California these days, mostly due to the importance of field size and wagering options to make races more attractive and to drive handle and the bottom line for the race tracks.
In last Saturday’s Grade II Kona Gold Stakes, trainer Peter Miller had two horses, Bobby Abu Dhabi and Calculator, in the five-horse field.
Both horses broke sharply, with Calculator staying far off the rail in front with Bobby Abu Dhabi pressing along the rail and defending champ Ransom the Moon stalking from off the pace on the outside.
When Ransom the Moon tried to rally into contention entering the stretch, Calculator floated that rival wide while allowing his stablemate Bobby Abu Dhabi the chance to open a clear lead along the inside. Bobby Abu Dhabi held on to win by 1-1/4 lengths over Ransom the Moon.
It is doubtful the results would have changed even if Ransom the Moon would have gotten a clean trip, but there were plenty of horseplayers not only at the track but in simulcast facilities and playing online crying collusion.
The stewards called Kent Desormeaux, the jockey aboard Calculator, into the office for a review of his ride Sunday morning and suspended him four days for failing to keep a straight course.
That is all fine and good, and since Calculator finished behind Ransom the Moon, there would have been no change that could have been made in the order of finish.
But does it leave a bad taste in the mouths of the horseplayers?
In this day and age of perception, rules like the voided claim rule and the rule limiting a jockey to using his whip no more than three times in succession without waiting for a response, this is a gray area that affects a most important group. Hopefully those who make the rules will look out for the horseplayers, too.
Play of the week: Santa Anita, Friday, Race 7 – Allaboutaction (post 1). Trainer Richard Baltas claimed this gelding out of a win over Optional $40,000 claimers March 10. New connections have waited out the claiming jail period and don’t have to face any Allowance horses in this claimer-only spot. Look for Allaboutaction to leave the rail post running and take the field wire-to-wire.
Evin Roman, the leading rider during the winter meet, is just 1-for-26 to start the Spring meet.
Part way through last Sunday’s card, trainer Richard Mandella is on a 27-race losing streak.
Trainer David Jacobson has suddenly gotten hot with three wins last week.
West Point Thoroughbreds has purchased an interest in Kentucky Derby probable My Boy Jack.