Only Bobby Frankel can beat Bobby Frankel in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
From a pure pace factor, Peace Rules, the "longer half" of the Frankel "entry," has a major advantage. The lead is his if he wants it, and he could set comfortable fractions throughout and win the mile and a quarter classic over favored stablemate, Empire Maker.
Or, he could sit just off the cheap speed of Indian Express, pounce at the propitious moment, and extend his lead to the wire. There is not an abundance of early zip in the 129th Run for the Roses, and even though Empire Maker looks like the best horse, with his style, he might not get the cleanest trip, despite having the best position rider in the world in Jerry Bailey.
Peace Rules figures to get an unobstructed journey. It could make the difference.
One horse that can get the distance but that will have to come from out of it is Ten Most Wanted, who some feel will be the second choice. I don’t think so, but be that as it may, the fact that Pat Day opted to ride Ten Most Wanted over Offlee Wild not only seems to be common sense on Day’s part, but a positive sign for trainer Wally Dollase.
"It’s a good omen," Dollase said, "because Pat really likes the horse. He feels like I do, that the horse is getting more professional all the time, and we’re both confident he can get the distance.
"He galloped out real strong in the Illinois Derby, :12 3/5 the last eighth of a mile, and he was very ratable. That surprised Pat. Now I don’t know how the horse will react with 130,000 people, whether he’ll be ratable or not, but I know this: there’s going to be a lot of speed in the Derby and if he rates halfway properly, he’ll be tough, because this horse will really close."
Whether Ten Most Wanted is good enough to close and catch Empire Maker and Peace Rules remains to be seen. While most experts can find few flaws with Frankel’s duo, and many rival trainers are reluctant to discuss the opposition in any facet, Dollase saw what might have been a chink in Empire Maker’s armor.
"He washed out a little bit before the Wood," Dollase pointed out, "and he also didn’t want to go into the gate. Things like that kind of make you wonder. He ran OK (a punctual half-length victory), but it wasn’t anything spectacular. Frankel (and Bailey) tried to get him to just win the race and not take much out of him. That probably was the case, so in that respect, it’s probably a bit of an unknown as to how good he is. But I think my horse will handle the pressure better than his. We’ll see."
Dollase’s confidence lends support to Ten Most Wanted’s growing group of 11th-hour supporters, who, like most gamblers, are tainted with a rebellious streak and thus seek value in the face of what appears to be a legitimate favorite in Empire Maker.
"I can see why," Dollase said of Ten Most Wanted’s army of admirers. "The horse is a gorgeous individual and has a beautiful stride. He can get the distance and he’s got a good pedigree. His second dam (Landera) produced Cutlass Reality, who won $1.4 million and the (1988) Hollywood Gold Cup at a mile and a quarter. It’s a good family."
THE HOMESTRETCH: Of jockeys with at least 25 mounts during the recent 85-day Santa Anita meeting, Chance Rollins (who early-on exiled himself to the Bay Area), Modesto Linares and Joy Scott were throw-outs, going winless in a combined 104 mounts. But a group of trainers who saddled at least 25 horses proved even more beneficial for bettors to avoid. Juan Garcia (one for 70), Summer Mayberry (one for 38), Warren Stute (one for 28), Leonard Duncan (one for 40), Ray Bell (one for 26), Howard Zucker (one for 32), Roger Stein (one for 39), Jack Van Berg (one for 32), Chris Paasch (one for 28), Scott Craigmyle (one for 30), Jerry Fanning (one for 28), Eduardo Inda (0 for 36), Mike Goodin (0 for 28) and John Dolan (0 for 27) were a combined 11 for 482, a winning average of just over two percent. That means they sent out losers more than 97 percent of the time.