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May 07, 2010

A Super Victory for Pletcher and Borel

By: by Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor


 

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - 0 for 24? Make that 1 for...who's counting!

Seconds after Super Saver cruised past the finish line in the 136th Kentucky Derby, all of Todd Pletcher's previous setbacks meant absolutely nothing. The four-time Eclipse Award-winner can no longer be viewed as the most preeminent trainer in the country without a Derby victory.

Pletcher seemed to not even be fazed by finally getting the monkey off his back and handled the win as one would have expected - cool, calm and collected.

The horse that got him to this point wasn't the highly-touted Eskendereya, who had to bow out of the race one week earlier, but WinStar Farm's Super Saver, who wound up the 8-1 second-choice in the Run for the Roses.

The homebred had a few things in his favor this past Saturday, first of which was an affinity for the wet going - the colt already owned a prior victory in the slop last September at Belmont Park.

Second, a win over the Churchill Downs surface is always a plus and Super Saver had that going for him as well.

Third, and perhaps most important, he had Calvin Borel in the saddle.

Winning the Kentucky Derby has become old hat for Borel as the veteran jockey flat-out owns the race with three victories in the last four years.

The Louisiana native had Super Saver on the rail (his trademark spot) for almost the entire length of the Derby and the bay colt responded with a 2 1/2- length win over the late closing Ice Box. The final time for the 1 1/4-mile event was 2:04 2/5 seconds over the sloppy track.

Speaking of Ice Box, the Florida Derby winner suffered through a nasty trip having to steady on three separate occasions during the race. His second-place finish should put to rest any negative thoughts of horses coming into the Kentucky Derby off a six-week layoff.

As was the case with Super Saver, another horse that hugged the rail almost the entire way was Paddy O'Prado. The third-place finisher had pretty much the same trip as the winner, but was always a few lengths behind. Still, a very good performance from a colt whose lone conventional dirt race was a seventh- place finish last July.

Longshot Make Music for Me closed well from last to wind up fourth completing a superfecta worth $202,559.20.

It was the fourth straight year the winner had just two prep races in his three-year-old campaign - something to keep in mind when handicapping the 2011 Kentucky Derby.

OTHER TOP PERFORMANCES

Noble's Promise wasn't even expected to enter the race after a dismal fifth- place finish in the Arkansas Derby. The Kenny McPeek-trained colt was suffering from a lung infection, not to mention receiving cuts and scrapes during the running of the race.

However, the gritty three-year-old, with a pedigree that most experts thought wouldn't allow him to compete at 10 furlongs, came through with a sensational effort taking the lead approaching the top of the stretch before fading to fifth at the wire.

Lookin At Lucky, the 6-1 favorite, had another eventful trip, his fourth in his last five appearances. The two-year-old champ was up against it way back on Wednesday when he drew post position one, and the race played out exactly as expected.

After getting roughed up by Noble's Promise early on, he was then mugged by Stately Victor forcing jockey Garrett Gomez to steady his mount. The three- time grade 1 winner was all the way back in 18th position ahead of just Ice Box and Make Music for Me after the first quarter-mile before closing strongly around the turn.

It's interesting to note that five of the final top eight finishers were 15th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th after a blistering 46-second first-half mile. The only horse far back early on that failed to fire was Awesome Act, who wound up next-to-last in the 20-horse field.

On the other hand, kudos go out to Super Saver and Noble's Promise for being the only two colts in the first flight of horses to earn purse money - Super Saver $1,425,200 for the win and Noble's Promise $60,000 for finishing fifth.

WHERE WAS THE VALUE?

The wait for the Derby is a long one, especially over the winter when most of the betting action is in the form of assorted prep races.

Another way to have action is to play one, two, or all three Kentucky Derby Future Wagers. All are risky plays as witnessed by the late defections of Quality Road, The Pamplemousse, I Want Revenge and Eskendereya over the last two years.

Still, there are ways to beat the system.

Super Saver, who went off at 8-1 on race day, was an incredible 35-1 in Pool 3 based on his initial three-year-old prep race at Tampa Bay Downs. The 2010 Kentucky Derby winner was slightly lower odds in the first two wagers closing at 20-1 in Pool 1, followed by 24-1 in Pool 2.

A two-dollar Pool 3 exacta wager with Super Saver over Ice Box also cleaned house compared to Derby Day as the payoff came back a whopping $1,077.40 instead of the minuscule $152.40 at the track.

On the other hand, the exacta in Pools 1 and 2 failed to light up the board since Ice Box was not a single entrant in the first two future wagers. Those payoffs with Super Saver over the "field" were very similar to the actual price at Churchill Downs. The Pool 1 exacta returned just $176.40 while the number in Pool 2 came back a tad higher at $259.20.

LOOKING AHEAD TO BALTIMORE

The Preakness is less than two weeks away on May 15 at Pimlico, and as of now, a full field is expected with Super Saver leading the charge.

Others considering the second leg of the Triple Crown are Lookin At Lucky, Paddy O?Prado, Make Music for Me, Schoolyard Dreams, Caracortado, Dublin, Pleasant Prince, Jackson Bend, Hurricane Ike, A Little Warm, Aikenite, Bushwacked and Turf Melody

Remember, two of the last four Preakness winners did not race in the Kentucky Derby, a far cry from the previous trend that had just one non-Derby starter (Red Bullet) win the race since Deputed Testamony rolled home in the slop back in 1983.



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