Let us take a look at the 130th Kentucky Derby and review that race and how the Preakness is shaping up.
With a large field of 18 horses heading into the starting gate the fact that the favorite was sent off at 4-1 was to no
surprise, in fact that price might have been too low. With rain in the area for a few days prior to the Derby and rain that
afternoon before the card the fact that they had the track listed as good and moving towards fast was a miracle. However,
about an hour before the race Churchill Downs was hit by a huge rainstorm, so large in fact that it knocked out the ESPN
signal for a few minutes. When it was finally done it left the track a sea of slop. Although the track was favoring speed prior
to this rain it was more likely to favor speed after the rain.
With a clean break LION HEART was sent right to the lead from the inside and held a clear advantage to the backstretch
laying down fractions of 22:4, 46:3, 1:11:4 very reasonable fractions for the first six furlongs. SMARTY JONES who broke
from post 13 was able to get a cozy spot in second tracking the leader into the far turn. There was a big break back to the other
horses and most of them were backing up at the time. The only horse to really put in a strong run and make up ground in the
Derby was IMPERIALISM. After breaking well from post 8, he raced up the inside to get into about 10th place before having to
steady at the 7/8th’s pole, then he swung out six wide into the lane and rallied to finish third six lengths behind the winner
SMARTY JONES and three lengths behind second place finisher LION HEART. The fourth place finisher was LIMEHOUSE
who saved ground from his rail position and ran on to finish fourth. After that no one else really ran a step with
THE CLIFF’S EDGE finishing fifth although he did lose two shoes during the running of the race. TAPIT, the third choice in the
betting never got untracked over the sloppy footing and checked in ninth and will probably await the Belmont Stakes for his
SMARTY JONES who ran his record to a perfect 7 for 7 with his win in the Derby picked up a $5 million dollar bonus
by winning the race. With a win in the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn he became eligible to win the $5 million
dollar bonus by winning the Derby. In addition to the bonus SMARTY JONES also won the winner’s share of the purse which
was $854,500 for a total take of $5,854,500. Although he did win easily and visually looked good doing it, the final time was a
slow flat. He also becomes eligible for the Visa Triple Crown bonus which is also $5 million. He looks ready to move on to
the Preakness and is expected to meet a short field. He is expected to meet runner-up LION HEART who should give him a
stiff test with the turnback in distance and another race under his belt.
Derby Day crowd was down a bit from the prior year but it was a record crowd for a wet track. The betting was a record
$89,860,167, which established a North American record for betting on a single event.
Moving on to take a quick look at the Preakness Stakes. In addition to SMARTY JONES and LION HEART the Preakness
should attract ROCK HARD TEN and EDDINGTON as new faces who were shutout of the Derby because of earnings, will get
their chance at Pimlico. THE CLIFF’S EDGE and IMPERIALSIM fifth and third respectively and first thought not to go to the
Preakness are possible now for the middle leg of the Triple Crown. This will probably pose the biggest problem for SMARTY JONES
as you get the fresh faces, the best Derby finishers and the new track and distance. A win there will make him eligible for the
Triple Crown and a date with destiny at Belmont June 5th. With the story behind SMARTY JONES, his owner, trainer, and the
horse you can expect to see a record crowd at Belmont if the Triple Crown is in reach.