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May 07, 2004


By: Joe Girardi

            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

next race.

            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 2:04 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.

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