To quickly sum up this weekend's preps we saw a monster unleashed, another stopped in his tracks and finally, a roar of redemption.
The monster is of course, Eskendereya who won the Wood Memorial in what looked like a public workout. Yes, it was visually impressive (the new race day buzz word of 2010) and under nothing more than a statuesque hand ride by Johnny V. But before we annotate him the next Triple Crown champ let's remember he's beat a horse with distance limitations and questionable breeding in Jackson Bend twice and two pretty weak fields back-to-back. I'm not completely sold on his eventual favoritism.
Can't a guy catch a break? In his last three races Lookin at Lucky has been parked in the grandstands (Breeders Cup Juvenile), was forced into traffic and clipped heals (Rebel) and yesterday forced into the rail by a jock going nowhere on a 50-1 looking for vengeance (Santa Anita Derby). Despite it all, he has been nipped by a nose, then nipped back by the same nose before finishing an honorable third yesterday. He exudes class and has been battle-tested - a must for any Derby contender and likely co-favorite. For me, Lookin at Lucky gets better grades than Eskendereya from yesterday and will likely be my key horse in all Derby wagers. You should also realize trainer Bob Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby after Santa Anita loses - twice.
And yes, American Lion came back to his earlier form and came home a winner in the Illinois Derby. What this means, I'm not sure, but he probably will add to a much anticipated and most likely contested pace in this year's Derby.