Monday, March 12, 2012

Time, Performance and Money...Kentucky Derby 138

We now find ourselves less than eight weeks away from Derby Day and the clock is ticking in more ways than one.

  1. Time - The horses that have caught your attention and got you dreaming of the Kentucky Derby have already performed this calendar year...and they have done so in stakes company...on dirt...and around two turns. Sorry sprints, allowance affairs and turf-to-dirt plans this late the game, I'm just not buying it. And by the way, two-year-old form is just that - two-year-old form.
  2. Performance - If they ain't crossing the finish line first, second, third or a troubled, fourth, 50-some-odd days of training is not going to magically change their prospects, especially going 10 furlongs with 19 foes along for the charge and 150,000 screaming fans.
  3. Money - Graded stakes earnings are always on the minds of human connections. Horses sitting above the $200,000 mark (and there are nine of them) can safely assume a May 5, Churchill start, if they want it. This means up to and probably more than 11 spots are up for grabs and with three $1 million, one $800,000 and one $750,000 races, there promises to be at least a few jumping up the stakes earnings ladder. Hold onto your hat with a few like, I'll Have Another, Fed Biz, Gemologist and Take Charge Indy taking just one big shot at earning the necessary cash. How much will be necessary to make the Derby starting gate? I say it will be close to, if not more, than $250,000.
While Bob Baffert can live with the two duds Liaison (currently sixth on the graded stakes earnings list with $393,000) has tossed, he does not have the same luxury with Fed Biz ($0) and Bodemeister ($60,000). Baffert's success with three-years-olds is so storied, he's likely to get more than just Liaison to Louisville. Most counterparts, including Todd Pletcher, aren't so blessed or lucky.

So please fasten your seatbelt, move your seat to the upright position and place all bags in the overhead compartment because the ride's going to get bumpy for most and more than one seat cushion will need to be turned into a flotation device.

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