Three weeks into the new year and I have yet to assemble the beginnings of a list of my potential Derby hopefuls.
In an attempt to rectify the situation without the aid of plagiarizing Steve Haskin, I went to the racetrack on Saturday, figuring that the Holy Bull and the Lecomte Stakes would be an excellent place to discover additions for my Derby contender list.
Now, it’s been a little while since I’ve spent an afternoon enjoying the fineries of simulcast action and socializing with my racing brethren; horse racing hasn’t been receiving my utmost attention due to many other distractions, such as my family and work and NBC’s Leno/O’Brien late night TV debacle. However, I easily slipped back into the happy routine of handicapping races, placing simple bets, and shredding losing tickets. Okay, I cashed in a few winners, too. And one of those winners is now a prominent feature on my Derby watch: Winslow Homer.
Winslow Homer, winner of the Holy Bull (gr. III), has a smorgasbord of features in his past performances that I found attractive: trainer Anthony Dutrow, sire Unbridled’s Song, a January colt, raced at three different tracks breaking his maiden at Saratoga, winning his last race by 12 lengths at Philly which provides the sentimental angle of Thinkin’ About Smarty Jones. Jockey Ramon Dominguez is a plus, although he can make me a little nervous at times – that’s the Thinkin’ About Scrappy T Tripping Afleet Alex angle, even though I hit that exacta, too. And then there’s his name: Winslow Homer. I mean, who doesn’t like Homer?
I’m almost prepared to place the Holy Bull runner-up, Jackson Bend, on my Derby contender list. He’s dominated his competition at Calder Casino & Race Course and he certainly was no slouch on Saturday afternoon. It’s just the whole Nick Zito trainer angle; I’ve been disappointed on a number of occasions. And I’m still holding a grudge against Birdstone. See sentimental angle listed in previous paragraph.
As for the the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III), I’m not exactly ready to toss back some ouzo and shout “Opa!” Ron the Greek had a tremendous stretch run – what’s not to love about that? But I had a tough time sizing up the field.
"The Lecomte is a race where everybody wants to see what they have, us included."
-Tom Amoss, trainer of Ron the Greek [Times-Picayune]
Let’s see how the Risen Star goes next month before I decide to jump on this μόδα.
And finally, it was the 9th race at Oaklawn Racing and Gaming – a little 6 furlongs allowance optional claiming affair - that elicited a “worth watching” notation. Backwater Blues (Dixieland Band) trained by Mrs.-Larry-Jones-but-please-call-me-Cindy-Jones-because-I-call-the-shots-around-here-now won over a sloppy track, defeating the highly touted Moojab. In this new decade of considering lightly raced 3-year-olds as Kentucky Derby prospects, perhaps Backwater Blues is not wholly improbable.
So my list of Derby hopefuls is officially underway. The Kentucky Derby Countdown Clock displays only 95 more days. Plenty of time to go to the track.