That lout showed up for the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes when Stately Victor won at 40-1. I chalked it up as a fluke. It was the Keeneland surface. It was the other horses. It was the pollen in the air. It was the line to the bathroom. I had reams of excuses. Stately Victor was not going to be my Derby horse. No chance. No how. No way. An immediate toss out.
However, Mr. Lone Star Loudmouth, as he swaggered up to the mutuel window, winning tickets in hand, spouted his [unsolicited] reasoning: Ghostzapper.
Ghostzapper, of course, is the 2004 Horse of the Year and sire to Stately Victor. The lout blathered on about Ghostzapper, yammering on about “running style” and “dominance” and “greatness” and blah blah blah. I’ll admit, I kind of tuned out, figuring the guy to be nothing more than another lucky blowhard.
But, I did perform a little research (read: I glanced at Ghostzapper’s past performances), just in case he knew what he was talking about. Ghostzapper only raced 11 times; twice as a 2-year-old, and was mainly considered a sprinter as a 3-year-old. He didn’t even compete beyond 7 furlongs until he was a 4-year-old, when he dominated the Iselin Handicap at Monmouth, against 4 other horses in the slop, if I recall correctly. And yes he won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Lone Star, yet he wired the field - not exactly the style exhibited by Stately Victor in the Blue Grass.
Time out to scratch our heads and ponder ...
Stately Victor has already raced 8 times, with his campaign directed mainly at routes on either the turf or synthetic surface. His two routes on dirt don’t exactly knock your socks off. However, as Monsignor Steve Haskin wrote in his April 19th edition of his Derby Dozen,
... any horse who runs as well as he did on two occasions at Saratoga, on dirt and grass, has got to be legitimate. Other than his allowance at Churchill, after which he was very ill, and his return race after a three-month absence, he hasn’t shown any indication he won’t run well on dirt.
So, a little help here – I’m not exactly seeing a whole basketful of similarities between Ghostzapper and Stately Victor, just some intriguing speculation. Something like, “Since Ghostzapper was capable of dominating sprint, middle, and classic distances, we can extrapolate the potential that should have Ghostzapper ran routes and Triple Crown races as a 3-year-old, he would have most certainly dominated. And furthermore, had he attempted to run on either turf or synthetic surface he would have languished and have most certainly ended up a pony at Fonner Park.” Ah, a most plausible explanation for making Stately Victor a Derby favorite ... at some pretty long odds.
But didn’t you like that stretch run in the Blue Grass? And don’t you think Ghostzapper was pretty darn good? And isn’t all that speculation worth a few bucks on Derby Day?
In the meantime, the TBA and all of their really smart friends are posting their morning line for the Kentucky Derby starting field. It’s noteworthy that yours truly will abstain from this little exercise because it’s my little way of letting Mike Battaglia know that his job is quite safe from me. It requires way too much speculation, extrapolation, ingenuity, and vodka martinis to assign odds on the Derby field. Plus, I don't want anyone to make fun of me.