Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Will the Real Jockey for Animal Kingdom Please Stand Up

On Sunday, I enjoyed perusing all the Kentucky Derby coverage and stories. Regardless of the fact that I'm a homer, I had to admit that Gary West wrote one of the best pieces about Animal Kingdom's victory and how the pieces fell into place - one disheartened trainer, two misfortunate jockeys, and a team of owners who made a business decision.

So trainer Graham Motion wins his first Derby. Jockey John Velazquez wins his first Derby. And jockey Robby Albarado, broken nose and all, watched the race and later announced, "I'm not happy,"

“It was unfortunate I got taken off the Derby winner,” said Albarado

Umm, what?? Robby Albarado was not removed from the Derby winner, he lost his Derby mount - a long shot to boot! Animal Kingdom did not become the Derby winner until he crossed the wire first. And when he did, Johnny V just happened to be in the irons.

Interestingly enough, a simple observation of Animal Kingdom's previous races clearly indicates that Albarado was not his "regular" rider. In fact, there appears to be no "regular" rider at all. He's had four different jockeys in four races. It seems to me that if there had been a "regular" rider for the Derby, Motion and the owners would've snagged Alan Garcia, who guided Animal Kingdom to victory in the Spiral Stakes. But he's Soldat's rider and was already committed to him in the Derby. So, in my opinion, Garcia has a reason to be pissed off, too.

Yes, it's lousy Albarado lost his Derby mount but Barry Irwin and the teeming millions of Team Valor probably didn't possess an overwhelming cause for loyalty to Robby; they were making a decision that they thought was in their best interest (read: winning). Just business.

Irwin and Velazquez both said that they wanted to "make it up to him" in some way. That's a task that takes a lot of creativity. Sure, they can write a big, fat check to the Robby Albarado Foundation to Eradicate Homelessness in Louisville or underwrite his next golf tournament, but that still seems like a pretty feeble "make it up to him". What could possibly be "make it up to him" quality?

All aside, Graham Motion, Johnny V, and Team Valor should revel in Fate as it sweeps them into Pimlico.


Chicago Guy said...

Poor Robbie. Sour grapes, I say. He should look at hi stats. He has won all of 7 races this year. Bad karma probably.

Katie Konrath said...

Plus, Robbie is conveniently overlooking the fact that it's a combination of horse's ability + jockey's decisions + luck that determine how a horse does in a race.

Quite likely, Robbie wouldn't have made the same racing decisions as Johnny V during the race and we'd have another Derby winner.

Congrats Animal Kingdom and Johnny V for the amazing race. You both deserved to be there.

Anonymous said...

Albarado was Curlin's regular rider. What's he complaining about?

Anonymous said...

Jocks are Independent Contractors. Business goes up and down. Take your 1099 and keep track of expenses for the tax man.

It is a tough life..RIP Mike Baze

Deltalady said...

Albarado chose to not race for two days prior to the Derby. His decision was what put it in the heads of AK's connections that he might not be 100% for the race. Had he taken his mounts those two days, there likely would not have been any question and he would have been on the winner. AK's connections made the only decision they could given the facts as they were presented to them. If Albarado didn't think he could race those two days, maybe he was questionable for the big race. It was a business decision. AK did not have a "regular" rider, so it was hardly personal or meant as a slight. A change of riders happens all the time. The racing gods anointed Johnny V and owe one to Robbie!