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Deceiving Eyes

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 4/5/2010 9:04:23 AM


We all learned a thing or two from the SA Derby, the Wood and a little about the Illinois group last weekend but before we delve into the past, take a clue from one of the best horsemen that ever lived.

Before you get all hot and bothered about what has just transpired, think about the thoughts of Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel about the awesome 2005 Wood win by Bellamy Road. Frankel could read horses even up to his untimely death as his world-class training attests, and he had some interesting things to say about getting on the Road again only 5 years ago. He was speaking about having a tough race to get a horse fighting fit for the Derby.

Frankel: “I don’t know if a romp necessarily means it’s an easy race. I mean like Bellamy Road had a romp. But I don’t know if that wasn’t a tough race on him. Your eyes are deceiving when you watch horse racing, you’re thinking a horse runs very--is winning very easily, but he might be doing the best he can even though he’s not being driven. So it’s a hard thing to say: do you want a tough race?

“I think some horses need a tough race because they are lightly-raced, you know? And I think those runners need it tougher. I remember Sunday Silence having that tough race before, but it was 4 weeks out in the Santa Anita Derby where Patrick hit him about 10 times in the stretch when Easy Goer had the easy race going in there, where he never put him into a drive.”

Personally, I’ve seen this happen in the Press Box a ton of times. Ten guys can see a race, and you can get 9 different opinions about what really happened. As the Derby days dwindle town, pay attention to trainer quotes and work patterns. Don’t be so concerned about speed in the works, but the way the works were accomplished and try to read into the trainer’s thoughts at the same time.


Roll over Beethoven, and tell Tschaikowsky the news, there is a new sheriff in town and his name is Eskendereya. The way he steam rolled over the Wood Memorial field could very well make him the chalk in Louisville on May 1. Okay, he got a perfect trip, sitting in the garden spot all the way before drawing off but as the great Horatio Luro would have loved, rider Johnny Velazquez did not ‘squeeze the lemon dry.’

The son of Giant’s Causeway out of a Seattle Slew mare was never asked for his best and basically won close to being geared down. His Beyer of 109 was sensational.

On the Left Coast, Lookin at Lucky was just that in the SA Derby. Squeezed early, bothered on the first turn, bothered just before the stretch when looking intimidated, he did re-rally in game style for third. He will live to fight another day and the blood is there for Lucky to thrive long. His kin Kensei won the 9-furlong Jim Dandy going away with a 106 Beyer and had a legit excuse of the slop in lone try at the classic distance of a mile and a quarter.

Sidney’s Candy could be the revenge player in the life of Joe Talamo. Last year he was on the Derby chalk I Want Revenge but that one was scratched on the day of the race.

Meanwhile, Candy was dandy. He got an easy lead, resisted when he was challenged and won on his own recording a 100 Beyer figure.

By the unbeaten Candy Ride who could run all day, Sidney’s has the pedigree to thrive as they go on. You have to go deep, but his second dam Exchange earned $1.2 million, was a multiple Grade 1 winner and won at a mile and a half.

In the Illinois Derby, American Lion got away with a pretty soft :49.32 pace and lulled them to sleep on the front end. Runner-up Yawanna Twist has the look of a pure sprinter and probably will not make the trip to Kentucky while Backtalk was caught wide, but was pretty much ineffective.

American Lion’s dam won her only start, but is kin to a runner that won a stakes at 9 furlongs. This guy could be up against it if he gets to travel on as he will need to really build on the recent winning 98 Beyer.


Can’t pass up the chance to mention birthday boy Secretariat. March 30 would have been his 40th birthday and he was arguably the most impressive racehorse of the modern era. His records in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes still stand. In life he was amazing. In the Derby he did something that is pretty much unthinkable. Every quarter of a mile that day was run in a faster time. That is flat out unheard of.

The times of the splits were :25 1/5, :24, :23 4/5, :23 2/5 and :23.

In death he was also amazing. The vet that performed the autopsy said that Secretariat’s heart was the biggest he had ever seen, about double what a normal horse’s heart would be. And not many horses have a postage stamp issued with his image.



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