(Image : M.Compton - Footage : TVG)
KENTUCKY DERBY (G1)
Churchill Downs, Dirt, 2000m
5 May 2012
Lucas Marquardt - Who knows what was sacrificed to the gods to secure this week’s weather in Louisville, but who cares? Totally worth it. Once again, racetrackers got an ideal morning at Churchill yesterday, with pleasant temperatures and a mild breeze. As of 6pm Thursday, weather.com was calling for scattered thunderstorms both today and tomorrow and a 50% chance of rain. Fingers crossed. After two days of walking the shedrow at Churchill, which generated a couple of rumours that trainer Mike Harrington quickly squashed, Creative Cause returned to the track for the first time since his :47 4/5 work at Churchill Monday. He’s another horse I got a chance to see up close as a juvenile-at Becky Thomas’s Sequel operation in Florida, (where all our Summerhill Ready To Run scholarship recipients go) and as opposed to El Padrino, Creative Cause was much more of a finished product at two. That’s born out by his race record: he broke his maiden in mid-July of 2011 and won the GII Best Pal Stakes three weeks later. It’s impressive that he’s trained on the way he has.
There aren’t too many horses that can win on debut going five furlongs in :56 4/5 and be in the Derby mix months later. Looks wise, if you’ve liked him all spring, there’s no reason to jump off now. Harrington yesterday called all the talk about the shoe Creative Cause tossed earlier in the week much ado about nothing. “People asked why the horse didn’t go out at 8:30 a.m. (Sunday morning) and I told them we had to put a shoe on him, and people have been asking about it since,” he said. “I wish I’d just told them the exercise boy got drunk and didn’t show up on time.” The horse himself is as solid as his race record. He might not have the ‘wow’ factor of a Union Rags, but he looks strong and alert. The odd-couple pairing of the soft-spoken trainer Mike Maker and his impulsive owner Kendall Hansen has made for interesting watching on the Derby trail this year. Maker might not be a quote machine, but he can be a pretty funny guy. Yesterday, a reporter asked him what was going through his mind at the draw, when, with just two pills remaining and post one looming a serious threat for Hansen, the horse was assigned a much better spot in the 14 hole. “I thought, man, I might have to give these doctors to my left mouth-to-mouth, and I’m not going to do it,” Maker said. “I’m not qualified.”
From a betting perspective, I’m not in love with Hansen. I think he’s got a lot of talent and of course would be no surprise, but he was relatively fiery on the track yesterday morning and, given his disposition before the Blue Grass Stakes, could really be wound up by post time. Couple that with the fact that he figures to be close to what could be a hot pace, and the mile and a quarter becomes a serious question. Still, he looks good and I wouldn’t blame anyone who is looking for a repeat of his GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile score. I spent a bit of my morning collecting quotes for the Derby experiences story that ran in our special Kentucky Derby section today. Not all the quotes/stories made it in there, and there were a few good ones. I asked Hidden Brook’s Jack Brothers about his biggest Derby score. It came, not surprisingly, on the horse Brothers himself signed for at auction, Big Brown. (Hidden Brook bought the horse at KEEAPR for client Paul Pompa, Jr.) “I put down a sizeable win bet, the biggest I’d ever made before,” he said, later revealing that he collected $6,000 on the bet in the 2008 Derby. Two weeks after that, he nailed the David Donk-trained Pays To Dream at 19-1 in the GII Dixie Stakes on the Pimlico, and wheeled the winnings back on Big Brown in the Preakness. Nice two weeks. Here’s an interesting note: Brothers (acting on behalf of Hidden Brook) signed for Big Brown at auction, while his son, bloodstock agent Chris Brothers, signed for Union Rags as a yearling. If Union Rags is able to win tomorrow, it could represent, I guess, the first time a father and son have personally signed for Derby winners.
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News