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| KENTUCKY DERBY CRYSTALIZING |
By Brian Mulligan
After the equine smoke evaporates this weekend, racing fanswill have a much clearer view of this years Kentucky Derby picture.It could still be a little fuzzy, but after the Blue Grass andthe Arkansas Derby are decided the major preps will almost behistory. One thing is certain, its Nick Zitos party and youbetter bring a gift for the host.
With several legit contenders, Zito is positioned to have maybea fourth stringer succeed on May 7 in the 1 ¼-mile classic.
A lot happened last week and the main man was George SteinbrennersBellamy Road. He registered a freakish win in the Wood Memorialromping by daylight and earning a 120 Beyer to boot. He ran fastenough to set the stakes record and tie the track record thathad stood for over 30 years and was set by 1972 Ky. Derby heroRiva Ridge.
Greeleys Galaxy took the Illinois Derby but not sure he wasbeating anybody and the shocker of the weekend was in the SantaAnita Derby. Jeff Mullins became the only trainer in history tosaddle 3 consecutive SA Derby winners when his Buzzards Bay upsetholding off a 60-1 shot.
The Florida Derby exacta of High Fly and Noble Causeway, bothZito students, will work up to the Derby. This leaves Sun King,as the lone Zito charge to prep again and he will be highly regardedin the Blue Grass.
The Blue Grass will also tell us what Consolidator is made of.When he won the San Felipe, the Anita strip was like a highway.There will be much more speed for him to deal with on Derby Day.
Dont look for High Limits A game in the Blue Grass. He hasonly run once in 5 months and Frankel will not squeeze the lemondry before hitting Kentucky.
The condition of Rockport Harbor and Bandini are a bit iffyat this point in time. Both are quality runners but Bandini missedthe Florida Derby because of a bruised foot and has been workinglightly. Rockport Harbor also has not had a smooth ride and hasopted out of the Arkansas Derby. Coming to a race of the magnitudeof the Derby, you pretty much cant have a pimple going into thefray.
Dont totally give up on Wilko yet. He was wide in the SA Derby,seems to be able to get the trip and he should be a generous price.
They dont make horses like they used to. Twotrends bettors should be aware of for this years Derby. Onlyone horse since 1947, Sunnys Halo, won the Derby off only 2 sophomorepreps. And only once since 1956, Needles, had been off for 35days before winning the classic.
In the mid 1950s, maybe horses, and people, weretougher. From 1948 till 1958 eight of the 11 Derby winners ranjust 4 days before the zenith event. Good food for thought.