2006 Toyota Blue Grass Classic Recap: Sinister Minister Sizzles
|Sinister Minister Sizzles in Toyota Blue Grass, Burns Field by 12 ¾ Lengths|
by Ultimatecapper.com Horse Handicapper Kenneth Strong
April 15, 2006 – Sinister Minister showed the easterners what speed was really all about with a sizzling wire-to-wire victory in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass-G1 on Saturday at Keeneland – and he made a number of 2006 Kentucky Derby contenders look like also rans in the process.
After breaking in the air, Sinister Minister rushed quickly to the lead. He had a two-length advantage after a quarter in 22.91 and he continued to widen from there. He was seven lengths in front after a half in 45.88 and six furlongs in 1:09.94, added another length on the final turn, got the mile in 1:35.45 and then galloped away through the stretch to best 65-1 longshot Storm Treasure by 12 ¾ lengths. The final time for the mile and an eighth was 1:48.85.
It was a further 4 ½ lengths back to the previously unbeaten Strong Contender in third and another four lengths back to $1.80-1 favorite Bluegrass Cat. The latter finished 21 ¼ lengths behind the winner while second choice First Samurai finished fifth, beaten 30 ½ lengths by the winner. Needless to say First Samurai will not be going to the 2006 Kentucky Derby. And Bluegrass Cat will regroup before making a decision.
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Garret Gomez, Sinister Minister returned 19.40, 9.20, 5.80 across the board as the overlay lone speed and increased his lifetime earnings to $503,880 from a career record of 2-1-0 in five starts. More importantly he got the graded stakes earnings he needed to get into the May 6 Kentucky Derby.
Sinister Minister also gave trainer Bob Baffert his third shot at the 2006 Derby, joining stablemates Bob and John, winner of the Wood Memorial, and Point Determined, runner up in the Santa Anita Derby.Realistically though, Baffert may need all three starters just to beat favorites Brother Derek and Lawyer Ron. In all fairness to the favorites in the Blue Grass, the Keeneland racing surface has been especially kind to front runners – and in this case the strong speed bias helped the winner a ton.
Sinister Minister had previously faded to finish second in the California Derby behind Cause To Believe, who most recently got a lesson in class in the Illinois Derby when Sweetnorthernsaint ran away from him. Bob and John wore down a tired head-up-in-the-air Keyed Entry in the Wood Memorial and Point Determined couldn’t beat Brother Derek in the Santa Anita Derby after that one was softened up on the turn by A.P. Warrior.
Sinister Minister may be the speed-of-the-speed in the 2006 Kentucky Derby but his class may be suspect. And while the Blue Grass has produced five Kentucky Derby winners in the last 20 years, the last one came in 1995 (Thunder Gulch). Add to that the fact that there have been only three wire-to-wire winners of the Kentucky Derby in the last 20 years – Winning Colors (1988), Go For Gin (1994 – sloppy track), and War Emblem (2002).
All three wire-to-wire Kentucky Derby winners in the last 20 years had one thing in common however, that Sinister Minister might also have. They were able to open daylight on the field early and hold a clear lead for three-quarters while setting a moderate pace.
That alone makes Sinister Minister and interesting longshot on the first Saturday in May.