When last we convened on They Are Off, Eskendereya was looking like he would be no more than a 2-1 favorite in a field of twenty which would actually have been him and a field of 19 pretenders to the Crown (Triple, that is) in the Kentucky Derby. Now, you might be hard-pressed to find a true favorite for the Derby with a flashlight and a bloodhound.
Obviously, the role of favorite will be inherited by Lookin At Lucky, the 2009 Juvenile Champion. The one thing that Lookin At Lucky doesn't seem to possess is any racing luck in 2010. His first race at Oaklawn featured him bobbling on the backstrech and just getting up to defeat Noble's Promise at the wire. His second race at Santa Anita found him checked out of the action by a hopeless longshot as he appeared to be gathering momentum on the far turn. His 2010 seems very reminiscent to me of the 2001 of Dollar Bill. Dollar Bill had all the makings of a "wiseguy" horse I alluded to in a previous column. However, the one thing the "wiseguys" couldn't give him was any luck. Dollar Bill got stampeded out of the Kentucky Derby in 2001 on the far turn and finished 15th in a field of seventeen. Lookin At Lucky had his final workout on Monday morning and the DRF called it the work of the day at Churchill, covering five furlongs in 1:00.38. Of course, when there aren't nineteen other horses around you to cause problems, anyone can look invincible.
The other major development with the removal of Eskendereya is that his trainer, Todd Pletcher, will now run a filly, Devil May Care, in his place in the Derby. That comes complete with John Velazquez in the saddle. The last filly to compete in the Derby was Eight Belles in 2008, who finished second behind Big Brown, but we all know what happened after she crossed the finish line. Devil May Care will be one of four confirmed Pletcher horses in the gate on Saturday, along with Discreetly Mine, Mission Impazible, and Super Saver. Pletcher has already yanked Interactif and Rule out of the Derby. The removal of Rule eliminates part of the expected pace scenario, which now will include Sidney's Candy, American Lion, and Conveyance. All along, I have been thinking there would be so much speed that it surely would collapse at the end. Now, maybe one of those speed demons can careen along on a lead and pull a Spend A Buck or War Emblem and go all the way up front.
So, Todd Pletcher with his inclusions and exclusions has already had a major impact on the way the Kentucky Derby of 2010 will shape up. This is also nearly a full week before the horses even hear the first few notes of "My Old Kentucky Home". Get ready for a wild week!
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!