I must say that this last weekend's two prep races (The Blue Grass Stakes and The Arkansas Derby) really did not clarify the Kentucky Derby picture for me. Let me restate that, the Derby picture is now Eskendereya clear as a bell in the foreground and everyone else in a blur in the background. The last, best hope for anyone on the outside looking in now is the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes this weekend at Keeneland. So, with that in mind, here are the Super Six Derby Pix:
#1 Eskendereya- Seriously, what is he going to be on Derby Day? 8-5, 9-5, maybe 2-1. He stands to be an overwhelming favorite in the Run For The Roses and you know what, he deserves to be. He is the only horse that has really distinguished himself at all every step of the way this spring. Apparently, the plan is to work him twice more before May 1 to get him ready. I can only think that Todd Pletcher is grinning like the Cheshire Cat all the time nowadays.
#2 Lookin At Lucky- I have a friend who told me this weekend he is planning to play a $100 Exacta Box in the Derby of Eskendereya and Lookin At Lucky. I really couldn't think of a good reason to tell him not to do it. Lookin At Lucky got totally compromised by a hopeless longshot in the Santa Anita Derby, which is not a good note to enter the big dance on, but remember, he did rally to get third after the incident. He reminds me of a college basketball team that loses in its conference tournament, will he get to the Final Four or lose in a first-round upset?
#3 Ice Box- I mentioned in the last edition of the Pix that this horse just keep climbing the ladder and really isn't doing anything of note. It is the truth since everyone else is falling by the wayside and he just keeps basking in the glow of his Florida Derby win. I think he is a live possibility in the Kentucky Derby given the fact that there will be so much pace in the race and his come-from-behind style might be perfect to pick up the pieces and get a piece of it, if not win the whole thing.
#4 Sidney's Candy- Had things all his own way in the Santa Anita Derby and braced for the challenge from Lookin At Lucky that never came. He merely sped off to win by nearly five lengths and posted a 100 Beyer figure. Will they send him to the front in the Derby (with Rule, Conveyance, American Lion, and all the others that want the front as well) or will they try to take him off the pace slightly and let him stalk in behind the pace and be the first on the scene when the pace collapses? Valid questions both.
#5 Noble's Promise- I knew as soon as the gates opened at Oaklawn Park on Saturday that he was done. His start was a standing one at best and he never really showed anything at all, finishing a completely non-threatening fifth. It was not a good time for him to throw in the worst race of his career. Unfortunately for those of us who were on his bandwagon, it is not a good time for a mystery. A little more certainty heading to Churchill Downs would have been nice.
#6 Dublin- D. Wayne Lukas has won the Kentucky Derby four times. This will be his best chance this year and the truest thing I can say about him is that he seems to not want to pass anybody. He had every opportunity to win the Arkansas Derby on Saturday and couldn't get past the winner, Line Of David, who set a near-suicidal pace, and Super Saver, who is another horse that should impress but hasn't. If Lukas can get him focused on finishing and winning in time for May 1, he might win it. If he can't, it might be the next in what is becoming a long line of not quite good enough efforts.
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!