Sunday, May 8, 2011

Animal Kingdom in Derby; Tabby Lane Hits the Board

If I had a choice, I would have chosen to be the ‘most right’ on Tabby Lane’s race rather than the Derby or the Oaks.  Not only was that the case, but my Oaks and Derby choices were the traditional train wreck.  Actually, picking the Oaks I’m 0-1 so I don’t feel badly about that one.  To be honest, I don’t feel all that badly about missing the Derby with Dialed In – my streak of futility has simply become ridiculous; it’s a caricature of itself.  Dialed In was done early and was not factor.  He hated being in the back and ran like it.  Another one bites the dust.

Animal Kingdom an ‘unworthy’ winner?  Well, in five races the horse has finished no worse than second on three different surfaces.  He broke his maiden in nice form in a Maiden Special at Keeneland last fall and came in winning a Grade III.  But he lost an optional claiming race?  Uh, so did the favorite. Dialed In won the Florida Derby while Animal Kingdom came in off the Spiral – not exactly a traditional prep for the Derby, but AK had a nice move over the Churchill dirt on April 30 which should have been a clue that the surface wasn’t going to be an issue.  From my analysis yesterday:

16. Animal Kingdom (Motion/Albarado Velazquez): First start over the dirt. The one work has been solid and a colt that has impressed everyone he’s come in contact with so far in Louisville. Had a great win in the Spiral and the distance should not be a concern. Will certainly be a factor if he handles the surface.

All the watchers loved the way he looked during the week.  He was bred to go long and should have handled the distance without a problem.  I missed the clues and chose to ignore the work – obviously at my own peril.  It was a great ride by John Velazquez and Graham Motion is as hot as you can be.  Gary Stevens thinks he should love Pimlico and with his breeding he should be able top get a mile and a half.  There will be fresh horses coming at him in Baltimore and, should it matter, in New York.  If you combine what this horse seems to have the potential to do with the relative mediocrity of what remains of this crop of three year olds, there very well may be a Triple Crown winner in 2011.

Jockey Dean Butler had Tabby Lane in great position throughout and she faced down the favorite in the stretch, finishing nicely for second.  The six and a half furlong distance was probably a bit short for her, but I thought she handled it well.  There is reason for optimism as we head north – not as much optimism as last year, but hopefully we’ll have a much better result.  She’ll load up to Canterbury either today or tomorrow and should be settled in her stall by Thursday.  It’s going to be fun for everyone to see her again and there is no better feeling than to watch her race live rather than on television or the computer.

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