is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Derby Fever is Rising

by Kim Thomas

With today's spring-like weather, my thoughts have turned to that un-holiday that everyone in the world seems to celebrate on the first Saturday in May. With the Kentucky Derby just around the corner from just around the corner, I've been trying to glean the best of the best from the latest news from the racing world. I will, as heretofore promised, now name the next three Derby competitors who have risen to the top of late.

First up is Pioneer of the Nile (son of Empire Maker; Bob Baffert, trainer), who continues preparations for the upcoming Grade I San Felipe Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park. He appears to be impressive in workouts, and the buzz is big on this horse after winning the Grade I Cash Call Futurity in late December, and his first 2009 victory at Santa Anita in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes back in February.

Sticking with my strategy of nonsensical choices, how about another Thoroughbred with another tempting name? I Want Revenge is more of a long-strided threat than an afterthought, though, after he ran rough-shod over the rest of the field of the Grade III Gotham States, at Aqueduct on Saturday. I Want Revenge's sire is none other than Stephen Got Even.

As everyone who knows me is aware, I am just an old softy and have been known to cry over a Folger's commercial, so even though he finished a paltry 10th out of 12 horses in his maiden race, I have to wax sentimental here and give a little love to Nicanor, the full brother of the 2006 Derby winner, perhaps a horse prayed for by more people than ever before, the late and beloved Barbaro. Seems that Nicanor made a significant improvement yesterday at Gulfstream Park, when he came in second, breaking quickly out of the gate and leading much of the way under the hand of jockey Jose Lezcano in a 7-furlong race. Even though it was a relatively short race, my feeling is that Nicanor will improve his distance running, and win the hearts of many a Derby wagerer, even if he does have big shoes to fill.

The sun shines bright...

(All photos are from the 134th Kentucky Derby and provided courtesy of Tom Eisenhauer photography!) -- Barbaro winning the Derby

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