I certainly bombed out as a handicapper this year: none of my three Derby favorites even hit the board, much less won the race. Instead, we had this guy taking the roses.
I'll Have Another was not really in the spotlight before the race, and obviously wasn't terribly popular with bettors as he went off at 15-1, but his name did come up pre-race as a contender. A lot of that was due to his absolutely sterling pedigree. The main reason this got my attention (most Derby horses sport pedigrees laden with Big Names) was my favorite turf writer Steve Haskin said IHA's was the finest he could recall. Here's the whole quote:
"You never know what tools someone uses to pick their Derby horse, but if you go by pedigree, although there are a number of classy, stamina-laden pedigrees, our favorite is I’ll Have Another. Just look at the Who’s Who of names, both American and European, in his pedigree. From Europe: Nijinsky, Sea Bird, Roberto, Sadler’s Wells, Le Fabuleux, Ribot, and Lyphard. From America: Pleasant Colony, His Majesty, Stage Door Johnny, Hail to Reason, Alydar, Tom Rolfe, Princequillo, Arch, Kris S, Caucasus, Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer, and Danzig. And how about top-class fillies such as Althea, Quill, Bramalea, and Patelin? There is more stamina and class in this pedigree than any we can ever recall." - Steve Haskin, Bloodhorse.com, 4-May-2012
That is a pretty ringing endorsement, my friends. Too bad I saw it after I wrote my blog, haha! The only stallion I have not heard of on that entire list is Caucasus, but I'm afraid the fillies are all unfamiliar. Might have to look into them just out of curiousity.
Despite the fact that I'll Have Another was able to catch him in the stretch, Bodemeister also ran a terrific race. I really thought he was going to win it wire-to-wire. Before the race I was not on board with him, despite the hype, for the simple reason that no horse has won the Derby who didn't run as a two-year-old since something like 1887. I was skeptical at best. However, as this article says, he set a blistering pace and was still right there at the end. He is definitely one to keep an eye on in the future. Those quotes from Andrew Beyer are rather a bummer, though; I had kept reading about the quality and depth of the field this year, there as 10 horses who could win, how great they were, blah blah blah, and here he says they're (not in so many words) a bunch of junk except for Bodemeister. I'm sorry he feels that way, as I was feeling a bit more upbeat about the state of the American TB.
[Random aside: I was poking around and found this little gem: Beyer did a workup of Secretariat's stats using an updated methodology, in 2011, and arrived at a 139 rating. In comparison, IHA earned a 101 for this Derby (a very mediocre score). Yup, no doubt that Big Red would smoke every horse living today! :-)]
As I said, before the race I'll Have Another was pretty much off my radar screen so I hadn't looked into his connections. I thought his young jockey's - a Derby rookie, of all things! - tears of joy post-race were just delightful and I continue to be glad of his success.
I'm sorry if I've bored anybody silly who's not into TB racing, but this time of year I do start to pay attention. Fair-weather fan, I guess! :-) Sort of like the baseball team here in STL. Unless the Cardinals are actually in the playoffs, my family and I have not got a clue. "Oh, there was a game last night?" is a phrase I have learned not to utter around many, in response to some agitated comment, lest they glare at me like I am the stupidest person on planet St. Louis. Now just for fun, when I was at a sailing club event early Saturday afternoon, I couldn't resist asking one of my buddies if she was watching "the race" later. Blank look. The Derby may reel in many who never ever watch any other horse event, but even that isn't enough for some folks, LOL!