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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wait - What, It's SATURDAY!?!?!

Oh, dear. It has recently come to my attention that there's a major equine event taking place in KY this Saturday... might be in Looiville... (that's how you say it, for the unititiated)... might have something to do with red roses, I think? ACK!!!
  Yeah, THAT'S IT!

I am so buried right now in my new job, summer plans including getting DD to college orientation 8 hours away (she's going to Ohio State, following in my footsteps!) and trying to squeeze in a few vacation days, scholarship applications, watching lacrosse games, organizing a Boy Scout troop-wide event, etc. ETC. that I have scarcely found time to breathe, much less think about the Derby. It's not even on my phone calendar yet which is truly disgraceful - but lately I've been lucky to stay one day ahead of anything, much less a week. My family would be grateful if maybe once in the next five days they got an actual home-cooked meal, but hope they're not holding their breath!

So, there's not going to be many hours of contemplation and website-researching to compile the Official RiderWriter Guide to Derby Day this year.* Nope, all you're gonna get is my down-and-dirty, half-formed, "I like these horses" because of XYZ kind of opinions. Sorry if you were counting on me for betting advice! Not to mention, I am also a fan of the current favorites, so I'm not being very original. Oh, well!

Raise your hand if you're surprised I like the really grey horse. Hahaha, of freaking course I do. I've liked him ever since last year, along with much of the horseracing world. I think he's just a super-cool horse. I actually don't think Hansen is particularly handsome, but I do see intelligence there, and from what I've heard that is a key component to a really good racer.

Here's a bit of information I gleaned that makes me like his connections, too, especially the doctor for whom he's named:

Dr. Kendall Hansen & Sky Chai Racing

Dr. Hansen has owned racehorses for 30 years. His introduction to horse racing began while working at a Ford Plant where a coworker gave him tips on wagering. He earned enough money playing the ponies to pay for his first year of medical school. He calls champion Hansen his “horse of a lifetime” & donated $12,000 of Hansen’s Breeders Cup Juvenile earnings to New Vocations Racehorse Adoption.

Now, I'm sure that was pocket change to Dr. Hansen but to the good people at New Vocations it was a nice windfall. Yay for him! If more racehorse owners would step up and bring attention to the retraining/retirement operations, encourage people to think about their own TBs retirement, and donate towards that cause, many more former racers could be found new homes.

Union Rags
Lots of sentimental reasons to like this horse, and lots of practical ones, too. The latter include the fact that he's a real bruiser and just looks like he means business on the track. If I saw him barrelling down on me I'd probably think twice about staying in his way. That's important in a bumper-car race like the Derby.
 Yep, he's The Man alright and he knows it. Not to mention, dude has a pretty good turn of foot:  I am willing to overlook the third in the Florida Derby last time out, as he still had plenty in the tank and might just need that little bit of extra track he'll get at Churchill to really show us what he's made of. I sure hope he gets a good post position (draw going on virtually as I write this).

As far as the mushy reasons to like "Rags," (once again I'm assuming an obvious barn name, but who knows, it could be "Bozo" for all I know), they are pretty hard to miss. A big, strapping bay with a white blaze, trained by Michael Matz, a two-year old wunderkind? It just kills me that he has to be a bay and so much like Barbaro. Why couldn't MM have any other color horse who's a front-runner on the Derby trail.... *sigh* It's really rather spooky. Well, I just hope Big B is smiling down upon his "brother" here and will keep him safe. I'm sure the media is going to be all over this on Saturday, and Michael is going to be a bit sick and tired of the comparisons, but they are purely unavoidable.

Another neat thing about Union Rags is his owner, Phyllis Wyeth. She comes from an extremely illustrious TB breeding/racing family – her father owned Gone West, Union Rags’ grandsire – but is “small-time” herself. As she said in this article, “I have four foals. And one makes the Kentucky Derby.” She actually sold the horse as a youngster and then one night, woke up from a dream knowing she just had to buy him back. Just goes to show you that we should pay attention to our subconscious, because on Saturday she will most likely be saddling the  favorite!

Creative Cause
 Yep, can't ignore another grey. It really is just a coincidence that Creative Cause is also highly favored! :-) This guy is actually more to my taste color-wise than the strangely pale Hansen. CC is a beautifully-bred son of a gun and the hope is blood will tell; any great-great-great grandson of Secretariat gets extra points from me, of course.
I read some very interesting background material on this fellow, courtesy of my favorite source, turfwriter Steve Haskin. What a cool story! I like trainers like this Harrington guy; men/women of few words, not legendary or famous, trying to stay out of the spotlight despite their moment of fame but certainly enjoying the incomparable Derby experience in their own way. You just have to root for these folks over someone like Baffert or Lukas who has already won so much.

*  *  *

That about wraps up my pre-Derby coverage. Once again on the first Saturday in May I will be glued to the TV and saying to the family, "One day I'm gonna to be there." The sad thing is I really could have gone this year, in some style, as a friend of a friend offered me a grandstand ticket. The catch, of course, was the price (around $250). That didn't include meals or lodging (though I have a line on another friend of a friend upon whose L'ville couch I might be able to crash) so it was out of reach. In Missouri I shall be, screaming them home!

P.S. My pick for classiest name in the bunch: Went The Day Well. TB naming perfection.

* I said that, and now of course I have spent a couple hours looking at stuff online. Still, nothing like last year!


  1. Oh, this Derby is killing me! So many tasty choices--I could easily talk myself into rooting for half the field. In the end, however, I suspect I'll mostly be cheering for Union Rags. I have been nursing a serious Michael Matz crush since I was a *teenager*... Somethings just don't change with time!

    Actually my biggest issue is whether or not I should watch the broadcast live. I really WANT to, especially since I had to miss last year. Unfortunately, post time more or less coincides with my friend Teresa's schooling show. She is riding her 29 year old horse in it. They haven't shown in decades, and at his age, it's probably their last hurrah. I would really, really like to take lots of good photos of the two of them. I'm still pretty raw from losing Maggie, and I strongly feel Teresa should have these pictures...

    Sigh. The race will be just as exciting if I watch it two hours after the fact, right?

  2. So the comment is still here. Beats me what the *()$!#)(% happened just now - perhaps it was related to my horrible eyesight and the fact that stuff is practically microscopic on the phone. Let this be a lesson: from now on, I might just save all my posts to Word documents as a precaution!

    Anyway, yes, the quality and depth of the Derby field this year is great. I haven't had time to really peruse all the runners but I know people in the TB world are pleased. It's a shame that I have to be so worried that something catastrophic will happen, on the one day when the world is watching, but Eight Belles and Barbaro have spooked me badly. I'm glad the favorites appear to be sturdy, well-made and well-trained individuals. MM is the bomb - I'd pick him or Graham Motion for my horses over EVERYONE else.

    That's really exciting that Teresa and Flick are showing! I had no idea the latter was so up in years. Yes, I think the race will be still be great a couple hours later. The time I got the most mad about missing it was the day I tuned in literally 1 minute after it ended. Donna Brothers was interviewing the jockey. OOOOH, I was mad! (I'd been at a Scout event and raced for the TV, but alas, it was too late) Set your DVR and watch the whole thing in one piece after you lend your fabulous photography talents to your buddy. I know she will be grateful. :-) Just try really hard not to overhear anyone with a smartphone at the show who's talking about it, argh!

  3. Great to hear your opinions, I've been much too busy this year to really follow the race at all, but I have heard it's a great field!


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