Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Nomination Is In: May 7, 2011; The 137th Kentucky Derby and an All Graded Stakes Pick 3

Our friend taking a nap off to the left is none other than Breeders' Cup Juvenile Champion and the 2011 winner of the Timely Writer Stakes, Uncle Mo. I never blame the horse, but I do question in hindsight the humans that surround the horse. I also found myself shaking my head, but not surprised, with the USA Today this week, in particular an article written by Tom Pedulla. In the article published on Monday May 2nd it was represented that Uncle Mo had a "textbook" workout (Trainer Pletcher's words) and that he was good to go in the Derby, with owner Mike Repole stating that Uncle Mo looked like a different horse than the one that left Belmont Park two weeks earlier.

The Turk is not a trained journalist nor do I pretend to be, but I find it odd that this article was nothing more than a regurgitation of what Trainer Pletcher and Owner Repole had to say. It seems to me that Mr. Pedulla, the 2009 Maryland Jockey Club David F. Woods Award winner, should have got the opinions of a few other observers with perhaps a bit less bias, assuming he had the inches and newsprint available to him from his editors, and if he didn't, again, I am not attacking Mr. Pedulla whom I respect.

Mike Welsh, from his duties as the clocker writing updates for the Daily Racing Form described the workout as well, taking time to note how Stay Thirsty was able to hang well with his far more talented stablemate. It seems Mr. Welsh took the glass is half full approach and attributed Stay Thirsty's work as improving versus my opinion that Uncle Mo was not "textbook".

Mr. Welsh didn't so much contradict Trainer Pletcher's comments but did provide more color. I'm more disappointed that what passes for an article in a national newspaper in the biggest week of the horse racing season was nothing more than an opportunity for Trainer Pletcher to perpetuate the feeling that nothing was wrong with his charge. Just a few days later, another Daily Racing Form article showed a picture that showed Uncle Mo working with a very high action. It seemed apparent that this horse was not ready.

I'd love to understand what the plan was for Uncle Mo as a three year old. The way he was prepared you would think he was made out of glass. We are led to believe that one hundred and thirty seven years of lessons could be thrown away and you could baby your equine into being a classic distance winner.

When will owners and trainers understand that they have the biggest obligation of all to regrowing the sport back to prominence. If the horse is healthy, it must be campaigned. A trainer studies the conditions book and plots a course through the year, planning out the fitness cycle to peak at the time and place of a key race. Owners have an obligation to campaign their horses, travel them as needed, and grow the sport through fan interest. The owner and trainer have much more of an ability to improve the state of the sport than an organization like the NTRA. The horses will generate the buzz and people will come. I would have gotten on a plane to see Uncle Mo in a race at Gulfstream this winter, but not the Timely Writer. How huge would it have been for Uncle Mo to challenge the field at the Arkansas Derby instead of trying a softer spot at the Wood only to get his hay handed to him?

I just don't think all the rich folk at the top of the sport get their obligations. I also don't get why you'd place a horse with a trainer who is more of an managing director than he is a hands on horse flesh conditioner. If Uncle Mo was in a barn that had 15 horses, do you think the trainer would have pussyfooted around? Mr. Pletcher knows horses, of this I have no doubt at all, but with that many high profile horses a man can only spread himself so thin.

The Turk likes to handicap and he's a race fan first and foremost. I get upset when I sense I lack of leadership and I really don't like to read bullshit like I read in the USA Today this week. You prep the horse to shake him down and part of greatness is being sturdy enough to handle the stress and strain of the preparation. You can't just open the doors for a party without doing any planning, unless your party is a crackhouse I reckon. OK, enough rambling.

Churchill Downs Race 9-10-11, the Pick Three including the Grade II Churchill Downs, Grade I Turf Classic and Grade I Kentucky Derby

I was spittin' mad with myself when I went back to my marked up PP's for the Oaks to see I had Pretty Plum a 1st to 4th and an "A". I talked myself out of placing her as high in the final analysis. I would have never put St. John's River so high but the stretch was dead and speed came to die, perhaps an indication that the track wasn't exactly fast. In hindsight St. John's River had a great late kick.

I'll let my spreadsheet speak for itself right now. The horses in blue are my considerations for the pick three. I'll be playing the races vertically and horizontally as well and the card was excellent and has me really jazzed for the first time in awhile.

Have fun friends, Turk Out!

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