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TrackNotes: The Triple Crown Trail

It was an exciting and interesting day of Kentucky Derby prep races, but it's difficult to say if any questions really got answered. I spent the day at beautiful Hawthorne Race Course. When you're at the track, you try to bet on the races on the premises, but there was a lot going on around the country. But I managed. Sure did.

Not a lot happening this Saturday, so let's recap last week.

Tampa Bay Derby, Tampa Bay Downs
Musket Man kicked it in gear to just nose out Join in the Dance with Justdontcallmejeri running a fine race all the way around. Sam Davis winner General Quarters trailed badly, was in close enough into the stretch and then flattened out. Hello Broadway and Sumo didn't look too good either. Hard to see how any of these will compete in the Kentucky Derby, but we'll see then.

Louisiana Derby, Fair Grounds
Heavy rains provided a sloppy, sealed track, making it difficult to gauge these horses in this race or their next races. Papa Clem transferred to the slop from synthetic nicely, leading most of the way. But when the time came, Friesan Fire pulled away with aplomb, to quote John G. Dooley, and won convincingly under a hand ride. He'll vault to the top of most of the Derby ranking lists. Terrain hung in for third. Giant Oak trailed most of the way and might have done well to get fourth. But he'll have to show more for the Derby.

Rebel Stakes, Oaklawn Park
Ah yes, the Rebel Stakes. Old Fashioned. He's everybody's Derby favorite, right? Perhaps Silver City can turn the tables for once. Or wiseguys Hamazing Destiny or Wise Kid can jump up. No, it was the hunnerd-dollar horse, Win Willy and I had 'im. $115.60, $27.40 and $11.00. Toss out the turf attempt and note it looked like he really took to this track last time in his best race ever, and with the 50-1, why not? But what happened to Old Fashioned? Silver City, looking like a sprinter, took a very quick lead, setting quick fractions. Problem was, Old Fashioned stayed right with him and had nothing left in the tank for the last sixteenth. Old Fashioned is going to have to learn to conserve energy for a distance and he and Ramon Dominguez haven't shown it. But that's OK. I had a hunnerd dollar horse.

San Felipe, Santa Anita
Pioneerof the Nile sure looked like he had to work hard to win this one. Either he's not that good or he needed a hard race for conditioning. We'll see. But he did win. Santa Anita Derby is next, maybe. Don't be surprised to see him train right up to the Derby.

*

On the female side, Don't Forget Gil looked good in the Florida Oaks at Tampa, but Rachel Alexandra controlled and won the Fair Grounds Oaks very impressively, Calvin Borel gearing her down at the sixteenth pole. I think she has reached the upper echelon on the fillies side and looks quite promising for the Kentucky Oaks. Life is Sweet ran down Santa Teresita and Joe Talamo in the Santa Margarita.

*

Looking Good
- Musket Man
- Friesan Fire
- Papa Clem
- Win Willy
- Pioneerof the Nile

Looking Not So Good
- General Quarters
- Hello Broadway
- Sumo
- Patena
- Old Fashioned
- Silver City
- Poltergeist

Races This Week
The only Derby prep of note, the Lane's End from Turfway (ESPN, 4 p.m.) is the kind of race I don't like. You've got mostly tier 1.5 horses running on the fake stuff - horses that once were mentioned in the same breath as Derby, but now seem questionable. But this is a $500,000 race, so do well here . . . West Side Bernie and Bittel Road already have enough earnings to get into the Derby, but neither one impresses me. And do they even care to win this race? There are a million mutations of horses going to or coming from turf or synthetic or dirt in their careers. Throw in the worst race caller in the world, and it's not a pleasant experience. I'll try to find a price horse.

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Thomas Chambers is the Beachwood's man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes every Friday. You can reach him here.

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