Wednesday, 6 May 2009

So There’s That Birdstone Gelding

I’m still recuperating from last Saturday’s Derby. I could have kicked myself that night for not placing any kind of crap shot bet on Mine That Bird after declaring the Derby a “Borel race”, strongly assuming that the rail would once again be wide open for the final turn and learning that there was a rail bias at Louisville. This first rush of frustration has waned by now, and made room for the realization that, really, I didn’t do anything wrong. In fact I layed off any exotics (thanks CD for being so arrogant as to require a $2-minimum on Exactas in a 19-horse field, you sure helped) and just lost $8 on four crappy sympathy bets (FF, DP, PoTN for a win at nice betfair odds; Papa Clem for a Show); could have been worse.

So MTB was a champion in Canada. He achieved it by winning four in row, three of them stakes races. But the best he did up Nord was a G3, and he didn’t win by more than two lenghts in any of these races. Then came a miserable BC and two now-famous mediocre performances in his only dirt starts at a backwater racetrack.

So he didn’t look quite that enchanting when suffering from bad moves at Sunland. I didn’t watch those races and likely wouldn’t have even if I had the race replays available. That‘s because even if they had been horrible trips he still should have distanced his opposition to figure as a Derby candidate. He moved up 24 points from his Sunland Derby Beyer, although in light of my last post I can’t help noticing how much the BRIS speed rating kicked the DRF’s butt (they had MTB rated at 88 for the Sunland Derby, and consistently about 10 points higher than the DRF). Pioneerof The Nile meanwhile was impressive in finishing second after the predictable wide trip. Not that I want to blame Garrett Gomez, who did the best he could with trainers’ orders to stalk but stay clear of kickback, which is a surefire way to make your Derby an 11-furlong race. Friesan Fire is excused because of his early accident.

So MTB was lucky in several ways on Saturday, but that doesn’t mean he’s a fluke. His rail move was thoroughly impressive and there’s no denying he did step up several levels from all of his previous attempts, which makes him a conspiracy theorists wet dream, but also American racing’s best story in years. I don’t expect him to be victorious at Pimlico, but I wouldn’t be shocked (again) either.

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