Arkansas Derby - Recap
Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Sway Away, Alternation, J.W. Blue, The Factor, J.P.’s Gusto, Elite Alex, Saratoga Red, Brethren, Caleb’s Posse, Truman’s Commander
When I began writing about horse racing – I knew very little about the sport – and while it may seem odd to showcase one’s own ignorance – I figured that the more I watched, and the more I wrote – the more I would learn….so that’s where this all began.
For me, the Arkansas Derby was yet another learning experience to draw from.
Last week, before the race, I wrote that I didn’t hold much hope for the horses numbered #7 - #12. I also wrote that I didn’t foresee a horse in that grouping bolting to the lead…..
What I should have wrote – was I didn’t foresee a horse in the group #7-#12 bolting to the front and actually winning this race!
The lesson I learned this past weekend is – just because I don’t see a way for certain horses to win a race, doesn’t mean that those same horses won’t prevent “my horse’ from winning.
As you watch the race unfold you’ll see J.P. Gusto – fly to front of the pack and he’ll hold the lead for ¾ of a mile – while pushing a fairly hot pace.
As I’ve already stated I’m certainly no expert, but in my opinion the Trainer/Jockey/Owners – were basically sending J.P. Gusto on a fast, but futile pace….I’ve seen nothing that indicates this horse can win a race with this kind of early sprint strategy.
However after giving this race some thought – while there was very little chance J.P. Gusto would win the Arkansas Derby with this smoking early lead, the people in charge may have thought it was his only opportunity to win this race - after all he doesn't possess the greatest late rally ability in this field either.
And if winning the Arkansas Derby meant having the only chance at a trip to the Kentucky Derby – I believe this group went for broke…..in the end J.P. Gusto runs out of steam (which comes as little surprise to people who have watched this horse) and finishes 8th.
However J.P. Gusto’s early (and futile) charge changes the entire landscape of the race I foresaw, and it appears to throw The Factor off of his game.
For the entire Arkansas Derby, it seems that The Factor is never in control of the race as he has been in his two previous victories, instead it appears that “the race” is always in control of him.
J.P. Gusto cuts The Factor off at the first turn just as Dance City manages to box him in.
The Factor, in turn, drops back and then surges to go three wide while stalking the early leaders. Very near the ¾ mark – Sway Away begins his rally and it appears to me that The Factor begins to push the tempo as well – however when they swing out of the turn, the Factor who went three to four wide in both turns is out of energy…and he just begins to slowly fade.
Weeks ago I wrote that in the Timely Writer, Uncle Mo’s people were hoping to see how he would handle an early speedster, so that perhaps they would have time to adjust in the Kentucky Derby….well The Factor just failed that same test – and now we’ll see if his group has an answer for May 7th.
As we hit the final stretch – I’m cheering because Sway Away has finally, FINALLY – seemed to figure it out….he’s pushing the lead and from what I’d seen from this horse he’ll just get stronger with every stride….that is unless…you know…he doesn’t ??
closing speed – simply falters for a 4th place finish – It’s frustrating that this horse can’t seem to put it all together – my guess is he’ll be a very strong four year old – or he’ll start picking up wins when he faces a little less talent.
The two horses that do have substantial closing speed are Archarcharch and Nehro --- both of these guys make powerful final furlong strides and Nehro (similar to his 2nd place finish in the Louisiana Derby) just misses stealing the race.
I'm not terribly surprised that Elite Alex finished so far behind….but I am very surprised that Brethren and especially Caleb’s Posse finished even further back.
The scuttlebutt is that this is the most “wide” open Kentucky Derby in years…..we soon shall see.
*I apologize in advance for what is perhaps the worst commentary I’ve ever heard for a race….maybe they were having technical difficulties….or it was the guy’s first day on the job…..sheesh!
Video to follow: