☡┬

Let it Rein

A pretty little blog about all things reining and racing, with some other equestrian sports highlighting every once in a while. Got questions or comments? Please feel free to ask! I don't bite, I promise!

— So I’m writing this giant long article about previous almost-TC winners…

It’s super extensive, and currently 6 single-spaced pages long… and I’m nowhere near done. It covers a little on California Chrome (of course), but mostly discusses the horses who:
won the Derby-Belmont
won the Preakness-Belmont
won the Derby-Preakness
and maybe those who actually won the Triple Crown.
But mostly I’m at 6 pages and I just finished the seven who won Derby-Belmont or Preakness-Belmont, and haven’t touched on the 12 who won the Derby-Preakness… so we’ll see if the 11 TC winners actually get to be in the paper. 

ANYWAY the point of this is to say that I just wrote about Afleet Alex and I realize how thoroughly that horse broke my heart. He should have won the Triple Crown. He should have been able to continue racing. He would have been such a super star. 

Even moreso, I realize that I was disenchanted by the sport for a long time because of Afleet Alex and Barbaro the next year. War Emblem and Funny Cide and Smarty Jones didn’t break me… but the two beautiful bay colts really did. 

It took until my other dear bay horse, Frankel, came along to really make me love racing like that again. But damn if I don’t watch the 2005 Triple Crown races and hate everything a little bit more. I really think Afleet Alex is the best race horse I’ve ever seen run - he was more than raw talent and speed, he had heart and character. 

Tiny, terrible picture, I know, but look at how strong Itsmyluckyday looks here, and this is just a workout. I love how much muscle is built around his hindquarters. He’s really just an all around good looking horse, no wonder he’s my favorite!

Tiny, terrible picture, I know, but look at how strong Itsmyluckyday looks here, and this is just a workout. I love how much muscle is built around his hindquarters. He’s really just an all around good looking horse, no wonder he’s my favorite!

Verrazano
I’m a fan of this horse on the Derby trail this year. But he still hasn’t faced much, so we’ll have to see how he turns out.

Verrazano

I’m a fan of this horse on the Derby trail this year. But he still hasn’t faced much, so we’ll have to see how he turns out.

1930 Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox

1930 Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox

Secretariat gracing the winner’s circle after his win in the Derby.

Secretariat gracing the winner’s circle after his win in the Derby.

The clubhouse turn…

The clubhouse turn…

Kentucky Derby 138

Post 20: Liaison
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Martin Garcia
Current Odds 54-1, Record 7: 3-0-1, Style: stalker.

Analysis: Great form as a juvenile, he has disappointed every time out at three. Baffert maintains that he disliked the Santa Anita track, and it appears to be true. Since he has arrived at Churchill, he has really started to blossom and look like a Derby contender. I don’t think he will be able to ‘outrun’ his disappointing year in such a tough race, however. The far outside post does not help his running style, and when he gets taken back too far he can’t seem to rally up again.

Artwork (c) Vixen

Kentucky Derby 138

Post 19: I’ll Have Another
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
Current Odds 13-1, Record 5: 3-1-0, Style: stalker, close to pace.

Analysis: The longshot winner of the Robert Lewis, he came back to out-battle Creative Cause by a nose to win the Santa Anita Derby. He was looking like a serious contender, but the 19 post could be very problematic for him, because I don’t think he has the speed to go out with Bodemeister and Hansen to his far inside. He should go the distance, and I think he still will have a decent chance at the roses if the track is good to him. He is big and brave, so the large field shouldn’t phase him either.

Artwork (c) Vixen

Kentucky Derby 138

Post 18: Sabercat
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Corey Nakatani
Current Odds 33-1, Record 8: 3-0-2, Style: deep closer.

Analysis: Highly touted as a juvenile, his sophomore return was late and disappointing. He looks to be peaking at the right time, however, and with all the early speed, closers will have the advantage. I believe he is a class below the best, but Asmussen is great at making horses peak, so he could hit the board. However I feel that is unlikely, and he probably won’t be a factor.

Artwork (c) Vixen

Kentucky Derby 138

Post 17: Done Talking
Trainer: Hamilton Smith
Jockey: Sheldon Russell
Current Odds 31-1, Record 7: 3-0-2, Style: deep closer.

Analysis: The winner of the Illinois Derby, Done Talking is probably the most overlooked horse in the field. He has been working very professionally all week at Churchill, and does everything that is asked of him without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, I think he is a class below the best in this field, and although many people are looking at him as a Mine That Bird, he is missing the top class Churchill jockey that propelled Mine That Bird into first. Probably won’t factor into the race.

Artwork (c) Vixen

Kentucky Derby 138

Post 16: El Padrino
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Current Odds 26-1, Record 6: 3-1-1, Style: stalker, 1-3 lengths off pace.

Analysis: Highly looked upon at the beginning of the season, this colt has fallen off the radar after a disappointing fourth place finish in the Florida Derby. The proposed excuse for that race was that because he is a grinder, he has to be very close to the pace to make any kind of impact, and he was taken back farther than he was comfortable with there. His final work was in Florida in the slop, and it was glacially slow. He is gutsy, as shown by his win in the Risen Star, but with the speed, probably won’t be able to keep up with the faster closers.

Artwork (c) Vixen

Kentucky Derby 138

Post 15: Gemologist
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Current Odds 9-1, Record 5: 5-0-0, Style: stalker, 3-5 lengths off pace.

Analysis: It shows what a great group this is when the undefeated WinStar horse is at 9-1. Gemologist has shown me no reason to doubt him, and it’s easy to see a lot of his sire, Tiznow, in him. He’s about as game as they come, and relishes a head-on challenge, just like his sire. When he pulled clear in the Wood, he started pricking his ears and playing, which is not a good sign, but when challenged by Alpha, dug in for a second time and was pulling ahead. The only catch with this is that if he gets the lead and starts floundering, a closer could come running on the outside, and pass him before he can dig back in. However if this horse wins, he would be a strong contender for the Triple Crown.

Artwork (c) Vixen

Kentucky Derby 138

Post 14: Hansen
Trainer: Mike Maker
Jockey: Ramon Dominguez
Current Odds 12-1, Record 6: 4-2-0, Style: pace, 1-3 lengths off.

Analysis: The juvenile champion back for the Kentucky Derby. Hansen has shown that he is as gutsy as they come, holding off Union Rags in the Juvenile the win by a nose. Unfortunately, his pedigree does not want distance, and he has shown that he will probably max out at 1 1/8 miles. He had an impressive win when he rated off the pace in the Gotham and romped home far in front. Unfortunately, it’s looking like rain today, and in his lone slop start, he couldn’t pull it together and beat the now-sidelined Algorithms. With all the pace in this race, he will likely get caught up in the early going and have to duel with Bodemeister right off of Trinniberg, which will burn him out.

Artwork (c) Vixen

Kentucky Derby 138

Post 13: Went The Day Well
Trainer: Graham Motion
Jockey: John Velazquez
Current Odds 20-1, Record 5: 2-2-0, Style: stalker, 4-7 lengths off pace.

Analysis: Team Valor is back, hoping to catch the roses for a second year in a row with Went The Day Well, a european purchase. He has raced on all surfaces and done well, so he is more tested than Animal Kingdom was at this point. However, I don’t think this colt is as strong, and he was still very green in the stretch of the Spiral. He is bred to run all day, so the distance should only help him. Again, at 20-1, he could be a good horse to fill out the bottom of your tickets. I just don’t think he is quite classy enough at this point to contend with some of the other colts in this field. 

Artwork (c) Vixen