<THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 11 May 2011, Wednesday
<Longshot Wins KY Derby!
The first Saturday in May is like Christmas and Valentine’s Day and Easter all rolled into one for racing fans around the world. It’s when the Kentucky Derby is run at Churchill Downs in Lexington, and where the finest 3YO Thoroughbreds show the world the speed and power at their command.
This year saw Animal Kingdom, a 20-1 longshot, win the 137th running of the KY Derby, the first leg of the US Triple Crown.
Animal Kingdom was hardly even mentioned in any of the morning-line tips; more attention was given to Dialed In, Nehro, even Pants on Fire, who won the Louisiana Derby with lady rider Rosie Napravnik.
But the feisty colt proved he wasn’t a nobody by racing in the middle of the field of 19 horses, pulling away in the stretch to win the 1-1/4 mile (2,000 meter) race by 2-3/4 lengths in 2:02.04. (Secretariat set the track record of 1:59.40 in 1973).
In comparison the Philippine record for that distance is 2:04.4, held jointly by island-born fillies Stowaway Lass and Wild Orchid, both clocking it in 2005.
Now why wasn’t Animal Kingdom on the radar? It was his first time to run on dirt; he had previously won a race on a synthetic surface at Turfway Park. His jockey, John Velasquez, was a replacement for regular riderRobby Albarado, who broke his nose in an accident just three days before Derby Day.
Why I should have seen it coming – suerte ang pulot-sakay, as they say here.
The Kentucky Oaks, held the previous day also at Churchill Downs, was also won by a longshot, Plum Pretty. Steered by Martin Garcia, the filly held off St. John’s River just enough to win by a neck.
The second leg of the US Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, will be held on May 21 at the Pimlico Racecourse in Maryland.
Meanwhile, we are gearing up for our own Triple Crown series, supported by the Philippine Racing Commission. The first leg happens on May 15 at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park, while the first leg of the Hopeful Stakes will take place on May 14.
I’m going with Magna Carta in the TC, despite recent losses. I think that colt has got what it takes to go the distance.
May 22 at Santa Ana Park, we’ll see if Yes Pogi still has what it takes to beat Go Army, Darleb, Righthererightnow, Thoti’s Best, and Shining Armour over 2,000 meters. ***