THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 6 May 2009, Wednesday
Triple Crown Countdown
It’s Triple Crown season and not just in the Philippines but also in the US. Last Saturday, at the historic Churchill Downs track in Louisville, Kentucky, the 135th Kentucky Derby was staged in front of thousands of fans at the venue and millions more worldwide.
The winner of one of the most prestigious events in world thoroughbred racing was a 50-1 longshot, Mine That Bird. Steered by Calvin Borel, who had won the Kentucky Oaks for fillies the day before on favorite Rachel Alexandra, Mine That Bird pulled away from the 18 other runners in the stretch to score a 6-3/4 length victory, the second-biggest upset in Derby history.
Calvin Borel on Rachel Alexandra in the 2009 Kentucky Oaks. (Photo by Jamie Squire, Getty Images)
Going up against stellar combatants, among them Pioneer of the Nile, Friesan Fire, and Godolphin entries Regal Ransom and Desert Party, Mine That Bird was dismissed in the morning line analyses. A Kentucky-bred progeny of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone from Smart Strike mare Mining My Own, he was a champion 2YO in Canada but came into the Kentucky Derby as a longshot.
The mud-splattered tandem of Calvin Borel and Mine That Bird win the 2009 Kentucky Derby. (Photographer unknown)
Horseowners and breeders should give attention to the lineage of this horse, and Rachel Alexandra’s as well. The latter, who won the KY Oaks by over 20 lengths, the most spectacular performance in Oaks history, is by Medaglia d’Oro out of Lotta Kim by Roar. A common ancestor is Mr. Prospector. He is the sire of Smart Strike, and the grandsire of Roar. This might give a boost to local stallions with heavy Mr. Prospector blood in their pedigrees.
In our version of the Triple Crown, the first leg will be run at the Philippine Racing Club’s Santa Ana Park on May 17. Last raceweek at PRC, many of the participants began tuning up for both the Philippine Racing Commission-sponsored 1st leg TC and its auxiliary race, the Hopeful Stakes.
Go Army, a 2YO champion, was regarded last season as having the best chance to dominate this series for local-bred 3YO. But he suffered several defeats under jockeys Jonathan Hernandez and Patricio Dilema. In those races, the colt was made to run near the pace, playing tag with the frontrunner, resulting in a loss of steam down the stretch.
Go Army ran in a Class 4 Division 2-AB race last Sunday at Santa Ana Park with a different rider – Antonio Alcasid Jr. Known as a come-from-behind stylist, Alcasid played it cool, allowing sprinter Oko Boy to set the pace while running off the pace in third, four lengths off the leader.
Alcasid stepped on the gas at the far turn and grabbed the lead going into the home turn. Go Army blazed down the stretch under heavy whipping, and the tandem executed a revenge win by two lengths over tenacious filly Virgin Liberty, also tuning up for the 1st leg TC and who had beat Go Army in March 29′s Aquamarine II Stakes.
While some track pundits feel that Go Army is burned out, the change in handling strategy helped this time. But sources say that Go Army gave his all in that race on Sunday. He needs to rest and build up more endurance to face other tough rivals, some of whom have beaten him before, like Boni’s Gem, Batangas Baron, and Dream Supreme.
Go Army warming up before the April 26 Diamond II S. at San Lazaro Leisure Park. Steered by Patricio Dilema, he came in second to Boni’s Gem, who won by two. (Photo by Benjie Papa/MJC)
Other runners nominated to the 1st leg Triple Crown are fillies Boudica, Heaven Sent, and Windbeneathmywings, and colts Creation, Go Navy (stablemate of Go Army), Iconic, Lively Dude, Mr. Akino, and Mr. Diamond.
For the 1st leg Hopeful S., the nominated entries are Action Sailor, Bahala Na, Blue Ocean, Earresistable, Eternal Flame, Henry Sugar, Key Joshua, Oko Boy, Princess Jacklyn, State Witness, Storm Gust, Tribal Queen, and Wind Turbulence.
Both these stakes races will be run over 1,600 meters. ***