With just one Derby prep remaining, the field for the Derby looks set, but who will win looks more muddled than ever. Last weekend the only favorite that seemed to not disappoint was the unbeaten mare Zenyatta, who seems more and more incapable of losing. Dublin, Super Saver, Nobles Promise, Odysseus and Interactif all disappointed in their respective preps.
The Arkansas Derby was probably the biggest disappointment for me as a I watched Dublin swing into the stretch under a full head of steam then hang in the stretch like wet sheet hung out to dry. My initial reaction, was how could he lose? He had every possible chance to get by, yet failed to push through. After a closer look at things, I thought, that maybe this wasn't such a disappointing effort.
In the Arkansas Derby, Dublin was forwardly placed as opposed to his last two starts, where he closed with a furious rally, coming off the pace. Could it be that being closer to compromised his late kick, which caused him to hang? Also, consider the fact that Dublin was not in dire need of graded earnings, which means, D. Wayne did not have to have him at his best for the Arkansas Derby. Dublin had had two stiff tests when second and third in the Southwest and Rebel, why stretch him for a win in this spot, when the real prize is still three weeks away?
Overall, I think this race was used exactly how it should have been, a prep. With the strong possibility of a very fast pace, Dublin could sit mid pack, while the leaders and stalkers sitting to close, wear themselves out. Then he could come sweeping around the turn, with that incredible closing kick we saw in the Southwest.
To be honest, I am not sure what to make of the Blue Grass. Interactif was nowhere to be found and Odysseus emerged from the race with a bone chip. The winner Stately Victor, looked impressive pulling away in the stretch, winning with total authority, but could he be just another turf horse that excelled when placed on the Keeneland synthetics? I have a feeling that it's a little bit more than that. Stately Victor has show talent in flashes, once in the Blue Grass and once in his turf debut as a maiden. Yes, I know he has only won one synthetics and turf, but he ran second to Winslow Homer in his two year old debut, over the main track. If Stately Victor has finally figured out what his job is and consistently display that talent that we saw in the Blue Grass, I feel he has a good outsider's shot at pulling an upset.
Overall, I am disappointed in the weekend, but as we all know, it's not who wins on the Weekend before the Derby, it's who comes out on top on the First Saturday in May that really counts.