News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.BIG BROWN HEADS 20 IN SATURDAY’S 134TH KENTUCKY DERBY
Undefeated Big Brown was installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite Wednesday afternoon and will break from post position 20 when he faces 19 rivals in Saturday’s 134th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
The last horse to win the Derby from post 20 was Clyde Van Dusen in 1929, and that was in the days before a starting gate was used. How does Big Brown’s trainer, Rick Dutrow, feel about having such a wide post position for his horse?
“Actually, we’re kind of glad,” he said. “I’d rather have this post than a lot of other ones. It might be too far out there, but we were willing to accept that challenge.”
Big Brown has won his three career starts by a combined 29 lengths. His third triumph came in his stakes debut, the Grade I Florida Derby that he captured by five lengths.
The first leg of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown will carry a total purse of $2,211,800 with $1,451,800 going to the winner if all 20 horses start. Post time is slated for 6:04 p.m. (ET), and the race will be televised live by NBC.
Second choice in the morning line is Colonel John at 4-1. Winner of the Santa Anita Derby in his most recent start, Colonel John has won four of six lifetime starts for trainer Eoin Harty.
Michael Matz, who saddled 2006 Derby victor Barbaro, is back with Visionaire, and jockey Calvin Borel, who won last year’s Derby aboard Street Sense, will ride Denis of Cork.
The complete Kentucky Derby field, in post position order, is: Cool Coal Man (jockey: Julien Leparoux, morning line odds: 20-1); Tale of Ekati (Cornelio Velasquez, 15-1); Anak Nakal (Rafael Bejarano, 30-1); Court Vision (Garrett Gomez, 20-1); Eight Belles (Gabriel Saez, 20-1); Z Fortune (Robby Albarado, 15-1); Big Truck (Eibar Coa, 50-1); Visionaire (Jose Lezcano, 20-1); Pyro (Shaun Bridgmohan, 6-1); Colonel John (Corey Nakatani, 4-1); Z Humor (Rene Douglas, 30-1); Smooth Air (Manoel Cruz, 20-1); Bob Black Jack (Richard Migliore, 20-1); Monba (Ramon Dominguez, 15-1); Adriano (Edgar Prado, 30-1); Denis of Cork (Calvin Borel, 20-1); Cowboy Cal (John Velazquez, 20-1); Recapturetheglory (E.T. Baird, 20-1); Gayego (Mike Smith, 15-1); Big Brown (Kent Desormeaux, 3-1).
“THE FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY” DVD NOW AVAILABLE
Documentary filmmakers John and Brad Hennegan announced today that DVD copies of their film “The First Saturday in May,” which made its debut April 18th in approximately 20 cities around the country and is still showing in some markets, are now available for purchase on their website www.thefirstsaturdayinmay.com <https://mail.ntra.com/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.thefirstsaturdayinmay.com/> . The cost is $19.95, plus shipping and handling.
The award-winning film, produced by the Hennegan Brothers and distributed in association with Churchill Downs Inc., profiles six trainers as they try to make their way to the 2006 Kentucky Derby. Barbaro and Michael Matz are among those profiled.
“From the time we first screened the film, there has been immense interest in the DVD, and we’re glad we can now provide it,” said John Hennegan. “We know there are people who saw the film in a theater and want to own a copy, as well as people who didn’t get to see it in a theater and are looking forward to seeing it for the first time.”
The Hennegan Brothers have pledged a percentage of box office receipts, as well as a portion of revenues from DVD sales, to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, the nation’s leading source of private funding for equine research.
The movie is still playing in Cleveland and Lexington and is scheduled to open today in Durango, Colo., and tomorrow in Baltimore, Columbus, Denver, Seattle and Tulsa. It is also returning to the E Street Cinema in Washington, D.C., starting Sunday, May 4.
Additional information about the film, including an updated list of all show times, is available at www.thefirstsaturdayinmay.com <https://mail.ntra.com/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.thefirstsaturdayinmay.com/> .
PARAPLEGIC RACETRACK WORKER TRAVELING CROSS COUNTRYVIA COVERED WAGON
Long time track worker and paraplegic Rodney Burnett began a 2,500 mile cross-country trip this week from Williston, Fla., to the West Coast in a specially built covered wagon. Pulled by a team of Morgan Horses, Burnett, paralyzed from the chest down since a 1992 motorcycle accident, estimates the trip will require six months. He plans to stop at racetracks and rehabilitation centers along the way and hopes that he will be met in California by at least 1,000 other paraplegics in wheelchairs.
“When I got hurt all I heard was doctors telling me what I couldn’t do,” said Burnett, 51.
Operating under the non-profit corporation Ladder H. Farms, Burnett wants to raise awareness and funds for backstretch workers through the Race Track Chaplaincy of America, stem cell research through the Paralysis Project of America and fund a therapeutic riding center in Ocala, Florida.
Burnett has worked on at least a dozen tracks for such thoroughbred trainers as Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg, Quarter Horse trainer Johnny Goodman and the late Buddy Delp. He holds an owner and trainer license in Florida and assists Ocala-based trainer Kenneth Steven Petch.
Ron Turcotte, rider of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat and a paraplegic since a racing accident at Belmont Park in 1978, called Burnett to wish him well. Canadian Turcotte drove a team of Morgan horses when he logged as a youth.
“He’s got some terrific chores ahead of him,” said Turcotte. “I wish him luck and pray God blesses him. After talking to him I believe he can do it.”
The RTCA, a trip sponsor, will assist with media relations and track Burnett’s trip on its website. “We’re honored to be a part of a dream held for years by one who has every right to be discouraged, but refused to give up.” said RTCA Executive Director, Dr. Enrique Torres. “Clearly he has a strength of heart that encourages us all. We hope the nation joins us in our prayers for Rodney.”
JOCKEYS’ GUILD, KEENELAND, PHYSICIAN TEAM UP ON JOCKEY MEDICAL CARE
Keeneland, the Jockeys’ Guild and Lexington physician Dr. Barry Schumer have announced a plan to maintain jockeys’ updated medical histories so they are immediately accessible to emergency personnel at racetracks throughout the country and possibly the world.
“With the use of an access code, authorized emergency medical staff around the country would be able to get a rider’s medical history,” explained Schumer, Keeneland’s medical director. “The information would be secure, regularly updated, and promptly accessible to the emergency team.”
Working with Jockeys’ Guild National Manager Terry Meyocks, Keeneland President Nick Nicholson and the jockeys themselves, Schumer said the goal is to have the system “up and going by the end of the year-hopefully by the fall meeting at Keeneland.”
The Jockey Club, through its subsidiaries InCompass Solutions, Inc. and The Jockey Club Technology Services, Inc., will assist with software development for the system and provide other technological support.
“The plan to maintain a medical history for each Thoroughbred jockey is an example of the Jockeys’ Guild and Keeneland working together for the betterment of the Thoroughbred industry,” Nicholson said. “We are grateful to The Jockey Club companies for their assistance and their expertise.”
Schumer, who has been associated with Keeneland for 27 years, said that knowing a jockey’s medical history is particularly important if a rider is in shock, has a head injury, doesn’t speak English or has no family present.
John Velazquez, the Eclipse Award-winning jockey and chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild board of directors who was seriously injured in a riding accident at Keeneland in 2006, voiced his support for the project.
“Hopefully, we will have communication with first aid rooms at racetracks around the country so they have immediate accessibility to a jockey’s medical history,” said Velazquez, noting that some riders are allergic to particular medications.
Meyocks, who commended Nicholson and Schumer for their efforts, said that 25 jockeys already have submitted their medical histories for inclusion in the new database.