Who is Your Horse of the Year?

Wise DanAs 2012 draws to a close, the debate over the Horse of the Year heats up. It’s a contentious group this year without any overwhelming favorite. Who did you think was the best of 2012? Here’s a look at the field:

Fort Larned – He’d fit the mold of HOY most years, winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic as well as the Whitney (G1), but this year it’s not so cut and dry. While he leads the way in the older handicap division, this division has had its share of back-and-forth jabs for top honors, and he has lost a couple of times against horses not even mentioned in HOY conversation. While the length and five length defeats are understandable, the bomb in the Stephen Foster puts a significant blemish on his record. He did endure a rough trip that day but with the resumes his competition have put forth, it may cost him.

Groupie Doll – This filly has not ducked her competition this year and has become a new animal with blinkers. A win in the Cigar Mile would have bolstered her chances at this honor but she will attract attention for continuing her campaign past the Breeders’ Cup. In a division that doesn’t put many G1s on the table, she certainly rose to the occasion every time. You just don’t see many distaff sprinters overtaking HOY honors, Ta Wee being one of the few that comes to mind. Just think if the blinkers had been on since the start!

Game On Dude – Didn’t he kind of blow it? The boys came to play in his sandbox and he didn’t show up. As nice of a record as he’s put together he’s the big fish in a small pond. Any time he faces double digits in a field it just doesn’t seem to work out for him, where his weapon (SPEED) isn’t as effective with pressure. With the game of musical jockeys being played on him lately, it appears they’re working out the kinks and should have him ready for another good run at HOY next year.

I’ll Have Another – The Derby & Preakness winner would have been a slam dunk around June 1st, but he has had his reputation muddled with his sale to Japan and the Belmont scratch. Even if he is voted Horse of the Year, it’d revive the tales of O’Neill’s suspension, injury, etc. His name has all but disappeared from tongues of turf writers, and deservedly so. Just another casualty of the Triple Crown Trail in 2012 (And there were quite a few this year.)

Little Mike – Three turf horses are in the conversation this year, but he appears to be the least likely prospect to end up with the award. It’s not that Little Mike can’t run, it’s that he bounces. Good race, bad race, good race, bad race. That last bad race was a bomb, not the kind of impression you want to leave on those thinking of betting you in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Give the horse credit for coming from a place he normally doesn’t, but I don’t think that upset constitutes Horse of the Year.

Point of Entry – This is another of the grass runners in contention, but he too would be a mild surprise. Put an impressive string of wins together this spring/summer, but like Game On Dude found a lot of the same faces next to him in the starting gate. He’s another one with a bright future but this year probably isn’t his for a crowning.

Royal Delta – Bill Mott’s wonder filly kept right on rolling this year, though she took her share of defeat among a very impressive campaign. She racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles this year, taking in seven different tracks this year while only missing the board against males in Dubai. The field she beat in the Ladies’ Classic was as deep as has ever been put together for the race, and despite being taken out of her style she still drew off with authority. She can beat you in a number of ways and she’s only four – while she may have a tough time swaying votes from Wise Dan she would be in the hunt for me if not for that debacle in Dubai.

Wise Dan – The front-runner and deservedly so. Without Ron the Greek to spoil the party this would be a very, very easy decision. He still is an overwhelming favorite for HOY honors, and what I can say you’ve probably seen at one point or another on paper. He’ll run on broken glass if they put up enough purse money, and he’ll win on the front or from behind. While dirt may be his one weakness, he still gallantly made a run in the Stephen Foster and defeated his main HOY competition (Fort Larned) in the process. Milers generally don’t get their due in Eclipse voting, but this year may break the mold.

DRF has past performances available for all divisional contenders in the Eclipse Awards, available here.

Who would you vote for? Comment below with your choice or comments!

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann just completed her second year as Canterbury’s Paddock Analyst after previously serving in a similar role at Lincoln Racecourse and Columbus Ag Park. She blogs about both local and National racing.

The End of the Trail – The Belmont Stakes

We see overwhelming morning line favorites scratch occasionally. In the Belmont? The eve of a possible triple crown? Once in a blue moon. While one balloon bursts for 2012, another gets a shot of air: The Belmont is now a viable betting race. We’ll have two horses taking the majority of the money as opposed to one, with a few “outsiders” now given a legitimate chance. Unfortunately, 6-1 is no longer a possibility for the one horse yours truly considered competition for I’ll Have Another.

I’ve stuck by Union Rags all spring and donated to the win pool generously on May 5th. He enters this race as a fresh competitor after skipping the Preakness, and is training out of his skin for Mike Matz. Julien Leparoux hit the bench after two troubled trips aboard ‘Rags, as Belmont regular John Velazquez takes the reins. Yes, there is the detention barn hoopla that takes him out of his home base at Fair Hill. Yes, he does not have the record on paper at two turns that he does at one. However, consider the trouble this horse has encountered in those events and you still have a very talented, fresh animal in the best of care. Consider:

1. Union Rags was most likely not cranked to the gills for the Florida Derby. He ran by the field like they were standing still in the Fountain of Youth, but who wants to see two races like that in a row prior to the biggest challenge of his life? Not me.

2. I am sick of hearing excuses in the derby too, but the horse really didn’t get a clear run until the last half of the race. He didn’t give up in defeat, and who’s to say how much was left in the tank afterwards?

3. A lot of horses in recent history have won the Belmont after skipping the Preakness. Most trainers would give their horse a similar window of time (five weeks) to rest after the grueling Derby, and without a triple crown to race for Mike Matz laid U.R. off with the Belmont as a target.

Horses like Dullahan and Street Life take a lot of money in the Belmont, but generally are so exhausted by the quarter pole that their late kick is all but done. Paynter is bred for this much ground and then some, but like stablemate Bodemeister is pretty much raw talent at this point playing catch-up with the seasoned three year olds. My Adonis will be underneath in my tickets simply based on connections and breeding. Kelly Breen obviously knew more than most with Ruler On Ice, and while he didn’t turn out to be a superstar he was prepared for the race of his life on Belmont Day. He’s not up to par on class with some of these but his tactical speed with give Ramon Dominguez options.

This is what the end of the trail looks like when the driver of the bandwagon is gone. Good luck to all in the Belmont!

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann is entering her second year as Canterbury’s Paddock Analyst after previously serving in a similar role at Lincoln Racecourse and Columbus Ag Park. She blogs about both local and National racing.

History Says We’ll Have Another… Near Miss

Many racing (and non-racing) fans would be thrilled to witness the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. They clamor for this unlikely accomplishment to boost racing’s national profile. I’m not one of those people. For the record, I’m rooting against a win by I’ll Have Another on Saturday. I believe the elusiveness of such a feat is the allure. Once obtained, especially by a previously unheralded runner with somewhat questionable connections, it loses its grandiosity. When it does happen, I’m hoping the winning horse mirrors the great Secretariat, who broke a 25 year Triple Crown drought and turned into, most believe, the greatest race horse of all-time.

Let’s take a look at the six runners to have this shot since 1997:

1997 – Silver Charm

Silver Charm was very similar to I’ll Have Another. Both were stationed in Southern California and both were game in the Santa Anita Derby. Silver Charm lost by a nose to Free House and I’ll Have Another won by a nose to Creative Cause. Silver Charm won hard-fought victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before losing a late battle to Touch Gold in the Belmont. There was nothing tinny about the ’97 Triple Crown talent. Silver Charm went on to win 7 more graded races, including the Dubai World Cup, and retired with almost $7,000,000 in earnings. Touch Gold won the Haskell in his next start and has turned into a top-notch sire.

1998 – Real Quiet

Real Quiet was the first of many to come head-scratchers aiming for a Triple Crown. Bob Baffert (who trained Silver Charm to a narrow miss in 1997) was right back in 1998 with this colt. Real Quiet required 7 starts to break his maiden, had been drilled in an allowance race at Santa Fe, had lost the Golden Gate Derby by 23 lengths and was winless in his three-year old season before taking down the Derby and Preakness. A win by Real Quiet would have been a travesty for racing purists. Real Quiet, ironically, came closer than any non-Triple Crown winner has ever come.  He lost a nose in the Belmont after leading by 4 lengths in the stretch. He actually won the Grade 1 Pimlico Special and Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup to finish his career which legitimizes him to some degree.

1999 – Charismatic

For the second year in a row, a pedestrian looking runner made it to New York with a chance of taking down the Triple Crown. This horse had performed poorly enough to be entered (and lose) a claiming race just five starts before winning the Derby. He had only a maiden claiming win to his name prior to winning the Derby and was on a 7 race losing streak. It is likely that both Real Quiet and Charasmatic were products of the era…  Charasmatic was injured in the Belmont finishing third and never ran another race.

2002 – War Emblem

Baffert again came to NY with an unlikely candidate for the Triple Crown. He had War Emblem in his stable only days prior to this colt starting in the Derby.  The runner was trained by Frank Springer for the first 7 races of his career, including a 6 ½ length romp in the Illinois Derby a month before the Kentucky Derby.  However, War Emblem, like the two most recent colts that lined up with a shot in the Belmont, had a less than stellar resume heading to the Derby. He was soundly drilled in the Manilla, Lecomte and Risen Star. The Illinois Derby win marked his first stakes victory and was the reason bettors allowed this runner to get away at 21-1 in Kentucky. He stumbled at the break in the Belmont and was not heard from throughout. Sarava scored a 70-1 upset and keyed boxcar payoffs in the exotics. War Emblem was soundly drilled in three of his last four starts including a 20 length defeat in the BC Classic of 2002.

2003 – Funny Cide

Funny Cide was a great story. A modestly bred gelding owned by a bunch of guys who had been friends since childhood. They didn’t invest a lot but experienced a ride of a lifetime.  But had Funny Cide won the Belmont, could you honestly place his name alongside War Admiral, Citation, Seattle Slew and Secretariat?  Those names are the cornerstone of racing lore. Funny Cide is a good barometer to I’ll Have Another. Both Funny Cide and I’ll Have Another were game in grinding away a Kentucky Derby win. Both made exhilarating moves in the Preakness to win (Funny Cide by nearly 10 lengths and I’ll Have Another to catch a clear leader Bodemeister, who was a mile in front of the rest of the field). After a 10 length win in the Preakness, the public made Funny Cide even money to win the Belmont. He was passed early and finished a weak 3rd in the field of 6 behind Empire Maker. While Funny Cide won the Jockey’s Gold Cup of 2004, he would finish his career nibbling on state bred type stakes races in NY. This would have hardly been the type of company we would expect a Triple Crown winner to keep. The “racing gods” stepped in yet again and reserved the Triple Crown for a more meaningful type.

2004 – Smarty Jones

Smarty Jones was certainly deserving of the Triple Crown. He had won all 8 of his races prior to the Belmont. He had won by a combined 50 lengths in 8 starts and had come to the Belmont off of 12 length score in the Preakness. As Funny Cide the year before him, it appeared the ease of which he scored in the Preakness made him a cinch in the Belmont. He went off at 1-9 and was run down by the Nick Zito trained Birdstone. The atmosphere was so sullen after Birdstone won (at 35-1) that the owners of Birdstone actually apologized in the post-race interview. Smarty Jones never raced again so there is no way to know if he would have been as great as Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed. He had bruises on all four shins… as was the excuse for retirement. It was more plausible the allure of breeding money took Smarty Jones from the racetrack. This would have likely been the same plan had he won the Belmont and we would have never been treated to a deserving encore.

2008 – Big Brown

Finally, there was Big Brown. I doubt there ever was an animal more distained for his connections than Big Brown. He was owned by a syndicate of smarmy investors and trained by possibly the most despised person in the industry, Rick Dutrow. Dutrow had numerous violations and a hard to like personality. He boasted to NBC about giving his horses steroids prior to the Preakness. He crushed in the marred running of the 2008 Derby. His win and subsequent defeat of runner-up Eight Belles (who died on the track following the race) prompted congressional investigations into horse racing at the highest levels. Big Brown destroyed the Preakness field and was a can’t miss in the Belmont. At 1-9, he was so far back on the backstretch that jockey Kent Desormeaux cried uncle and gave up. It was the only loss for Big Brown as he would win the Haskell and Monmouth Stakes to close out his career with 7 wins in 8 starts.

Interestingly, the last three colts mentioned came into the Belmont off of sensational, jaw dropping scores in the Preakness. I’ll Have Another never looked a loser when he made his move in the Preakness, either. Many won’t forget and will push his post time odds into the 6-5 range. Can he win? Of course. But history says we’ve seen this movie before. There will be some low hanging fruit on the tote board tree. Runners like Union Rags and Dullahan will see inflated odds due to the “Triple Crown phenomena”. Both will finish in front of I’ll Have Another. The favorite will make a bit of an early move, take the lead in early stretch and then be run down like he’s tied to the fence in the final furlong.

There will be groans from the crowd… but not from everyone.

This blog was written by Canterbury Regular “Track Phantom”. Track Phantom has been a dedicated handicapper, writer, blogger, bettor and fan of racing since 1986 and has analyzed virtually every Canterbury race since. He particularly focuses on his home track of Canterbury Park and offers free daily analysis of Canterbury’s live racing at www.trackphantom.com.

Triple Crown Hysteria

Before I keyboard another sentence, I want to say that I think that all this Triple Crown hysteria is pretty stupid. I say this for two reasons: first, I’m going to get a lot of clicks on this piece, because everyone who Googles “Gelfand stupid” will read this monograph. Second, I really do think that the Triple Crown is a horrible excuse for its intended purpose, which is to define the best three year olds in America and, with any luck, produce a Triple Crown winner who would, in turn, guarantee a publicity jackpot.

This is the point at which I remind you that no one has won the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978 and then I talk about Seattle Slew and Secretariat and all that, but you know all this stuff. This isn’t The Huffington Post, for God’s sake; it’s a horse racing blog.

Now, I think all of us would agree that a Triple Crown champ would be wonderful, and that we could use some good news these days. If I’ll Have Another wins the Belmont, we’re not going to return to the glory days of 1938, when the nation stopped to listen through the radio static to the match race between War Admiral and Seabiscuit. But we’d get some feel-good stories and maybe a few more people in the grandstand. (Please, dear racing Gods, don’t let some Middle East oil billionaire snatch up I’ll Have Another before the Belmont.)

Having said that, I have to add that by my criteria, Bodemeister is still the best three-year-old out there and that folks have been mighty kind to Mike Smith, who tried to win the Kentucky Derby by sprinting, quarterhorse style, from beginning to end. I think the world, or at least an entire hemisphere, of Mike Smith, and you could argue that he’s as good as anyone else out there except Rafael Bejarano. But please… Smith did everything but scream “Wahoooo!” as he raced around the Twin Spires.

A guy who has been riding horses for 35 years can probably tell if his charge is on a pace to run six furlongs in 1:09 and change. I know some folks say that the trainer told him to let the horse set his own pace, but it takes a mighty stupid (more clicks) jockey to stick with a mighty stupid strategy. I always thought the most worthless thing any trainer could say to a jockey was “Get the lead, but don’t go too fast,” but those words are like wisdom handed down from Zion compared to “Let him set his own pace.”

So, in my mind, the Triple Crown isn’t really going to prove much of anything, except that the day is long gone when a horse can run the Kentucky Derby as if it were a five furlong dash and then come back two weeks later and win the Preakness.

The problem with the Triple Crown in general is that it long ago ceased to be a valid test of greatness and, instead, turned into a battle for survival. Even though we don’t precisely know why, we know that horses can’t run as far or as often as they once did. In terms of fitness and endurance, the breed in general has regressed to the mean. The American classic distance is now a solid six furlongs.

In 1823 – going back just a hiccup in time, at least in anthropological terms – Eclipse and Sir Henry turned out 60,000 spectators in New York for the Match Race of the Century. Not only did they race four miles, but they did it three times in one day, pausing just long enough to cool down and allow rival fans to call each other names, exchange blows, and bet even more money against each other.

So, if your argument is that we can’t change anything about the Triple Crown because we have to stick to horse racing tradition… I got your tradition right there. The paradigm has already shifted.

Now that we all agree on that, a fellow could probably make an argument for running all three Triple Crown races at, say, a mile, but that might be going too far (irony intended) and it would never happen anyway.

Still, we can find a compromise that allows a more realistic test of greatness by providing horses with reasonable and ordinary recovery time between races. I say run the races five or six weeks apart. Just for starters, we’d have a lot better chance of producing a Triple Crown, and the horse that won said Triple Crown might even be the best of his generation. We’d also build up the anticipation to the races, which is mostly the idea anyway. And more time would allow other three-year-olds to pad their resume, simply get better, and make each race more meaningful and competitive than the last.

For those who cannot abandon tradition, I understand. But horse racing tradition these days means weak fields and, ultimately, no Triple Crown champion since Affirmed.

I still say Alydar was better.

This blog was written by Twin Cities Radio Personality Mike Gelfand. Gelfand can be seen at Canterbury on Today at the Races every Friday night with Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann.

Local Stakes & Preakness Elicit Excitement

Now the conjecture begins. Not since Affirmed outdueled Alydar in 1978 has horse racing had such potential for history to repeat itself… or not. The similarities are certain to be pointed out ad infinitum, even ad nauseam, in the coming days, right up to post time for the Belmont Stakes if both horses do indeed run.

If you liked the Kentucky Derby, you had to love the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. Visions of the great Triple Crown rivalry danced through the minds of anyone even vaguely familiar with that wondrous summer. Another year, Alydar likely would have been a Triple Crown champion, outdueled in each of the classics by Affirmed.

Now the scene is set for I’ll Have Another to do the same to Bodemeister. There is little doubt that those two horses are clearly at the front of the three-year-old crop this season right now. The Kentucky Derby finish left the racing public wondering if Bodemeister had simply outrun himself with blazing fractions, that I’ll Have Another took advantage of a tiring horse. Bodemeister had the front end to himself with a fractions more to his liking on Saturday and I’ll Have Another caught him once again.

A shot in the arm for racing?

“This is fabulous,” said Canterbury Park president/CEO Randy Sampson. “This might be the year things finally go our way.”

“This is the difference between 6,500 and 16,000 (fans) on Belmont Day,” said Canterbury announcer Paul Allen.

Comments of this nature are always difficult to pry from Media Relations director Jeff Maday.

“It was a good race. The best Triple Crown race of the day,” he said.

Who knows, Bodemeister might take the Belmont Stakes off. But for the immediate future, racing seems to be very, very healthy.

Preakness Stakes Saturday brought out a large number of colorful dresses and wide-brimmed hats. No group resplendent in such attire was any more festive than the group of young ladies gathered in the winner’s circle after the first race to celebrate the upcoming marriage of Danielle Theobald, to become Ellingson, she pointed out, on June 16 in Rochester.

She and 13 of her friends – six of them part of the upcoming wedding party – used the big day in racing as their bachelorette shindig and got the ball rolling minutes after three-time riding champ Dean Butler got his second win of the season, this one aboard Gone Digital.

Butler’s silks caught the attention of one of the bachelorettes, adorned as they are with the emblem of the owners, Hector Bulldog Partners.

“My boyfriend has a tattoo of a bulldog that looks just like that,” she said. “Could you let me get a picture.”

The Canterbury riding champ obliged, delaying his exit from the winner’s circle.

When a bystander commented on the bevy of attractive women surrounding him after the photo was taken, Butler rolled his eyes and headed for the jockeys’ room.

Canterbury’s defending riding champ got started with a win in the next to last race on Friday’s season-opening card. He followed up Saturday by winning aboard Gone Digital, trained by Tony Rengstorf.

So, Rengstorf has three wins for the season, a most auspicious start he refuses to let go to his head.

“Come see me in two hours,” he said, well aware of the vicissitudes of his sport. “I learned about that a long time ago.”

Veteran Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens continues to make his presence felt. He had a winner on opening day and was aboard Downtown Delight for trainer Michael Biehler in race two on Saturday.

Stevens set a goal for himself a year or two ago of riding at least one winner a day as his riding career ostensibly winds down. “So far, so good,” he said Saturday behind wide grin.

“I just need more business now. I only have one mount tomorrow.”


The $35,000 Lady Slipper stakes was a three-horse race until the 16th pole. Then Butler elicited the coup de grace kick from defending champ Hidden Gold (pictured above), who drew off to a solid 1 ¼ length victory over Sheso Dazzling with Polar Plunge claiming third.

“It was a great race,” said trainer Francisco Bravo. “I thought it came down to one of three horses, and we were the ones today. Dean gave the horse a great ride, terrific.”

Ann Sachdev owns the horse with Bravo’s wife, Lori. Ann’s husband, Sunil, provided another explanation for the victory.

He stood in the very same spot during the race that he did a year ago when Hidden Gold won.

“Superstition. That’s what did it,” he said.

Kayleigh Butler could have cared less. Her father had won the stakes race and she jumped into his arms for the winning photo in front of a crowd of more than 8,000.

2012 Lady Slipper and 10,000 Lakes Stakes Replays


Bet your Boots could have used some comfortable slippers after last year’s 10,000 Lakes Stakes. He got sore feet and needed some intensive doctoring to get right again for the race.

Saturday, it appeared that his feet were just fine and that he was in fact right again.

With Juan Rivera up, Bet Your Boots dug deep to finish a half-length in front of the 2010 winner of the 10,000 Lakes, with Samendra claiming third.

Owner-breeder Richard Bremer had terse instructions for Rivera. “Whatever you do, don’t give up the rail,” Bremer said.

Rivera hugged the rail as if it were a long-lost relative, and the son of Birdstone did the rest.

“His feet were so tender after last year’s race that he needed some rest,” said Bremer. That was last May 11, and Bet Your Boots was idle until April 29 when he finished third in a $35,000 optional claiming race at Prairie Meadows.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

2012 Preakness Preview

Following the excitement of opening night on Friday at Canterbury, we’ll keep the energy in the building high on Saturday with the simulcast the Preakness Stakes from Pimlico!

While it is sometimes overshadowed by its Triple Crown Mates (The Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes), this Mile and 3/16th journey provides a grueling test of its own: Recover from the longest race of a colt’s life and have him ready two weeks later to run nearly as far.

While it seems a challenge to ship east and be ready in that short period of time, many times horses exiting the Kentucky Derby fare better than new shooters. Whether it’s the preparation by connections, the distance of the race or simply the quality of horses coming from Kentucky, a play against derby contenders is typically not profitable. Bernardini and Rachel Alexandra stand as the ultimate exceptions over the past few years, both being Horse of the Year caliber animals in crops lacking real superstars in the Derby. On that note, we’ll examine the contenders coming from Churchill for round two on the Triple Crown Trail:

I’ll Have Another (1st) – The winner of the Derby has a distinct scent of Charismatic on him. By that I mean he is not even being mentioned in the same breath as Bodemeister, and will almost certainly not be the favorite come post time Saturday. While he looks like a solid second choice prospect, those seeking a fair price will find it here considering the impressive way he’s trained since the Derby.

Bodemeister (2nd) – The easy-to-find favorite will have slightly less ground to cover in Baltimore, leading cash his way by virtue of his outstanding run in Kentucky. The most naturally talented runner based on his races thus far, his drawback is his running style. Speed horses simply need to be more tractable than he is to win Triple Crown Races. Three year olds beware, for once he figures out how to ration that brilliant speed he will be awfully tough to beat.

Went the Day Well (4th) – Graham Motion’s lightly raced colt needs to carve out a better trip than the Derby, but inevitably he will have an easier time of it without 19 horses to beat. Given the fractions Bodemeister set, the field should have been swallowing him up late… but even with the table set only I’ll Have Another came to dinner. Who’s to say this horse will get a much better set-up in Baltimore?

Creative Cause (5th) – I hate to bring personal reasons into liking or not liking a horse, but I just can’t get in this horse’s corner. He is bred to run long, bred to be a TC contender, yet with a favorable scenario in the Derby the best he could muster was a distant fifth. I’m sure Mike Harrington is a swell guy, but his game for the most part in California is two-year olds. Creative Cause was a very good two-year old, and due to that maturity and foundation was able to make noise this spring in west coast preps. However, and I mean no harm by this, but I’ll believe it when I see it with a Classic Winner from this barn. The frequent flier miles he’s racked up lately don’t help either.

Daddy Nose Best (10th) – Oh, Daddy Nose Best. I bit hard on the morning hype surrounding this horse in Louisville, and paid the price watching all of my tickets head in the garbage. Apparently it just wasn’t his day and Steve Asmussen believes he can rebound here. He doesn’t have the percentage that he has entering horses in the wrong spots. I’m not losing the faith completely in this horse, as it looks like he truly wants the distance and then some. He just needs to get a lot faster than he was two weeks ago. No sweat. Demand at least double digits before placing a dime in this corner.

Optimizer (11th) – D. Wayne Lukas lost the manual he used to have for training Grade 1 winners. All of his best performances to date have come on the grass or against horses that have no place on the Triple Crown Trail. Can’t fault the connections for ducking anyone, but they possibly could be breaking a talented turf horse’s heart. Note to Optimizer: When you get saddled Saturday, make a break for it and run as many laps as you can on that turf course until they change their minds.

While post position probably won’t matter as much in this relatively short field of three-year olds as in the Derby, keep in mind that the rail has only been victorious twice since 1960 – Bally Ache and Tabasco Cat. Tune in later this week on the radio or live at Canterbury to find out who I’ll be betting in the second leg of the Triple Crown. Best of luck to you all and we hope to see you out here for opening weekend!

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann is entering her second year as Canterbury’s Paddock Analyst after previously serving in a similar role at Lincoln Racecourse and Columbus Ag Park. She blogs about both local and National racing.