How can it be? The Kentucky Derby 2015 is upon us. The preps are done and the scores have been racked up to identify the 20 horses that will explode out of the starting gate next Saturday. But wait, there have been some interlopers this year, taking the focus away from the feeding frenzy of Derby fever.
Older Horses Get All The Attention
Last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, California Chrome flew over to Dubai in in mid-March to get ready for the globe’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup. He was a closing second as he ran out of track. Chrome is a colossally game colt and deserves the fervor of his fans, the Chromies.
Racing under the mantle of Dumbass Partners, Chrome’s owners elected for him to stay abroad after Dubai, sending him to Newmarket in the U.K. to get ready to run on the turf in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 17. With Chrome’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins last year, the two DAP partners got carried away and started believing their own press. It was ugly. Nevertheless, hats off to them for sending Chrome on the road to face the best in the world. What are the odds we will be seeing a Stetson or two among the requisite top hats mandated by the race meet’s dress code? The prospect of the DAP boys at Royal Ascot is a scenario Mark Twain would relish.
This year, Chrome’s rival from California, Shared Belief won the San Antonio Invitational Stakes–Grade 2 (where he bested California Chrome), and the Santa Anita Handicap–Grade 1. Passing up Dubai or a run at Royal Ascot, Shared Belief was flown to West Virginia to run in the $1,500,000 Charles Town Classic Stakes–Grade 2 on April 18. Out of the gate, jockey Mike Smith felt something awry with the way Shared Belief was travelling and pulled him up. A nuclear scintigraphy scan revealed a non-displaced fracture of his right hip. Shared Belief was flown back to California and will recuperate at Pegasus Training and Equine Rehabilitation Center in Redmond Washington, one of the finest rehabilitation facilities in the U.S.
Back to the Derby
With an expected field of 20, it’s hard to tout a horse until the post positions are drawn. A horse that gets a spot close to the rail has a tough trip ahead, that is unless Calvin Borel is in the irons on El Kabeir, then all bets are off. As for the trainers of the Derby horses, they’ve done their jobs and conditioned their horses to a fine pitch. From hereon in, the trick is to keep their horses sound and well through to the finish of the race. Watch any one of those 20 horses, and you’ll see a thousand pounds of muscle and brawn ready to rumble.
In an interesting twist, South African trainer Mike De Kock has sent a Dubai-based colt to run for the roses. Mubtaahij will likely be the only horse to run without the benefit of the controversial diuretic Lasix, that is believed to prevent pulmonary hemorrhaging. Talk to five horse racing professionals about Lasix and you’ll get five differing opinions, running the gamut from whining to righteous indignation.
Whining, indignation, race day medication? Welcome to America, Mr. De Kock.