It has been a long time since I played my little horse racing game that came in a self-contained cardboard box that was about 8 inches wide and about 12 inches long. The plastic horses, which were secured in the cardboard groves, were Seabiscuit, Citation, Twenty Grand, and two others I can’t remember. I think, maybe, Gallant Fox was one of them, and maybe Count Fleet or War Admiral.
The players would flick a little spinner with their fingertips, and the pointer would point to one of the horses which would get to move up a space. The flicking and pointing would continue until one of the horses crossed the finish line.
That little game was not too much different from the 2020 racing season. We don’t really know what is going to be the outcome. The big difference is race tracks have replaced the horses. Saturday was a prime example.
It was May 2, the first Saturday in May, a day that everybody involved in horse racing and significant millions of our friends attempt to digest all the data and come up with a winner. Like 2005, when my wife, Karen, studied the form and came up with Giacomo.
It didn’t hurt that our last name begins with the same three letters — Gia. Giacomo paid $102.50 for a $2 win ticket. But now, I don’t know if you can bet on the Kentucky Derby being run on Sept. 5, the tentatively scheduled date. Would you have bet in January the running of the Arkansas Derby to be on May 2?
In this bazzaro world, the Arkansas Derby went off as rescheduled on May 2, Derby Day. Now, the Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled for Sept. 5, and the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes are still in reschedule mode. We will wait and see and hope.
Hopefully, in Saturday’s lead up to the Kentucky Derby, the racing world was treated to two Arkansas Derbies, two Bob Baffert winners and two possibly spectacular racehorses. In a way the delays and rescheduling may have turned out well for Baffert.
Charlatan ran and won the first division of the Arkansas Derby in spectacular fashion for a horse with only two starts and no stakes experience. However, he didn’t look like an inexperienced colt as he broke sharply from the starting gate and went quickly to the front.
As the son of Speightstown sped around the track in seasoned fashion, he posted swift fractions of :22 4/5, 46, and 1:09 3/5 for the quarter mile, half mile and six-furlong markers while maintaining an easy two-length lead. However, the real running didn’t start until the stretch where Charlatan opened up on his challengers and pulled away to a six-length lead at the wire.
Basin ran second and managed to hold Gouverneur Morris in third by a neck. It might be recalled that Gouverneur Morris is one of three sons of the stallion Constitution to be on the Derby trail. The others are Tiz the Law, the leading contender for the Kentucky Derby at this time.
The other son of Constitution is Independence Hall. This colt won the Nashua Stakes (G3) and the Jerome and ran second is the Sam F. Davis Stakes. Constitution is a 9-year-old son of Tapit, out of Baffled, a daughter of Distorted Humor.
Nadal, another Baffert trainee, won the second division of the Arkansas Derby, and ran his division in faster time — 1:48.34. Unlike Charlatan, Nadal allowed Wells Bayou to go to the front, but held second to the stretch.
The Baffert trainee moved to the lead at about the quarter pole and began to pull away to a three-length lead at the finish line. Nadal was purchase out of the Keeneland September Sale in 2018 for $65,000 by Randy Bradshaw, a long time Ocala trainer.
Bradshaw then sold Nadal in the Fasig-Tipton March Sale in 2019 for $700,000 to George Bolton and partners. In addition, to these two undefeated contenders, Baffert also has a third undefeated three-year-old in Authentic in his barn.
It is shaping up to be a great year for the Triple Crown if all these horses are able to have some kind of season even with the COVID-19 virus lurking in every conceivable place and some other places not yet known.