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Derby Day Live Blog

Chapel, Scheinman: Derby Day

KYC editors John Scheinman and Jessica Chapel are live blogging Kentucky Derby day. Check back often for updates!

10:37 a.m. – Good morning, everyone. With Jessica sitting calmly by my side, I’m a bloody mary into the day and $100 in the hole as I stood against Atigun, at 3-2, in the opener. It’s my kind of day! We are live from Churchill Downs for Kentucky Derby Day! It’s exceedingly muggy out, and you can see people already sticking to their shirts. The track is muddy but rapidly drying out. The turf is listed as “Good” after last night’s torrential rains that rolled through town. Sounded like hail against my hotel room window, but it was so late, the drumming sent me right to sleep. There is a blockbuster race card before us. The crowd is pouring in. Mary J. Blige is loosening up her pipes (she practiced out on the infield at 8:30 p.m. yesterday – thrilling but pitchy) and one of us — me — will be two-fisted throughout the day at the windows. Insights and hopefully pithy commentary throughout the afternoon from Jessica and myself as we hit the climax at Kentucky Confidential. It’s been a helluva week, and I’ll be weighing in at least until the Woodford shows up. – John

11:05 a.m. – So I’m not all after the fact (I just started the Pick 4 in the second race with resilient winner Big Ring, who came back inside after being passed), we’ve got whispers on Event Center in the third race. The first quarter of that maiden special weight six-furlong sprint went in sub-21 seconds, which the fastest horses in history often never achieve. Clearly, the racing strip — drying out mud — is a launching strip for the land speed record. – John

11:58 a.m. – That whisper horse just crossed the finish line. Finally. Last. Just watched a video by Molly Jo Rosen of Hansen’s last work. He nearly kills a goose and then picks up Derby Kitten on the turn and Derby Kitten breaks off into an unrecorded 3furlong work on even terms. He’s 2-1 for the fourth and very live. – John

12:08 p.m. – No. 7 wins the fourth for fun, inside the entire way. The rail, at this point, is Triple A+ gold. – John

12:16 p.m. – John Asher is remembering Buck Wheat, the great, legendary sportswriter Furman Bisher, Mitch Shirota and a few others. The bugler comes out with a tribute, playing … “My Old Kentucky Home.” – John

12:20 p.m. – Suitably fed, I’m taking questions if there are any. – John

1:10 p.m. – While John’s been pounding the windows, I’ve been roaming. The air is muggy. The infield is filling up. The hats are as colorful and whimsical as you’d expect. One reward for working my way through the crowd earlier today was that I caught the Derby roses being brought in by Kroger. It was something to see — bouquets and bouquets of beribboned luscious red roses, ready for laying in the arms of the jubilant winning Derby connections at about 6:30 p.m. tonight. I ran into Keith McCalmont, aka Triple Dead Heat, outside the press box. Of course I asked him who he liked — “Gemologist,” he said. – Jessica

1:24 p.m. – Such a pleasure to see the Turf Sprint, a tease and a nuisance, out of the way. We move into the Pick 5 here and Pete Denk and I have a ticket that we need to borrow money for just to put in … and that’s for a 50-cent base value. Maybe I should be out smelling roses with Jessica, but the air is thick with intrigue as the dormant animal in some of the press box players has begun to emerge. The Derby is full of history and misty-eyed stuff, but it is a day for gambling if you are so predisposed. I am surrounded by people who are so predisposed. – John

Claire Novak and Molly Jo Rosen with their Hansen toys.

2:00 p.m. – Sure, Derby day is a degenerate’s dream. But it’s also a great party! And Dr. Hansen — owner of the eponymous Hansen — is in a Derby party mood, walking around the track accompanied by a lovely blond in electric blue and handing out squishy little Hansen toys. Fun! – Jessica

2:07 – While Jessica plays with Hansen toys in the playroom, I’m in the cigar-filled snakepit with men stinking of cheap cologne and filthy money. My Pick 5 heading into the 7th race: 1-2-4-6/3-10/3-7-8-9/2-3-6-9/6 – John

2:10 – Shacklefoooooooooord! – John

2:20 p.m. – Many, many racing fans believe the sport desperately needs stars. I don’t think he’s a horse with much penetration in the national sporting consciousness, but if people were forced to name a single one, it might just be Shackleford. In racing, however, last year’s Preakness winner is about as big as it gets, and that he hadn’t won since the Preakness last year was a cause for some concern. Yet, after the sensational Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct on Wood Memorial day, trainer Dale Romans said Shack looked like he was back, and that was off a third-place finish. The fans – and, evidently, smart money – showed late and he pushed past Amazombie for 9-5 favoritism and looked absolutely superb powering to victory. It’s going to take a victory in the Kentucky Derby (by me, not anyone else) to knock this win down as my favorite moment on Derby Day. – John

2:42 p.m. – Equibase Chartcaller Jack Valentine is upstairs for the big day, and he has no problem not being gentle and kind recording what he sees. For Gantry, the third-place finisher in the Churchill Downs Stakes, he wrote “Outbroke rider” as his main comment. Jockey Richard Eramia will be looking at that one for a long time. When told this was going in a blog, another chartcaller said to Valentine, “That’s the first time someone said you weren’t gentle and kind.” – John

3:15 p.m. – How do you like that? I’m a minnow compared to Scheinman, but cashing a little win bet on Hungry Island — who I picked in the Distaff Turf Mile for Hello Race Fans — was still plenty satisfying. – Jessica

3:18 p.m. – Swallowing the minnow in a single, vaguely satisfying chomp with $25 to win and place on Hungry Island. What else are they throwing into the tank? – John

3:33 p.m. – Jessica goes from pumps to Vans and heads out to wade into the crowd, sans diving bell. She is very brave. – John

3:53 p.m. – Groupie Doll breaks an 11-year-old track record and kills off every single ticket I have going. – John

4:15 p.m. – This is when time begins to become elastic, as more of it is positioned between races. We drifted over to the Belmont feed to watch the great gray Winter Memories, and now it’s back to await the Turf, 29 minutes away. – John

4:34 p.m. – If this keeps up, it’s going to become Sinko-de-wallet. – John

4:53 p.m. – Uh-oh. Little Mike goes wire-to-wire in the Woodford Turf and John goes flying out of the press box. Must be for a drink, because his face wasn’t that of a man with a winning ticket.- Jessica

4:58 – It is very discouraging when you handicap a race and then jockeys simply do not try. Bejarano never made any effort whatsoever to involve Turbo Compressor in the pace of the race. This horse has never done a single thing when not up front, and his speed figures suggested he was not only competitive but a threat for the win. Real people are putting real money on these races and to not try in an event of this magnitude is a real problem to me. Watch the gallop out after the race and Turbo Compressor goes by the leaders. This might look like sour grapes, but it is inexcusable to not give your mount the best chance to win, and Bejarano did not. Honestly, it is either incompetence or shameful, neither option very good. – John

5:18 p.m. – Blinkers Off just told a terrific story about a conversation with Wayne Lukas. I asked if I could blog it and he said, no, but you can blog about my wife. I have no idea what that meant. – John

5:31 p.m. – Jessica has gone over to the backstretch to walk in the parade to the paddock with the horses. Me? Gambling. Here is the late Pick 3 card that ends at 7:50 p.m. – – 6-10-16/1-3-4-10-11/1-2-5 – John

6:12 p.m. – Heading out to the rail. Picking Bodemeister, of course, and hope very much he is a superstar. Best looking horses in the parade were Daddy Long Legs, I’ll Have Another, Bodemeister and Hansen (who was wound up but is just plain gorgeous). Best of luck to everyone. It’s an honor and pleasure to be here, and I can’t tell you how thick the excitement is. OK, I just did …. – John

6:31 p.m. – It wasn’t a choice between betting and doing the walkover. I just made sure to enter my wagers before I left (win on Take Charge Indy, El Padrino, exacta box on Take Charge Indy, Dullahan, and Bodemeister). Oh! They’re about to start! – Jessica

6:33 p.m. – I’ll Have Another? I didn’t have him. – Jessica

6:38 p.m. – Oh, the agony. Bodemeister, splendid and freakish in defeat, flying far ahead of the field. Trinniberg powerful in second but not in the same class, and then, Bodemeister puts him away and sails for home, history for the taking. And, maybe that lack of 2-year-old seasoning caught up with him, that and the torrid fractions. The best looking horses warming up were I’ll Have Another, Went the Day Well and Daddy Long Legs, and two of them were in the top four. What a great and thrilling horse race, and the others didn’t stand a chance. The third and fourth-place finishers, to these eyes, just picked up the pieces. The top two were head and shoulders best, and it was thrilling. Especially thrilling because … I hit! – John

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Well, I wish I had been following this all along during yesterday’s “Bellevue At Home, Brought To You By Tom Yum! Hammond” betting marathon.

My high point of the weekend was hitting a 25-1 “on day-boo” runner in Australia (at 11:30 pm the previous night – which I bet by accident, I sheepishly confess).

If that same horse had kept running after winning that race, headed for Louisville, he still would have beaten my Derby pick.

Will you wouldn’t you
May you say that you will
Do this wonderful edition
Once again next year?

Your personal Greek Chorus is stepping away for a while, will miss the Preakness (Horray! Last cashed a ticket in that infernal farce in the 1990s).

See you soon if there’s a “Belmont Stakes 1% Takeout Confidential,” by John and Jessica.

Burn those Hansen thingies. Buy Ms. Novak a drink. Watch this writer (instant replay) go nuts trying to figure out why he was credited with a nice sum of money, the origin of which can’t be figured out.

(At 3 a.m., it finally occurred to him that he had bet I’ll Have Another in the 2nd Future Derby pool in February).

Thank you, John and Jessica. Especially you, Jessica, for hitting Hungrey Island. At least one of us understood that if it wasn’t played, DOOM.

Posted by Don Reed on May 6, 2012 @ 6:06 am

Wait a minute, Don, I hit Hungry Island too!

Posted by John Scheinman on May 6, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

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