Horse Track Blog

Sunday, April 24, 2011


OZONE PARK, NY—Everyone in Kentucky is in sync with the rest of the universe for the 11 1/2 months of the year. The time between now and approximately 6:04 p.m. on the first Saturday in May is different in the Commonwealth. All the rhythms change because everyone is operating on "Kentucky Time."

Keeneland winds down and Churchill Downs is spruced up in anticipation of Derby Week. All the prep races have been run and pre-race selections have been noted mentally so plans begin in earnest to host the world during the week prior to the Derby.

No less acclaimed an author than William Faulkner captured the Derby essence in a remarkable 1955 Sports Illustrated piece. Entitled, "Kentucky: May: Saturday" it began with the words, "This saw Boone," never once mentioned the winner by name (Swaps, under Bill Shoemaker) or named any horse, for that matter, and included a wonderful phrase that sounds as if it were scraped from the rail on the clubhouse turn...

"Y'awl can git out of the way too now; here's the big horse coming."

People will descend on Louisville from all corners of the world beginning this week. Racing fans will debate, decipher and disparage pedigrees from Butchertown to Shively.

One of the year's expected favorites, Uncle Mo, is among the hottest pedigree topics because his sire, Indian Charlie, isn't perceived as one capable of throwing a runner that can get 1 1/4 miles. However, if a sire's ability to stamp his get with determination is any indication, then bettors may want to take a long look at the closing day feature race at Aqueduct to gain an insight into how Uncle Mo might dig down late in the Derby.

Adios Charlie won the Jerome Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths. How he won, though, is significant. A three-year-old colt from the mare Teak Totem and sired by Indian Charlie, Adios Charlie ran the mile in 1:38.4 by racing near the lead and being passed by Justin Phillip in the stretch, only to come back and retake the lead and then widen his winning margin.

The Stanley Hough-trained colt was making only his third career start after having broken his maiden at Gulfstream the last time out at 6 1/2 furlongs.

If an Indian Charlie colt can jump up from a maiden win in Florida at 6 1/2 furlongs to win a stakes race at 8 furlongs in New York in his next start while being passed and retaking the lead to draw off, then why can't Uncle Mo display that same determination when it comes to Kentucky Time and the whole world is watching?




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