Congratulations to Todd Pletcher for getting off the Derby schneid. Pletcher and his wife Tracy have been major supporters of the Belmont Child Care Association, and two years ago they were honored for their work on behalf of the children of Anna House.
And now we can, happily, stop hearing about his winless streak. Pletcher’s kind of like the team that’s shown regular season success while faltering in the playoffs: President’s Trophy winner, out in the early rounds, year after year. Hang in there, Caps’ fans.
I watched the race with the Brooklyn connections of Stately Victor, who, while disappointed, didn’t let the defeat get in the way of a great Derby party. Mint juleps flowed; Derby balloons floated; Derby pie was passed. We had a little Kentucky in our fair borough, and the pangs of defeat are perhaps assuaged a bit by the news yesterday that trainer Michael Maker is pointing Stately Victor to the Belmont, where his local fans will be able to see him.
Is there anyone who found the NBC coverage of the race anything except completely unwatchable? Being at a Derby party generally means that you don’t hear much of the commentary—you rely on what’s on the screen. With ten minutes to post, I could barely find out what the odds were, and during the running of the race, as I watched with closers in mind, I had no way of knowing the fractions, as NBC didn’t seem to think that it was important to post them. The frivolity that made up most of the broadcast doesn’t merit comment.
I know, I know—everybody loves Calvin Borel. He’s humble and he’s dedicated and he’s a great guy. But he seemed to hit that horse an awful lot in the last sixteenth, didn’t he? Yeah, he rides great; yeah, he knows Churchill; yeah, he’s fearless; yeah, he wins. But he also doesn’t seem to mind at all that at the end of the race, it’s all about him.
Looking east from Louisville: When Aqueduct opened last fall, Allen Jerkens won the first stakes race of the meet: Le Grand Cru, longest shot on the board, took the Grade III Bold Ruler. Belmont Park opened last Friday, and guess what? Allen Jerkens won the first stakes race of the meet: Le Grand Cru, third-longest shot on the board, took the Grade III Westchester. Convocation, trained by Jimmy Jerkens, got second. Following the race, Jimmy said, “Well, if we had to get beat, at least we got beat by the Chief.” Le Grand Cru paid $56.50. Welcome home, Chief.
Congratulations to Gary Schneekloth’s Bourbon Bliss Barn for winning this year’s Road to the Roses/Brooklyn Backstretch charity league. Gary’s two stables finished first and second, with 383 and 369 points; shockingly, yours truly filled out the trifecta with 360. Gary, please e-mail me to talk about where you’d like your donation to go.
A week or so ago, there were a lot of people talking about the karma that had led to Pletcher’s likely Derby favorite, Eskendereya, being declared out of the race with an injury—it was, some said, karma for Pletcher’s various real/imagined/exaggerated misdeeds.
What, I wonder, are those folks thinking now?