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Ky Derby winner may not be coming out of the west; Pletcher appears to have best colt in Always Dreaming

By Warren Eves

It was great to see class act John Shirreffs win the Santa Anita Derby with Gormley.

Looking at the Ky Derby picture for the first time this year–it’s safe to say this year’s winner probably won’t be Gormley. And…….you probably won’t find the winner of that Derby in Louisville among the 12 colts who chased Gormley to the wire at Santa Anita on April 8.

Gormley’s final fraction of 13.61 is the tell tale sign when one is looking for quality. Handicappers must include final fractions(ff) when ferriting out colts who appear to have a realistic chance of winning the run for roses in Kentucky.

In the ninth race on the same Santa Anita Derby card the filly Sircat Sally led every step and came her final fraction in a scintinlating 11 seconds to win the Providencia Stakes. So….the relatively slow final fraction in the Santa Anita Derby has to be a concern if one compares fractions of these two races.

It’s worth noting there was a lively three-horse battle up front in the Santa Anita Derby. That’s why one could conclude that Gormley should have finished faster because of the shape of the race. He did not.

“He’s very quick out of the gate and today the plan was to take him back,” said jockey Victor Espinoza who rode Gormley.

“This is very exciting. It’s thrilling to have a Kentucky Derby horse and it’s for the same owners as Giacamo,” said Shirreffs said. “Gormley is an evolving horse. He’s very precocious and very excitable. I just need to turn that energy of his into positive use.”

In Kentucky? The Blue Grass produced a shocker at Keeneland when Irap held on to win despite a slow last fraction of 13.04 and paid $64.60. The colt may have the best of Win Star Farm’s stallion barn but he was on the wrong lead late and struggling to hold sway. The half brother to Speightstown was coming off a fourth in the Sunland Derby. His connections plan to run him at Churchill Downs but he has little chance in this writer’s opinion.

Irap is going to remain stabled at Keeneland. “He’ll be on the Nyquist routine,” said Jack Sisterson in Alicia Hughes‘ follow up story for Bloodhorse Magazine. “The great thing about Keeneland is if the weather is bad, you have the all-weather track.”

The disappointing third place effort in the Blue Grass by McCracken didn’t seem to dampen the optimism of trainer Ian Wilkes, the one time assistant for Carl Nafzger. “If he wasn’t tired today, I’d be in trouble. He got something out of it and….you know, takes the pressure off trying to stay unbeaten.” (These quotes were also from a story written by Alicia Hughes).

So it looks like Todd Pletcher, who has had little fortune in the Kentucky Derby despite training eons of bluebloods, may have the best colt in Always Dreaming winner of the Florida Derby. Even his last fraction of 12.53 was not dazzling, but the Always Dreaming colt kicked clear late.

Notes scribbled across my official program–We were sorry to see the way Dortmund failed to handle the turf when making his first start for trainer Art Sherman. “We tried the grass and it didn’t work,” said Sherman. “This horse has breezed well since.”…………Boy oh boy is it hard for this senior turf writer to see some familiar names retiring one by one. Jerry Fanning, a fixture at Santa Anita, has called it quits. Will always remember Eddie Sanger who hung around Fanning a lot and that picture has changed markedly……………Former trainer Patty Sterling has jockey Tiago Pereira going good and that should come as no surprise. The only thing that surprises me is the number of jockeys who continue to stick around on the SoCal circuit where small fields are the norm. The latest rumor is Santa Anita factions are thinking about going to a three-day race week. What they need to do is to hire a new and young racing secretary, one who will get out and hustle other factions and not cater to the elite circle of three……………….Wonder if any of you are old enough to remember when racetracks were balking at offering a one dollar wager?  That’s correct, and now we have 10 cent wagers offered where a bettor can use many more horses in an exotic………………So who did we see show up at Santa Anita when they awarded the Woolf Award?  None other than Pat “Break All Rules” Valenzuela………………..It’s beyond sad what the factions in the Santa Anita racing office have done to the once great race place. The card they came up with on the last day of March was pitiful. Like I’ve been saying for years, as long as they have the clueless racing secretary who has never known how to cultivate outside horse stables–things will continue as they have. You can’t have a few select trainers having so much say in how the racing office operates to continue quality racing. Sad to see what was the greatest racing in the country gone from view. The clown named Rick Hammerle needs to go and new thinking needs to surface at the top if they are serious about saving the SoCal circuit……………...Maggie Wolfendale has worthwhile opinions in her pre-race commentary at the Big A. The lady doing the same job for Santa Anita in SoCal? Not so much. A huge helping of the obvious during pre-race commentary is finding most serious players hitting the mute button……………..Since we monitor a number of horse racing venues at night we also like the tandem of John Berry and Gabe Prewitt who do a pre-race card handicapping seminar for @IsleRacingPP, better known as Pompano Park. They are not coming with the blatantly obvious in every race and suggest some price shots and reasons why they might want to be considered in such things as the exotics. Great meld and worth a listen………….Timeline, a 3-year-old son of Hard Spun bought for $500K at Keeneland Sale, made his second lifetime start also a winning one at Big A on April 6. He led the chase, took the lead off the top and drew out to win the one-turn mile test by many in the slop. He’s a Triple Crown nominee being trained by Chad Brown…………..Great to see good lady trainer Michelle Lovell win with Delusional KK opening day of the Keeneland fall meet using jockey Brian Hernandez. Her stock is always worth a second look when looking for horses to use in exotics…………….It’s a good thing they have Michael Wrona calling the races because he brings professionalism back into the Santa Anita arena……………..One of the worst starters in racing today has to be at Penn National. Despite usally dealing with small fields, he waits, and waits, and waits some more………….An additional note to the Santa Anita Derby. I did like the long striding Royal Mo. He was used wide early to get involved. He stayed wide and kept trying and I’d call his third better than looked. He should improve off the effort………….Julien Leparoux rode Irap instead of regular rider Mario Gutierrez. “I can’t say I had a lot of confidence (In Irap),” said Leparoux, “But when you look at his races , he was running good.”

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About The Author

Warren Eves
Warren Eves is a senior turf writer from the state of California who calls Pearl River, Louisiana his home. The one time editor of the Pasadena Independent Star News moved on to handle publicity for racetracks coast to coast. Eves gained his first exposure to the racetrack through a school buddy the late Art Lerille, Jr., who eventually became a trainer in California. Warren worked as farm manager for crack two-year-old trainer Ray Priddy, before holding on track jobs at the racetrack. He worked for Hall of Fame trainer M.E. "Buster" Millerick, Allen Drumheller, Jr., and Dick Moon. Eves has a well rounded background in all breeds. He developed Quarter Horse Report in 1979 with Ed Burgart, track announcer, at Los Alamitos Race Course. It was an innovative publication which revolutionized the industry with actual descriptions of the workouts. While handling publicity at Saratoga Raceway in upstate New York Eves was named employee of the year in 1970. He also handled publicity for Sunland Park, Centennial Park, Ascot Park, Thistledown, and two harness meetings in California. Eves then went into the 900-line business with his best plays and has compiled his own Kentucky Derby ratings for many years. In 1997 he began going back and forth to Las Vegas teaming up with Ralph Siraco to create the long runining radio show Raceday Las Vegas. Eves has produced and directed many horse racing shows on both radio and television. In 2010 he got a call from Mark Geiger. That's when he began writing Eves, with a reputation of a trip handicapper, is known for his video tape scrutiny. He currently monitors horse racing in for a major horseplayer. While writing for Ridder Publication at the Pasadena Star News his investigative reporting was highly regarded by his peers. Often on the cutting edge, Eves has been given the green light to write about what issues he sees fit to cover. Have a question. His book "Hold All Tickets" is soon to be made available for those who come to this site. It's a factual account of actual events and happenings that took place in the 70s, 80s and 90s. If Warren doesn't know the answer to a question you may have, he'll tell you up front. Eves won't drop it there, however, he'll find someone who knows the answer and get back to you.


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