Tuesday turned out to be Decision Day as far as the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby goes. The connections to both The Factor and J P’s Gusto made official on what was widely speculated over the past week, that they will not be entered to run in the Derby on May 7th. Their defection allows Shackleford and Twinspired to move into the #19 and #20 slots of the graded stakes earnings list, which dictates the pecking order for starting in the Derby.
In a shocking announcement, Tom Durkin who is the race caller at Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga and has called the last 30 Triple Crown races for NBC Sports, stated on Tuesday that he would not be calling the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont for the network carrying the Triple Crown series, citing stress. No joke! In fact Durkin revealed that three days before last years Derby, he was in a Louisville psychiatrist’s office getting hypnotized.
So ten days prior to the Kentucky Derby, NBC Sports must decide on their new voice of the Triple Crown. It’s not like having ten days to find a new host of The Tonight Show. There are a couple dozen race callers across the country who could easily take the reins, but in reality the short list (IMHO) should look like this (their home track/state and my odds on their chances are also shown)…
Larry Collmus (Mt. St. Joseph HS product; Monmouth and Gulfstream) 2-1
Mark Johnson (Churchill Downs) 5-1
Dave Rodman (Laurel and Pimlico) 10-1
John Dooley (Arlington and Fair Grounds) 20-1
Trevor Denman (Santa Anita and Del Mar) 100-1
Collmus is the favorite thanks to the national attention he received for one of his calls last August at Monmouth Park involving a stretch duel between two horses named The Wife Doesn’t Know and My Wife Knows Everything.
Recent Derby workouts… Uncle Mo @ CD 5f sloppy 1:01.69 breezing
Midnight Interlude @ CD 6f sloppy 1:13.51 breezing
Santiva @ CD 4f good 49.22 breezing
Even though no official word was released about Uncle Mo’s status for the Derby, no announcement is needed as two separate actions sealed the deal. First, Uncle Mo’s workout on Tuesday morning served noticed that he’s fully recovered from the GI infection that was detected shortly after his 3rd place finish in the Wood Memorial. Second indication, Uncle Mo’s stablemate Stay Thirsty obtained the services of Ramon Dominguez for the Derby. If Uncle Mo wasn’t going to run, Pletcher would have given the Stay Thirsty mount to his #1 rider, John Velasquez, who has ridden Uncle Mo in all of his races.
48 hours ago, Bob Baffert had three (3) potential Derby starters…Jaycito, The Factor and Midnight Interlude. He is now down to one, his Santa Anita Derby upset winner Midnight Interlude who was unraced as a 2 year old.
Today’s Derby trivia question: Midnight Interlude did not make his career debut until January 29th at the age of 3. That is, he was unraced as a 2 year old. Who was the last Kentucky Derby winner that was unraced as a two year old and in what year did he win?
Answer to Monday’s Derby trivia question… Since 1929 when a gelding named Clyde Van Dusen won the Kentucky Derby, only two other geldings have won this race. They are Funny Cide (2003) and Mine That Bird (2009).