-- Wild Desert ran a bang-up race to finish second after closing from last, while getting pushed out by the winner in the stretch. With an effort similar to last year's Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II), in which he finished third, the son of Wild Rush has now shown he can deliver a powerful late run on a relatively consistent basis. And there is still has room for improvement.
-- Third-place finisher, Mr Sword, looked like a sure winner turning for home, but a premature move from sixth to first down the backstretch by Norberto Arroyo took its toll and he came up empty in the final furlong, while ducking out from a set of tire tracks. Arroyo also almost cost the son of Rizzi third when he started easing him before the wire and the colt threw his ears up as if the race were over.
-- Although Andromeda's Hero (Fusaichi Pegasus ) finished a disappointing sixth, it must be noted that after the wire while pulling up, he cut inside the winner and was a good length ahead of everybody in a matter of a few strides. He could be another who was affected by the sealed track, and he still may turn out to be a legitimate Derby horse.What can one say about the UAE Derby? Godolphin sends out their next wonder horse, the unbeaten Shamardal, and he proceeds to stop to a walk while 100-1 stablemate, Blues and Royals, romps by 12 lengths. The winner, a son of Honour and Glory, looks like a promising colt on the dirt, but this race still was too bizarre to get a true read on him. And where did that Beyer Speed Figure of 110 come from?
From a visual standpoint, he appears to have a good deal of talent on the dirt and was striding out beautifully in the final two furlongs. Regardless of how good this half-brother to Limehouse (fourth in the 2004 Kentucky Derby) may be, the bottom line is the Godolphin hierarchy still insists on attempting to win the Derby their way, and this will be his only start before the big race. Logically, it shouldn't happen, but racing has changed dramatically in recent years and appears to be venturing into uncharted waters. So does anyone really know for sure what can and can't be accomplished?All the Rushaway Stakes proved is that last year's Champagne (gr. I) winner, Proud Accolade (Yes It's True) is either inferior around two turns or simply cannot handle a sealed racetrack. The winner, Cat Shaker (Catienus) showed he either has improved drastically or he loves a sealed track.Private Terms winner Malibu Moonshine has shown on several occasions he has a big kick and can use it early, and he doesn't mind taking the overland route. But his fourth in the Battaglia Memorial puts a question mark next to his name, until he shows he can compete outside Maryland.Other observations:
-- Although trainer Todd Pletcher said he would have preferred running Bandini in the Derby off a five-week layoff after the Florida Derby, the feeling here is that the colt, assuming his foot bruise heals completely, will have a better shot coming off the three weeks of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). Pletcher knows his horse and may be right in his assessment, but historically speaking, the Blue Grass looks like the better of the two races. Until a horse comes along and shows the Derby can be won off a five-week layoff, it's better to go with what's worked over the past half-century. -- It is no surprise there are no shippers for the Florida Derby. Gulfstream Park must now try to promote their premier event as something more than just a re-tread of the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), minus one of its star participants. Nick Zito will hold the hot hand with High Fly (Atticus) and Noble Causeway (Giant's Causeway ), but it will be interesting to see how the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) form holds up through Palm Meadows-based Vicarage (Vicar) and Wallstreet Scandal (Mt. Livermore). That should provide a decent line on the winner, High Limit.