** Would there be a better named pair in the Derby exacta this year than New York Hero and Peace Rules? A distant second would be Ten Most Wanted and Christine's Outlaw. Then you can complete the trifecta with Badge of Silver. (Is this a case of Derby fever going through the roof and delirium setting in or what?)To borrow the name of a UAE Derby starter, we are Outta Here!
** The next order of business is the Derby gods. I haven't brought them up in a long time, and they just may have something up their sleeve this year. Why else would they put the kibosh on so many of the leading 3-year-olds? We all know how the Derby gods feel about the old folks who have devoted so much of themselves to Thoroughbred racing. I'm not going to bore you with oft-told tales of Frances Genter or Paul Mellon and Mack Miller or William T. Young or W. Cal Partee or Bob and Beverly Lewis or Charlie Whittingham and Bill Shoemaker. The gods also love a great human interest story, like Chris Antley or Prince Ahmed Salman or the Mike Pegram and Captain Steve Thompson gun incident or Gary Stevens' "angel on my shoulder" Derby.So, what do they have to work with this year? First off, there is the recently deceased Henryk DeKwiatkowski, the savior of Calumet Farm, whose last wish was to have Region of Merit run in the Derby. Even if it wasn't his last wish, it still sounds good. Staying with DeKwiatkowski, you have his pride and joy, Conquistador Cielo, who also died recently and is the sire of Lone Star Sky. How about B. Wayne Hughes, retired billionaire turned racetrack junkie? Hughes has spent millions upon millions of dollars for yearlings over the past decade and basically has little to show for it. Now, in his new profession as railbird, he's immersed in the aforementioned Atswhatim...oops, The Big A, and is having the time of his life. He even brought Hollywood in on it, and we now have Steven Spielberg and his "Seabiscuit" cronies involved. How can the gods not fall head over heels over this whole glitzy scenario, especially with "Seabiscuit" soon to be released? With Spielberg in the picture, what if we call the horse "A.T.?"You've got Wally Dollase (Ten Most Wanted), one of the real good guys, who had to rebuild his stable literally from nothing after getting fired as private trainer by last year's winning owner Prince Ahmed Salman. Then there is true-blue Kentuckian Ken Ramsey (Badge of Silver), who started dreaming of winning the Kentucky Derby when he was in the crib. How about longtime Hollywood Park kingpin R.D. Hubbard with a son of Gentlemen (Man Among Men)? Finally, what joy throughout the land should Allen Jerkens (Spite the Devil) win the Derby.You can go on and on and come up with stories that would warm the cockles of the Derby gods' hearts. Just pick one and hope this is one of the years they're paying attention.** The reason one of the historical trends might be broken this year is the complete decimation of the 2-year-old crop. It's alarming to think that the winners of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Champagne, Hollywood Futurity, Lane's End Breeders' Futurity, Kentucky Jockey Club, Belmont Futurity, Remsen, Hopeful, Del Mar Futurity, Kentucky Cup Juvenile, and Laurel Futurity are all gone. That is scary.And now for some final tidbits of nonsense.** Here is a Santa Anita Derby trivia question: When was the last time the Santa Anita Derby field had a horse bred in Utah who raced in Panama facing a horse raised in Idaho? Stumped, right?** If Eugene's Third Son makes it to the Derby, are Eugene's first and second sons going to feel slighted over not having a Derby horse named after them?