Also-Ran: How The Others Fared and Future Plans

Published in the May 12 Blood-Horse magazine
Trainer Todd Pletcher was one of the few not surprised by 55-1 shot Invisible Ink's performance. "I said this week I thought Inky would run the best race of his life." Pletcher said after a fourth-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I), he and jockey John Velazquez decided to place the colt farther off the pace. He ran ninth for the first six furlongs of the Derby. Of the objection, Pletcher said: "I thought John did the right thing asking them to take a look at it, and they made the right choice." Invisible Ink will head to Belmont Park. -- K.J.I.

The so-called second choice of trainer Bob Baffert's barn was the one who came through to finish in the money for the silver-haired conditioner and owners Robert and Janice McNair. "Congaree perhaps ran the best race of all of them. He was close to the hot pace and still ran on. Consider how few starts he's had and it makes it all the more impressive. That sets him up nice for the Preakness (gr. I)," said Baffert after the race. Robert McNair echoed Baffert's comments on Congaree. "The fractions were a little fast. He's just getting better and better with each start." -- L.D.

Nothing was disappointing about Frank Stronach's first shot at the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). His Thunder Blitz finished fourth against an extraordinarily tough field. "A lot of people would have liked to be fourth in the Derby," said trainer Joe Orseno. "Like 13 other horses." Thunder Blitz came out of the race in great shape, but won't go to Baltimore for the Preakness. The colt, a May foal, will go to New York and be considered for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
"If he has five weeks to catch up to these horses, he'll be in much better shape," Orseno said. -- E.M.

Baffert was hoping for a one-two finish, but a third for Congaree and a fifth for favored Point Given was what he walked away with this year. "I just hope nothing shows up with Point Given," Baffert said. "He wasn't himself, but nothing is wrong at first glance. I just know he wasn't the Point Given we know. "He looked like he was in a good spot the whole way, but when you analyze the race closer, the pace was harder than expected. Maybe he needed to be farther back." No Preakness commitment was made by Baffert for either horse. -- L.D.

Traffic problems at the quarter pole may have cost Jamaican Rum fourth-place money, according to trainer James Cassidy. But he was far from unhappy with the colt's performance. "Don't get me wrong; I'm not disappointed," Cassidy said. "This colt is by a nothing sire out of a nothing mare and he finished sixth. I just think if he had a clean trip he might have gotten fourth." Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye said things got pretty tight with Dollar Bill at the three-eighths pole, but otherwise he had a good trip. Delahoussaye said Jamaican Rum might be better suited for the turf. -- E.M.

Caught in traffic, A P Valentine was never a threat to win. First, he was bumped by the faltering Talk Is Money at the half-mile pole. Then he got shuffled back near the three-eighths pole. Still, the colt managed to put together a late rally that impressed his trainer, Nick Zito. "I couldn't believe it when he got stopped the second time and had the courage to come on again," Zito said. "I loved the way he finished; he's a true distance horse. The way he ran, I'm sure the Belmont Stakes would suit him well." While Zito planned to ship A P Valentine to Pimlico, the trainer stopped short of declaring the colt a definite Preakness starter. -- D.B.B.

Assistant trainer Eric Coatrieux said of Express Tour: "When he was asked, he just didn't have it." Coatrieux said Express Tour broke well. "He was there on the inside early and made his move on the outside," but when jockey David Flores asked for acceleration, there was no answer. The horse cooled out fine after the race. Trainer Saeed bin Suroor and assistant Tom Albertrani left for England immediately after the race. Express Tour was to follow on Monday. -- K.J.I.

Trainer Steve Asmussen said his first trip to the Derby was a memorable one and he's leaving with a tremendous amount of respect for those who continue along the Triple Crown trail. "This race really takes a lot out of a horse, and right now mine is going to get some much needed rest," Asmussen said. "I am very proud of him. He ran a tremendous and honest race, and we want to give him some time off so we don't cheat ourselves out of a great horse in the future." Asmussen said Fifty Stars came out of the race very hot, but no early problems were detected. -- L.D.

Continued. . . .