Power Cap

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24 February 2010

Derby Trail Hyperbole

When trainers start talking about their three year old colts this is a good time to tune out. Lately three well bet three year old colts on the derby trail who where incisively hyped up by their trainers all disapointed. All three trainers did interviews on TVG/HRTV all three went to the post either a favorite or second choice.

The ultimate hype horse was Eightfiveinafifty. This was just a maiden winner but his trainer appeared on TVG, HRTV and had numerous articles written about him. Not only was Gary Contessa acting as his trainer, but he was also acting as this colt's publicist. In the lead up to the Whirlaway Gary Contessa said“But I would bet that this horse will get two turns. Watching him in the mornings, I get the impression that he’ll run all day; he never gets enough. When he’s done galloping in the morning, it’s all the rider can do to pull him up. If I breeze him five-eighths, it’s at least a mile before he gets pulled up. He has a lot of gears.” As we all know Eightfiveinafifty was bet down to 1-4 and had a disaster of a race. There was some sort of rankness, then an equipment failure which nearly lead to Eightfiveinafifty taking a solo tour of Ozone Park. This horse opened up at 1-9 on the tote; clearly someone was listening to Contessa and they paid for it.

Eightyfiveinafifty's disastrous Whirlaway performance

Then there is Buddy's Saint who was the favorite in last weeks Fountain Of Youth. After crossing the wire first in all of his New York races this colt was tabbed as a derby favorite by many. Moved by the hope of a derby winner, inner track stalwart Bruce Levine uncharacteristically moved a string of horses down to Gulfstream for the winter. The normally reserved Levine has also acted as Buddy's Saint press agent, appearing on TVG to talk about Buddy's Saint. "I think he's a Derby horse. He doesn't have to show me," says Levine, 55. "His 2-year-old year was very good. We have to pick it up a bit, but I wouldn't trade horses with anybody in America. He's done everything I've asked of him, and then some." Like Eightfiveinafifty Buddy's Saints fountain of youth was a disappointment. After some early trouble Buddy's Saint was equus non grata at the front of this herd. He finished next to last disappointing the chalk bettors.

A trainer that is no stranger to the spotlight is D. Wayne Lukas. He trains Kentucky Derby hopeful Dublin. This is a trainer that knows that a good three year old colt can win just one or two prep races on the derby trail and can find a lucrative home at stud. Think about a horse like Proud Citizen that was trained by Lukas. This colt amassed just one GII victory in the Lexington Stakes and parlayed that into a gig standing stud in Kentucky. Having a press friendly trainer like Lukas certainly helped Proud Citizen have a good life after his racing career was cut short by a leg fracture in the Belmont stakes. Lukas is working the same magic for Dublin. Lukas said about Dublin "I’ve led some pretty good horses over there [to run in the Kentucky Derby]," Lukas said, "and he could be as good as any of them." Dublin did not make Lukas look totally foolish, he finished a respectable second to race favorite Conveyance. With a positive press friendly trainer like Lukas on his side Dublin will continue to race in the limelight. With all of this positive press Dublin will have every chance to achieve fame and land a home at stud.

D. Wayne Lukas looking dapper in the limelight

When betting the triple crown trail perhaps it is best to avoid the articles in the racing form. Not only are the trainers responsible for the care and development of their charges, but they also work as their publicists. The smart money takes what the trainers say with a grain of salt. Let the performances on the track sway your opinion; not the words of a man who stands to gain by the fame of the horse that he is touting.

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