Borel ‘Super’ on latest victor
Posted: Monday, May 3, 2010 1:27 pm
By: By WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A fist pump. That’s it. That’s all the emotion trainer Todd Pletcher showed after finally coming through in the Kentucky Derby.
No shouting. No running up and down the paddock when Super Saver and jockey Calvin Borel beat Ice Box by 21⁄2 lengths to snap his 0-for-24 mark in the Run for the Roses.
Next up for Super Saver is the second jewel of the Triple Crown in two weeks. It remains unclear how many of his fellow Derby horses will be alongside him in the starting gate at Pimlico.
Trainer Bob Baffert says he’ll likely wait until next weekend before deciding whether to ship beaten Derby favorite Lookin At Lucky to Baltimore. The colt went off as the 6-1 top choice despite starting on the rail. He was knocked around almost the entire trip in the Derby and finished sixth.
“I felt like this Derby got away from me but you need so much luck,” Baffert said. “When you have 20 horses, you’ve got to be so lucky.”
Lookin At Lucky was anything but.
Borel guided Super Saver from the fourth post to the rail shortly after the start and Lookin At Lucky spent the next two minutes stuck in a traffic jam.
Baffert was so frustrated he stopped watching Lookin At Lucky after the opening furlong and instead focused on frontrunning Conveyance, who set the pace before fading to 15th.
“I was hoping to steal it with the other horse,” he said.
Instead, it was Borel who stole the show. Again. His third Derby victory in four years cemented his legend at Churchill Downs, and he’s hoping to pull a repeat performance at Pimlico.
Borel won the Derby last year with long shot Mine That Bird then jumped on super filly Rachel Alexandra for the Preakness, where they held off Mine That Bird to become the first filly to win the race in more than 80 years.
The affable Cajun rider has no intentions of switching mounts this time. He’s already predicted that Super Saver will end the sport’s Triple Crown drought.
“I think it’s a pretty good prediction, the horse is a good horse,” Baffert said. “You never know who’s going to be left in there. I think it’s good for racing that he said that because maybe it will get people more involved.”
The paddock at Pimlico, however, could be relatively deserted compared to the packed scene at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Nick Zito isn’t sure Ice Box, who finished a hard-charging second, will be ready to run on such a short layoff. The Florida Derby winner took six weeks off before running under the twin spires.
Ice Box put together what Zito called an “amazing” run. He was checked three times during the race yet stormed down the lane to nip Paddy O’Prado for second.
“I don’t like to make excuses, I hate that, but he definitely had an excuse,” Zito said. “The winner was very good and Ice Box was just as good, that’s for sure. He was just as good as the winner yesterday.”
Zito is more optimistic Jackson Bend, who finished 12th in the Derby, will be ready to navigate the speedy 1 3/16th-mile circuit at Pimlico.
“He’s a tough little guy,” Zito said.
Pletcher said his other Derby entries — filly Devil May Care, Mission Impazible and Discreetly Mine — are considered “doubtful” for the Preakness.
One of his other horses, Rule, will likely skip the race too. Rule is owned by WinStar Farm, who also owns Super Saver.
Pletcher isn’t ready to talk about winning the Triple Crown. He simply answered “no” on Sunday when asked if he’s thinking about what lays ahead over the next five weeks.
Yet he has high praise for his agile, well-rested horse. The Derby was the third race of the year for Super Saver. That was part of the plan all along, one that could benefit him in the weeks ahead.
“He’s the kind of horse that makes his own trip,” Pletcher said. “He’s not at the mercy of what’s going on around him.”
Neither is Pletcher.
There was more than a touch of irony to his surroundings as he talked on Sunday morning. A week earlier he’d sat in the same chair to announce likely Derby favorite Eskendereya was out of the race with a leg injury.
Even after the biggest win in a career full of them, Pletcher admitted thinking about what might have been if the Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial winner were healthy.
“Who knows whether Eskendereya would have liked a muddy track or whatever,” he said. “But even moving forward, as much as we enjoy this, you’re always going to wonder ’What if?”’
Eskendereya will likely be examined this week to figure out the nature of his injuries. While Eskendereya recuperates, Pletcher moves forward with Super Saver.
“The next day brings a new challenge,” he said. “Now it’s trying to focus toward Pimlico.”