April 27th 2016
In the immortal words of thoroughbred owner Charles Howard in the movie Seabiscuit: “You know, you don’t throw a whole life away just ’cause he’s banged up a little bit.” Youtube clip of this scene shown below.
The quote was in reference to Seabiscuit’s jockey Red Pollard, who was blind in one eye, but it also applies to horses.
The one-eyed Todd Pletcher-trained horse named Patch, who finished 2nd in this year’s Louisiana Derby, will be the 3-year-old colt who most will be pulling for on Derby Day. Really, is there a better story, more endearing horse than Patch in this year’s Kentucky Derby?
Oddly enough, he was named “Patch” before he lost his right eye due to an ulcer that initially responded to treatment but went sour to the point that the eye had to be removed. Despite his slight handicap, the reports are he is a good-natured horse with a somewhat mischievous personality.
Todd Pletcher is no stranger to one-eyed horses. He trained “Pollard’s Vision” who was blind in one-eye and named after—guess who—Red Pollard, Seabiscuit’s blind in one-eye jockey.
In 2004, Pollard’s Vision won the Grade 2 Illinois Derby, finished 3rd in the Louisiana Derby and 17th in the Kentucky Derby. Pollard’s Vision went on to finish 2nd in the Ohio Derby, 2nd in the West Virginia Derby and 2nd in Penn Derby. He also won three other Grade 3 races: the Leonard Richard’s Stakes at Delaware Park, the Lone Star Derby and the National Jockey Club Handicap at Hawthorne.
So what are Patch’s chances in the Derby?
Well, for starters, no one-eyed horse or blind in one eye horse, has ever won the Kentucky Derby in 142 runnings. But Patch has a better pedigree than Pollard’s Vision and he checks out in many of my necessary Derby analytics with the exception of having raced as a 2-year-old (which he failed to do). No horse has won the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882 (known as the Curse of Apollo).
Patch ran his final prep race, the Louisiana Derby (shown below), in less the 1:50 and had roughly a 38 second final 3 furlong fraction. This is good.
Patch is a talented horse who I project as an above average Derby finisher despite his slight handicap. He has a chance to win the Derby but his odds will likely be in the 15/1 to 20/1 range. His real value though may come in another Triple Crown race.
At this time of year, my blog gets mind-boggling views clear up until the Kentucky Derby but frustrating in that it dies out soon after the Derby. And that’s even if we have a Triple Crown contender entering the Belmont Stakes. I don’t understand it, the sport of horse racing is so much more than the Kentucky Derby.
Well, even if Patch doesn’t do something spectacular in this year’s Run for the Roses, something to watch for is the rest of the Triple Crown races. Note that Patch’s sire, Union Rags, finished seventh in the 2012 Kentucky Derby but went on to win the Belmont Stakes that year.
Patch may be hampered a bit due to partial vision in a 20 horse field in the Kentucky Derby. This may render him primarily as a rail-runner but that worked perfectly for Mine That Bird in 2009. At any rate, Patch will have plenty of space to work with in smaller fields and especially an endurance race like the Belmont Stakes. And his trainer Todd Pletcher has won two Belmont Stakes in 2007 with Rags to Riches and in 2013 with Palace Malice.
Is it too early to have a Belmont Stakes favorite? Keep one eye on this horse. No pun intended.
Projected Kentucky Derby Odds
Below are my early projected Kentucky Derby morning line odds that Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia will set. It has been confirmed that Todd Pletcher will not enter Malagacy in the Kentucky Derby and they will focus the colt on the Preakness Stakes.
Classic Empire (4/1), Always Dreaming (5/1), Irish War Cry (10/1), Girvin (10/1), Irap (12/1), Gormley (12/1), Gunnevera (12/1), McCraken (15/1), Hence (15/1), Patch (20/1), State of Honor (20/1), Thunder Snow (20/1), Practical Joke (20/1), Lookin At Lee (20/1), Sonneteer (30/1), Battle of Midway (30/1), Tapwrit (30/1), J Boys Echo (30/1), Untrapped (30/1) and Fast and Accurate (50/1).
On the docket…
My next blog will provide a more in-depth look at the projected Kentucky Derby field.
My next contribution to the Cyberworld is going to be a food, wine and cooking blog. I am a big fan of Anthony Bourdain and my travels to Italy left me with a desire to recreate the same awesome dishes I had there but can’t get here in the US in Italian restaurants. Stay tuned!