This post is a bit fractured. We'll start out with some Kentucky Derby picks courtesy of Woodbine jockeys and personalities and then branch into a photo essay of a particularly moody morning on the Woodbine backstretch featuring stormy skies, sun drenched stables and plenty of smiles.
Dan Loiselle celebrates 20 years in the booth at Woodbine
Dan Loiselle has watched a lot of races in his time as Woodbine's track announcer so he must know a thing or two about picking a horse, right? It turns out that Loiselle and myself are backing the same horse.
"Archarcharch," says Loiselle. "He won the Southwest, he won the Arkansas Derby and I'd love to see Jon Court win. He was second as a two-year-old at Churchill Downs but I don't think a horse has won from the rail in a long time. I think he has great tactical speed and when I saw that post it broke my heart, but I'll stick with him."
A brave pick by Loiselle. I'm already looking for a Plan B.
The lovely Dawn Lupul makes a call for Dialed In
TV presenter Dawn Lupul covers a lot of ground at Woodbine striding from the broadcast booth to the walking ring and back again to give viewers her best bet. Lupul did not hesitate when prompted for her Derby selection.
"I like Dialed In. I just love the way he ran in the Florida Derby coming from way out of it to chase down a lone speed horse," says Lupul. "To me that's the kind of horse you want to have in the Derby. He looks like he can run all day and he's going to be sitting out of it. He got a good draw with post position eight and Julien Leparoux is one of the best riders in North America."
Super Derby winner Jesse Campbell picks Mucho Macho Man for the regular Derby
Jesse Campbell is a newcomer to Woodbine but he's won more than 1600 races in his career thus far and has a unique insight into the Kentucky Derby contenders that prepped at his previous track - - the Fair Grounds, in Louisiana.
"The field looks wide open. Sentimentally I'd like to see Archarcharch run good because the Fires family has been in American racing for generations," says Campbell. "But, if I had to pick I like Mucho Macho Man. He was in the Louisiana Derby and I think he can get the distance no problem, plus he doesn't have to be placed in a certain spot. You know how the Derby can be, it can be a free for all. With this horse, he doesn't have to lay second or be on the lead, he can run from anywhere. And the man who owns that horse is a very classy guy."
Sunny Singh(s) the praises of P-Val
Journeyman Sunny Singh has brought home many a long shot at Woodbine, so handicappers will appreciate how the affable jock shuns the favourite in search of a price.
"I didn't like how Uncle Mo ran last time, you know. But it's open after that," starts Singh. "I'm a Pat Valenzuela fan and if he's by himself up front he'll be real dangerous...plus the horse likes running that way."
Put down one vote for Comma To The Top.
Who's better than Uncle Mo? Emma-Jayne Wilson says MO-body!
Emma-Jayne Wilson rode at Gulfstream Park this winter and actually rode in a race against Dialed In, but the Woodbine veteran believes that a certain horse deserves a second chance.
"I have to go with Uncle Mo," says Wilson. "I can give Uncle Mo a mulligan for that last race. We'll see as he continues on if that race was a throw out and maybe he wasn't feeling a hundred percent on the day. That race is the only flaw on his form and I think on raw talent he can get the job done."
There you have it folks. A microcosm of this year's Kentucky Derby handicapping. Five opinions, five different horses selected and I'm still searching for the winner.
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Last Thursday I made a trip to the Woodbine backstretch to chase down a few stories and I swear it was end of days type weather. One of those four seasons in one day type adventures with sunshine, warmth, chilling winds, driving rain and eventually snow flurries. Below are a few photos from my trip.
(As always, double-left click the photo to enlarge and use your "Back" button to return to the photo essay.)
Blue skies, smiling at me...
All the leaves are brown, and the sky is...terrifying
Here comes the sun...
STOP, hey, what's that sound...
Rode down the highway, broke the limit...we hit the town
There is a light and it never goes out...
Fluffy little clouds
Grey skies are going to clear up...so put on a happy face
Alison and Spirit Lodge say "everyone knows it's windy"
Ardara says...Gimme Shelter!
Curgone - Session Two of the Queen's Plate Fantasy Challenge starts soon!
Pining for the fields?
Say No More!
Smiles are free
I can't find a photo of Eurico where he isn't smiling!
Business as usual on the polytrack
Red wraps really rock, right?
Grey't to meet you
Visiting the backstretch is always a tree-t
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Click into this link for more on the 2011 Queen's Plate.
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