Sunday, May 02, 1999


Roller Derby turns race into wreck

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LOUISVILLE — It was advertised as a horse race but came off like a car crash. It was gentle as grinding glass in a blender.

        If experts wonder what became of their Kentucky Derby picks, they can check Churchill Downs' barns this morning for tell-tale bruises.

        “This was the worst race to ride in that I can recall,” said Robbie Davis, jockey of 12th-place finisher Ecton Park. “It was more like a bumper-car race than a horse race. It was a disaster.”

        Race replays suggested that winner Charismatic and third-place finisher Cat Thief earned their places simply by avoiding being bumped. They were the lucky ones. “They could run this race back, and there would be a different winner every time,” Davis said. “It was just extremely rough. These horses were bouncing off each other. I was expecting someone to fall, but they were jammed in there so tight that there wasn't room to fall.”

        Menifee ran what amounted to the strongest race, surviving several setbacks and being crowded out in the stretch but still rallying to finish second. Trainer Bob Baffert's three horses, which constituted the two top entries in the morning line, suffered similar traffic problems and never contended.

        “There was too much traffic, too many horses,” said Jorge Chavez, jockey of 17th-place finisher Adonis. “They were bumping and bumping, and there was nowhere to go.”

Dosage dying
        A previous statistical trend seems to be dying. Charismatic became the second consecutive winner — and third this decade — to win despite a dosage above 4.0. That's after no winners had a dosage figure above 4.0 since 1929.

        Dosage is an index based on pedigree that indicates a horse's ability to handle distances. Charismatic's dosage is 5.22.

        Several years ago, Leon Rasmussen, retired “Bloodlines” columnist for the Daily Racing Form, predicted the demise of the dosage index. It was a significant prediction, because Rasmussen was the writer who helped popularize dosage, which was invented by Dr. Steven Roman.

        Describing Charismatic earlier this week, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said: “If you're a dosage advocate, he doesn't have it. That's ironic, because I think he'll be better at a mile and a half than he will at a mile and a quarter.”

        That bodes well for a Triple Crown run. The Preakness on May 15 is 11/4 miles, and the Belmont on June 5 is 11/2 miles.

        Real Quiet last year and Strike the Gold in 1991 were the first two Derby winners to defy the dosage index.

Day tripper
        Jockey Pat Day rode in his 17th consecutive Derby, finishing second aboard Menifee. That breaks the record he had shared with Eddie Arcaro, who rode in 16 straight from 1944-59.

        Day's 17 total Derby mounts ties Angel Cordero Jr. for fourth-most in history, trailing Willie Shoemaker (26), Arcaro (21) and Laffit Pincay. Day has won just one Derby, aboard Lil E. Tee in 1992.

Can't buy me love
        Sheik Mohammed al-Maktoum's Dubai-based Godolphin Racing team bought Worldly Manner last year for $5 million, making him the most expensive Derby horse. By contrast, Kimberlite Pipe was bought for $11,000 at auction as a yearling.

        What does that money buy? Kimberlite Pipe finished sixth Saturday; Worldly Manner, seventh. Worldly Manner folded down the stretch after leading at the mile mark.

        “In the last 2 furlongs, he just stopped,” trainer Saeed bin Suroor said. “But we're happy to be here, and we'll be back next year.”


Derby Stories
Derby was fun, by a long shot
Derby winner, jockey beat long odds
Lukas laughs last and best - at himself
Baffert hit hard by finish
Menifee trainer comes up short second straight year
Gallery Stakes leaders struggle
Of pols and stalls: Derby democracy
Race fans have heads for fashion
The celebs, like horses, are beautiful

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Smith gets first taste of NFL life
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Knight's way gallant, but past its time
Selby honored for success at Western Hills
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Nicklaus aims for Memorial