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Derby in the Rear View Mirror

Derby in the Rear View Mirror

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

I'll Have Another, ridden by Mario Gutierrez, edges out Bodemeister, (right) with Mike Smith up, to win the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Louisville Kentucky, May 5, 2012. AFP PHOTO / Mark Abraham (Photo credit should read MARK ABRAHAM/AFP/GettyImages)

by Gary Roedemeier

Posted on May 9, 2012 at 3:04 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 9 at 10:58 AM

The pounding of hooves can be a symphony for some, a dirge for others.

Calvin Borel thought he had Take Charge Indy on a rail trip to roses but suddenly the colt struck a sour note at the three eighths pole.  Indy took a deep breath and almost stopped. He would jog across the finish line in 19th place. Calvin Borel will save a horse when the race is lost.

By Sunday, x-rays revealed a bone chip in the left front ankle that will mean surgery instead of the Preakness. Trainer Pat Byrne says Indy will be off sixty days but surgery for a thoroughbred is always risky. You never know if they will return at the same level.

The Kentucky Derby can be a blessing, but the Derby can also be cruel. A mile and a quarter is test of fitness, bone strength and lung capacity. For some horses it is the beginning of greatness, for others the end.

In Derby 138, California was gold.

Three of the top five finishers prepped for the Derby from barns on the west coast, including I'll Have Another, who used the Santa Anita dirt as his road to roses.

At least I had the good sense to name I'll Have Another as a good long shot and described him as better than 12-1.  Actually, the non-believers let him float to 15-1 before his stretch run made us all true believers in a colt by Flower Alley.

And he beat a horse that ran a spectacular Derby. Bodemeister set fractions of .22.3  45.3 1:09.8 and 1:35.19 for the mile. When he pulled away at the top of the stretch, I thought he was gone, But I'll Have Another had the kick and Dullahan wasn't far behind. Went The Day Well and Creative Cause were fourth and fifth and gave notice that they will have more to say in the Triple Crown races. But a serious contender like Union Rags, the favorite, found nothing but another troubled trip. Also missing in action were Hansen, El Padrino, Gemologist and Alpha. The East Coast contingent at Derby 138 simply did not fire. Even the West Coast also-ran like Liaison (6th) and Rousing Sermon (8th)  ran decent races.

So, now it's on to Baltimore, where Bodemeister should be the 2-1 favorite if Baffert decides to run. And another group of trainers is planning to skip the Preakness and hide in the weeds, waiting for the Belmont. By that time, I'm thinking Dullahan is getting a lot of support.

I'll Have Another is the only horse who can win the Triple Crown, but another year of three different winners seems very possible.

And that is my Derby lament. A Derby pick, an unlucky chip, and oh yes, a last minute exacta bet, 19 over all.