John Clay

Derby Scorecard: Who's up and who's down

On the DOWNSIDE: Owner Jess Jackson lost out when Rachel Alexandra lost by a nose, above. Jockey Garrett Gomez, left, had a rough month. And it's a tough task starting from the far outside in the Kentucky Derby, below.
On the DOWNSIDE: Owner Jess Jackson lost out when Rachel Alexandra lost by a nose, above. Jockey Garrett Gomez, left, had a rough month. And it's a tough task starting from the far outside in the Kentucky Derby, below.

Who's up and what's up, who's down and what's down after the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby:

Up — TV ratings: The Derby overnights were the best they had been since 1992, the year Lil E. Tee won the Run for the Roses. Not sure the reason for the increase, especially considering the expected favorite, Eskendereya, dropped out the weekend before with an injury. Nevertheless, the numbers bear out that while interest in the sport might be waning, the popularity of the Kentucky Derby remains solid.

Down — Garrett Gomez: It was not a good month for the California jockey. After finishing third in the Santa Anita Derby aboard Lookin At Lucky on April 3, Gomez punched Victor Espinoza, whom Gomez felt cut him off in the race. Nevertheless, trainer Bob Baffert called Gomez's ride "horrendous." Then on May 1, Gomez ran into early trouble again, pinched back at the start on Lucky out of the No. 1 post position, then slammed toward the rail by Stately Victor. Sunday morning, Baffert was noncommittal about continuing to use Gomez on last year's Eclipse Award winner for best 2-year-old.

Up — Todd Pletcher: The trainer was never really 0-for-24. After all, there is only one winner per year, and Pletcher had nine Derbys, not 24. Still, he has to be thrilled that the 0-for streak is finally over, even if, as is his way, he's not going to get too worked up about it.

Down — Jess Jackson: After Rachel Alexandra lost in the La Troienne on Friday, the filly's owner hedged when asked whether Calvin Borel would continue to be Rachel's jockey. The next day, Borel won his third Kentucky Derby in four years. Guess what, Jess. Don't think Rachel's troubles this year have much to do with the jockey.

Up — WinStar Farm: Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt have made an impression on the industry since building their farm in Woodford County. They made two great hires in Doug Cauthen, the farm's president, and Elliott Walden, WinStar's racing manager. Cauthen is a tireless promoter, who's always beating the bushes for new stallions. With his training background, Walden has added expertise to the racing side. The only thing WinStar had not done was win a Derby. Now, that's off the checklist.

Down — California horses: It's been since 2005 that a California horse has won the Kentucky Derby, and that was the fluke winner Giacomo. Aside from Lookin At Lucky's continued bad luck, Sidney's Candy was burned trying to keep up with the fast early pace and faded all the way to 17th. The best finisher from the Left Coast was Make Music for Me, the Alexis Barba trainee who finished fourth. By the way, a Santa Anita Derby winner hasn't taken the Kentucky Derby since Sunday Silence in 1989.

Up — Nick Zito: Ice Box's second-place finish marked the first time the two-time Derby-winning trainer has hit the board in the race since Go for Gin's win in 1994. Since then, Zito has had 19 Derby horses. Best finish among the 19 was Halory Hunter's fourth in 1998.

Down — John Sadler: His two entries, Sidney's Candy and Line of David, finished 17th and 18th.

Up — Dirt: All of Super Saver's seven career races have been run on the dirt.

Down — Outside post positions: Four of the last five finishers started from outside posts. Homeboykris finished 16th after breaking from post 19. Sidney's Candy finished 17th after breaking from post 20. Awesome Act finished 19th after breaking from post 16. And Backtalk finished 20th after breaking from post 18.

Up — Racing: The breeding industry's problems in Central Kentucky are no secret. And while that's bad for the stallion business, it might be good for the Thoroughbred racing business. With demand down, there might not be the usual rush to move the best racehorses off the track and into the stallion barn. Perhaps more owners will race their stars well beyond the Triple Crown series. That's good for the game and, in the long run, could help the breeders.

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