Monday, May 02, 2005

Derby Week: The Early Dark Horse

In spite of all the hype, the best horse of the last 20 years or so was not Funny Cide. Nor was it Fugasici Pegasas, Nor was it Smarty Jones.

Looking back as far as 1985... the best of the best has been without question Charasmatic, "The Big Horse". People in Lexington still talk about him. They remember how he towered over his competitors. Charasmatic is what ya get when you put Sea Biscuit's fight in a monster's body.

He was a broken leg short of the triple-crown... and he was winning when it broke.

This wasn't like Smarty or Funny Cide, or the other would-be Triple Crown winners who came up short. They all were beaten. Charasmatic would not be beaten. He'd break his own body before he'd run behind another horse.

Did I mention that back in 1999 my wife called Charasmatic's Derby win? Anybody remember what the odds were for him to win that day? A $19,000.00 horse to win the Derby? I thought that was a hilarious pick... until I saw the horse. More specificly... until he smoked the field.

There is an eerily familiar horse runnin' in the Derby saturday. A horse with a couple bad finishes... 4th at Keeneland for example. Look closely at Sun King though folks. He'll get ya thinkin' of his daddy... The one they called "The Big Horse".

He's got more wins under his belt than his daddy did coming in, and with Zito training him, he's got more hype too. There's plenty of uncertainty though... So don't look for him to be near the top of the betting either.

This sorta has me thinkin' of a disturbing trend in horses these days. They seem to be gettin' smaller and smaller. Least the big money Throughbreds are anyway. Like they're tryin' to make birds out of 'em. I look back at horses like Secretariat, or... bless his name.... Man O' War (and yes, I did take my hat off before I typed that). These weren't little horses. They were monsters.

Sea Biscuit used to be the anomaly. Now Charasmatic is.

It's not good for the horses though. We're seein' more and more stress injuries, and more and more bone problems later in life.

Kenyan Marathoners may look like birds... but Gold Medal Sprinters don't. They're big, tall, and solid. They've got muscle bulging out everywhere.

Just like a Thoroughbred should.

Anyway... Keep an eye out for Sun King. The favorite almost never wins the Derby.

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