A Cat’s Picks for the 2017 Preakness

May 20, 2017

By Adele

Since Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming is running in the Preakness for his second jewel of the Triple Crown today (5 p.m. ET, NBC), this kitty would never pee on his parade and wish him not to win. He’s starting in post position 4 with jockey John Velazquez, and he’s the humans’ favorite with odds of 4-5.

The next horse I’ll be watching is one of my Derby picks, Gunnevera (odds 15-1, pp 6). Nobody’s talking about him as a serious contender, so he could be plotting to take the lead like a ninja and stun everybody. He’s had a jockey switch, and will under Mike Smith this time. His jockey in the Derby, Javier Castellano, will be aboard Cloud Computing in pp 2.

We haven’t spoken, but I would think Gunnevera is pleased with this development, since Castellano helped him come in 7th in the Derby.

My third pick is Classic Empire (odds 3-1, pp 5) with jockey Julien Leparoux. He was the humans’ favorite in the Derby, but finished 4th. I think he deserves a little glory this time for sticking with it.

Only 10 horses are racing, so the field won’t be too crowded. The weather at Pimlico is supposed to be cool, in the 60s, and cloudy, with no rain and a dry track. Basically, perfect conditions for the horses.

It so happens that my horses will be side by side in the middle of the pack in post positions 4, 5, and 6. The last horse who won from Always Dreaming’s 4 slot was Curlin in 2007.

As always, may the best horse win and may they all cross the finish line safely.

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A Cat’s 2017 Kentucky Derby Picks

May 5, 2017

By Adele

It’s that time again! The 143rd Run for the Roses gets underway Saturday, May 6, on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET, with post time at 6:34. This kitty will be cheering for my favorites, although I confess that, during my research, no horse really jumped out and grabbed me from the full field of 20.

Classic Empire is the humans’ favorite (odds 4-1, post position 14) under jockey Julien Leparoux. On February 4, he ran 3rd after his Derby competitors Irish War Cry and Gunnevera, but it was discovered post-race that Classic Empire had a foot abscess, so his loss may have been a fluke.

He does come well-connected. His father is Pioneer of the Nile, who finished 2nd in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, and his big brother is American Pharoah, who ended the 37-year Triple Crown drought by winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont in 2015. Classic has run six previous races and won them all except his one 3rd-place finish, so I can see why hopes are high for him. But you know me. I never look a gift horse in the mouth. Classic last ran on April 15, so he may be a little tired.

Another big human favorite is Irish War Cry (odds 6-1, pp 17). He’s a son of Curlin, who was named Horse of the Year in 2007 AND 2007 (much to Big Brown’s disgust). His jockey is Rajiv Maragh, and he’s won two of his three previous races, but lost by 21 lengths to Gunnevera in the only race he ever blew.

Now, on to MY favorites. I’m not too picky about the order they cross the finish line, but I want their dust to be what the other 17 eat…

Tapwrit (odds 20-1, pp 16) I like just because. He’s trained by Todd Pletcher and won the Tampa Bay Derby on March 11. But he ran 5th in his most recent race on April 8. His jockey is Jose Ortiz. His father is Tapit, who ran 9th in the 2004 Kentucky Derby. I know this pick seems totally wacko, but just trust me. I have a feeling.

Gunnevera (odds 15-1, pp 10), who already has a history of messing with many of his Derby competitors, is another one I’m watching. He’s run 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in four of his five previous races, winning most recently on March 4. His jockey is Javier Castellano.

And my solid favorite is Patch (odds 30-1, pp 20) because he’s the serious underdog. Another Pletcher horse, Patch injured and lost his left eye in a mysterious stable accident he’s never explained. He’s running on the far outside, so all the other horses will be on his blind side. Will that give him greater concentration, or will he bump into somebody as his jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, tries to maneuver him closer to the rail?

Patch’s father is Union Rags, winner of the 2012 Belmont Stakes. Patch has won only one race in his previous three, but came in a close 2nd April 1 at the Louisiana Derby, so there’s hope.

The Kentucky Derby is always the most exciting race of the Triple Crown because ANY horse has a shot at glory, so my tail is fluffed with anticipation. As always, we at Cats Working wish all the horses to be healthy and happy on race day and cross the finish line safely.


Cat Picks for the Virginia Derby

July 20, 2012

By Adele

RACE DAY UPDATE: The forecast is rainy, which has caused Summer Front to be scratched. That leaves Silver Max to contend with 2 Triple Crown runners, Optimizer and Finnegans Wake. I stand by my initial picks, but move Easy Crossin up to be Max’s biggest threat. And now, my original post…

For the first time, I get to see the 15th annual Virginia Derby, a turf race at Colonial Downs in New Kent. It’s on HRTV Saturday night at about 8:45 p.m. (EDST). Only 9 horses are running in this $600,000 Grade II event.

My pick to win (and the track favorite) is Silver Max in post position 7, ridden by Robbie Albarado. He’s already won 5 turf races this year, most recently on June 13 at Indiana Downs, where he set a new track speed record, and his style is to pop out strong and lead from start to finish.

Max will be challenged in Virginia because the 1 1/4-mile track is 3/16 of a mile longer than he’s ever run before. He’ll also have Summer Front (pp 5), who has won all 4 of his previous turf races, and ridden by Ramon Dominguez, on his tail.

To place, I pick Mr. Handsome (pp 9) with Sheldon Russell, although he’s considered a 20-1 long shot.

My pick to show is Optimizer (pp 1). He tried his best in all 3 Triple Crown races, so his glory day is due. He starts in post position 1 under Horacio Karamanos, the track’s all-time winningest jockey.

I have a wildcard up my sleeve with Easy Crossin (pp 5) under Julien Leparoux, who has never run worse than second in his life.

May all the horses finish safely, and may Silver Max triumph again to keep his winning streak going.

PS: Our own Silly Max is leaping around the office while I write this, doing paw pumps.


Cats Had Best Virginia Derby Seats

July 19, 2009

By Karen

Adele was right about watching the Virginia Derby on TV. As things turned out, I watched most of the race on TV myself, and I was at the track.

Interstate 64 was gridlocked much of the way to Colonial Downs, a drive that should have taken about 45 minutes but lasted 2 ¼ hours. The only obstacle seemed to be one state trooper car with flashing lights sitting beside this sign:

Virginia Derby

Use Caution

Expect Delays

Thoughtfully placed at the END of the bottleneck. After that, clear sailing, but my parents and I missed the first 5 races.

Then our reserved tickets were screwed up, so we got a complimentary bump “up” to the Jockey Club, which meant air-conditioned comfort and TVs everywhere, but no seat outside close to the action. We slipped outdoors for one race, but got caught inadvertently stealing somebody’s seats, so we slunk back indoors.

Jockey Julien Leparoux (who rode Fred’s favorite, General Quarters, in the Kentucky Derby) was on fire in Virginia. We watched him win 3 races in a row before Kent Desormeaux and Edgar Prado started riding to give him some competition.

Then Desormeaux seized the spotlight, winning 2 stakes races in a row. I felt very confident he’d ride Adele’s pick, Hold Me Back, to victory in the Virginia Derby. So did the crowd, because Hold Me Back became the favorite.

Adele was right about Straight Story’s Derby performance. He held the lead until Battle of Hastings came up from behind in the final paces and beat Straight by a nose — again.

Battle of Hastings beat Straight Story by a cat's whisker. (Photo - Joe Mahoney, Richmond times-Dispatch)

Battle of Hastings beat Straight Story by a cat's whisker. (Photo - Joe Mahoney, Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Hold Me Back came in a disappointing fifth.

Leaving Colonial Downs was painless in spite of the crowd, but the track needs to fix that sign saying, “Richmond, Center Lane.” It sends cars directly into a subdivision. We took Route 60 for half the trip home and hit no traffic.

So now I’ve visited Colonial Downs twice, getting trapped on I-64 both times. Being track-side is nice, but unless you watch the TV monitors instead of the horses themselves, you can never see all the exciting “jockeying” for position that goes on during the race. Just watching the horses streak across the finish line through a window is the pits.

The cats and I will be watching the next big race together.


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