In another contentious post at Boojum’s Bonanza, the Boojum has suggested that the pace of the Kentucky Derby was atypical of the Churchill Downs classic, which is usually run at a ridiculously fast pace that burns up many of the horses involved in the early part of the race to the unexpected benefit of some deep closers.
Yet in this year’s renewal, the time for the first six furlongs was slower than Tim Tam’s Derby of 1958, which was run on a nasty gumbo of a racing surface, and the slowest six furlongs since 1947.
The slowness of the times is not a direct indicator of quality or the lack of it, however. Tim Tam not only won the Preakness but also might have given Calumet Farm its third Triple Crown but for fracturing sesamoids late in the Belmont and finishing second.
One of the peculiarities of the pace for this Kentucky Derby, however, is that it “was more typical of a race on artificial or turf than dirt, which might have helped those horses who had never run on dirt before,” the Boojum asserts.
One of those horses was Animal Kingdom, who coped well with the conditions but might have caught a break in the way the race shaped up.
The big chestnut colt will almost certainly encounter much different conditions both in the Preakness and in the Belmont, and his ability to adapt and excel will determine whether he can ascend to the most difficult heights of equine stardom.