Faster pace should influence the result

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- "Pace makes the race," as the old saying goes around the race track, and it will never be more true than this afternoon when 20 3-year-old thoroughbreds enter Churchill Downs' starting gate for the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby.

While trainer Jim Jerkins and foot specialist Ian McKinlay were battling with a quarter crack in the right front hoof of Quality Road last weekend, trainer Todd Pletcher must have been sitting on the edge of his seat. If the foot could not be cured to the point that Jerkens' colt could run in the Derby, Pletcher's Join in the Dance would have the opportunity to live up to his name.

The result was good for Pletcher and bad for Jerkens.

Quality Road, who was broken and trained in Aiken by Legacy Stable's Ron Stevens, was declared out and Pletcher derived benefit not only by seeing the conqueror of his Dunkirk in the Florida Derby fall by the wayside, but now has the opportunity to control the pace with Join in the Dance.

Join the Dance likes to heat things up early. In five of his eight starts, Pletcher's colt has had the lead at the first call and has been responsible for half-mile fractions as quick as 44.4 seconds. No one expects Join in the Dance to go that fast this afternoon, but a first half in 46 seconds certainly seems possible.

Before Pletcher's colt joined the dance, the anticipated pace setter was Regal Ransom, one of two entrants from Dubai.

While the colt has some speed, it was widely expected that his rider, Alan Garcia, would try to slow the pace down, perhaps aiming for a half in 48 seconds or just under.

The effect of these contrasting scenarios on the chances of the contenders is considerable. I Want Revenge, the probable favorite, and Pioneerof the Nile and Friesan Fire are stalkers, which race close to the pace. They are comfortable with first halves in 48 seconds or more.

The prime beneficiary of all this is Pletcher's Dunkirk, a closer that will be coming from far back in the pack. Nothing suits a horse like a fast pace that softens up the front-runners and the stalkers. Dunkirk may not be seasoned enough to win this Derby - he has only three lifetime starts - but he should certainly be comfortable with the way the race figures to be run.


Past winners

2008 - Big Brown

2007 - Street Sense

2006 - Barbaro

2005 - Giacomo

2004 - Smarty Jones

2003 - Funny Cide

2002 - War Emblem

2001 - Monarchos

2000 - Fusaichi Pegasus

1999 - Charismatic

1998 - Real Quiet

1997 - Silver Charm

1996 - Grindstone

1995 - Thunder Gulch

1994 - Go for Gin

1993 - Sea Hero

1992 - Lil E. Tee

1991 - Strike the Gold

1990 - Unbridled

1989 - Sunday Silence

1988 - Winning Colors

1987 - Alysheba

1986 - Ferdinand

1985 - Spend A Buck

1984 - Swale

1983 - Sunny's Halo

1982 - Gato Del Sol

1981 - Pleasant Colony

1980 - Genuine Risk

1979 - Spectacular Bid

1978 - Affirmed

1977 - Seattle Slew

1976 - Bold Forbes

1975 - Foolish Pleasure

1974 - Cannonade

1973 - Secretariat

1972 - Riva Ridge

1971 - Canonero II

1970 - Dust Commander

1969 - Majestic Prince

1968 - Forward Pass

1967 - Proud Clarion

1966 - Kauai King

1965 - Lucky Debonair

1964 - Northern Dancer

1963 - Chateaugay

1962 - Decidedly

1961 - Carry Back

1960 - Venetian Way

1959 - Tomy Lee

1958 - Tim Tam

1957 - Iron Liege

1956 - Needles

1955 - Swaps

1954 - Determine

1953 - Dark Star

1952 - Hill Gail

1951 - Count Turf

1950 - Middleground

1949 - Ponder

1948 - Citation

1947 - Jet Pilot

1946 - Assault

1945 - Hoop, Jr.

1944 - Pensive

1943 - Count Fleet

1942 - Shut Out

1941 - Whirlaway

1940 - Gallahadion

1939 - Johnstown

1938 - Lawrin

1937 - War Admiral

1936 - Bold Venture

1935 - Omaha

1934 - Cavalcade

1933 - Brokers Tip

1932 - Burgoo King

1931 - Twenty Grand

1930 - Gallant Fox

1929 - Clyde Van Dusen

1928 - Reigh Count

1927 - Whiskery

1926 - Bubbling Over

1925 - Flying Ebony

1924 - Black Gold

1923 - Zev

1922 - Morvich

1921 - Behave Yourself

1920 - Paul Jones

1919 - Sir Barton

1918 - Exterminator

1917 - Omar Khayyam

1916 - George Smith

1915 - Regret

1914 - Old Rosebud

1913 - Donerail

1912 - Worth

1911 - Meridan

1910 - Donau

1909 - Wintergreen

1908 - Stone Street

1907 - Pink Star

1906 - Sir Huon

1905 - Agile

1904 - Elwood

1903 - Judge Himes

1902 - Alan-a-Dale

1901 - His Eminence

1900 - Lieut. Gibson

1899 - Manuel

1898 - Plaudit

1897 - Typhoon II

1896 - Ben Brush

1895 - Halma

1894 - Chant

1893 - Lookout

1892 - Azra

1891 - Kingman

1890 - Riley

1889 - Spokane

1888 - MacBeth II

1887 - Montrose

1886 - Ben Ali

1885 - Joe Cotton

1884 - Buchanan

1883 - Leonatus

1882 - Apollo

1881 - Hindoo

1880 - Fonso

1879 - Lord Murphy

1878 - Day Star

1877 - Baden Baden

1876 - Vagrant

1875 - Aristides

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methree
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methree 05/02/09 - 04:38 pm
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wow! one whole day of

wow! one whole day of coverage! with aiken just next door you would think the chronicle could do just a little better!

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