HorseplayerPro: Nose to Nose

It's the world of instant messaging, and we're horse-playing in it. This week, ESPN.com contributing columnist Jeremy "JayPea" Plonk and fellow HorsePlayerPRO.com analyst Tim "TimmyT" Turrell samba in cyberspace.

Wednesday, April 23

TimmyT (3:15:05 PM): JP, you know spring is in the air when you see the entries for opening day at Churchill Downs!

JayPea (3:15:24 PM): the most wonderful time of the year ... strike the glee club
TimmyT (3:17:15 PM): As I peruse the CD entries, I notice Bill Mott has entered last year's Hopeful winner Majestic Warrior ... all I can think is, "oh how the mighty have fallen!"
TimmyT (3:17:27 PM): He was once the prohibitive early fave for the Derby as a 2-year-old!
TimmyT (3:17:32 PM): What the hell happened to this guy!?!
JayPea (3:17:47 PM): his mama caught up with him - 7 furlonger Dream Supreme
TimmyT (3:17:48 PM): He's petered out almost as fast as his owner, George Steinbrener!
TimmyT (3:17:57 PM): (ouch, did I say that?)
JayPea (3:18:13 PM): I think you did ... not me, Boss Steinbrenner, send your nasty emails to TimmyT
TimmyT (3:19:16 PM): Kinda sad the Trial race lost its "graded" status ... was fun to get a last-minute straggler in there hoping to comeback in a week
JayPea (3:19:51 PM): I think CD ought to make it an automatic berth in the race, like bump day for the auto racers
TimmyT (3:20:01 PM): There ya go!
JayPea (3:20:17 PM): It's their race and the rules are kooky to get in the big dance anyway, so why not?
TimmyT (3:20:30 PM): Speaking of "berths" ... the qualification process for the Derby has gotta go!
TimmyT (3:21:00 PM): Whaddya think? It's a joke that the Delta Jackpot and UAE Derby winner should have ANY impact on excluding other worthy candidates!
JayPea (3:21:10 PM): I'm in favor of change as long as no human panel is involved
TimmyT (3:21:47 PM): Don't want Mike Watchmaker's "highest Beyer Speed Figure" vote?
JayPea (3:22:20 PM): nope, nor even my input ... it's not for a panel to decide, but the horses
TimmyT (3:22:24 PM): I tend to agree with you. I like Randy Moss' latest column on NTRA.com where he proposes an automatic berth to key prep races
JayPea (3:22:41 PM): hey, they ought to call it Win and You're In ... errr ... ummm
TimmyT (3:22:55 PM): Hmm ... sounds familiar!
JayPea (3:23:00 PM): Ya think Randy sleeps?
TimmyT (3:23:17 PM): I work with the guy. Yeah, he sleeps, but he's got a DRF under his pillow!
JayPea (3:23:30 PM): I used to think I was one of the harder working guys in the game ... then he shows up with a TRUNK of materials for show preparation
JayPea (3:24:00 PM): But at least he's among the few worth listening to
TimmyT (3:24:24 PM): After seeing your research packet on the Derby, he's got nothin' on you! People probably don't know you're the lead researcher for NBC and ESPN Derby telecasts.
JayPea (3:24:42 PM): My theory is sleep is overrated ... when you have a 2-year-old daughter, your sense of sleep wanes
TimmyT (3:25:23 PM): So, we're about a week from the 134th running ... what is your "theme of this year's road to the Derby"?
JayPea (3:25:34 PM): "SHUT UP AND RUN"
JayPea (3:25:36 PM): how's that?
JayPea (3:26:04 PM): what I am tired of is people complaining -- synthetics, upsets, cheaters, you name it
TimmyT (3:26:26 PM): You've got your "No Whiners" shirt with you?
JayPea (3:27:04 PM): shirt and shoes are required where I sit at Derby, so yes
JayPea (3:27:47 PM): Though my dad did go clothing optional in the infield many moons ago, we have the Polaroids of the handlebar mustache to prove it
JayPea (3:26:46 PM): but, I'll still gripe about the cheaters. It's hard to root for their horses
TimmyT (3:27:47 PM): I agree ... everybody needs to chill ... BUT ... I ask you this? What do you say about the Blue Grass (over Polytrack) if Pyro wins by 5 lengths?
JayPea (3:28:22 PM): good question ...
JayPea (3:28:35 PM): I don't think the track got him beat that bad ... he was a slug that day
TimmyT (3:28:52 PM): It's certainly gonna look that way if he romps over regular dirt, no?
JayPea (3:29:02 PM): sure it will, if you don't look deeper
JayPea (3:29:17 PM): but he ran a total of 6 furlongs in 2 races this year prior --- that's it --- and wasn't fit for the race whatsoever ... Asmussen didn't even show up to saddle him
TimmyT (3:29:38 PM): I personally feel he's overrated myself (we've been over this), but I didn't think he was 10th in the Blue Grass!
JayPea (3:30:01 PM): working him with Noonmark tells me Asmussen knows they have a LOT of work to do
TimmyT (3:30:13 PM): When Visionaire passes you like you're tied to a tree ... "Houston we have a problem"
JayPea (3:30:29 PM): I'll be seeing him first-hand Saturday morning and will be most interested to view Pyro myself
JayPea (3:30:45 PM): right now, I can't say I like him
TimmyT (3:30:54 PM): Me, too. And I'll also be VERY interested to see Colonel John work over regular dirt for the first time
JayPea (3:31:23 PM): I don't think there will be one ounce of problem with the Colonel ... look at Sierra Sunset and Gayego moving to dirt ... they were B-teamers out west to CJ
TimmyT (3:32:15 PM): And the week before the Ark Derby, older horses Zanyetta and Tiago BOTH shipped to Oaklawn and won impressively
TimmyT (3:32:28 PM): I think now you have to handicap WHICH synthetic they come from
TimmyT (3:32:57 PM): Cushion (err... or is it now Pro-Ride?) seems more favorable to the move to dirt ...
JayPea (3:32:59 PM): well, sure, each is different, just like dirt tracks
TimmyT (3:33:27 PM): Next question: Big Brown draws the rail? Can he win?
TimmyT (3:33:35 PM): Lol...I feel like Larry King!
JayPea (3:33:51 PM): Larry is quite the horseplayer, so you're in decent company
JayPea (3:34:15 PM): and the answer is a big, fat NO ... no one is winning from the rail ... an inside draw even like the 3-hole was critical in Curlin's defeat last year
JayPea (3:34:43 PM): The 'Stat Boy' in me says that Ferdinand in '86 is the last Derby winner from the fence
JayPea (3:35:01 PM): speaking of Ferdy, want the all-time greatest trivia question?
TimmyT (3:35:12 PM): fire it at me
JayPea (3:35:41 PM): What was basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's given first name on his birth certificate?
TimmyT (3:36:12 PM): Well ... Lew, obviously -- but is it not?
JayPea (3:36:17 PM): Nada
JayPea (3:36:25 PM): Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor
JayPea (3:36:39 PM): take that to the bar tonight and make yourself a cool 20 bucks off some mope
TimmyT (3:36:54 PM): wow! ... very nice
TimmyT (3:37:04 PM): (storing in memory)
TimmyT (3:37:22 PM): Gimme your "upset special"?
TimmyT (3:37:29 PM): I've got mine ... you first ... I've actually got two ...
JayPea (3:37:55 PM): well everyone knows I am an ADRIANO fan ... but I have to watch his leg action this week to be sold completely on dirt ... stay tuned
JayPea (3:38:18 PM): but I think VISIONAIRE certainly merits a ton of respect
JayPea (3:38:31 PM): whatcha got?
TimmyT (3:38:40 PM): Not a bad call at all ... Visionaire finished well and galloped out strong ...
JayPea (3:39:04 PM): VISIONAIRE came home in :12-1/5, according to Trakus, in the Blue Grass
TimmyT (3:39:16 PM): Mine is Z Fortune
TimmyT (3:39:43 PM): My Super Hi-5 is on horseplayerpro.com... he's gonna run big!
JayPea (3:40:00 PM): Z Fortune wouldn't be the worst horse ever to hit the Derby Top 5
JayPea (3:40:26 PM): if he would have run his race in the Rebel, he'd be among the top 5-6 wagering choices probably ... so he's value now
TimmyT (3:40:33 PM): Wide on both turns in the Ark Derby ... I like him quite a bit ... but I hope he doesn't upset my Big Brown!
JayPea (3:40:58 PM): Honestly, I think if Big Brown wins, it's an upset -- in spite of the favorite's odds
JayPea (3:41:08 PM): He's being asked to do the unthinkable
TimmyT (3:41:30 PM): blasphemy!
JayPea (3:41:41 PM): Are you certain he's a once-in-a-lifetime horse?
JayPea (3:42:03 PM): with exactly one 2-turn dirt race on his resume lifetime
TimmyT (3:42:12 PM): My ONLY concern is his well documented feet problems ... otherwise, NO DOUBT!
TimmyT (3:42:19 PM): I think he's an absolute freak!
JayPea (3:42:32 PM): I could litter your driveway with clippings about freaks who didn't win the Derby
JayPea (3:42:36 PM): no doubting he's a freak
JayPea (3:42:53 PM): he's 3/5 to win the Preakness in my eyes
TimmyT (3:43:01 PM): I feel he's BY FAR the most talented horse in this race ... but, your point is valid, "best horses" don't always win the Derby
JayPea (3:43:16 PM): best horses RARELY win the Derby; but almost ALWAYS win the Preakness
JayPea (3:43:20 PM): that's my point
TimmyT (3:43:53 PM): But everybody doubted him in the Florida Derby as well and he ran through the television screen!
TimmyT (3:43:58 PM): Will be fun to watch my friend!
JayPea (3:44:05 PM): he makes the race infinitely more exciting
JayPea (3:44:37 PM): but if you didn't have him at 150-1 in the futures, I doubt you'd be jonesing for a $5.80 mutuel on the first Sat in May
TimmyT (3:44:46 PM): Umm ... no
TimmyT (3:45:05 PM): Well, I know you're slammin' to ship your tack to Louisville ... look forward to doing this again next Friday after we both have a chance to watch these horses trackside!
JayPea (3:45:22 PM): Alert the Kentucky highway patrol -- I'm on the way! Like Dierks Bentley sings, 'Free and easy down the road I go!'
TimmyT (3:45.38 PM): dude, that's even way-country for a Kentucky road trip ...

Get more handicapping picks, analysis and tools at Horseplayerpro.com!