I'd like to thank my shadowy go-between who makes this interview possible every year. The nameless figure, we'll call him Sleazy D.Z., is an Arlington Park higher-up who makes this interview possible. For legal reasons, I am not at liberty to discuss any further the methodology entailed in any equine communication thereof.
This interview is in order of post position.
1 Daddy Long Legs, 30-1
TR. The dirt may not be your best surface. At the UAE Derby, as recently as March 31st, you proved you are one of the classiest 3-year olds in the world. But five months before that you stunk out the joint over this very Churchill surface in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile. Can you win over this surface?
Daddy Long Legs: Probably not. But my class is undeniable and I have the stamina- I'm not bad value at 25-1.
TR: I appreciate your honesty, so here is some of my own: When I'm at the track with some buddies we always wind up making silly, juvenile nicknames for horses just because. So far it looks like my nickname for you will probably be "Laddy Dong Legs".
Daddy Long Legs: Classy.
TR: Sorry, I can't help it.
2. Optimizer, 50-1
TR: What would you say has been your favorite win of 2012?
Optimizer: I'm not sure what you mean, I haven't won a race this year.
TR: Exactly. That story won't change on Saturday afternoon either, brah.
3. Take Charge Indy, 15-1
TR: You beat Union Rags and El Padrino in your last race out and that was impressive, for real. So remind me, what was that other impressive thing you've done?
Take Charge Indy: Uhhhhh......
TR: Or why would I bet on you when Calvin Borel is your Jockey which will wreck your odds at Churchill? And furthermore, it looks as thought dirt is your THIRD favorite surface on which to run.
Take Charge Indy: So I'm not great betting value, but you can't deny that I have an ok chance. You're a horse player and you know DAMN well that you always put $2 to win on the nose of the horse that Calvin Borel rides in the Kentucky Derby, especially when I'm third from the rail- his nickname is even Calvin Bo-rail because of what he did with Street Sense and Mine that Bird in this very race along the rail.
TR: I can't argue with any of that. I'll have $2 on your nose.
- Union Rags
4 Union Rags, 9/2
TR: As a two year old you were as hyped as a horse can get- you were the big dog with the big chain, bully on the block, and wherever you walked it's as if you had a hype-man behind you like a prize fighter has with him on his way to the a title bout yellin, 'BAD MAN WALKIN'!".
Union Rags: Wait, weren't you that weird guy shouting that?
TR: That's beside the point. Anyway, You were so hyped as a 2-year old you went off as as 1-1 favorite in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile where your defeat at the hooves of Hansen left many a bettor's jaws agape.
As a 3-year old you stomped out the favorite Discreet Dancer in the Fountain of Youth Stakes en route to a 4-length win and then lost the Florida derby- despite running the farthest according to trackus.com. So what do you have in your favor for this race?
Union Rags: Look at me. I'm in great shape, Steve Haskin of Bloodhorse.com says I am "the most imposing physical presence we have seen" at Churchill all week and my works have been on point. I look good, I feel good, I'm ready.
So do you think I'm gonna kick Bodemeister's ass on Saturday, or what?
TR: Watch your mouth, Union Rags- you're a three year old!
But, I don't know.... I think you two will be factors in the stretch run, I'm just not positive you'll hit the wire first. Well, thanks for letting me interview you. I'm gonna head back now. *tuns and walks away*
Union Rags: DUMBASS MAN WALKIN!!
TR: Oh come on!
5 Dullahan, 8-1
TR: *makes fanning motion in front of Dullahan's face*
Dullahan: What are you doing?
TR: Fanning you off, Dullahan! You're kinda hot right now!
Dullahan: Oh....Um, thanks.
TR: You're welcome. You intrigue me, Dullahan. You're by far the best closer in this field- and in your last race you ran down 2-year old Champion Hansen like you'd been shot out of a canon. That being said, we just have no idea if you like racing on dirt. If you go off at 12-1 or better I'm all over you.
Dullahan: Thanks man. Now, if you'll excuse me I have a date with a filly in the other barn.
TR: Man, you really are a closer!!!
6. Bodemeister, 4-1 (the favorite)
- Bodemeister winning the Arkansas Derby
TR: You're trying to be first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Derby without having raced as a two year old. You've been in only four races- and have finished 2nd, 1st, 2nd and 1st and received 100+ Beyer Speed Figures for the last three (101, 101 and 108). Your Beyers alone set you apart from this field.
Bodemeister: And did you see my workout on 4/29?
TR: I heard it was very impressive. Now, All the stuff I just mentioned is enough reason to bet you- but on top of that you're dad is Empire Maker, your grandfather won this race in 1990, your trainer is the as good as there is in America and you're coming off the most impressive derby race of any horse here.
Bodemeister: All true.
TR: I hate betting favorites in the Kentucky Derby and I know this year is so wide open that it's stupid to take anyone with short odds, but I think you're just faster than these horses. You're my pick to win it.
7 Rousing Sermon, 50-1
TR: You got your name because your Dad's name is Lucky Pulpit and your mother's name is Rousing Again, hence, Rousing Sermon. Does that name get you teased around the shedrow and paddock?
Rousing Sermon: Yeah, people think I'm super pious. But I'm really not.
TR: Wait, you are NOT super pious? Ohhhh. I just thought you were losing all those races in embarrassing fashion in order to stay humble and appear to devout before your God.
- Creative Cause
8 Creative Cause, 12-1
TR: I made up a tongue twister about you, "I'm Creative Cause, caucasians consistently congratulate me calmly for being the consistentest contender in the Kentucky Derby."
Creative Cause: That wasn't a tongue twister at all, it was run on aliteration with a lotta holes in it.
TR: Moving on, you are the most consistent horse in this race- you've never lost by more than one length- and you're always around the lead at the quarter pole (meaning they're a only a quarter mile from the wire) which has been a trait of nearly every derby winner of the past two decades.
Creative Cause: Let me guess- but you just aren't sold on me because I'm not freakishly fast and you think you've already seen my best?
Creative Cause: Do you feel that honestly or are you still a little poopy because I taught you the difference between a tongue twister and just an aliteration?
TR: You love to get out the lead early- and you will in the Derby as well. The problem for you is that, you've never raced anyone in the league of Bodemeister or Union Rags, and the Kentucky Derby is 3/8 of a mile longer than you've ever gone. It's tough to pick you.
So tell me: what is there to like about you?
Trinniberg: Well I know how you like to make stupid nicknames for horses, so I have one for myself. Ya know in Dumb and Dumber when the blind kid is petting Petey, not knowing he's dead, and saying, "pretty bird, pretty bird"?
TR: Totally. I love that movie.
Trinniberg: Well, if you say, "Trinni berg, Trinni berg", in a similar cadence it kinda sounds similar.
TR: Thank you, I'll probably call you that from now on.
10 Daddy Nose Best
TR: The bad news: your old jockey, Julien Laparoux, left you for Union Rags. The Good News: Steve Haskin says your four workouts over this surface have been magnificent, and more numerous than any other foe, and he also reported that your gallops out have been great as well. So how are we doing?
Daddy Nose Best: Well, I've been having a lot of success since switching back to dirt and my jockey for the Derby- Garrett Gomez, is a world class jockey, by the way, I'm the only horse to have won two races at 9 furlongs, and I am bettable. I realize I make some bettors trepidacious because they don't know if I'm peaking at the right time, or if I just beat up on a bunch of losers in my last out race, but no one says I'm bad value if my odds stay high.
TR: Dan Illman said you were "an intriguing price play" at around 30-1.
Daddy Nose Best: Dan's a good man.
TR: Alpha, state your claim:
Alpha: Did you WATCH the Wood Memorial? I had to check early on and when I did, that'ss when Gemologist passed me and that was it. After that I was never even with him again, and I'm not sure he could pass me without me being interfered with. Watching that race would tell any logician that my trip was vastly more difficult than Gemologist's, yet he barely beat me. Then everyone wants to sit on his lap and help him beat his chest because stared me down and beat me- it's ridiculous.
TR: Legit. But dude, you sucked out loud in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile. In the starting gate you acted like a total sphinct, then in the actual race you bled and finished 3rd to last. You gotta admit that isn't all that awesome.
Alpha: Ok, fine. I didn't want to have to do this, but now I'm gonna. *sigh*. My dad, Bernardini was a freak and you know it. My grandfather, A.P. Indy? The best Triple Crown sire of all time- hands down, and I even know that 'hands down' is a horse racing term. A.P. Indy's dad? Seattle Slew. That's who. The granddads on my mom's side? The template himself- Native Dancer and triple crown winner Alydar. More relevant, I know you saw that my Wood Memorial was superior to Gemologist's despite him hitting the wire first. So you take all that and don't bet on me.
TR: Point Taken. I will have some money on you. So, I guess I noted the Point Given! Ha, that's a little triple crown humor, did you see what I did there?
Alpha: Sadly yes.
TR: I'm not saying you ARE a loser, Prospective. But I am saying you a prospective loser- for the Kentucky Derby, anyway.
Prospective: Yeah, but you're probably just saying that because you know I suck.
TR: That is correct.
13 Went the Day Well
TR: I saw that your maternal grandfather is the legendary Tiznow, the only horse to win the Breeders Cup Classic twice. Not only that, but your owner, trainer and jockey won the derby last year with Animal Kingdom.
Went the Day Well: Yeah, thanks. I'm very proud of my grandfather, and trust my awesome connections to steer me in the right direction.
TR: That being said- what is it that sets YOU apart from the field, other than your connections or lineage? What have YOU done on the track to make us say, "look out for Went the Day Well"?
Went the Day Well: Did you know that my grandfather is Tiznow and my connections won the Derby last year with Animal Kingdom?
TR: Hansen, I don't think you're the fastest horse here. And I am NOT saying it's because you're white. You're a totally nice horse but you aren't BAD, ya know? When you beat Union Rags in the BC Juvenile my jaw was agape because I was POSITIVE he was not beatable in that race and I thought you were a bad motherf&@%$r. Then you beat the less-talented horses that you should have beaten in the Gotham, and next up you were expected to have your way with the Blue Grass field but Dullahan ran you down. Granted, that was a synthetic surface, but I'm also not convinced you want this distance.
Hansen: I get it. But don't be surprise if I'm in the mix heading for home.
TR: I crunched some numbers for your splits in your last race, the Wood Memorial. And by "crunched" I mean, "looked up on DRF Forumlator". You were life-and-death to hold off a valiant effort by Alpha, yet your last 8th was in a lethargic 13.22 seconds. Bodemeister ran his last quarter in 11.97 seconds- and that's when he was having fun because he had a 9 1/2 length lead.
Gemologist: So what's the bad news?
TR: The bad news is that Alpha is the only good horse you've beaten this year, and maybe in your career, and with your undefeated record and with Todd Pletcher as your trainer, you are gonna be a shorter price than you should be. It also appears as though you like to be toward the lead and that may be a problem in such a big field where the speed rarely holds.
You are certainly likable- your connections won this with Super Saver, you're peaking at the right time, maybe you were toying with Alpha in the Wood. It's possible, but since I'm not convinced I can only bet you if you're good value. At what odds do you think you become playbale?
Gemologist: Somewhere in the 10-1 or 12-1 range.
16 El Padrino
TR: Your racing career leading up to this point is a great instantiation of one of my favorite life-lessons learned from betting on horses.
El Padrino: You're not gonna cry are you?
TR: Probably not this time. Anyway, I noticed that most of the people who don't like your Derby chances can't forgive you for your last race. But all the people who like your chances in the derby are willing to forgive you for it. About that Florida Derby: In horse playing parlance we say about that race that you can, "draw a line through it", as in, you may cross it off your Racing Form so you can no longer read it because it's rubbish.
El Padrino: And 'thank you' to those people, by the way.
TR: But some people say you had no excuse in losing that race- you just came up empty in the end- and they don't like your chances in the Kentucky Derby. Can we draw a line through that? Should we forgive you permanently and never look back once we agree to it (hint: That's the life lesson I learned), or was that the real you and we should remember it?
El Padrino: You can draw a line through it.
TR: I believe you. You're gonna be good value.
17 Done Talking
TR: Some say, "This horse has no chance on Saturday", but other people say, "This horse has no chance on Saturday, yo." God I HATE THAT! But both camps agree, nonetheless, that you have no chance on Saturday.
Which brings me to the part of the interview where I ask a philosophical question: How do you respond- or do you respond at all- when someone asks, "Are you Done Talking?" I mean, your name is that, yes, but if they are asking if you have ceased to verbalize, then it would be contradictory to verbally affirm that interrogative. Do you reply, and if yes, how so?
Done Talking: I find that nodding is a good way to correctly answer both, yo.
TR: We are done talking, Done Talking.
TR: Your name kinda reminds me of Thunder Cats for some reason, and that may be the only reason to bet on you. Are there any others?
19 I'll Have Another
TR: Did I tell you I got a time machine?
I'll Have Another: No, are you serious?
TR: I'm totally serious. True story from the future: you don't win the Derby.
TR: Liason, you have no chance to win the Kentucky Derby. I'm not even going to waste my reader's time with half-heartedly interview you- this article has been long enough.
Tags: 2012 Kentucky Derby, Alpha, Bodemeister, Creative Cause, Daddy Long Legs, Daddy Nose Best, Done Talking, Dullahan, Dumb and Dumber, El Padrino, Gemologist, Hansen, I'll Have Another, Julien Leparoux, Kentucky Derby, Michael Matz, Optimizer, Prosepective, Rousing Sermon, Sabercat, Take Charge Indy, Trinniberg, Union Rags, Went the Day Well