Today at the Masters there's a 20 year old kid in the final group and a number of compelling story lines, but, like always, you find people cheering for people they know. The Lee Westwood's of the world. If Tiger Woods, who makes the Churchill Downs execs look like paupers, was in the final group, scores of people would be pulling for him, even if he is against a guy singing for his supper. Same with Phil. The movie Tin Cup played well on TV, but if Kevin Costner's character was in a final group against a big name, he'd be heckled, not cheered for being the longshot. Canadian's will well-remember the 1999 PGA Championship when Mike Weir - a zero time Tour winner - was hammered by the Medina crowd in the final group with Tiger.
Yesterday, Danza overcame the odds board, won the Arkansas Derby, and the reaction was similar. "Danza who?"
In racing we want to see the best and we want to see them win. We cheer for Secretariat, Zenyatta, Spectacular Bid, Curlin; the list is endless. Seabiscuit might've been an excellent story in 2003, but in 1938 there were people pulling for the blue-blooded War Admiral to crush that west coast ill-bred colt.
The Derby especially is an interesting creature. We want to see great horses do battle, and this year, it just doesn't seem to be there. There's no spark, nothing to get behind for some.
It's shaping up to be the least compelling #KyDerby I can remember. The racing gods have spoken.Maybe they have spoken. Maybe God is a PETA fan. Maybe he really likes horseplayers and dislikes the little guy getting skewered with another takeout hike.
— Dan Needham (@thorotrends) April 12, 2014
Or maybe the joke's on us. Maybe this unassuming, sprint-bred colt from California will win the Derby in a fast time and maybe.....
With California Chrome, we're seeing a Secretariat story develop before our eyes. I know, it's early, but this colt can flat out runYou just never know. It might be the year of the underdog, and in six months we won't be looking at a horse like California Chrome as a surprise, but the big horse everyone cheers for. Just like Phil in a final group.
— Ed Zieralski (@EdZieralski) April 6, 2014
Foiled Again was sharp last night in his Levy leg, firing home in 27. If you don't like Foiled Again, you don't like horse racing.
The Blue Grass was one of the more interesting races this spring on paper, and it didn't disappoint. 14 horses in that setting, how could it? Bobby's Kitten has had a hard time settling his whole career and he seemed to pay for it yesterday. I remember Frankel acting like that early on too, and he turned out okay, didn't he? I hope this guy learns what he's out there for. He is one wickedly fast horse.
Churchill keeps getting hammered on social media. My pals at HANA re-did the 2014 track ratings and the takeout hiking track dropped stoutly in the rankings.