Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 6th 2017 Contents A50 sports
guardian.co.tt Saturday, May 6, 2017
Renovations are making the Derby even more posh
LOUISVILLE, Ky (AP)---Toni Good-
man was close enough to see the horses
kicking up dirt as they raced past, hav-
ing spent a mere $5 for her trackside
seat to an event just days before the
But the 56-year-old Kentucky native
won't be anywhere near Churchill Downs
today to watch the Run for the Roses.
One of the great sporting events has long
been a world of contrasting styles, with a
massive gulf separating the wealthy and fa-
mous preening on Millionaires Row from
the T-shirt and jeans crowd in the infield.
Major renovations completed in recent
years, most of them geared toward well-
heeled fans, seem to have put more distance
between those worlds.
This year's average ticket price to at-
tend the Derby---a 2-minute horse race
highlighting a full day of racing, partying
and people watching---is $432, according to
VividSeats.com. The Derby typically gener-
ates a brisk secondary ticket market as well.
The trend to offer high-end packages
at sports venues reaches far beyond the
Kentucky Derby. Any venue hosting a
Super Bowl, World Series or even an All-
Star Game creates an experience to cater
to high rollers. New stadium construction
often involves luxury suites, technology
upgrades and other perks that cater to a
high-income spectator. But such projects
often face criticism that they squeeze out
middle and lower-income fans.
Churchill Downs seems to burst at the
seams on Derby Day, when more than
160,000 people pack into the venerable
track and infield. Churchill's parent com-
pany has pumped about $250 million into
renovations since the early 2000s. The
investment is meant to maximize reve-
nue from the Derby and Kentucky Oaks,
a race for 3-year-old fillies the day before
This year's $16 million upgrade mod-
ernized the second-floor clubhouse. The
update includes a fresh Twin Spires Club
Elite Gold Room exclusive to VIP bettors.
It's adjacent to an enlarged Champions
Bar that includes covered balconies with
table seating offering prime views of the
Such upgrades are geared toward fans
willing to shell out big money for pano-
ramic views, sumptuous buffets and access
to betting windows and restrooms without
lines. Options for premium seating seem
almost as numerous as the field of Derby
horses. Demand outpaces available seating,
which has Churchill preparing for another
Work has started on the Starting Gate
Suites, scheduled to open in time for the
No clear favorite, rain make
for unpredictable Derby
LOUISVILLE, Ky AP---Two trainers
saddling three horses each. A horse
trying to win for the first time. The
early favorite whose training was
interrupted. Another attempting to
overcome irascible behavior.
The 20-horse field for today's Kentucky
Derby lacks a dominant runner. The winter
prep races did nothing to establish a clear
Classic Empire is the 4-1 pre-race choice.
Two horses, Always Dreaming and Mc-
Craken, are the co-second choices at 5-1.
Toss in the threat of rain early in the day,
which could soak well-dressed racegoers
wearing fancy hats, and it all makes for a
most unpredictable Derby.
Todd Pletcher will saddle three horses
--- 5-1 shot Always Dreaming, 20-1 Tap-
writ and 30-1 Patch, the one-eyed horse.
Pletcher is 1 for 45 in the Derby.
With no left eye, Patch will only see the
crowd as he breaks from the far outside
spot in the gate. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione
figures to hustle him over to the rail to save
ground as the field makes its way to the
traffic-choked first turn.
Steve Asmussen also has three runners,
and they're all longshots: 15-1 Hence, 20-1
Lookin at Lee, and 30-1 Untrapped. He is
winless in 15 tries, the only hole in his Hall
of Fame resume.
"The Kentucky Derby would look really
good to add to the list," he said.
Don't look for four-time winner Bob
Baffert. The white-haired trainer doesn't
have a horse this year, but like everyone
else, he has an opinion.
"There's a lot of parity. There are some
nice, solid horses," he said. "I think Classic
Empire is probably the best horse in the
race. Todd's horse has brilliance, Always
Dreaming. If they can get him figured out,
he could steal it. The rest are bombers."
The rain is predicted to end hours before
the race goes off in the early evening. The
last Derby run on an off-track was 2013
when Orb splashed home in front.
Favorites have won the Derby the past
four years, the longest such streak since
Sonneteer will try to overcome that bit
of history. He's 0 for 10 in his career. He
would be just the fourth maiden and the
first since Brokers Tip in 1933 to wear the
Classic Empire sure looked like the early
Derby favorite last year when he won the
Breeders' Cup Juvenile and was named
2-year-old champion. He made his 3-year-
old debut with a third-place finish in the
Holy Bull Stakes in February. Then came
two more months off caused by hoof and
back injuries. Twice, the bay colt didn't
want to train.
"We're happy to be where we are today
given the last couple of months," trainer
Mark Casse said. "I love being the favorite.
Let's just enjoy the ride."
Always Dreaming had been fractious in
morning workouts leading up to the Derby.
In an effort to harness the colt's energy,
Pletcher switched to longer reins, and
Always Dreaming resisted. He has since
calmed down and John Velazquez will be
in the saddle Saturday to lend an experi-
Girvin has battled a quarter crack in his
right front hoof that limited his workouts.
Trainer Joe Sharp and his assistant-wife,
former jockey Rosie Napravnik, had the colt
swimming and using a hyperbaric chamber
to make the race.
Gunnevera's trainer, Antonio Sano, was
kidnapped twice in his native Venezuela
before relocating his family to Miami.
Jockey Javier Castellano, also from the vi-
olence-wracked nation, is trying to snap
an 0 for 10 skid in the Derby. Gunnevera
is the cheapest horse in the field. He was
bought for $16,000 at auction.
Post time is about 6:50 p.m. ET.
take off big-time
Lancaster Bomber is set to resume hostilities
on the famous Rowley Mile course, Newmarket,
this afternoon; a heavy landing is expected to
save bookmakers a massive pay-out on appro-
priately-named stable-companion, Churchill!
Back in the second World War it was Sir Winston
Churchill's government which commissioned use of
Lancaster bombers in the six-year fight against Ger-
many. More than SEVEN THOUSAND Lancaster's
were built and night bombing raids paved the way
for eventual success; it was an incredible aircraft and
now, SEVENTY-FIVE years after its first sortie, this
Aidan O'Brien-trained colt is already to do battle in
the £500000, ten-runner, group one, 2000 Guineas.
Final reminder; this very same Rowley Mile was
taken over by the War Office days before Prime Min-
ister, Neville Chamberlin, announced war against
'Jerry' after Adolf Hitler failed to keep his word about
a cease fire.
'They knew' and we know that Lancaster Bomber
is massively-fancied by O'Brien whose supposed
main fancy is hot-favourite, Churchill!
Back in October you may recall Ryan Moore-ridden
Churchill beating Lancaster Bomber by just over a
length in the group one 'Dewhurst' over seven fur-
longs, which has long been the definitive juvenile
'classic trial' and the barometer for pricing up and
analyis this time round.
Of course we're not totally convinced Lancaster
Bomber will reverse placings, the winner looked and
raced magnificently but he hasn't been out since
and my each-way selection raced genuinely when
fourth in Dubai a few weeks ago.
On the time-handicap both have an edge over
the English contingent, Barney Roy, winner of the
'Greenham' and Eminent, course and distance win-
ner last month of the Craven Stakes, which has long
been a pointer.
They are TH 'beauts' on what, hopefully, will prove
a glorious reminder of what to expect when involved
in a Battle of Britain!
Fran Berry's blog on Guineas weekend
Top jockey Fran Berry looks ahead to a Classic
weekend at Newmarket and a good book of rides
at Goodwood today.
It was disappointing on the day to be beaten on
Intern in the Classic Trial at Sandown but in hind-
sight he ran a tremendous race.
He only went down by a head to Cunco and it was
a lovely first run for the stable and of the season.
He's a nice horse to have in the yard and hopefully
he can develop into a contender for the King Edward
He is still in the Derby and the Lingfield trial could
be an option but I would think that Royal Ascot is
I rode against Ajman Princess at Royal Ascot last
year and also in some of her maidens so I know her
quite well. She's a nice ride to pick up for Roger
Varian and Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
and her experience will stand her in good stead in
the Betfred TV EBF Stallions Daisy Warwick Stakes
She finished a fine second to Even Song in the
Ribblesdale and had a good break after flopping in
the Irish Oaks. She was entitled to win her maiden
but it's still a plus that she's got a run under her
belt this season.
Exercise rider Daragh O'Donohoe prepares
to gallop Kentucky Derby entrant Thunder
Snow at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.,
Thursday, May 4, 2017. The Kentucky Derby
horse race is set for today. AP PHOTO
This Tuesday photo, shows the interior of the Champions Lounge, which includes
outside seating overlooking the paddock, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Churchill
Downs' parent company has pumped $250 million into renovations since the early
2000s. AP PHOTO
Newmarket, 12.35 Lancaster Bomber (nap-e.w)
Doncaster, 2.50 Mutanaaseq; 3.20 May Sky (e.w).
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