The Kentucky Derby is over. The Iroquois Steeplechase is looming. The Preakness gate is locked and ready. Saratoga is on the horizon.
Nyquist did what he was supposed to do, using his natural speed to get a position, getting first run and proving yet again that he's the best 3-year-old in the country. For once, bettors nailed it, as the first choice, second choice, third choice and fourth choice finished in that order. I needed Suddenbreakingnews to finish second, if the late-running gelding did, I'd be in the islands instead of a kitchen table on a rainy Tuesday morning in Virginia. Stray cat meowing outside the door, Miles sleeping, a couple of pensioners grazing in the front field, fish tank bubbling. Who needs the islands?
Cyril Murphy continued his torrid spring, winning the Virginia Gold Cup with Ebanour and the David Semmes Stakes with Charminster Saturday. The former jump jockey tacked on a timber win at Winterthur with Top Man Michael (Clancy Bloodstock). Murphy is 9-for-12 this year. Yes, 9-for-12.
It's sweet to see Gus Dahl getting an opportunity and capitalizing on the opportunity. The American-born jump jockey (wow, there are two in the top four) works for Elizabeth Voss in the morning and schools for Murphy in the afternoon, both have supported him with good horses. Watching Dahl drive Ebanour to the last fence in the Gold Cup, with Voss yelling in my ear, "Come on, Gus," reminded me that steeplechasing is the definition of a team sport.
The intrepid ST Handicappers awoke from their slumber, well, at least two of them began to rustle, as Joe picked seven winners, I rallied with six and "Kentucky Derby" Tom lumbered across the line with three - not to mention his Derby trio of Creator, Exaggerator, Whitmore (well, I guess I mentioned it). While he was picking losers, he did bring his game on the journalism side, banging out Derby, Oaks and everything in between. The site hit its best (non-Saratoga) traffic numbers since we started it. We don't need Google Analytics to notice a trend - when we write, especially on important events, traffic goes up. Funny, how that works.
Entries closed yesterday for a stellar card at the Iroquois Steeplechase. Willie Mullins did indeed enter Nichols Canyon and Shaneshill. The Iroquois-World Hurdle bonus has attracted many detractors, including some who don't like that Mullins is raiding Iroquois with two horses rated 12 and 18 pounds higher than Temple Gwathmey winner Rawnaq. Does a rising tide lift all boats? We'll see.