Backstretch ‘Buzz’ at Churchill Downs

Louisville – Circa July 2019: Churchill Downs, Home to the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby is one of the Crown Jewels of horse racing and professional sports III

Backstretch ‘Buzz’ at Churchill Downs

Mattress Mack has an awesome promo where if the Kentucky Derby favorite wins you get your furniture free. Check out the flyer below, then let’s look at the Backstretch ‘Buzz’ at Churchill Downs:

One of the strongest elixirs in Thoroughbred racing is buzz from those supposedly in the know on the backstretch. Those backstretch whispers from horsemen on who is coming up to the race in the best shape leads to “steam.” 

Steam horses are those that have long odds on the morning line but start receiving action at the windows. Bettors see that, which leads to more action, and sizable odds drops. 

Does it help a horseplayer cashing a bet? Well, sometimes yes, and sometimes no. 

Backstretch “buzz” is especially strong during the run-up to the Kentucky Derby (G1). After prowling the backstretch for a week leading up to the May 6 Run for the Roses, below are the comments from media types and horsemen alike as to where the value lies for the First Saturday in May.

Gabriel “Spider” Duignan, breeder:

“Verifying … I don’t think the two hole (post 2) will affect him too much. I think Tapit Trice is the best horse if he can get through (post five). It’s a tricky because he has a different style (closing). Kingsbarns, I think, is handy horse; he can make a good trip for himself if he’s good enough. It’s amazing that how many horses with speed win this race. It changed with the point system (started 2013); you don’t have those crazy sprinters winging it out there.”

Dave Grening, Daily Racing Form:

“This race has kind of lacked the ‘buzz’ horse. No one has really ‘wowed’ the observers. I’d say Tapit Trice might qualify. He wouldn’t be a ‘buzz’ horse because he’s the second choice, but in his training, he’s been the most consistent, and his coat catches the eye. If I had to give one a bit of a nod, I’d say Tapit Trice. Another horse who has looked good on the track, but it’s a tall order for him, is Confidence Game. When he’s been on the track, he’s looked really good. I think his work the other day was solid. The 10 weeks is such a tall task, plus he hasn’t raced beyond 1 1/16 miles … but he looks good.”

Greg Hall, Louisville journalist:

“There are three in contention as ‘steamers.’ Mage, Disarm, and Derma Sotogake. Mage and Disarm on looks out here. Derma Sotogake was ‘buzz’ before he got here and has just continued.”

Jerry Bailey, NBC:

“Tapit Trice looks unbelievably good. Derma Sotogake … he’s filled out; his flesh looks great.”

Randy Moss, NBC:

“There hasn’t been that one ‘buzz’ horse that you usually get here. I haven’t heard that … yet. They’re all training well. Maybe Continuar’s workout wasn’t really that good. Confidence Game … hasn’t run since the Rebel, and he came by us, and we said, ‘wow.’ This horse is really nice. (Trainer Keith) Desormeaux is definitely an old-school guy. They look better flesh than they do on paper.”

Kip Elser, top breaking and training conditioner, astute horseman:

“I love Forte and the way he has improved, and grown, and filled out from November to now. He’s grown and gotten bigger and stronger … and he was pretty damn good then.”

Mark Toothaker, stallion sales manager for Spendthrift Farm:

“Forte is going to be extremely hard to beat. If you get in a tussle down the stretch, he’s already proven. You are hoping for a good trip. This horse, Tapit Trice … at this stage of Tapit’s career, he hasn’t had a Derby winner. Sometimes things even out, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see that horse get the roses. 

“Kingsbarns has done everything right. He’s a laid-back horse so I think he can handle all of the hoopla. 

“The horse from California, Practical Move, is a really good-looking horse. He’s won three in a row. You have to think he has a good shot. Two Phil’s ran an absolute monster race at Turfway Park (Jeff Ruby Steaks). It was crazy the move he made and the way he drew off. He looks like a horse coming into the race in great shape.”

Kenny Rice, NBC Sports:

“Based on his recent work, Confidence Game. I’m intrigued by the 10-week layoff.”

Mac McBride, Southern California publicist:

“All of the Pletcher horses look grand. So, they hang Reincarnate at 50-1 … I’m wondering if he meant to say 15-1. If Reincarnate is 50-1, chunk your money in. He’s been looking good and (trainer) Tim (Yakteen) put a fast work into him the other day. The horse has speed. I’d not be surprised if he’s on the lead or close to the early lead.

“I’m with (trainer) John Shirreffs, too. If that horse (Skinner) fires his shot … his last race was really good. And he made a big jock change. He put up the best jock in Southern California (J.J. Hernandez). That’s going to help him; it gives him a little extra push.”

Steve Byk, runs the Sirius XM program “At the Races”:

“Disarm has kind of bubbled up to the surface after the Lexington (Stakes, G3) where I think everybody was dismissive, and he’s since put in two works and looks terrific. He gets Joel Rosario, and suddenly he’s a ‘now’ horse. I won’t call him the ‘wise guy’ horse. A ‘wise guy’ horse in this Derby is going to be tough to land on just because people are all over the map. 

“My pick is Two Phil’s. He’s the fourth biggest point-getter, he’s got the highest Beyer in the field … that’s not a wise guy horse. You have to dig deeper for that one … they call it a ‘wise guy’ horse because the sharps land on the horse. You are looking for somebody who is probably 20-1 and goes off around 12-1. That could be Disarm. It would be an amazing story for Steve Asmussen to have the best horse last year (Epicenter) that should have gotten him his Derby, then he back-doors with a horse that needs six points to get into the field. 

(Jockey agent) Ron Anderson is as savvy as there has ever been in the jock agent field, and he managed to maneuver Joel onto the horse. That says something to me. He’s the clever horse.

“Also, Skinner is getting a lot of late looks and attention. Thoro-Graph and ‘sheet’ players are going to like his pattern – Two Phil’s has a fabulous pattern, too.”

John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader:

“There’s a little ‘buzz’ about Confidence Game and his work the other day and the confidence of his jockey James Graham and Desormeaux. Keith knows what he’s look at. I think he’s a live longshot.”

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