BY Dick Jerardi
The Kentucky Derby is only four months late. In 2020, that’s progress
The three favorites in May would have been Nadal, Charlatan and Tiz the Law.
“The’’ favorite in September will be Tiz the Law.
Nadal and Charlatan finished first in divisions of the Arkansas Derby on what would have been Kentucky Derby Day in May. Nadal was injured in training shortly thereafter and retired. Charlatan had a less-serious injury but needed surgery and will miss the Ky. Derby.
Tiz the Law has missed nothing. The New York bred colt won the Belmont Stakes in June and the Travers in August, making him the first horse in history to win the Champagne, Florida Derby, Belmont and Travers. Tiz the Law will be a heavy favorite in the Derby.
Parx will be very well represented by the “other’’ New York bred in the race. Ny Traffic only cost $22,000. He has not won a stakes race. But don’t be fooled. This gray colt gets better with every start. If he can make one more jump, he has a chance in the Derby.
Ny Traffic made his career debut on Pennsylvania Derby Day almost one year ago. He broke his maiden in his next start at Parx and remained at the track with trainer Harry Wyner until he was sent to Florida to train with Saffie Joseph and prepare for a chance at the Derby.
If the race had been in May, Ny Traffic would have been in it, but probably would not have had a realistic chance to win. Even though he had won an optional claimer, finished third in the Risen Star and second in the Louisiana Derby, he just wasn’t fast enough.
Since then, Ny Traffic has finished second in the Matt Winn and second in the Haskell, one more jump from catching 3-5 favorite Authentic. The colt has gotten faster in each start. Now, he is firmly into Derby contender territory.
Ny Traffic is 90 percent owned by Parx regulars _ John Fanelli (50 percent), Chuck Zacney (20 percent) and Glenn Bennett (20 percent).
It was Zacney who explained to Fanelli before a maiden race on Oct. 12 at Parx how much he liked his colt Monday Morning Qb, not realizing at first that Fanelli had a horse in the race. Zacney’s horse ran well, but finished second to Ny Traffic. Zacney was interested in buying a piece of Ny Traffic. After Fanelli bought out his original partner, he did sell those percentages to Bennett and Zacney.
Now, all three of them, together with families and friends, will be at fan-less Churchill Downs Saturday to see if their New York bred can beat the other New York bred and the rest of the first (and hopefully last) September Derby field.
Three-year-olds in September are very different from 3-year-olds in May _ more mature physically, more racing experience, faster, just better in every way.
Tiz the Law was already a very good horse in May. He is a way better horse now.
Ny Traffic was a nice horse in May, a really good horse now.
Is that improvement enough to win the Derby? We’ll know by Saturday evening.