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March 10, 2003

OSCAR’S 2003 LOUISIANA DERBY GREEN SHEET

Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel, War and Peace, written in the late 1860’s is perhaps as famous for its length as for its content. This marathon novel tells the story of five families set against the background of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. Consisting of over 1,000 pages, the story has 580 characters and takes the reader from peaceful family life in Russia, to the headquarters of Napoleon, and on to the battlefields of Austerlitz and Borodino. To a 3 year-old horse, 1 ¼ miles is about as much of a marathon as they will every see. And while there aren’t 580 characters in this story, there are 446 early nominees to the Kentucky Derby who have been sorting themselves out on the Derby Prep battlefields. (And with the weather that has been plaguing the Midwestern and northeastern tracks, they might as well be training in Russia! These tracks have been much more likely to see a grandson of Dr. Zhivago than a grandson of Dr. Fager this winter!) In last year’s KY Derby, War (Emblem) was the boss, but depending upon what he does in the Louisiana Derby on Sunday, this year it just could be that Peace Rules! THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS The Grade 2, $750,000 Louisiana Derby on paper is a two horse race, featuring two of the top KY Derby contenders, Kafwain and Badge of Silver. However, there is another horse who just might get more than a small “Peace” of this purse. PEACE RULES – Oscar’s Bud Longshot This son of Jules, out of a Hold Your Peace mare, has become something of a turf specialist since his first two races at Saratoga on the dirt, hitting the turf exacta in all four starts. Expect for a head loss to Man Among Men, he would have a perfect turf record. The strange thing about this horse is that he is better bred for the main track and that was undoubtedly what Frankel was thinking when he shipped him all the way from California to take on the big two at the Fair Grounds. Not lost on Frankel I’m sure is the fact that three of the horses that he beat in the Grade 3 Generous (Man Among Men, Outta Here, and Appalachian Thunder) won their next start on dirt. His Beyers have steadily advanced, and while he is not yet in the same league as Kafwain or Badge of Silver, he is not far behind. Don’t be put off by the fact that this guy is coming off a layoff, Frankel wins 24% of the time with layoffs, and hits the board 56% in this category. On the down side, he has drawn an outside post and will be challenged by the faster Badge of Silver for the early lead. Prado must get him to relax behind Badge of Silver. If he can do that, I believe that he might be able to hold off the fast closing Kafwain. Whether or not he can actually catch Badge of Silver is doubtful, but at 8-1, I am willing to take a shot. KAFWAIN Kafwain is the most battle-tested horse in this race, having started 9 times, including a solid second to Vindication in the BJ Juvenile, and a head loss to Toccet in the Hollywood Futurity. This son of Cherokee Run out of a Hold Your Peace mare inherited the role of Derby favorite when the big two went to the sidelines, and he looks like he could win this race with a good trip. But Baffert’s Captain Steve looked like a sure winner of this race on paper before disappointing a few years ago, so nothing is for sure except that Mardi Gras has ended for this year. (“Who dat gonna beat dis horse?!) Kafwain is sure to bounce off his 115 Beyer in the San Vicente, but how far will he regress and still be able to beat this field is the question of the day. BADGE OF SILVER Usually for a big race like this, you have the favorites shipping in to take on the local hero. But in this case, Badge of Silver is playing both characters. The undefeated son of Silver Deputy out of a Silver Hawk mare will be tested for class for the first time when he meets the more experienced Kafwain, but he does have an advantage on his home turf. His problem will be to overcome the outside post, which has been about as cruel to horses as the Russian winter was to Napoleon. He did win the Risen Star from post 10, but he wasn’t facing Kafwain in that one. Also, where Kafwain will actually be dropping a pound to 122 from his last race, this guy is picking up 6 pounds from the 116 he carried in the Risen Star. Randy Werner is a good trainer, but certainly not in the same class as Baffert and Frankel. He appears to have Badge of Silver ready to run a good race, and after all it’s the horse who does the running, not the trainer. If you are looking forward to the Kentucky Derby though, beware; this horse has the look of a horse who will peak way before May. FUNNY CIDE Funny Cide also has some early speed and might keep both Peace Rules and Silver Deputy wide around the first turn. Funny Cide, who ships over from Gulfstream is the other horse who is capable of hitting the board, but this NY bred son of luxury rolex replica sprinter Distorted Humor has regressed in both Beyers and dominance since his 14 length annihilation of 11 outclassed NY breds in his first start last September. The question with him is was his last race a throw out because he broke from post 13, hit the gate and was wide the entire trip, or was it that this sprint-bred horse just couldn’t handle 1 1/16 miles and open company? He has been training up a storm, but trainer Barclay Tagg wins only 7% of graded stakes and his horses only hit the board 30% of the time at this level. THE BATTLE AND THE BET Battles are sometimes won by who fires the first shot. This battle may be won or lost at the start as well. Badge of Silver, breaking from the extreme outside, must break well and establish position early. Peace Rules, who breaks just to his inside is also fast and may deny the rail to the Silver Deputy colt, and Funny Cide may also want to be in the mix early from post 2. All of this would be extremely good news for Kafwain, who does his running from mid pack or farther back. There is absolutely no question that Kafwain and Badge of Silver are heads and withers above the rest of these horses, but they both have license to bounce coming off big efforts. At 7-5 and 3-2 respectively, I am willing to take a chance that although one will probably win, there is a chance that the other may be off the board. The other gamble that I am willing to take is that Peace Rules can transfer his grass ability to dirt, a surface that he is much better suited for by breeding. (Yeah I know, so was Cigar!) He must overcome the layoff and a new surface, but he does have Frankel in his corner and at 8-1 I am willing to key him with the two favorites. THE PLAY -TRIFECTAS Key PEACE RULES with KAFWAIN and BADGE OF SILVER with FUNNY CIDE, and LONE STAR SKY They will all be “Russian” down the stretch, and hopefully Peach Rules will have enough left to get a piece and earn you a few rubles! Udachi i khoroshego nastroeniya! (That’s how you pronounce, “Good luck and keep well” in Russian.)

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