Will Those Kentucky Derby Jinxes Hold True in 2007?
by Greg Melikov - 04/17/2007
What do Apollo, Regret, Exterminator and Sunny's Halo have in common? Yes, all three have won the Kentucky Derby.
But the quartet shares another common thread - the start or perpetuation of jinxes that have held true for decades.
The oldest Curse of Churchill Downs dates back to 1882 when Apollo roared down the stretch to capture the eighth Derby. He was the last winner that didn't run as a 2-year-old.
That's the century-plus jinx Curlin must overcome. The son of Smart Sense scored the most impressive victory of the half-dozen major preps when he captured the 71st Arkansas Derby by a record 10 ½ lengths at Oaklawn Park. But there are other jinxes he must put to rest.
Then there are 2-year-olds champions that had high hopes for a successful trip to Louisville after winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Some didn't compete because of injuries, but those that did failed during all 21 years.
Can Street Sense come close to his resounding triumph in the 22nd BC Juvenile at Churchill Downs?
That jinx goes back even further: No juvenile champion since Spectacular Bid in '79 has accomplished the feat. That was during a glorious decade of racing when a half-dozen winners of the Eclipse Award for 2-year-olds captured The Derby. Three of those took the Triple Crown: Affirmed, '78; Seattle Slew, '77; and Secretariat, '73.
Regret won the 41st Derby going wire-to-wire. The first filly to smell the roses in 1915 had only three career starts. No other horse, colt or gelding has performed the feat.
Enter Curlin again. He did average 9 ½ lengths in three career victories. But can he overcome such historic odds even though he was the 7-2 favorite in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager?
Exterminator took the 44th Derby with only four races behind him. No other horse since 1918 has managed to duplicate that achievement.
In the same boat are Tiago, surprise winner of the 70th Santa Anita Derby, and Deadly Dealer, third in the 83rd Blue Grass.
Another jinx dates back to '83 when Sunny's Halo captured the 109th Derby. He was the last horse with only two preps to do so. In fact, he broke the same jinx that had withstood the test time since '47 when Jet Pilot triumphed.
There are a slew of horses with only two preps: Blue Grass winner Domincan, Street Sense, Circular Quay, Great Hunter, Deadly Dealer and, of course, Curlin.
Another jinx was broken last year when Barbaro won at Churchill Downs after resting five weeks following his Florida Derby victory. The son of Dynaformer was only the second horse to take that much time off after Needles followed the same route in '56.
Horses in the same boat this year: Circular Quay, winner of the Louisiana Derby; off eight weeks; Hard Spun, victorious in the Lane's End, off six weeks; and Scat Daddy, first in the Florida Derby ahead of Chelokee, third, and Stormello, off five weeks.
You have time to figure out if any jinx will bite the dust.