Taiba.

Taiba is the choice in KY Derby

JONATHAN QUAYLE HIGGINS COLUMN

Early in July last year, you may recall, I wanted to hire a carnival band to announce with great fanfare that Frankie Dettori would win the King George on Lone Eagle. You’ll also recall that, in the actual race, Frankie looked so embarrassed punishing a hard-labouring Lone Eagle into the bend he almost jumped off!

Lone Eagle was reported injured after the race and hasn’t been heard of since. I was warned off by the IRC and some angry readers (angrier than a reader, S. White, last week who termed my well-researched piece on Elon Musk, ‘a load of far right-wing bollocks’) and asked never to tip anything but a waiter or a Soho Tranny ever again.

But now, nine months later, as we approach the 148th Kentucky Derby, I am coming out. No, not in that way. FFS! I identify with being a red-blooded heterosexual (old) male who likes to wear knickers after a several Pimm Fruit Cups (RBHOMWLTWKAFTsPimmFC) – does that make me a weirdo?

No. I am coming out of hiding as a tipster and have to ask, “Can lightning actually strike twice?” or, in this case, “Can I tip another horse that runs so badly in a major race?” The answer, in all honesty, is yes, I can. But I may also get it right this time advising a wager on Taiba, a 12-1 shot in the early Derby market.

Kentucky-based Michele Macdonald, the incredibly talented photo-journalist, took our headline photo of Taiba and wrote this morning: “Taiba, by record-breaking young sire Gun Runner, was out on the Churchill Downs track this morning under top jockey Joel Rosario for a 3f blowout for trainer Tim Yakteen, who was following the same pattern used prior to the colt’s victory in the G1 Santa Anita Derby. Rosario said afterward: “I don’t know how fast he went. But I do know he felt good!”

Just to refresh your memories from our article a fortnight ago: Taiba has only raced twice, and he posted a G1 win second time out. He will be ridden on Saturday by ‘Money’ Mike Smith, whose comments to americasbestracing.net last Monday really got my adrenaline going.

The Hall Of Fame Jockey said about Taiba’s Santa Anita Derby success: “I knew he had the talent. We all knew he had the ability. Messier and Richard Mandella’s horse, Forbidden Kingdom, are extremely talented horses. For him to beat them the way he did, off of just one race, that was what was amazing.

“He felt to me the best part of his race was at the end. He was just finding another gear going a mile and an eighth and finish on out if I wanted him to. He was supposed to be on fumes going down there. But there was a lot of energy there, a lot of horse left. I would take the same race back. But can you imagine if that race moves him up?”

Asked to compare Taiba to Triple Crown winner, Justify, Smith said: Well, the simple fact that they are beautiful chestnuts and they are both extremely, extremely talented and very intelligent at this stage of their career. Both of them did not start as a 2-year-old. So, there are a lot of similarities. He sure has a lot of shoe to fill before you can compare him to Justify. But he’s got that kind of ability and he’s that kind of horse.”

Three phrases there to note: 1) Taiba is extremely, extremely talented. 2) Taiba has got the kind of ability (of Justify). He’s that kind of horse.

A three-year-old being spoken about with such high praise is a horse I’d gladly put a few quid on. Win or lose! -IRC.

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