Mike–the trouble with the bad news portion of your essay is that speed is a sort of relative method of assessment–people today like to think that there are objective ways–speed numbers for instance–to discern just what happened in a race. But reality suggests otherwise. Reality suggests subjective influences are the drivers–otherwise we’d all be rich by simply following speed numbers. This is an, at best, dubious propensity of modern racing men.
The far more important element of your essay concerns all the other top shelf horses–none of whom really got involved in the race. None of them. So while you write that the winner was comparatively slow and his top level competitors were not to be seen–what conclusion ought be drawn? It strikes me that drawing the conclusion that the winner was not all that impressive is a very strange way to look at that race. If the pace and final time were slow and if the winner just got up in a really slow final panel–what do you make of the others in the race who were highly regarded? Do you recommend throwing out both the winner and all the well considered other horses in the race–which you would have to do given that the winner–well, won? He beat them all–do you expect that all the other highly regarded plus the winner will not be there on May 7?
If you do think so, consider that this race effectively eliminated 5 Derby contestents from consideration–and laid waste to the conventional Derby picture.
Again, if the winner was so slow and unimpressive–no other horse in the race, save the second placed, deserves any apples or carrots–I find that a remararkable conclusion. Remarkable.