posted by Kalina on Apr 28

Papa Clem (number 2) rallies to beat Old Fashioned in the Arkansas Derby

Papa Clem’s name has a story behind it, of course. Owner Bo Hirsch named him for his father, who’s grandchildren called him ‘Papa Clem’. Hirsch said he considered the name ‘Cement’ for the fast colt, because in the 1950’s and 60’s Clement, his father, had shared a rented beach house with Jimmy Durante, comic legend. Durante called Clement ‘Cement’, instead of pronouncing it correctly. “I thought it (Papa Clement) was better than Cement,” Hirsch says. “That doesn’t seem very fast.”

Old Fashioned went in as the definite favorite, and his performance was a tribute to his ability. He led the field until the midstretch, when Papa Clem came up on the outside. Old Fashioned held the lead against Danger To Society, Summer Bird, and Win Willy, galloping out strongly, with fast fractions of the first half in :46.19. The fractions through the first part were quite fast too: fractions of :22.3, :46 and 1:11 to the final turn.
Papa Clem was only a head in front after a mile in 1:36.75 and edged away from Old Fashioned to hit the wire a half length in front in 1:29.01. Once asked by Raphael Bejarano, the Gary Stute trainee made a quick move to engage the leader, but was under a drive to hold sway in a thrilling stretch drive. He completed the mile-and-an-eighth in 1:49 over the fast going, the fastest Derby since Afleet Alex raced in 1:48.4, winning by eight lengths in 2005. The time is the same posted by Smarty Jones in winning the 2004 Arkansas Derby. Summer Bird was a closing third, with Win Willy in fourth and possibly a Derby spot.

The results were slightly marred by the fact that Old Fashioned turned up lame after cooling out. The diagnosis on Sunday was a displaced slab fracture of the right knee. It will end his racing career, but is not life threatening.

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