Bob Ehalt and Tom Pedulla became fast friends when they met on their first day at Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx, N.Y., in 1971. Bob soon introduced Tom to the joys of Thoroughbred racing.
They have endured some rough moments at the track, with Tom taking exception when Bob repeatedly smacks him on the back with a program as one of their horses launches an all-out drive. Much to Tom’s chagrin and the amusement of onlookers, Bob has been known to call for security as he proceeds to cash a $27 triple.
They have owned a number of horses together. They are often seen carrying on at the track as if they never left their teenage years.
Here is their take on the 145th Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve:
PEDULLA: Bob, I know you feel as badly for Richard Mandella as I do. This sure looked to be his year with Omaha Beach but now a great trainer and one of the finest people in the game is still looking for that first Derby winner. With Omaha Beach out, I am picking Roadster. I loved the way he came from off the pace to win the Santa Anita Derby and I think he has shown the most upside of superstar trainer Bob Baffert’s three runners. Of all of the horses in the field, I don’t think any of them possess his acceleration.
EHALT: Well, Thomas, we’re on the same wavelength, up to a point. I’m also backing Baffert to complete the six-pack of Derby wins, only my choice is Game Winner. I’m just not sure if Roadster is ready to tackle a 20- or 19-horse field after battling a combined 14 horses in his last three races. I know the same could be said of Justify, but life is different on the front end. So, back to my pick, I know Game Winner is 0-for-2 this year, but those races were a means to an end, and the end is the winner’s circle at the Kentucky Derby. I’m a big believer in 2-year-old champions who can stay at the top or near the top of the division at three and Game Winner fits that bill.
PEDULLA: I know it is rather boring to pick Baffert one-two but then, as you well know, I am not exactly a thrill a minute. I cannot get past Improbable and would not be at all surprised if he won. He shows a win at Churchill Downs, which can be a funky track for some horses, and, more importantly, he ran a good second in the mud in the Arkansas Derby after acting up terribly in the gate.
EHALT: OK, we have all of the Baffert bases covered — and don’t be rough on yourself, I do remember how you would turn into the Tony Manero of Riverdale whenever “Disco Duck” came on the radio — so in order to avoid being a cluck, let me spread the wealth a bit. I was very impressed with Code of Honor’s victory in the Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes and believe he had little chance trying to close in the Xpressbet Florida Derby against slow fractions on that racetrack. He’s worked well since then and, if he had soured at all, I’m sure Shug McGaughey would have given him a rest. Thirty years after it was a Triple Crown dominated by Shug and Charlie Whittingham, it will be Shug and Baffert occupying center stage.
PEDULLA: Like Mandella, Bill Mott is a trainer we greatly admire who does not have a Derby winner. I do not think Tacitus can get there, but Juddmonte sure knows how to breed a classic horse just as surely as Mott knows how to train one. He did not have the easiest trip in the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets but still got the job done for Jose Ortiz and he retains his good services.
EHALT: Some agreement here. If it rains, I’m sure Juddmonte and Mott would have loved to see Hidden Scroll in the Derby instead of an allowance race on the undercard, but I’m confident that Tacitus will represent them quite well. His rough trip in the Wood showed that he has speed and tenacity and both of those qualities can come in quite handy on the first Saturday in May.
PEDULLA: It’s Tax time. Bob, we’ve had our share of success in the claiming game but, sad to say, never snagged one quite as good as Tax. Although a gelding, he’s sure worth more than the $50,000 tag attached to him by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider at Keeneland last October. He’s shown a great deal of heart for his new connections, is training sharply and he will get the mile and a quarter.
EHALT: Went through a lot of options to fill this spot on the ticket and came to the same choice as you. What do they say about great minds? When you find out, let me know, because it has nothing to do with this story or the two of us. Anyway, Tax was running for the points in the Wood and may not be as forwardly placed as he was in that Wood. That may allow him to take back a bit, avoid the inherent problems of breaking from post-position two and have something left for the final furlong. Might also dabble with Vekoma, Gray Magician and Plus Que Parfait (it it’s wet) in this spot, because you know how I love to dabble. See you in Baltimore!