April 2014 Issue - page 7

April 2014
Page 7
Gotham Stakes winner Samraat (left), trained by Rick Violette, is headed to 140th running of Kentucky
Derby, May 3. He has five wins in as many starts.
Photo courtesy of NYRA
Top Billing Off Derby Trail, Samraat,
Ring Weekend Headed to Louisville
by Terry Conway
Fair Hill trainers and colts
that spent time at the premier
thoroughbred training center are
making noise in the 2014 Derby
preps. Both Graham Motion’s
Ring Weekend and Rick Violette’s
Samraat punched their ticket to
Louisville in March races.
Give it up for Samraat, one
hard-nosed colt. Race fans will
be hard-pressed to come up with
a Derby prep finish as thrilling as
the one in the $500,000 Gotham
Stakes run at 1 1/8 miles at Aq-
ueduct Racetrack. Coming from
slightly off the pace the colt spot-
ted weight to Uncle Sigh (five
pounds) and In Trouble (three
pounds), while jockey Jose Ortiz
showed the utmost confidence
hand-riding Samraat to the finish,
turning back the inside challenges
of Uncle Sigh and In Trouble.
Samraat improved his record
to five wins in as many starts.
With the victory, he earned 50
points in the Kentucky Derby
qualifying system, and as of the
second week of March the son of
Noble Causeway led all horses
with 60 points.
“He proved he is a real
horse,” said trainer Violette, who
sends some of his horses to Bob
Triola at Perfect Sky I barn at
Fair Hill. “This was a good field,
a deep field of horses.”
There has been only one Go-
tham winner to go on to win the
Run for the Roses, and that dates
back to the mighty Secretariat
in 1973. That daunting statistic
didn’t faze Violette. He’s got
Derby fever.
“I’d be lying if I said we
weren’t already thinking about
it,” the trainer confessed.
In his first three outings,
Samraat led every step of the
way as he defeated New York-
bred rivals by a combined 25
lengths. He has proven more
handy in a pair of graded stakes
attempts, settling nicely just off
the pace in both Gotham and the
Grade-3 Withers Stakes where
Samraat and Uncle Sigh battled
determinedly through the stretch
before Samraat edged away by a
length at the wire.
“A couple of races before
the Derby this probably toughens
him, it was another stretch-long,
hard duel, but Jose never hit
him,” the trainer said. “He’s an
honest racehorse and there might
be a little left.”
Samraat earned a third con-
secutive 99 BRIS Speed rating
for the neck decision in the Go-
tham. Violette’s Financial Mogul,
fourth in the race was at Fair Hill
for the month of February.
Fair Hill trainer Tony
Dutrow did a bang-up job getting
In Trouble ready for the Gotham.
He finished a neck behind runner-
up Uncle Sigh, making his first
start since winning the six-fur-
long Futurity on September 29.
The Wood Memorial on April 5
is next for the top three finishers
from the Gotham.
In 2013 things on the Derby
Trail couldn’t have gone any
smoother for trainer Shug Mc-
Gaughey. His colt Orb scored solid
victories in a pair of key Derby
prep races in Florida that catapulted
the horse to a thrilling come from
behind victory in the 139th running
of the Run of the Roses.
This year, it’s a whole differ-
ent story.
Top Billing, one of the most
touted Kentucky Derby contend-
ers, was knocked off the Derby
Trail when he suffered a cracked
cannon bone in his right front leg
during a routine half-mile workout
at Palm Meadows Training Center
in south Florida on March 8.
“He worked fine and gal-
loped out nicely but you could
see he was not comfortable on the
way back to the barn,” said Mc-
Gaughey. “We took him back to
the barn, x-rayed it and found it.”
Honor Code
Four days later McGaughey’s
other Derby prospect Honor Code
was making his first start since
winning the Grade-2 Remsen
Stakes defeating Cairo Prince at
Aqueduct last November. The
Lane’s End Racing and Dell
Ridge Farm’s colt was making his
fourth start. He missed ten days
of training due to minor bruising
(Continued on page 34)
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