There are worse things than having a reputation for upsetting the apple cart.
Over the past few years when Triple Crown races are on the line, none have disrupted the expected the way trainer Dallas Stewart and his charges have. In 2013, he saddled 34-1 shot Golden Soul to a runner-up finish behind Orb in the Kentucky Derby, and 12 months later Stewart’s 37-1 shot Commanding Curve ran second behind California Chrome on the first Saturday in May.
Couple the above with Stewart-trainee Tale of Verve getting up for second in the 2015 Preakness Stakes at 28-1, and it has become a bet in itself to try and guess who the next classic gate-crasher will be to come out of his barn.
Fun as it has been, Stewart isn’t about simply breaking up the party anymore. On Saturday, he will lead over multiple graded stakes-placed Tom’s Ready for the 142nd Kentucky Derby with full intent of shocking the racing world.
“We’re going for the win,” Stewart said. “We’re not here to participate. We’re going for the money. This is the situation. I’m trying to win it, and if he’s good enough, he’ll win it, because he’s ready. So forget all about this ‘Let’s just be in the damn race.’ That’s not what I’m all about.”
Where both Golden Soul and Commanding Curve needed defections to draw into the Kentucky Derby field, Tom’s Ready didn’t need to sweat his way into the first leg of the Triple Crown. Owned by G M B Racing — the nom de course for Tom and Gayle Benson, owners of the New Orleans Saints (NFL) and Pelicans (NBA) — Tom’s Ready has one win from nine career starts but owns a pair of runner-up finishes in the Grade II Louisiana Derby and Grade III Lecomte Stakes this year.
The son of More Than Ready is 0-for-5 in graded stakes but did break his maiden over the Churchill Downs surface going 7 furlongs last Sept. 26. Getting that foundation over the winter is a key part of how Stewart develops his classic contenders. And even if Tom’s Ready hasn’t broken through yet in stakes company, he is at least as far along in his development — if not further — than Golden Soul or Commanding Curve were at this stage.
“I think he’s right on with them,” Stewart said. “They stepped it up 2-3 weeks prior to the Derby and we pushed them and they responded. This horse is similar.
“It’s a horse race, and you need to be ready for it. That’s why the works have been stiff. It’s just been steady and strong the whole six weeks.”
Oscar Nominated on the grounds
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Oscar Nominated, the lone supplemental nomination at $200,000, arrived at Churchill Downs’ Barn 27 early Wednesday from his home base at the nearby Trackside Training Center. The son of Kitten’s Joy, who was fitted with new shoes a few hours after his arrival, did not train this morning, but will go to the track to gallop Thursday.
Oscar Nominated prompted the Ramseys to put up the supplemental fee after he won the Grade III Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on April 2. The Mike Maker-trainee has not raced over dirt in his seven career starts, not that it has lessened the optimism of Ken Ramsey one bit.
“I think if the track comes up sloppy that would put him in the top five or at least put him in the money,” said Ramsey, who has started seven horses previously in the Derby and is seeking his first classic win.
Owners of Brody’s Cause pledge share of Derby earnings
Dennis and Susan Albaugh, owners of multiple Grade I winner Brody’s Cause, announced they will donate his share of the purse, $500,000, to the Des Moines Area Community College Foundation should the son of Giant’s Causeway win the Kentucky Derby.
“This pledge combines two of my passions, DMACC and horse racing,” said Dennis Albaugh, a 1972 DMACC graduate. “It also offers another opportunity for me to share my successes with the college that started me on my career path many years ago. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my DMACC education. I’m proud to say DMACC is my university.”