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HRN Original Blog:
The Kentucky Derby Post

Finnegans Wake Holds and Divine Oath Closes at Arlington

Finnegans Wake AP 615 X 400
Photo: Four Footed Fotos


Intuition can take a jockey to irregular places. But, when they win a formerly risky move becomes a brilliant decision. Today at Arlington Park Victor Espinoza returned to Chicago for the first time since 2007. In doing so, and as veteran riders always do, he looked like he’d been here all summer long aboard the winner of the G3 Arlington Handicap, Finnegan’s Wake


Breaking from post position number 5 in the six horse field, Espinoza got him away from the gate clean and placed him just outside of the pace setter, Avanzare, who led the field through slow fractions over the turf course. A split of 26.36 was recorded at the quarter pole followed by fractions of 52.77 and 1:17.64.


Although there was very little activity through the backstretch the race got turned up as they rounded the final turn and headed for home. Finnegans Wake made the move by Avanzare who faded back to 4th. Once he got there it was an all out battle to hang on.


Sitting in last through the first mile Admiral Kitten found his hole and made a gutsy rally. It was a bold and decisive move but in the end he missed by a head.  


Rider Julien Leparoux was disappointed after the race but did not hesitate to credit the trip he had aboard the colt owned by Ken Ramsey and trained by Michael Maker.


“There was no pace. It happens sometimes in a six-horse field. That’s the way he wants to run. He came running very good. He ran big and finished good. It was a good trip.”


Finnegans Wake gets all the credit for making his lead last versus a very respectable challenger. The strategy and ride by Espinoza was well played. “I was really close to the pace” said Espinoza. “I wanted to be able to put him in the race. It was very close but he had right on time at the wire.”


Finally, while the pace was the downfall for Admiral Kitten the morning line favorite War Dancer faced a different type of challenge that proved to be too difficult to recover from. “We lost the race because of the break”, said the jockey Alan Garcia. “As soon as the break, he stumbled badly out of the gate.” But as also noted by Garcia, “He did kick well” and that was enough to get up for third.


As for the Kentucky Bred by Powerscourt and Sadler’s Wells, it was a monumental move for Team Donegal as Finnegans Wake scored his first Graded Stakes victory in sixteen tries. “He’s been knocking on the door for so long”, said owner Jerry Crawford. “Victor couldn’t have ridden him better. Dale had him ready today”


It is now his third lifetime win and first since June 2012. Finally, it’s the first ever Arlington Handicap wins for Victor Espinoza, Trainer Dale Romans and Donegal Racing. The winning time was 2:05.42.












The 9th race on today's card was the third of four Grade III races on the turf, the 1 3/16 Mile American Derby. It was also the most loaded field with a total of 10 three-yr-olds all racing for a chance at establishing themselves as legitimate turf horses for the remainder of the 2014 season and beyond.

While there were so many worthy candidates it was Divine Oath that rose to the occasion. With a relentless kick down the stretch I credit the score by the Todd Pletcher trained colt as the rally of the day. 


Breaking strong from the gate and leading the field through first turn and backstretch was Ghostly Wonder. The opening fractions were modest; 23.60, 48.54 and 1:13.46. While the leader wasn't able to hang on and gave way, the horse following him closely was in a perfect position to win.


Our Channel with James Graham aboard stalked gamely from 2nd place before clearing down the stretch. Within the final furlong only one late challenger appeared along the rail but it wasn't easy to tell who would be willing enough to score.


Unlike the result in the G3 Arlington Handicap the leader was too hard pressed down the stretch and the horse that was rallying was much the best.


It was an excellent ride by Florent Geroux who positioned him nicely in 6th before calling on him at the top of the lane. When the leads changed the furious rally went into high gear.


"There was plenty of pace in the race" said Geroux. "It worked out good and were able to go through." 


The morning line favorite Schoolofhardrocks was in it, but couldn't find the right gear to drive it home. He was able to rate well through the opening fractions but he wasn't game enough to catch Our Channel or make a late bid alongside Divine Oath. Schoolofhardrocks finished 4th in his first career race outside of California. 


The final time was 1:56.50. The score was the first graded stakes win for the colt by Broken Vow, and his third overall win in 5 career starts. 


And finally, it was once again a first for all of the winning connections. Jockey Florent Geroux, Todd Pletcher and Let's Go Stable have now officially won the G3 American Derby at Arlington Park.  





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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer – Chicago, IL


Growing up I spent a lot of days in the Bluegrass State. Although I was born and raised north of the mighty Ohio River in Southwest Indiana, I was still next door to thoroughbred racing; Ellis Park, Henderson, KY 


Likewise, the first Saturday in May was always a celebrated family event. As my two brothers and I got older the battle for picking the next winner began to heat up. In 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance. Since then I’ve made it an annaual tradition because there’s no other city or weekend in the racing world like Louisville, KY on Derby Day. 


Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, following a champions trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. The coverage begins when the 2-yr-old preps commence but it does not quit racing until all results are official, the field is set, the picks are made and the roses are worn. But that’s not all because the road doesn’t stop on the First Saturday in May. The elusive quest for the next Triple Crown has reached 35 years so I invite my readers to remain in the saddle through all three legs as we await the next Champion of Champions. Cheers.





2013 Kentucky Derby