Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Eight three-year-old colts and geldings may have been entered today for Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, but the majority of attention will fall on a pair of familiar foes. Will Take Charge and Moreno tangled not once, but twice at Saratoga, and now the pair is taking their show in the road to Parx. In the Jim Dandy, Will Take Charge rolled by Moreno late to grab second behind Palace Malice. Then, in one of the best three-year-old fields of the year, Will Take Charge passed Moreno even later, this time for the win in the prestigious Travers. Fresh off that race, it’s no wonder that the contentious pair will garner most of the headlines leading up to the nine furlong affair. That honor may have been earned, but this year’s Pennsylvania Derby is far from a two-horse race.
As a matter of fact, coming directly out of the tough ten furlong Mid-Summer Derby, the two favorites may have their work cut out for them on Saturday. The other six entrants, (Romansh, Transparent, Speak Logistics, Java's War, Battier, and Fury Kapcori), all have things to like in their past performances, and together represent a strong cast to chose from if you believe that the Pennsylvania Derby might be ripe for an upset, as it was last year with Handsome Mike. The one I like best of the six is Fury Kapcori.
Little did I know when I wrote the article below a few weeks ago that it may come true so quickly, and in a million dollar race yet. Since I posted my positive feelings on Fury Kapcori, he has rebounded with a couple of solid works for trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer. Will Take Charge may be the class of the race, and Moreno may be one tough speed horse, but beware the California shipper. I believe Fury Kapcori is for real.
Last October the 6th, a promising young colt won nicely in his first try around two-turns in the Charlie Palmer Futurity at the Big Fresno Fair. Granted Fresno is not exactly a hotbed for future stars, but Fury Kapcori seemed far different than your typical runner on the California Fair circuit. The Charlie Palmer win followed a six-length wire-to-wire maiden victory at Golden Gate Fields, for the $100,000 Keeneland yearling purchase, in his second career start. As a son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Tiznow, out of a broodmare by Kentucky Derby winning, Go For Gin, it certainly appeared that Fury Kapcori had a bright future. Nearly a year later, and after a loss yesterday at Del Mar, he has not won again since. That, of course, is only a small and incomplete part of this story.
When lightly-raced, but clearly talented, Holy Lute got to the wire a head in front of Fury Kapcori to win yesterday’s El Cajon Stakes, it marked the fourth consecutive loss for the 6-5 favorite. Yet still, I find myself as confident as ever that the Charlie Palmer Futurity winner is going to be a good one. A quick rewind to last fall helps explain why.
Leaving the corn dogs and cotton candy of the Big Fresno Fair, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer brought his young charge straight to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Not for the swimming pools and movie stars, but rather for a pair of important late-season juvenile races. In his first try in the big time, Fury Kapcori looked like a horse with still plenty to learn. Giving jockey Joe Talamo all he wanted, the 9-2 Real Quiet Stakes runner dragged the jockey into a speed duel after being steadied early. He had every right to back out, but a game, half-length, second place finish demonstrated instead that the Fresno stakes winner could run.
Next came the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity. Again battling it out early, and this time through fractions too fast for his own good, the 16-1 long shot never gave in. Finally wore down by the very talented Violence, Fury Kapcori proved much the best of the rest of the 11-horse field. His talent, tenacity, and my belief that he wanted to run long, earned him a lofty position on my winterbook Kentucky Derby rankings.
That dream was not to be, as injury would knock him of the trail. Fury Kapcori would make his awaited return to the races in a six-furlong sprint at Del Mar on August 1. The race was truly only a tightener, and a troubled trip did not help the matter. Beaten less than four lengths in the race against olders that went in a snappy 1:09 flat, the promising bay owned by Rick Awtrey, George Todaro, and Jerry Hollendorfer, should have been ready for his second start of the year in the El Cajon. He was.
Pushed out on both turns, and while he is demonstrating the ability to be a bit more relaxed early this year, he was still a little too close to a strong early pace, Fury Kapcori looked to be the best horse yesterday. No offense to the winner, who also looks to have a bright future, but Holy Lute jumped him on the turn, before seeing his sudden lead steadily diminish late. Graded stakes winner, Tiz a Minister, was a non-threatening third.
So, while the record may read 0-for-4 since last year’s Charlie Palmer Futurity, I love what I see from Fury Kapcori. This is a colt I expect to become a major winner, and one in which, I can’t wait to see run long.