One year after finishing second behind Stay Thirsty in the Grade 3
Gotham with Norman Asbjornson at odds of 47-1, Maryland-based trainer Chris
Grove returns to the race with Pretension, who despite his strong record could
be another runner with long odds.
“I’m surprised I was 20-1 [on the morning line], but who
the hell is Chris Grove?” the trainer joked Friday morning.
Owned by Irving Kidwell, who has raced for more than 30 years as Kidwells
Petite Stable, Pretension ought to be a little more familiar to Aqueduct
followers than Norman Asbjornson, who showed up for the Gotham after runs at
Penn National and Parx Racing.
Pretension, a New York-bred son of Bluegrass Cat, comes in following a
sharp score over Swag Daddy in the restricted Sweet Envoy Stakes on February 11
over the Aqueduct inner track. Swag Daddy had beaten Pretension by a head in
the Damon Runyon, also for statebreds.
The Damon Runyon was Pretension’s first try around two turns
after a 4 ½-furlong and a 5 ½-furlong sprint.
“I knew he wanted to go long,” Grove said. “That
first race going long was when I was most excited. He should have won that day.
Swag Daddy caught him on the last jump and beat him a head. He came back going
long at Laurel
and the 3-5 favorite got loose that day, and we spotted him three to five
lengths. We made a run at him, but if we had gone head-and-head with him, I
think the outcome would have been different.”
With five exacta finishes in five starts, Pretension gives Grove
confidence, and the chestnut colt has improved his Beyer Speed Figure in every
outing. Grove realizes beating 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen
is a tall order. Tall, but not necessarily impossible.
“I’m sure it’s Hansen and then wide open but [Hansen]
being out there in the 12 hole, it’s going to be difficult for him to
overcome,” Grove said. “[Pretension] won’t be too far back.
He’s got a nice post position [No. 4]. He proved at Laurel he will come off of it. This colt has
run, and he has run all the way to the wire. Like a basketball team, he’s
starting to play all four quarters, not just once in a while.”