On the surface, being ranked #10 in a twenty-horse field may not seem like much of a compliment, but considering the excellent overall depth of the 2012 Kentucky Derby, this placement means that I consider Went the Day Well to be one of a dozen or more horses in with a realistic chance to become racing’s newest star. And keep in mind, that tenth position is where the son of Proud Citizen landed in my last edition Down and Derby, but the way he continues to impress, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is not a whole lot higher by the time May 5 rolls around.
In his final serious exercise before the big day, the English import worked five furlongs in 1:01 over a fast track with last year’s Kentucky Derby winning jockey John Velazquez in the irons. Owned by Team Valor International and Mark Ford, Went the Day Well was outfitted with blinkers for the first time as he turned in the sixth fastest of the 53 five furlongs works this morning at Churchill Downs. Once again working with stablemate, Crimson China, Went the Day Well started a length behind before going right on by to finish three lengths ahead of the older stakes winner. Trainer Graham Motion was pleased with the move.
“I thought he went super,” said Motion. “John felt that he was better on the dirt here than he was last week on the synthetic (Keeneland).”
I held reservations on Went that Day Well because I really feel he has not run against near the competition he will face next week, but clearly there is a lot to like about the horse with the same connections of last year’s Derby winner, Animal Kingdom. He comes into the Kentucky Derby off an easy victory in the Spiral on the synthetic main track at Turfway Park, so if Velazquez is right, and this is truly a dirt horse, his potential would seem to be very high.
If the Kentucky Derby were a beauty contest, Went the Day Well would rival Union Rags as the horse to beat. I was enamored with the colt when I first saw him up close in the Turfway Park paddock, and judging from the video I have seen of him in the last week, he is looking even better and more filled out now. This actually make sense, as not only does he appear to be thriving ever since arriving to Kentucky, but he is still putting on weight and muscle lost when he went through an excruciatingly long stint in quarantine late last year.
Like Animal Kingdom did, he has turf experience, and a Spiral win on his form before the Derby, but unlike that one, he has dirt experience as well, including a maiden win at Gulfstream Park. Now it appears that he is getting over the Churchill strip well. He also has experience in large fields. In one of his two starts in England, he came flying late to just missing a maiden race at Haydock in a field of 14.
What does Motion think of his own chances to win the Derby back-to-back? “I feel good
about him and I feel good about running him in this race. And, I feel a whole
lot better after the work today.”
What does all this add up to in handicapping the Derby? Often the Derby comes down to which horse is peaking at the perfect time, and like his trainer, I am liking Went the Day Well more and more with every passing day that went well.