Kentucky Derby 2019 Daily: Scrutiny on Vekoma's stride

April 13, 2019 09:02pm
Kentucky Derby 2019 Daily: Scrutiny on Vekoma's stride
Photo: Courtesy of Keeneland

Welcome to Horse Racing Nation’s Kentucky Derby Daily, which will each day leading up to the May 4 race at Churchill Downs detail all the news and notes related to contenders in one convenient space.

Just as Vekoma emerged the winner of last weekend’s Blue Grass Stakes (G2), so did a reason to discount him in the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

The Candy Ride colt won stretching to 1 1/8 miles despite a unique front end action that sees his left leg bow in and out, from some angles appearing to cross over his right.

“There has been a lot of talk about it,” trainer George Weaver told the NYRA Press Office this week, “but I'd rather have a horse that moves like him, and can run like him, than a horse that moves perfectly but can't run.”


So the R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables runner is headed to Churchill Downs after training up to the Derby at Weaver’s Palm Beach Downs base in Florida. Plus, with Vekoma lightly raced — the Blue Grass was his fourth career start, and second this year — Weaver also considers his horse a Preakness Stakes candidate.

"He's grown up and developed some,” Weaver said. “He’s a May 22 foal, so he's a later foal. Technically, he's not even 3 yet. He’s done well in his development.”

Vekoma broke his maiden and posted strong speed figures on debut Sept. 23 at Belmont Park. From there, he won the Nashua (G3) at Aqueduct, then went on the shelf with patient handling until returning to be third March 2 in the Fountain of Youth (G2).

In the Blue Grass, Vekoma stalked and then pressed pace-setting Somelikeithotbrown, going by for a 3 1/2-length win at Keeneland. Then conversation about his way of running began.


"It's just the way he goes,” Weaver said. “He’s always moved like that. I guess you would think it's less than ideal action, but he's always been a real sound horse and he covers a lot of ground. That's just the way he runs.

"You wouldn't know it watching him walk. Perhaps he just moves that way out of his shoulders.”

Weaver anticipates working Vekoma twice before the Kentucky Derby, with both of those drills in Florida.

"There's so many things that go into reaching the level he's reached so far,” the trainer said. “You have to get lucky, they have to stay sound and we're fortunate the way things have gone. On a talent level, he's always acted like he had some.”

Derby links

 Our Arkansas Derby guide brings together all you need to know about Saturday’s final major prep in one place.

 War of Will has a big question to answer in the Derby, but his bullet workout Saturday showed he has plenty of speed left.

 Kiaran McLaughlin is planning a light breeze schedule for Haikal as the graded stakes winner exits the Wood Memorial (G2).


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Horse Racing Nation's Kentucky Derby daily blog counts down to the May 4, 2019, race at Churchill Downs with a once-a-day update on all things Derby. Get the latest news and chatter, workout reports and a look at fields for upcoming preps all in once place.

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