Kentucky Derby 2019 Daily: Signalman has next race options

February 09, 2019 04:09pm
Signalman_horse_Kentucky Jockey Club 2018_615x400
Photo: Coady Photography

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.

With Harvey Wallbanger on the Kentucky Derby 2019 trail following his Holy Bull (G2) upset and Signalman working toward his 3-year-old debut, trainer Kenny McPeek has “good problem” – separating his two Derby hopefuls from each other.

McPeek this week told the host of Iowa-based KXnO's Horse Racing Talk that both colts will be nominated to the Fountain of Youth (G2) on March 2 at Gulfstream Park and the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on March 9 at Tampa Bay Downs.

McPeek could also wait until Gulfstream’s Florida Derby (G1) on March 30 to run Harvey Wallbanger again. 


“I really liked the way he ran off the layoff, and I think maybe bringing him back in the Florida Derby would be ideal, but none of it’s set in stone,” he said. “Right now we got plenty of time. We got four weeks. There’s no pressure.”


Harvey Wallbanger ran second three times before breaking his maiden Nov. 17 at Churchill Downs. He rallied from last in the Holy Bull to upset the top three choices – Maximus Mischief, Mihos and Federal Case – all based on the East Coast. Only Maximus Mischief hit the board.


Harvey Wallbanger’s odds were 29-1.


“I don’t think they give the Kentucky outfits quite enough respect,” McPeek said. “He had never run a bad race, and I think the hype machine gets a little bit loud when it comes to maybe the East Coast and the West Coast. We’ll make them pay attention now, won’t we?”

Signalman last raced Nov. 24 in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, earning his first stakes victory over the sloppy surface. He was also second and third respectively in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

He’s had three published works since returning to training, including a half-mile breeze in 46.63 at Gulfstream Park Feb. 2.

“I was not happy about that actually,” McPeek said. “He needed a maintenance half-mile and I gave instructions for the guys to go 49, and they went 46 and three, which was extremely fast for his first half-mile.”


Signalman is still on target for a March return. And should Harvey Wallbanger look ready for the Fountain of Youth, Signalman could head to the Tampa Bay Derby.

“I think I like Tampa’s track a little bit better for him because he’s a big, powerful horse and I think he’ll get over that good,” McPeek added.

Scouting Reports

Between big weekends on the Derby trail, we completed the latest round of regional reports detailing the names to know...

East Coast | Central Division | West Coast

Coliseum back in San Vicente

Coliseum will face a short field Sunday as a heavy favorite in the San Vicente Stakes (G2). Then, ideally, connections will stretch him back out. Trainer Bob Baffert discussed with the Santa Anita notes team the decision to back up his runner to seven furlongs:

“He got off slow and got behind horses,” Baffert said of the Tapit colt's try last time in the one-mile Sham Stakes (G3) in January. “We tried rating him, and we're still trying to learn about the horse. Going long first time, you sort of have to be in the race. He got behind and wasn’t enjoying it.

“His psyche was off, and he didn’t know what was going on. He didn’t get beat that far, but it wasn’t a real strong race, either. He’s come back and I’m trying some different things. Mike (Smith) has worked him a couple times but he’s still not breaking that well.

“He needs to get away a little bit better, but going seven eighths at least there’s more speed and it gives him a better chance. We’ve got to teach him to settle and this is the only time you can do that, because they don’t have to shoot into a turn right away.”

RELATED: San Vicente Stakes analysis


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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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