Kentucky Derby 2019 Daily: West Point partners ‘Still Dreaming’

January 13, 2019 01:29pm

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.

Terry Finley, president and CEO of West Point Thoroughbreds, in a conversation this week named five 3-year-old horses who carry hopes of qualifying for the 2019 Kentucky Derby in the black and gold silks. One of them — the Flatter colt named Still Dreaming — underscores the mission statement of one of America’s foremost racing partnerships.

In 2017, West Point Thoroughbreds bought into the eventual winner, Always Dreaming, and it’s a goal to deliver that experience again. The 2018 Derby brought another thrill with the group owning a share of My Boy Jack. And this year?

“It will be the first time that we’ve had this kind of buildup,” Finley said.

As opposed to joining in late on an established contender, West Point has developed a roster of its own purchases, with Finley and company now tasked with finding the right paths to Churchill Downs.

The list begins with Gunmetal Gray, winner of last Saturday’s Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park. A son of Exchange Rate, he went last to first under jockey Mike Smith. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer then made multiple mentions that Gunmetal Gray could ship out for his next start.

“The preference is just to find the best spot,” Finley said. “I know that’s kind of obvious, but we’re in a little bit of a different position now than we were before the race. When you’re in my position, you’re thinking about the (Bob) Baffert brigade. That’s what that operation makes you do — come out off your game.

“You’ve got horses that normally would have stayed that are going somewhere. Now we’re a little less afraid, if you will, but where else?”

Finley mentioned Louisiana’s Fair Grounds — which draws races much further in advance than its peer tracks — as an option.

“You can handicap and see where we’re at,” Finley said. “We’d love to stay in California. That’s the long and short of it, but we’re going to do the smart thing.”

One colt definite for a West Coast start is Galilean, another in Hollendorfer’s care. The California-bred posted a breakout win Dec. 19 at Los Alamitos, taking the King Glorious Stakes by nine lengths.

It’s possible Galilean, a $600,000 son of Uncle Mo, targets the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis (G3) on Feb. 2. But it’s more likely he runs Feb. 18 in a more lucrative, yet softer spot against state-bred competition in the $200,000 California Cup Derby.

Meanwhile, Still Dreaming, trained by Graham Motion, broke his maiden Jan. 1 with authority at Laurel Park. He shipped to Tampa Bay Downs this week and will target preps there beginning with the Feb. 9 Sam F. Davis (G3).

“He’s a big, beautiful horse with absolutely the right kind of mind and certainly the pedigree to match,” Finley said. “He’s a really cool horse that we think has a shot to make some noise this year.”

Two other West Point Thoroughbred runners to watch into the spring are Replete and Twelfth Labour, both maidens trained by Dallas Stewart.

And so the work begins.

“Once you have the ability to say you’ve bene involved in the Derby and we’ve had success in the Derby, that’s what people a lot of times are going to ask,” Finley said.

The conversation usually goes: “Tell me about the experience, tell me how you got there, and tell me how I can get there.”

By the morning of May 5, perhaps Finley will have a new answer.

Derby links

 Our Derby Radar introduces a new name to know: Tikhvin Flew. Yes, we explained the meaning behind that name. Bloom Racing, the team behind horses like Snapper Sinclair and Midnight Bisou, will target a points race next.

 Two Derby-related guests joined a new edition of The Ron Flatter Racing Pod, with DraftKings’ Johnny Avello discussing his newly released future odds and owner Mick Ruis looking back at what could have been with Bolt d’Oro.

 Trainer John Servis, who may have a champion as well as the early Kentucky Oaks favorite in Jaywalk, could also take a shot at the Derby with Lucky Lee, who he told the Daily Racing Form “relished going two turns” and will do so again in the upcoming Withers Stakes (G3).


The works

Big Scott Daddy — The Dec. 26 maiden winner at Santa Anita had Mike Smith in the irons and looks like a candidate to continue on in the Robert B. Lewis. His second work back Friday was clocked in 1:02.20 for six furlongs at Santa Anita.

Epic Dreamer — The beaten Springboard Mile favorite has worked twice now for trainer Kelly Breen at Florida’s Palm Meadows Training Center, where on Friday he lengthened to 6/8 of a mile in 1:13.80.

Harvey Wallbanger — Already with Signalman and Cairo Cat on the Derby trail, Kenny McPeek could send this one in a prep, too. He was runner-up to some talented horses before breaking his maiden fourth out at Churchill Downs. Friday’s five furlongs in 1:01.49 at Gulfstream Park represented his third drill since the win.

Instagrand — The workload upped from three furlongs to a half mile on Friday for the unbeaten colt, who breezed in 49.80, continuing to come back from a layoff that dates back to August. No next race plans are set.

Metropol — One of a slew of Baffert maiden winners, this one missed a planned start in the Bob Hope Stakes (G3) due to a temperature but has worked consistently since then, on Friday measuring 4/8 in a speedy 48.20 at Santa Anita.

In case you missed it…

Thursday’s Derby Daily report featured an early look at the Jan. 19 Lecomte Stakes (G2) and Jan. 25 Smarty Jones Stakes, the next two Derby points preps.


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