Trainer Shane Wilson has never had a horse in the Kentucky Derby. Until last year, the trainer had never run a horse at Churchill Downs.
It remains early in the racing year, but thanks to Rightandjust, a $50,000 claim from Louie Roussel who won an allowance race at Fair Grounds on Saturday — beating two horses (Manor House and Beep Beep) that scratched from the Grade 3 Lecomte — the Derby dream seems closer than ever.
“You don’t really think you’d ever claim one that would be a Derby horse or something like that,” Wilson said. “But with him running the way he did the other day, everybody’s dreaming.”
According to Wilson, the son of Awesome Again out of Pussyfoot, by Tiznow, will run in the Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 13 at Fair Grounds for his stakes debut. The race is on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, offering points payouts of 50, 20, 10 and five to the top four finishers, respectively.
The race will be a 1 1/18-mile test for the colt who seemed built for distance in the 1 1/16-mile race on Saturday. Rightandjust went off as a 22-1 long shot in that race, but Wilson said the victory did not surprise him.
“His number when he broke his maiden was consistent with the rest of those,” Wilson said. “... He had already run a mile and a sixteenth over this track, which I thought was an advantage he had over some of them, some of the rest of them were stretching out for the first time, two times, and we felt confident that he could.”
Rightandjust came out of the race in perfect condition, the trainer said.
So far, the most successful horse Wilson has trained was Mocito Rojo, a multiple graded stakes winner, who came to him after being claimed for $10,000 in 2016 at Delta Downs. That horse shares an owner with Rightandjust in Wayne Davis.
Wilson said the colt caught their eye with both his numbers and pedigree while finishing fourth his first time out, going six furlongs on Nov. 27 at Fair Grounds.
“You got Breeders’ Cup winners all over the pedigree,” Wilson said. “I thought he looked like a young horse that could probably get better stretching him out. Then when he ran like he did when we took him, of course everybody was impressed by the way he broke his maiden.”
Regardless of whether he ends up in the Run for the Roses on May 1, Wilson said the horse looks to be exactly the type that can thrive for him and Davis.
“He wants to claim young horses first time out or second start,” Wilson said. “Hopefully they can develop into something that we can travel with like we did with Mocito Rojo.”