Kentucky Derby 2019 Radar: Instagrand back in training

November 21, 2018 12:34pm
Instagrand, the 2-for-2 son of Into Mischief who emerged over the summer as the early 2019 Kentucky Derby favorite, is back from a freshening ordered by Larry Best and training toward a 3-year-old campaign.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said the colt arrived Monday to Santa Anita Park and was scheduled to tack walk Tuesday, slowly gearing up since his last start Aug. 11 in Del Mar’s Best Pal (G2). That race, Instagrand won by an easy 10 1/4 lengths, adding to his 10-length debut score in a June 29 maiden special weight race at Los Alamitos.

“I don’t have a race in mind,” Hollendorfer said of Instagrand’s future. “He’s been out for a while. You have horses that come back and just march straight ahead, and then you have other ones that you have to train a little longer to get them ready to run.

“He’ll tell us what he can do and when he can do it.”

Best, who campaigns horses under his OXO Equine stable name, also owns Instilled Regard, his first Kentucky Derby starter who finished fourth in this year’s race. The odds say Instagrand could do a few spots better, as he’s already a 10-1 co-second choice among individual interests in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager that opens Thursday.

Instagrand had targeted the Del Mar Futurity (G1) until removed from training by Best, the former senior vice president of Boston Scientific, which develops medical devices. The owner said in a September interview with BloodHorse that Instagrand wasn't injured, but rather “runs so powerful and so hard, and if I'm not careful, he'll hurt himself.”

Best also said, “I don’t believe in the Triple Crown,” wanting to preserve his charge for a 4-year-old campaign.

The Hall of Famer Hollendorfer’s take? “Everybody’s different.”

“Larry Best is the kind of person that started out very modestly and has been hugely successful. It’s no wonder that he thinks his ideas are good,” the trainer added of Best, who has continued taking foothold in the sport, purchasing some of the fall’s highest-priced weanlings and yearlings at auction.

“And actually, for as long as he’s been in horse racing, he has a grasp on how things work, and he’s trying to learn all the time. Some of his things that he wanted to put past me we’ve disagreed on, but we’ve gotten along and tried to do the things he thought were important. I have a good relationship with Larry, and I like working with him.”

Hollendorfer said the Derby’s in the back of his mind with Instagrand.

“If you have a good colt, you’d like to end up at Churchill in May,” he said. “(Best) won’t push me to make the Derby if we tell him we can’t make it.”

Instagrand isn’t the only 2-year-old carrying high hopes in the Hollendorfer barn.

Gunmetal Gray, fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, will next target the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) on Dec. 8. Hollendorfer said Dueling, who was sixth in the Juvenile, will also go on to another points-paying Derby prep. The California-bred Galilean, a narrow second in the Golden State Juvenile, will stretch from seven furlongs to a mile for his next start.

“Then as we learned last year with Justify,” Hollendorfer said, “you can never tell where a good one’s going to come from.”


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About the Derby Radar

New for the 2019 Kentucky Derby trail, Horse Racing Nation's Derby Radar seeks to identify promising maiden, allowance and even stakes winners who could target points-paying preps next out. We'll cover the buzz horses, of course, then using a systematic approach based on past years' Derby contenders identify other talented colts moving up the ladder.

Did we miss one? Email editor Jonathan Lintner ( if you know of a horse that should be on the radar.

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