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Kentucky Derby 2019 Radar: Vekoma speeds to Nashua Stakes win

Kentucky Derby 2019 Radar: Vekoma speeds to Nashua Stakes win
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA

Vekoma, who earned an 87 Beyer Speed Figure in winning his Sept. 23 debut, backed that up Saturday with a performance that should put the son of Candy Ride on the 2019 Kentucky Derby trail.

The George Weaver trainee sat off the pace set by Grade 2 winner Call Paul and longshot Factor It In, then cruised in the Aqueduct stretch to win the Grade 3, $200,000 Nashua Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths.

"We expected him to run well," Weaver said. "It was just a question of if he could get the mile distance."

The victory came over just five rivals, but three of them were well-regarded. Network Effect, a Chad Brown trainee who debuted with a win at Saratoga, ran on for second. Another from Brown’s barn, U S Navy Cross, was never in the race as a co-favorite.

Vekoma was a $135,000 purchase by R.A. Hill Stable, who owns the chestnut colt with Gatsas Stables. Manny Franco was up as the colt completed the mile in 1:36.62.

Weaver, who was born in Louisville, has started one horse previously in the Kentucky Derby. Tencendur finished 17th in 2015.

Vekoma raced greenly in the stretch, kicking his head around a bit. And he has an awkward stride that could speak to distance limitations.

"I was trying to make him switch leads because he was on the wrong lead," Franco said. "When he switched, he ran straight. It's only his second race, so he'll learn. He's a nice horse."

The horse could get a chance to move forward with the 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes (G2) set for Dec. 1, also at Aqueduct.

"We'll look at the Remsen first," Weaver said, "and as long as there's not a solid reason not to run him, we'll enter him there."

Checking the Derby Radar boxes for Vekoma:

Broke maiden on major circuit

Connections with Derby experience

Sire known for two-turn runners

Pricey purchase or homebred


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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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