Calhoun has maturing Silver Dust 'happy' and 'in a groove'

August 22, 2019 02:43pm
Calhoun has maturing Silver Dust 'happy' and 'in a groove'
Photo: Coady Photography

In the coming weeks, Bret Calhoun-trained Mr. Money, who won the West Virginia Derby (G3) in his most-recent start, will get his shot at higher-level competition when he takes on the Pennsylvania Derby (G1).

An older stablemate, Silver Dust, is trending in the same direction after scoring on the Aug. 3 undercard at Mountaineer.

A 5-year-old son of Tapit who Calhoun has long described as tough to train — he can likely  thank the genes for that — Silver Dust recently added an Aug. 3 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes (G3) win to his victory earlier this season in Fair Grounds’ Mineshaft Handicap (G3).

“In the mornings, he’s been superstar for years — even before I got him,” Calhoun said. “He’s done things that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

“He hadn’t quite showed the same in the afternoons until lately. I think physically, everything’s always been there. He seems to be putting it together mentally now.

Silver Dust, campaigned by Tom Durant, began his career with trainer Randy Morse, competing along the 2017 Kentucky Derby trail before transferred to Calhoun for his 4-year-old season. It took a year of grinding out results at the allowance level before Calhoun moved Silver Dust to stakes, where he has remained this season with only one finish outside of the exacta.

Next, Silver Dust could appear on the Sept. 21 Pennsylvania Derby undercard in the $150,000 Parx Dirt Mile. Or the next week, Churchill Downs hosts the Grade 3, $250,000 Lukas Classic.

RELATED: Seeking the Soul to take on Lukas Classic

“I’m always cautiously optimistic with him,” Calhoun said of Silver Dust. “He’s a difficult horse to train. I can’t say that I completely trust him all the time, but knock on wood, things are going in the right direction. He’s continued to be very consistent as of late. His antics have been less.

"He still tries you at times, but he’s a horse that seems to be in a groove. He’s happy right now.

The trainer considers Silver Dust’s West Virginia Governor’s Stakes score “his most complete race” since moving to the barn, not just for what he did on the racetrack, but how. The flashy gray was professional in the paddock and at the gate, then out-dueled Mexican Triple Crown winner Kukulkan in the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile race.

Two starts back, Silver Dust ran second by a head in Indiana Grand’s Michael G. Schaefer Memorial on another card where Mr. Money stole the show, winning the Indiana Derby (G3) later that night.

The horse’s only finish out of the money this season came in what appears an especially strong race. He was fourth in Churchill Downs’ Alysheba behind McKinzie, Tom’s d’Etat and Seeking the Soul, who have all gone on from that Kentucky Oaks day start to win over stakes races.

Pending results of his next start, it could then be up the class ladder for Silver Dust, with Keeneland hosting its Fayette (G2) in October and Churchill Downs the Clark Handicap (G1) in November.


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