Distant Kingdom Reigns in Pricey Debut

November 26, 2014 10:17am

Sunday’s salty six-furlong freshman maiden special weight event produced a big performance, but not from the horse the betting public expected. Sent off as a strong favorite, Fox Hill Farm’s blueblood Exodus faltered in the lane while being passed by Robert Orth and Wes Hawley’s 21-1 longshot Distant Kingdom, who ran on to post an emphatic seven-length victory.
A Kentucky-bred son of fast freshman sire Majesticperfection – a once-beaten Grade I winner who never had a chance to stretch out beyond the six furlongs at which he set a track record (and who trainer Steve Asmussen reportedly called the fastest horse he had ever seen) – out of a dam by European champion 3-year-old and stellar turf miler Distant View, the jury is still out on what trip at which this talented 2-year-old will excel most. On an interesting pedigree note, the big bay colt has no inbreeding in his first five generations – just an array of classic performers at varying distances and surfaces.
“His daddy was more of a sprinter, but he was by Harlan’s Holiday and they usually go long – plus (Distant Kingdom) is a huge horse,” said Hawley, who also trains the nearly 17-hand juvenile. “I expected him to run a big race, I just thought he was more of a route horse than a sprinter. I think he’s dying to go two turns and has turf and everything else in his pedigree.”

After acting out in the paddock and nearly refusing to allow rider Miguel Mena to mount him, the emblazoned charge broke poorly – 10th of 12 – from post three under the 28-year-old jockey. Distant Kingdom’s troubles ended there as he settled well in eighth, darted through an opening on the rail at the five-sixteenths-pole and collared the two pacesetting leaders – A M Milky Way and Exodus – at the eighth-pole. After taking a few strides to catch his balance, cage his momentum and change leads, Distant Kingdom shifted out and powered clear of the opposition to score easily. 

“I thought it was the most impressed I’ve been with a 2-year-old in a long time,” Hawley said. “It’s one thing for a 2-year-old to go to the lead and no one catch him. It’s another to do what he did and skim the rail in the mud and draw away like that. He was reluctant changing leads, but drew away when he did. You can’t teach them everything they need to learn all at once. He was full of himself after and Miguel had trouble pulling him up.  I believe he got a 77 Beyer (Speed Figure), which is pretty good for a 2-year-old. I look for him to move forward off that.”

After such an auspicious debut, the connections of the sizeable colt will look for the best possible next step. “I’ll look for a non-winners of two allowance going long right before Christmas or a stakes,” Hawley confirmed. “He’s an awfully nice horse and I’m lucky to own him. Hopefully he’s as good as we all think he could be – he just has to get lucky and progress.”
Source: Fair Grounds Communications


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