Necker Island a long shot for Derby, will run if given the chance

Necker Island a long shot for Derby, will run if given the chance
Photo: Coady Photography
After a fourth-place finish in a claiming race at Churchill Downs on June 13, Necker Island, who has raced in several graded stakes in his career, was claimed for $100,000 by a group that includes Wayne Scherr, Jackie Rojas and Raymond Daniels. The reason for the claim was simple.

“That came about because Wayne wants to go to the Derby,” Chris Hartman, Necker Island’s trainer, said Sunday. “He always wanted to claim a horse that could do something like that, and this is the closest. It’s on his bucket list.”

Getting into the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby looks somewhat unlikely for the son of Hard Spun, who finished third in the Ellis Park Derby Sunday, gaining 10 points and moving into 28th place in the Kentucky Derby points standings.

Hartman was pessimistic about the colt getting in, but he said the desire to run is certainly there.

“If there’s any way that there would be an open spot, he will be there for sure,” Hartman said. “But I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

The third place finish, behind Art Collector and Attachment Rate, who are both likely heading to the Sept. 5 Run for the Roses, is tied for Necker Island’s best career finish in a stakes race, with the Grade 3 Indiana Derby on July 8 being the other third place finish.

Hartman was pleased with the trip.

“I was wanting him a little more forward in the race, but it didn’t work out that way,” Hartman said. “But he ended up getting a really good trip. … Art Collector’s just a little better horse.”

The 1 1/8-mile Ellis Park Derby was the farthest Necker Island has ever run, but Hartman was optimistic that he would do well in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby if given the opportunity.

“I don’t think that would be a problem for him,” Hartman said. “I think he’ll probably be able to run a mile and a quarter. Class would be the other thing. I don’t know. I know Wayne would love to run him in the race and it’s going to have to have a lot of things unfold for him to get in there. You never can tell, I guess.”

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