Trojan Nation goes from Kentucky Derby to Del Mar Derby
September 03, 2016 11:26am
Trojan Nation_7-31-16 MSW Del Mar_615x400
Photo: Benoit

Trojan Nation, the term for the legions of USC sports followers, will be fired up and focused late this afternoon when the No. 20-ranked Trojans football team takes on No. 1 Alabama in its season opener.

On Sunday, the connections of a horse named, by a member, for the group, hope that Trojan Nation will “Fight On” to victory in the Grade II, $250,000 Del Mar Derby, the final leg of the three-race grass stakes series for three-year-olds of the summer meeting.

Trojan Nation has one win in nine career starts with earnings of $251,000. That win, in his first outing on turf here on July 31, has put him in the rare, if not unique (we can’t be sure), position of competing in both the Kentucky Derby and Del Mar Derby.

In April, a winless Trojan Nation charged from last place in a field of eight, 9 ¾ lengths behind the leader, through the mud down the stretch at Aqueduct and came within a head of winning the Grade I Wood Memorial, the major  New York prep for the Kentucky Derby.

Prompting owners Aaron Sones and his wife Julie Gilbert – who aren’t USC grads but became Trojan converts through her family, his in-laws – and trainer Patrick Gallagher to head for the Triple Crown trail.    

“He ran big in the Wood so we thought we’d take a shot in the Derby and that’s what we did,” Gallagher said. “It didn’t work out for us, but it didn’t work out for plenty of others either.”

Trojan Nation drew the sinister No. 1 post, had to be checked at the start, and finished 16th of 20, beaten 26 ¾ lengths.

Five weeks later came the Belmont Stakes and a 10th-place finish in a field of 13 for the still-winless horse.

“I didn’t have any qualms (about running a maiden in the Triple Crown events), none whatsoever,” Gallagher said. “The owners were enthusiastic about it and the horse had showed he belonged.”

Recuperated from the Triple Crown rigors, Trojan Nation was switched from dirt to turf for the 1 1/8-mile win here that prompted Sunday’s test.

“There was grass in his pedigree (by Street Cry out of Storm Song, a daughter of Summer Squall), he’d run a few times and he was still a maiden. So we thought we’d try him on the grass,” Gallagher said. “He looked good on it breaking his maiden, but it’s a big step up for him again, running in this race.

“He’s got conditions to run in (other than graded stakes) but, again, we thought we’d give it a shot.”

The field for the Del Mar Derby, which goes as the eighth race, from the rail: Gold Rush Dancer (Flavien Prat, 8-1), Blackjackcat (Mike Smith, 8-1), Mr. Roary (Edwin Maldonado, 30-1), Moonlight Drive (Rafael Bejarano, 6-1), I’malreadythere (Tiago Pereira, 20-1), Curlin Rules (Tyler Baze, 15-1), Arcature (Martin Garcia, 20-1), Monster Bea (Gary Stevens, 5-1), Dressed in Hermes (Kent Desormeaux, 12-1), Trojan Nation (Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1), Free Rose (Norberto Arroyo, Jr., 6-1), Lucky Bryan (Victor Espinoza, 9-2), Ralis (Mario Gutierrez, 8-1) and Diplodocus (Jamie Theriot, 30-1). Also eligible are: Ebadan (Santiago Gonzalez, 20-1) and Materialistic (Iggy Puglisi, 30-1).

Source: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club


comments powered by Disqus

Related Pages

Top Stories