By Bill Finley
Still recuperating from an injury that prevented him from running in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile, 'TDN Rising Star' Jack Christopher (Munnings) is about two weeks away from rejoining Chad Brown's Florida division. However, the trainer said he was not sure if he has enough time to get him ready to run in the GI Kentucky Derby.
“He's going to be up against it, that's for sure,” Brown said when asked about making the Derby. “I don't want to rule anything out until I put my hands on him, but he's certainly behind. To get him to go a mile-and-a-quarter I'm going to need to have something under his belt. We'll see where he takes us and if he doesn't make [the Derby] we have several other races we'd love to target with him.”
Coming off a win in the GI Champagne S., Jack Christopher was expected to go off as the favorite in the Juvenile for Jim Bakker, Gerald Isbister and their new partners Coolmore and Peter Brant, who bought in after the Champagne. He subsequently had a screw inserted in his left shin to repair a stress fracture. The surgery was done by Dr. Larry Bramlage. Jack Christopher was then sent to WinStar Farm and Brown reports that he is now back under tack and should join his stable in “a couple of weeks.”
“It's been frustrating,” Brown said. “You hate to miss a race like the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, where he would have been the favorite. He was training so well. He's a really talented horse. The Derby is not the be all and end all, but it would be lovely to have one of the top contenders.”
Brown has another top 3-year-ld colt in Zandon (Upstart), who finished second, beaten a nose, in a roughly run GII Remsen S. He's had two recent four-furlong works at Payson Park and Brown remains high on him.
“He's worked really good both times and has settled in nicely,” he said. “He's possible for the [Feb. 5 GIII] Holy Bull. It's between the Holy Bull and the [Feb. 19 GII] Risen Star. I don't think I want to wait all the way to the [Mar. 5 GII] Fountain of Youth to run him. He's only had two starts and I think he would benefit from an extra race. I'm really pleased with him.”
Brown also believes that Early Voting (Gun Runner) is a potential Derby horse. Early Voting has had one start, winning a Dec. 18 maiden race at Aqueduct.
“Anything else I have will be a late bloomer,” Brown said. “Early Voting won first time out going a mile on the dirt at Aqueduct. He didn't earn a fancy figure or anything, but when you see a son of Gun Runner debuting at a mile on the dirt and winning first time out on kind of a dead track you have to take a little notice. I'm not one to have a horse cranked for their best number at that time of year. He's an interesting horse going forward.”