Candy Ride's Vekoma Runs to the Money in the Blue Grass

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10th at KEE, $1,000,000GI Toyota Blue Grass S. (1 1/8m)Winner: Vekoma, c, 3 by Candy Ride (Arg)

Vekoma | Coady

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Barely 15 minutes after Tax (Arch) finished a bang-up second in the GII Wood Memorial S. and in so doing locked up a berth in the GI Kentucky Derby, part-owner Randy Hill was front and center at Keeneland after Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}), campaigned in partnership with Gatsas Stable, stamped his authority on the GII Toyota Blue Grass S.

A market-firmer, Vekoma was dead on the board and was available at odds of 9-2 inside of 10 minutes to post, but he jumped the 7-5 chalk and the money proved shrewd. Given a positive ride by Javier Castellano, Vekoma was in the mix early on and raced in the two path rounding the first turn, allowing GIII Spiral S. hero Somelikeithotbrown (Big Brown) to slide through at the fence and take up the running with about seven furlongs to race. Asked for a bit of acceleration and to take closer order at the five-eighths pole, Vekoma raced alongside Somelikeithotbrown as they reached the entrance to the second bend. Ridden along at the midway point on the turn, Vekoma poked a head in front, hit another gear to put some separation between him and the weakening pacesetter entering the final furlong and edged clear. Win Win Win (Hat Trick {Jpn}) raced in the latter third of the field for the opening six furlongs and was making good headway inside on the turn when he looked to have his momentum stopped for a stride or two. The Live Oak homebred re-rallied once into the clear and hit the line well for second, just ahead of Signalman (General Quarters), who was given every chance from the box seat, but could not capitalize.

“I like the way he broke out of the gate,” said jockey Javier Castellano, winning the Blue Grass for the first time. “In the first turn, I realized I didn't want to dictate the pace. I tried to ride a smart race. I didn't want to be too aggressive early; you have to save something for the end. So we tracked it. I liked the way he rated the first quarter mile, and I liked the way he finished. Every time I asked him, he kicked on a little bit.”

A debut winner at Belmont Sept. 23, defeating–among others–future SW & 'TDN Rising Star' Mihos (Cairo Prince), Vekoma stepped into graded company for the first time and posted a solid victory in the one-mile GIII Nashua S. Nov. 4. Brought along slowly into his sophomore season, he returned as a 16-5 chance in the GII Xpressbet Fountain of Youth S. Mar. 2, racing further off the pace than he had previously before closing decently to round out the trifecta.

Pedigree Notes:

A May 22 foal, Vekoma is one of two winners to race from his dam, who relished sloppy underfoot conditions to upset the 2010 GI Humana Distaff S. at Churchill Downs. Put in foal to Malibu Moon the following breeding season, Mona de Momma fetched $1.55 million from Jon Clay's Alpha Delta Stables at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton November sale. Vekoma's third dam Long Legend was the dam of MGSW & GISP Mr. Greeley, whose half-sister Majestic Legend (His Majesty) is the second dam of GI Kentucky Derby hero Street Sense (Street Cry {Ire}). Vekoma is the last listed produce for Mona de Momma.

Saturday, Keeneland
TOYOTA BLUE GRASS S.-GII, $1,000,000, Keeneland, 4-6, 3yo, 1 1/8m, 1:50.93, ft.
1–VEKOMA, 123, c, 3, by Candy Ride (Arg)
1st Dam: Mona de Momma (GISW, $384,399), by Speightstown
2nd Dam: Society Gal, by Linkage
3rd Dam: Long Legend, by Reviewer
($135,000 Ylg '17 KEESEP). O-R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas
Stables; B-Alpha Delta Stables, LLC (KY); T-George Weaver;
J-Javier Castellano. $600,000. Lifetime Record: 4-3-0-1,
$788,850. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Werk Nick Rating: B+.
2–Win Win Win, 123, c, 3, Hat Trick (Jpn)–Miss Smarty Pants,
by Smarty Jones. O-Live Oak Plantation; B-Live Oak Stud (FL);
T-Michael J. Trombetta. $200,000.
3–Signalman, 123, c, 3, General Quarters–Trip South, by Trippi.
($32,000 Ylg '17 FTKOCT). O-Lewis, Tommie M., Crabtree,
Steve, Demaree, Dean, Bernsen, David, Chambers, Jim and
Magdalena Racing; B-Monticule (KY); T-Kenneth G. McPeek.
$100,000.
Margins: 3HF, NO, 3/4. Odds: 1.40, 3.30, 6.50.
Also Ran: Somelikeithotbrown, Chess Chief, So Alive, Sir Winston, Admire, Moonster, Lucky Lee, Market King, Aquadini, Dream Maker, Parsimony. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

 

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