Connections Confirm Helium To Go Straight to Derby

Helium wins the Tampa Bay Derby | SV Photography

Helium (Ironicus), an impressive winner of the Tampa Bay Derby Saturday, will not have another Kentucky Derby prep and will go straight to the race in Louisville the first Saturday in May, according to Jon Green, the general manager of DJ Stables, the owner of the colt.

Green announced the news on the TDN Writers' Room podcast Wednesday.

“I'm pleased to make the formal announcement on our podcast that I sat down with the owners, my parents and Mark Casse, who between them have a collective 80 years of experience in the horse industry,” said Green. “We're going to go an unconventional route and bypass the rest of the Kentucky Derby preps and train him in Florida at Palm Meadows, and then ship him to Churchill Downs three weeks before.”

Green admitted that it was an unconditional route to the race, but said, “It's not unreasonable in history to give a horse eight weeks off and ask him to run in a big race like this. Is it perfect? It's not perfect. Are there risks? Yes. But we feel what's best for the horse is to give him the time and slowly peak him into the Kentucky Derby, which is our primary goal.”

Green said that unlike other horses looking to peak in May, that DJ Stables hoped to race the horse after the Derby and throughout the summer with a focus on the Haskell at Monmouth, which is held near their home in Monmouth County, New Jersey.

“Our goal is not to run him in the Blue Grass, or a race like that because we think he doesn't need it,” said Green. “Running in a prep, so many things could go wrong, and our main goal is to run him in the Derby and then the races afterwards. We're looking at it through a different prism.”

While Jose Ferrer won the Tampa Bay Derby aboard Helium, Green also said that the Derby riding assignment was currently up in the air.

“Jose did a great job on him and won the Tampa Bay Derby on him, but we are looking for other options with jockeys,” said Green. “For the same reason riding Jose at Tampa Bay made sense, you have to have somebody who has the experience in big races and the experience at Churchill Downs. That's no disrespect to Jose, but I would think we would need to explore other opportunities.”

The complete discussion on Helium will be available on the TDN Writers' Room podcast which will be posted tonight.


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