By Steve Sherack
The chestnut punched his ticket(s) to Lexington with eye-catching victories at Belmont Park in the 'Win and You're In' GI Runhappy Carter H. June 6 (GI Sprint) and GI Runhappy Metropolitan H. last time July 4 (GI Dirt Mile). He kicked off his 4-year-old campaign with a sharp win in Gulfstream's Sir Shackleton S. Mar. 28.
A perfect five-for-five in starts around one turn, Vekoma earned a career-best 110 Beyer Speed Figure in the seven-furlong Carter, the co-second fastest rating earned up to one mile on dirt in 2020.
So what will it be, the Sprint or Dirt Mile?
“I think we're leaning toward the Sprint, but that's not written in stone,” Weaver replied. “It's not the easiest decision in the world. I think he could win both races. There's a lot of factors going into it–the competition, what it means for him as far as Eclipse Awards, etc. I kind of lean toward the Sprint right now, but the [owners] Gatsas Stables and Randy Hill and I will get together as we get closer and nail that decision down.”
Vekoma has posted four breezes at Weaver's Saratoga base since early September, most recently working five furlongs over the Oklahoma training track in 1:02.65 (5/9) Oct. 2.
“The horse is training well,” Weaver said. “He had a nice work [Oct. 2]. He's really coming along well. Probably got three more breezes and we'll be ready to roll.”
The $135,000 KEESEP yearling purchase, also the winner of the GIII Nashua S. at two and GII Toyota Blue Grass S. at three, suffered his lone off-the-board finish crossing the wire 13th in the slop in the GI Kentucky Derby. He's been perfect in three attempts since.
“He's always been a star,” Weaver said. “He trained like a really good horse before he ever ran. We gave him some time off [following the Derby] to bring him back as a 4-year-old and we were just hoping he'd come back and show how good he really was. He's a May baby, and he's really filled out and matured quite a bit. He's a beast of a horse now.”
It was announced in July that B. Wayne Hughes's Spendthrift Farm had acquired the breeding rights to Vekoma. Bred in Kentucky by Alpha Delta Stables, he is out of the GISW Mona de Momma (Speightstown).