Ring Weekend Stops at Calder on Road to KY Derby
West Point Thoroughbreds’ and St. Elias Stable’s Ring Weekend is set to take on nine rivals in Saturday’s $250,000 Calder Derby in South Florida as his final Kentucky Derby prep race.
After breaking his maiden on February 8 at Gulfstream, the chestnut son of Tapit was originally pointed for a non graded stakes race at Laurel Park. However, WPT president Terry Finley and trainer Graham Motion called audible within hours of entry and decided to take a swing against the big boys in the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on March 8.
The change of plans paid off, as Ring Weekend went wire to wire and earned 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, essentially assuring him a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.
It’s unconventional to see a top contender in a non graded event just weeks before the Derby, but Finley and Motion are confident in their decision to run at Calder.
“Immediately after the Tampa Bay Derby we toyed with the idea of training right up to the (Kentucky) Derby,” said Finley. “However eight weeks is a long time to go without a race when you’re going a mile and a quarter. He should have no problems getting in with 50 points, and we see this as an opportunity to maintain his fitness while running for a nice purse against horses who are nowhere near the top of the division.”
Ring Weekend reunites with jockey Alan Garcia on Saturday. Garcia piloted him to his maiden victory and worked him over the Calder surface over the weekend. Click here to watch the bullet five furlong workout.
“I’m very pleased with how he moved over the surface,” said Motion, trainer of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. “He changed leads perfectly at the top of the stretch, which I really want to see since he didn’t change over to the right lead in the Tampa Bay Derby. This is a horse who is still green, but has gotten better in every one of his starts. Gelding him in the fall really got his mind in the game.”
Post time for the Calder Derby (race 7) is 4:00 pm ET on Saturday. Ring Weekend breaks from post 2 in the field of 10.