It was a banner weekend with three West Point redheads winning and the stable notching its 100th stakes win! We dedicate this milestone win to all the people who have owned horses with us over the past 26 years.
Kanthaka made a grand entrance onto the Kentucky Derby scene with a dominating win in the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. From the first crop of sire Jimmy Creed, he broke sharply before settling sweetly well behind a super fast early pace. When jockey Flavien Prat hit the button, Kanthaka rallied and pulled away in the stretch.
Everything happens for a reason. After breaking his maiden on December 26, the plan was to run Kanthaka in a first level allowance. The San Vicente was plan B after the race didn’t go.
Several ecstatic Partners joined West Point’s Jeff Lifson and Nancy Dollase in the winner’s circle. Partner John Haines was interviewed after the race and gave the history of his colt’s name. Kanthaka was Siddhartha’s (who later became Buddha) horse who was held in very high esteem.
"He gave me a great run, and he did everything right," Prat said. "He broke like a bullet, but then we had quite a lot of speed in front of us. So he sat really nicely behind the speed and made a really nice run around the turn. And after that, it was done."
"We thought we had a good chance, because we thought a lot of speed would be in there, which there was," said winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. "They went :22 and :44, so we thought we might have a chance to close them down, especially the way he broke his maiden. He got in trouble, and then still won, so that was pretty impressive.”
The West Point buying team purchased Kanthaka at the 2017 Barretts March 2-Year-Old In Training Sale held at Del Mar.
Following Kanthaka’s win, West Point runners went two for two on Sunday.
Homebred Danny California put the pieces together and splashed to victory under Dylan Davis in a New York-bred maiden special weight. The gelded son of Afleet Alex is owned in partnership with longtime Partner Chris Larsen. West Point raced his dam Cinco De Mayo Mio.
Trainer Tom Morley took to Twitter to shares his thoughts on the win:
A few hours after Danny California got the job done, beloved grade one winning veteran Ring Weekend powered home to win the first start of his 7-year-old campaign.
In 2014 the chestnut son of Tapit broke his maiden during the Winter Olympics. Here he is four years later winning during the 2018 Olympics.
Patiently ridden by Eclipse Award-winning jockey Jose Ortiz, Ring Weekend raced as many as nine lengths off the pace before swinging wide at the top of the stretch and pulling clear.
A race in mid-February was not originally in the cards, and trainer Graham Motion felt going in the gelding would probably “need the race” after not competing since the end of September.
“Imagine if he was fit,” laughed Motion. “We worked him seven furlongs last week, and he handled it well, but I didn’t have him completely ready to run. We didn’t want to throw him in the deep end in a graded stake off the freshening, and this allowance race was tough to pass up. He really seems to like rock hard turf courses. He’s run some really good races at Saratoga where the course can be quite hard in the summer.”
Olympic rider Phillip Dutton joined the Ring Weekend partnership in 2015 and made the trip over from Wellington to watch the gelding run. He and famed jumping coach Richard Picken joined Terry and Debbie Finley and his fellow West Point Partners in the winner’s circle.
Richard Picken (white hat) and Phillip Dutton (black shirt) with Ring Weekend in the winner’s circle:
Ring Weekend has found the winner’s circle eight times in his career and now has earnings of $1,559,844. His most notable victories came in the 2014 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and the 2015 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1).