Category: Archive

O’Brien duo falter in Kentucky Derby

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By John Manley

There were few excuses to be made for the Aidan O’Brien twosome that contested last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Johannesburg, last year’s American 2-year-old champion, and Castle Gandolfo finished off the board in the 18-horse field. Neither horse threatened the winner, War Emblem, at any point during the Derby’s 10 furlongs.

Both runners appeared frisky during the post parade, which was their first time past Churchill’s grandstand. The pair arrived in Kentucky last Tuesday and were stabled 90 minutes away from Churchill at Keeneland in Lexington, which was the nearest quarantine facility. They arrived at the track for the race on Saturday morning at 9 o’clock.

O’Brien didn’t even make the trip, owing to the flu. As for the jockeys, they didn’t sugarcoat their assessments of their mounts’ efforts.

“There’s not much to say,” said Jerry Bailey, Castle Gandolfo’s partner. “Our concern was not to be too far back. We were in good shape, but he couldn’t quicken like the others.”

“A half-mile out of the gate, I was urging him to keep his position,” said Gary Stevens of Johannesburg. “And when you’ve got to do that at that point in the Kentucky Derby, you know you don’t have much chance. This was a big task for him. They asked an awful lot for him to come all this way and try and pull this off. But he wasn’t disgraced.”

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Patrick Keating deputized for O’Brien and was himself somewhat lost in the press of humanity.

“Very disappointing,” Keating said. “I couldn’t see the race properly from where I was and I’ll need to look at the tape, but we were never in it.”

No immediate plans were announced for the pair, other than returning to Ballydoyle in Ireland.

The only Irish-bred in the race, Ocean Sound, likewise, did nothing to impress and was soundly beaten.

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