- G2 winner at 1 1/16 miles
- Only gelding in the Kentucky Derby field
- Trainer: Graham Motion (Animal Kingdom, Better Talk Now, Film Maker)
- Jockey: Alan Garcia
- Owned by: St. Elias Stables & West Point Thoroughbreds
- Record: 7: 2-2-2
- Earnings: $305,660
- Best speed figures: 94 Beyer (Tampa Bay Derby), 97 BRIS Figure (Louisiana Derby), 100 Equibase
Background: An upset winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (II), the chestnut son of Tapit took the unconventional route in Florida on the war path to the Kentucky Derby, following that points win with an easy race in the Calder Derby and the “ok” from trainer Graham Motion, who won this race with another longshot, Animal Kingdom, in 2011 with another racing partnership. West Point Thoroughbreds has been in the game of racing for quite some time with a previous shot at the Derby with Flashy Bull. He is the lone gelding in the field, having been gelded after his third start as a 2-year-old.
Prep Schedule: Ring Weekend did not break his maiden until his three-year-old year, first starting in August at Saratoga in the slop but finishing up the pack. He improved slightly next out at Churchill Downs getting more ground than 7 furlongs, this time 1 1/16 miles, grabbing 3rd after starting slowly. He was 3rd again in his poly debut at Keeneland, beaten 6 lengths at the same distance. He traded up to Gulfstream in January, racing 2nd in his sophomore debut on the turf, missing by just a half length to the very good Divine Oath. Heading back to dirt the next month, he finally snapped his maiden in a large Gulfstream field, merging from off the pace to win by a stubborn half length. Sticking to the lead in his stakes debut in the Tampa Bay Derby (II), Ring Weekend kept to a solid pace and won easily by 3 lengths drawing away. Stretching out to 9 furlongs in the Calder Derby, Ring Weekend got off to a bobbled start and was pulled and just absolutely rank, hurting his chances to catch winner Our Caravan, who defeated him by nearly 10 lengths.
Pedigree: Fappiano (and thus Mr. Prospector) is well represented in Ring Weekend’s pedigree through Unbridled and Cryptoclearance, which is kind of great since that particular stallion influence has been on fire for some time on the scene. Sire Tapit needs little introduction as a grandson of Belmont/Breeders’ Cup Classic/super sire A.P. Indy, who won the 9-furlong Wood Memorial (I) before retiring to siring winners of every distance and surface type. Tapit’s damsire Unbridled has worked some magic as a sire and damsire of great classic winners. Ring Weekend’s dam is Free the Magic, who features some interesting breeding on her bottom side with largely European lineage, featuring family members that won at a mile or further. Free the Magic is by Cryptoclearance, who provides some stamina as a G1 winning router and runner-up in the 1987 Preakness and 3rd in the Belmont.
Estimated TrueNicks Rating: B+ Variant: 2.22
Dosage Index: 3.36
Running Style: Adaptable, off-the-pace
Pros: Ring Weekend showed some speed in the Tampa Bay Derby (II) setting some solid fractions and could have opened up more if he wished. He could very well continuing improving at a big price.
Cons: He showed his Tapit headcase syndrome too perfectly in the Calder Derby and never really got into seriously racing in that event because he was too preoccupied pulling Alan Garcia from the saddle. It pains me to think of him as a chestnut Tap It Rich, but there you go.
Final Word: Oy! So much to balance and counterbalance here. Ring Weekend has a shot to do something in the Derby, but probably won’t win it. His pedigree is very interesting, but he needs to get his head in the game or else risk running loose in the race only to tire…