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Strathnaver [GB]

Derby Profile #7: Ring Weekend



  • 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…

Valiant Girl ears forward coming down the chute for the Flower Bowl Invitational. Irad Ortiz Jr up for trainer Graham Motion. (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

Valiant Girl ears forward coming down the chute for the Flower Bowl Invitational. Irad Ortiz Jr up for trainer Graham Motion. (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

Appreciation GIFset: Graham Motion and Animal Kingdom

Source videos [1, 2]

2013 Kentucky Derby hopefuls: Cerro [IRE] (Photo by Courtney Heeney)

2013 Kentucky Derby hopefuls: Cerro [IRE] (Photo by Courtney Heeney)

Racing Beat: December 9


Psst… Christmas card requests are due in by this Saturday (December 15)! Lava Man will be getting one per a request on Doug O’Neill Stables’ Facebook. Send him one too if you want! (Lava Man c/o 122-A E Foothill Blvd #300, Arcadia, CA 91006)

IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME… the Delaware Handicap (I) is finally a G1 race after being a G2 for leading ladies like Blind Luck in her unforgettable stretch duel with Havre de Grace, and winners Royal Delta, Life at Ten, and Hystericalady. It really should have been upgraded before the Cotillion got its boost.

Even though I’m not into Pletcher horses, I really liked In Lingerie back around the time leading up to her win in the Bourbonette… probably because I like Empire Makers so much. She didn’t retire in the same form, but I have high hopes for her future Frankel baby. Can’t. Wait.

Ughh… that photo of Michael Phelps and Graham Motion. Graham looks like a classy Brit… Phelps… those glasses… I didn’t think it was possible to despise him more than I already do. Gold medal collection or not, don’t nobody give me a hard time about it or ask me to explain. The man just looks weird and it always looks like he’s breathing out of his mouth.

He can dirt as well as turf! Fredericksburg made his dirt start yesterday at the competitive Gulfstream Park and finished 2nd!

How the tables have turned… Henny Hughes is welcomed back into Kentucky’s bluegrass with open arms. Who’d have thought he’d sire so many stakes winners so soon?

I honestly don’t see Gary Stevens actually returning to race-riding, but it’s a cozy thought.

Remember last year’s Illinois Derby (III) winner Joe Vann? He just got adopted as an OTTB at New Vocations!

Madman Diaries… now that is a name I have not heard in a long time…

Part of me is intrigued and excited to see the CashCall (I), the other part chortles at the thought of a legitimate Derby horse emerging from this race. Why is this still a Grade 1 event?

Paynter got my vote for the Vox Populi.

I read somewhere that Buffum was purchased for $1.2 million as a yearling. Oh ow…

I’m kind of surprised that the New York Times won the Team Valor journalism award. Half of the racing-related stuff they published was demeaning smut, and don’t get me started on what I think of Joe Drape’s personality. (Which is saying a lot having read some of his work before reading what he had to say to people)

Tweet o’ the Week: No pun intended?


This beauty from West Point and Graham Motion is running today at Laurel Park. Forecon, a son of Macho Uno, has won once and 3rd three times in 4 total starts.

This beauty from West Point and Graham Motion is running today at Laurel Park. Forecon, a son of Macho Uno, has won once and 3rd three times in 4 total starts.

Animal Kingdom on the biggest day of his life

Animal Kingdom on the biggest day of his life

Summer Soiree (Photo by Alex Evers)

Summer Soiree (Photo by Alex Evers)

Racing Beat: September 9

Shanghai Bobby is not a cool name. Still in love with Fortify and looking for that one colt to root home in the Derby next year.

More “racehorse Twitter account” problems: horses do not have political views, nor do they have opinions on people they do not interact with, even within the sport. No reason to put these things on there or really most anything that has nothing to do with the actual horse. (I almost prefer the “FOUR PANELS IN :49 FLAT WHEEEE!” updates)

Even if I liked someone else to win a whole lot more, my anguish is extinguished when I see the winning jockey and horse smiling and ears forward coming down to the finish. Worth it!

As long as the Breeders’ Cup stays in Los Angeles/California, I will likely not be able to go. It’s just too far and expensive a flight not to mention the hassles of traffic and expense issues associated, even within the Arcadia area. I officially would like to endorse Arlington Park— a central, spacious, and historic location— for a future revival of the championships. Plus, imagine how many Euros would try the Breeders’ Cup Classic on the poly surface. If not Arlington, I’d also vouch for Gulfstream, which would be an easier climate for Californian/Floridian horses to ship to in November.

My I’ll Have Another poster matches my new room walls perfectly. If only the poster didn’t mysteriously somehow get stuck together and rip on the edges >.> YOUR NAMESAKE SHIPS WELL WHY CAN’T YOU #wtf

Something I hope catches on: #FoallowFriday on Twitter.

Tornados in Long Island? Apparently so on Belmont’s opening day yesterday. Please, we don’t need any more disasters in racing this year…

POWER UP, PAYNTER! I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before, a horse making a conscious effort to fight off his many life-threatening illnesses…

Did anyone else find watching the I’ll Have Another video of the Derby winner arriving in Japan a little sad? Sure, he’s showing off and frolicking, but he clearly wants to be with the other horses he’s neighing to, and will probably never be allowed too close with another horse apart from “business” purposes. He’s only 3!

After seeing what’s been going on with Robby Albarado, it kind of makes me glad that it was Johnny V riding Animal Kingdom that one day in May.

My life is complete. Graham Motion replied/retweeted me (I think I have enough Twitter mentions this week).

Zo Impressive's surgery went well and she'll be retired of course. Hmm… what goes good with a speedy Danzig?

Tweet o’ the Week

Going to the Thoroughbred races, keeping "track" of the memories. Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.

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