(War Pass x Java, by Rainbow Quest [GB])
- Trainer: Ken McPeek (Sarava, Harlan’s Holiday, Curlin)
- Jockey: Julien Leparoux (7th last year on Union Rags)
- Owned by: Charles Fipke
- Record: 7:3-1-1
- Earnings: $672,091
- Best speed figures: 89 Beyer, 103 Equibase
Background: The second of the two very promising War Pass colts in the Kentucky Derby, Java’s War commanded attention as one of last year’s best two-year-old colts— on grass. Changing surfaces, he has yet to collect a dirt victory but looks plenty capable with upset trainer Ken McPeek on deck to train the smallish bay colt with owner/breeder Charles Fipke of Jersey Town/Perfect Shirl fame looking on with pride.
Prep Schedule: Java’s War closed out his two-year-old year a stakes winner on grass and G1-placed on all-weather, showing boldness and determination. He made his first dirt start as a two-year-old with a poor trip in the Kentucky Jockey Club (II) where he dwelt at the rear after a wide and slow start. Taking a layoff, he rebounded impressively as a three-year-old in the Tampa Bay Derby (II), losing by 3 to Verrazano, before taking the 9-furlong Blue Grass Stakes (I) in a gutsy closing performance from dead last to win by a neck over Palace Malice.
Pedigree: Sired by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (I) winner War Pass, Java’s War draws from his sire line some early and potential distance ability from grandsire Cherokee Run, who flashed plenty of speed that could last. Dam Java [GB] is a daughter of the unraced Rainbow Quest [GB] out of Island Jamboree, a turfer who was G1-placed going 9 furlongs. Java has a number of other offspring, but Java’s War is by far her best to date. Inbreeding-wise, Java’s War flashes a bunch through his linebreeding to the distance-grabbing Euro Blushing Groom [FR] and two mentions of Raise a Native (Native Dancer), both in the first five generations.
Estimated TrueNicks Rating: A++ Variant 7.06
Running Style: Closer
Pros: Java’s War was a very good two-year-old overlooked by the fact he ran on grass and poly. He looks to be peaking right on schedule and runs happy.
Cons: The chance we have another Animal Kingdom on our hands is forever unlikely, and many would scoff that a horse that is probably better on turf could go on to win the Derby as the field’s deepest deep closer. Julien Leparoux also doesn’t help support his case as one of the glitchiest riders I’ve ever seen and therefore do not trust with a big race.
Final Word: Java looked so amazing in the Tampa Bay Derby (II) paddock I quickly isolated him as one to watch for— even on dirt, which he appears to handle plenty well. McPeek rarely brings a mule to the races, and the fact he looks so good and is doing so well makes him a top longshot bet.