LeRoy Jolley and What A Pleasure, the trainer and the sire who have dominated the days leading to the last two Kentucky Derbies, re-entered the Churchill Downs Kaleidoscope today when For The Moment captured the $119,350 Blue Grass Stakes at Kenneland.
Jolley saddled Foolish Pleasure to win the 1975 Kentucky Derby. He was second with Honest Pleasure, the 3-to-10 favorite, in Louisville last spring after Honest Pleasure had won the Blue Grass. Both colts were sired by the Florida-based stallion, What A Pleasure.
For The Moment, a full brother to Honest Pleasure, was not favored to win today. The big chestnut colt was sent off the third choice, at 5 to 1, in the field of 11, but won smartly, by 1 3/4 lengths, over Run Dusty Run. Western Wind finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind the runner-up as Giboulee, the second choice, faded to ninth place.
"This horse has always shown signs he has ability: today he finally decided to show it," Jolley declared "You never give up on such an animal, but you do begin to have doubts. If he had run badly today we were going to take him back to New York, skipping the Derby, and look for another spot. The only reason we came here was because he didn't run at all in the Hollywood Derby."
Now, Jolley will make a third straight assault on the Downs. "No wonder my hair's getting thinner," he quipped on the way to the barn to check For The Moment.
A change in equipment probably was important in the winner's success today.
"We worked him in blinkers for the first time Monday," Jolley noted, "and he went in 1:11 3/5 while I was expecting something like 1:14, 'cause he's not a good work horse. Monday's work was completely untypical. It indicated to me the situation was improving, with the blinkers. It was the first time he was willing to do it on his own."
Jockey Angel Cordero supported the trainer's observation.
"The blinkers made him much more aggressive," Cordero contended.
"He never did relax today. He was aggressive most of the way, so much so that I hadn't been sure we'd even be on the lead early."
For The Moment was the first horse out of the gate. He surrendered the lead to Ruthie's Native in the run around the first turn, but took charge with a half-mile in :46 4/5 in the sloppy going and never was pressed through the stretch despite a good closing surge by Run Dusty Run.
The winner paid $12 after completing the mile and an eighth in 1:50 1/5.
For The Moment will leave this weekend for Churchill and another meeting with Seattle Slew, the undefeated Derby favorite. Slew defeated him by 10 lengths late last summer in the Champagne Mile at Belmont Park.
"My horse made a good run at Seattle Slew that day, until the quarter pole," Jolley observed. "I wasn't surprised by Seattle Slew. I'd seen him win the second race of his career a couple of weeks before. I knew he was good then. I know he's good now, no question about it."
The trainer was asked whether For The Moment would need help in the Derby to bring down the favorite. Would there be enough speed to keep Seattle Slew busy on the front end during the early stages?
"We're probably going to have to help ourself," Jolley replied. "You can't wait for somebody else to do it. The probability is the others will be waiting for you to help them."
Jolley refused, however, to go overboard in his praise for Seattle Slew. "There's no way to know how good his victory in the Wood Memorial (at Aqueduct last Saturday) really was," he said. "There was no point of reference. There'd been no other race that distance over that racing strip."
For The Moment is owned by Tim Sams, his breeder; Gerald Robins, and Peter Fuller. Robins reportedly paid Sams $400,000 for a half-interest in the colt last summer, then sold 12 1/2 per cent of the thoroughbred to Fuller.
For Fuller, this year's Churchill classic on May 7 will makr a return to the scene of one of the most famous "incidents" in racing history. His Dancer's Image finished first over Calumet Farm's Forward Pass in the 1968 Derby, only eventually to be deprived of the purse and the glory when postrace tests found the colt to have run on Butazolidin, an illegal medication.
For The Moment had not won a major stake until the Blue Grass. He was second to Ruthie's Native in a Division of the Florida Derby and second to Habitony in the Santa Anita Derby. His dam, Tularia, a daughter of Tulyar, also was the dam of Honest-Pleasure.