LOUISVILLE — Dallas Stewart did it again.
A year ago, his horse, Golden Soul, finished second in the Kentucky Derby as a 34-1 underdog. On Saturday, the Kentucky-based trainer pulled off another second-place finish, this time with 38-1 underdog Commanding Curve.
It wasn’t exactly the result Stewart wanted. “I thought he had a heck of a shot,” he said.
But he had to tip his cap to the winner, California Chrome, who exceeded his expectations. “I was just hoping California Chrome would kind of give in a little bit, but he didn’t,” Stewart said. “We were running at him.”
Stewart said the Preakness is a possibility for his runner-up but added that Commanding Curve might run even better in the Belmont Stakes because of his strength and endurance.
No one could decide whether he was the real deal or the ultimate flash in the pan.
Was Danza the colt who had little résumé as a Kentucky Derby contender until three weeks ago, an also-ran in trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn? Or was he the sensation who beat a field of touted 3-year-olds in the Arkansas Derby?
Performing in front of his namesake, actor Tony Danza, the colt showed he was a legitimate threat in the Kentucky Derby, finishing third, four lengths behind California Chrome.
“I thought he ran well,” Pletcher said. “Coming by the wire first time, he got bumped by Vinceremeos. But he got back in position and started to respond.”
Leading female jockey Rosie Napravnik was optimistic about a historic weekend after riding Untapable to a Kentucky Oaks win Friday. But she failed to become the first female to win the Kentucky Derby, finishing last aboard Vicar’s In Trouble.
Vicar’s In Trouble started from the No. 2 post, a position few jockeys would want in such a large field. But Napravnik said that wasn’t the problem.
“We actually got into a really good position,” she said. “You can’t expect not to be close to each other. We got into a great position. I was tracking behind California Chrome, and we didn’t really have enough horse.”
The newest feature at this year’s Derby was also the hardest to miss — a 15,224-square-foot video board installed by Panasonic and Churchill Downs on the venerable track’s backstretch.
For the record, the 4K screen is 11 feet wider and 18 feet higher than the famous monster at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium. It’s the size of three basketball courts and cost $12 million. Panasonic helped foot the cost in part because the board is advertising for its next wave of 4K, high-definition televisions.
— Baltimore Sun