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Fashionably Late to the Party

Posted by on 3/4/2015 8:50:56 PM

The more egotistical of our breed usually want to make a big entrance and electrify those in attendance when walking into a room or a party and the young and brilliant Khozan is trying to do just that as he continues his quest on the Triple Crown Trail.

To set the record straight, Khozan was born to walk into a room or a horserace and make everybody pay attention.

A stable owned by the Qatar royal family bought him at the Fasig-Tipton Sales in March of 2014 for a cool million.

So, maybe the writing was on the wall.

One of the reasons so much was plucked down for this colt is because of his breeding. His dam was a multiple Grade 3 winner of nearly $750,000. She has foaled 6 other runners, 5 won including Grade 1 winner and near $600,000 earner Crown Queen and 2-time Breeders’ Cup winner, filly champion and over $4.8 million earner Royal Delta.

His sire Distorted Humor sired Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide.

Okay, he was not from the wrong side of the tracks but you still have to perform when the money is down.

Khozan debuted in late January at Gulfstream Park for trainer Todd Pletcher and beat 13 solid rivals as a tepid favorite. He maintained contact early, had a 2-length lead with a furlong to go and extended to win by nearly 4 lengths while earning a 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

And there lies the crux of the matter. Khozan will be trying to do what no horse has done since 1882 and that’s win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a 2-year-old. The last 10 Kentucky Derby winners started their careers by early October at 2.

Given time to recoup, he started about a month later after his opener in an entry-level allowance race and settled in third early, opened up by over 5 lengths at the top of the lane and drew away by nearly 13 lengths.

Ridden by Javier Castellano, Khozan impressed the rider who has won over 4,000 races, Castellano: “That’s what we live for with the horses.”

Cramming for the Kentucky Derby is nothing like doing an all-nighter and cramming for an exam. When horses have to prepare quickly, they don’t have the proper time to get re-charged and it can have a negative toll.

And Pletcher knows about rushing a horse. A couple of years ago his student Verrazano didn’t race at 2, but made his first start a winning one on New Year’s Day. He went on to win his first 3 races by an average of 9 lengths but he had already peaked by the time he got to the Kentucky Derby and he ran 14th.

This year’s Derby is shaping up as a very good year. There is quality around the country. The next logical step for Khozan would be the Florida Derby and if he runs well, he may get his chance to slap history in the jaw.

And he’ll have more history to buck. He will be trying to win the Derby in only the 4th start of his career and only 2 horses, Regret in 1915 and Big Brown in 2008, have accomplished that feat.

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