One week after his surprising second-place finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, where he was beaten just a length at 31-1, Stipa Racing Stable, Inc.’s Reveron walked the Barn 76 shedrow at Calder Casino & Race Course Saturday morning with the watchful eye of trainer Agustin Bezara following his every move.
“I never would have entered the race if I didn’t think he’d run like that,” Bezara said, speaking through interpreter Isaac Jimenez. “I knew going into the race that we had him ready, and he ran just like I knew he would. He came back from the race in excellent shape. He’s eating well, and everything has been perfect.”
With the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby exactly four weeks away, Bezara has plotted Reveron’s course to Louisville, while simultaneously crafting a backup plan in case he does not get a chance to run his colt in the Derby.
“We’re going to work him three times leading up to the Derby, that’s what we’re preparing him for,” Bezara said. “But if he doesn’t get in (due to lack of graded stakes earnings), then we’ll work him again and go right to the Preakness. But we’re getting him ready to run in the Derby; that’s the goal. And he’ll do all his prep work here at Calder.”
With $220,000 in graded-stakes earnings, Reveron entered Saturday in 19th place on the graded-stakes earnings list of 2012 Kentucky Derby hopefuls. With field size for the Derby limited to 20 starters (and four also-eligible horses), and the Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, and Illinois Derby scheduled for Saturday, Bezara is fully aware that when evening comes his colt could be on the outside looking in.
“I can’t worry about things I can not control,” the trainer said. “Of course, I would love to run this horse in the Derby, but it’s out of my hands now. And there is no way we would run him again looking for more (graded) money. So we’ll prepare him for the Derby, and see what path destiny has chosen for us.”
A champion trainer in his native Venezuela before relocating to the United States in 2010, the 59-year-old Bezara approaches his current Derby flirtation with the composure of a seasoned veteran, which is something one might not expect from the trainer of a relatively small outfit that has made just 32 starts since January 1 and has yet to win a graded stakes in North America.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m a bit surprised to have a horse like this so early in this portion of my career,” Bezara said. “And winning the Derby is my dream. But I’ve run in, and won, a lot of big races in South America and the Caribbean, so I’m not new to this. And if given the chance to run, I’ll be ready and so will my horse.”
TACKLEBERRY FIRES BULLET IN ADVANCE OF CHARLES TOWN CLASSIC
The multiple graded-stakes winning 5-year-old Tackleberry worked a half-mile in :48 at Calder Saturday morning in preparation for an April 14 start in the $1 million Charles Town Classic, a race he finished fourth in last year.
A career-earner of over $860,000, the son of Montbrook won the Grade 3 Fred Hooper at Calder in 2010 before barnstorming his way to a trio of stakes wins at the 2011 Gulfstream Park meet, capturing the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic, the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship, and the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.
Given some time off following a ninth-place finish in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap in May, Tackleberry returned to the races on March 10 where he finished second in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.
Tackleberry’s half-mile work on Saturday was the fastest of 79 moves at the distance.
KEIBER COA TO RIDE AT CALDER; LOPEZ RECOVERING FROM SURGERY
Apprentice rider Keiber Coa, son of four-time Calder Meet and four-time Tropical Meet leading rider Eibar Coa, is named on two horses opening day, marking his first appearance at the Miami Gardens track where his father won over 1,600 races and is the all-time leading Tropical Meet jockey.
“We’re going to get him started here and stay for a couple of weeks before going up to Monmouth some time in May,” agent Cory Moran said.
Coa began his career at Gulfstream on December 17, riding a handful of horses in south Florida before heading to Santa Anita where he won his first race on March 10. Coa returned to Gulfstream on March 31 where he found his way to the winner’s circle on just his second day back.
Moran also represents Paco Lopez, the 2008 leading rider at Calder who suffered a displaced fracture of the left clavicle in a March 17 incident in the last race at Gulfstream.
“Paco is getting better each day,” Moran reported Saturday morning. “He chose to have surgery, and the doctors say that is going to allow him to heal and recover even quicker. Once he is ready to ride, the three of us will go up north together.”