West Point Thoroughbreds' newly turned 3-year-old colt King Congie won the first "derby" of the new year in the country, the $100,000 Tropical Park Derby, at Calder Casino & Race Course on Saturday, New Year's Day. The colt is trained by Tom Albertrani and was ridden by Javier Castellano.
The lightly-raced King Congie was making his fourth career start in the Tropical Park Derby and his second start on turf. His maiden victory came in his last race on turf at Aqueduct in November.
King Congie was rated behind the early pace in the 1 1/8 miles turf race and rallied on the far turn. He dueled with Private Prize racing down the home stretch as he also drifted to the middle of the course. He went on to win by a half-length over Private Prize as Swift Warrior finished another two and a half lengths back in third. King Congie covered the eight furlongs over "good" turf in 1:49.46.
At the mutuel windows, King Congie paid $9.00, $4.80, and $3.00.
Winning trainer's quotes:
Tom Albertrani - "It's been a good day to begin the New Year. We won the first race at Aqueduct earlier this afternoon and now this. In his first start, he ran into Uncle Mo and looked like he was going up to the lead at one point in the race before he stopped. Then we came back in another sprint and didn't get the result we were hoping for. That's when we went to the turf for his last start and obviously that's worked out well. We'll keep him on turf now and point for the races at Gulfstream."
Winning jockey's quotes:
Javier Castellano- "My goal was to get in a good position in the race and not to fight him, just get him in the flow. He handled the course well and once I put him in the clear, well, I think that was the key to the win. He got out a little in the stretch, but that's where I wanted him to be. There was more opportunity to run as I thought it was the better part of the course. He has improved a lot since his first race when I rode him, going short at Saratoga."
About the Tropical Park Derby:
The first "derby" of the New Year in the country, this mile and an eighth turf feature is recognized as the first step on the national Triple Crown trail. Barbaro won the 2006 Tropical Park Derby and would go on to win the Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) before sustaining his injury in the Preakness Stakes (G1).