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Photo: The Blood-Horse Library
Canonero II
March 14, 1971
Canonero II in Venezuela

Who would have ever thought Canonero II would run in the Kentucky Derby? After all, the Kentucky-bred colt was taken to Venezuela after being purchased for $1,200 at the Keeneland September yearling sale.

But it wasn't bon voyage for long. After winning his first start as a 2-year-old in Venezuela, Canonero II was shipped to Del Mar in California, where he ran third in an allowance race and was unplaced in the Del Mar Futurity. He was returned to Venezuela.

Canonero II, who raced eight times as a 3-year-old in Venezuela leading up to the 1971 Kentucky Derby, enjoyed a particular edge going into the Run for the Roses. He had raced twice at the Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles, finishing first and unplaced. The victory came a week before he ran third at 6 1/2 furlongs March 14.

Few knew what to make of Canonero II when he arrived for the Kentucky Derby. That thought quickly evaporated after he won the race in 2:03 1/5 as part of the field entry. He then captured the Preakness in record time, but finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes in front of a record crowd.

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