Top-of-the-stretch antics cost Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) winner Ring Weekend a possible victory in the $250,000 Calder Derby April 5 at Calder Casino & Race Course, as 11-2 shot Our Caravan drew off to win for fun (VIDEO).
Ring Weekend, a Tapit colt owned by St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds and trained by Graham Motion, has 50 points on the road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), collected with his front-running score in the March 8 Tampa Bay Derby off a Feb. 8 Gulfstream Park maiden win.
Points were what Anstu Stables and trainer Michael Dilger had been after for Our Caravan in two previous starts as well, but the Daaher colt finished eighth at Gulfstream in the Jan. 25 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) and seventh in the Feb. 22 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (gr. II). Those efforts came after he made his debut a winning one Dec. 14, taking a 1 1/16-mile event by three lengths at the South Florida oval.
Ring Weekend went into the 1 1/8-mile Calder Derby, which carries no points for the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, heavily favored at 3-10 under Alan Garcia for trainer Graham Motion. He was keen at the start but eventually settled to rate fourth while 32-1 shot Charlie the Boss set the pace tracked by the eventual winner and Russian Humor.
Our Caravan put pressure on the longshot front-runner through a quarter in :24.07 and a half in :49.24 while Ring Weekend moved up to third behind three-quarters in 1:14.67. The leader was clearly finished heading into the final turn, at which point Our Caravan took the lead and Ring Weekend ranged up to engage him.
The Tampa Bay Derby winner overreacted, however, when corrected for drifting from Garcia's right-handed stick toward his inside rival. As Garcia momentarily took up to avoid a potential brush, Ring Weekend swerved outward and lost his momentum. In those precious seconds Our Caravan widened away in the final furlong, crossing the line on the fast main track in 1:54.32.
Our Caravan paid $13.20, $4, and $2.60 while Ring Weekend paid $2.20 and $2.10. Cleburn brought $2.60 as General Sham'mah, Copa Del Rey, Gaining Ground, Racetrack Romance, Charlie the Boss, and Russian Humor completed the order of finish. Tapicero scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by Hare Forest Farm out of the Elusive Quality mare Alwaan, Our Caravan was a $190,000 purchase from the 2012 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga select yearling sale when consigned by Hunter Valley Farm. He now has two wins from four starts and earnings of $180,200.