Went the Day Well

Went the Day Well

Coglianese Photos

Motion Looking to Spiral Into the Derby Again

Graham Motion is back on the Derby trail with recent maiden winner Went the Day Well.

One thing about training for Team Valor International, you never know what bundle of joy is going to be left on your doorstep during the winter. Most of these little surprises are European orphans looking for a home in America who bring with them the unlikely dream of getting to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

This year, the “lost boy” who came smelling of roses was Went the Day Well, named after a 1942 World War II movie, who Team Valor president Barry Irwin snatched up following close second-place finishes at Haydock and Leicester in England.


By Proud Citizen, out of a Tiznow mare, Went the Day Well was bred for the dirt and looked like a good candidate to blossom in the United States and hopefully make the Derby.


In his first start in the U. S., a 1 1/8-mile maiden race at Gulfstream on dirt Feb. 4, he was caught behind a very slow pace and closed well to finish fourth, beaten 1 1/2 lengths. Sent off as the even-money favorite in a 1 1/16-mile event on March 3, he was much closer to the pace and rallied through the stretch to win going away by 1 1/4 lengths.


Now it’s time to follow in the footsteps of Animal Kingdom  and use the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. II) March 24 as a springboard to the Kentucky Derby.


“Went the Day Well is a very attractive, talented horse that Barry found in England,” Motion said. “He purchased him with the intention of running him on the dirt. He got held up in quarantine, which is why he got to the races here so late. So we’re playing catch-up. But I felt like we needed to give him the chance, because he wants to go the distance.


“I’m very comfortable with where he’s at. He’s benefited from his races in this country. I’ve seen improvement in him, and significant improvement after his fourth-place finish. In some ways, he’s been similar to Animal Kingdom, who was still very green going into the Spiral. I never could have imagined he’d be a Derby winner.”


Motion is reaping the rewards of a Kentucky Derby victory, but understands that a certain amount of pressure goes with it.


“Winning the Derby gives you more confidence,” Motion said. “Once you’ve won it people think you’re a more competent trainer. It does relieve some of the pressure to have to get there if you’ve already won it, but there is pressure because you’re more in the spotlight. I just try not to be influenced by results; I stick to my principles. All in all it hasn’t changed the way I’ve gone about training on a daily basis.”