In a year where multiple trainers have multiple horses in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), Bill Kaplan will saddle two longshots.
Storm in May, who finished second behind morning-line Derby favorite Curlin in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), and Imawildandcrazyguy, who was the last horse to draw into the full 20-horse field, are both conditioned by the 61-year-old Kaplan.
The trainer said both of his charges have settled in well, and he does not anticipate the possibility of an off track being a problem for either of them.
"Storm in May has been here for three weeks, and 'Crazyguy, nothing bothers him," Kaplan said. "I think the chance of an off track is a non-factor for both of them. Storm in May would run on rocks if you asked him to. Both are amazing animals."
Storm in May, a gray son of Tiger Ridge, was left blind in his right eye after an accident when he was less than a week old. As a result of the care he received afterward, his limitation does not affect him and he is extremely fond of people.
"Storm in May is a people horse, and he trusts everything about humans," Kaplan said. "(Wednesday) he was grazing and had a full circle of writers within 10 feet of him. He didn’t care; he was munching away at their feet."
Storm in May is owned by David and Teresa Palmer, and he is currently their only horse in training.
"We are so thrilled," said the Palmer's 21-year-old daughter, Tiffany. "It is something that you only dream of. Our story is kind of special because we aren't a family who has 50 horses or spends millions on horses. Storm worked his butt off to get here, really, and we think that is pretty special."
Imawildandcrazyguy, once named Cupcake Melee, became a much more focused horse after Kaplan had him gelded. He is owned by Lewis Pell and Michael Eigner.
"If we didn't do it, he never would have gotten this far," Kaplan said of the gray Wild Event gelding. "He was very tough on himself. I called (Mike) up and said, 'We have to cut him, and we have to cut him right away. Oh, and by the way, we have to change his name because he is no cupcake.' "
Eigner and Pell did not find out until May 1 their horse would make the 20-horse field, which is based on graded stakes earnings if oversubscribed. They flew into Kentucky May 3 on a private jet to partake in the Derby festivities.
"They had a hell of a two weeks sitting on the bubble, being up and down," Kaplan said. "When they finally were called and told 'you are in', they screamed. They knew they were sitting close. They were game, and they said 'we have the opportunity, we are going.' "