Venetian WayVenetian Way got things going with a track-record-equaling performance March 26 at Gulfstream Park.That win, by five lengths in 1:08 4/5 for six furlongs, wasn't enough to get him ranked with the top Kentucky Derby contenders, especially since he had been soundly beaten at 1 1/8 miles in the Everglades Stakes at Hialeah in his last outing. But at least it was a start.
Venetian Way showed huge improvement a week later in his next race, finishing second by a nose to Bally Ache in the Florida Derby at 1 1/8 miles in which the winning time was four-fifths of a second off the track record. The two met again in the Stepping Stone purse at seven furlongs at Churchill Downs a week before the Run for the Roses, and Bally Ache won by 3 1/4 lengths.Bally Ache, who also had won the important Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah, appeared to be the Derby winner until caught on the lead by Venetian Way in the stretch. Venetian Way scored by 3 1/2 lengths at 6-1 odds.In the Preakness, Venetian Way was favored, but couldn't catch front-running Bally Ache and finished fifth. The Belmont Stakes went to English-bred Celtic Ash, with Venetian Way second.