The loud boom you hear at Aqueduct on Feb. 9 could very well be the sound of Lord ofthe Thunder crashing down on the Kentucky Derby trail. The New York-bred son of Saint Ballado will be tackling open company for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile Whirlaway Stakes, and if those close to the colt are correct, we could have a new star on the scene.
Lord ofthe Thunder, although bred in New York, has a pedigree any Kentuckian would be proud of. By the prolific Saint Ballado, out of the Deputy Minister mare Astarte, the colt was purchased as a yearling at Saratoga by eagle-eyed Buzz Chace for Ernie Paragallo. Consigned to last year's Fasig-Tipton's 2-year-old sale at Calder, he had some soreness in his shin and was withdrawn. "Ernie was glad he came up sore," Chace said. "He really didn't want to sell him. He was a big, immature horse when I bought him. We paid $240,000, which is a lot for a New York-bred, but he was a beautiful colt and the price seemed right."
After getting bogged down on a deep, sticky track in his first start against state-breds, Lord ofthe Thunder came back and demolished his opposition by 15 lengths on Dec. 27. Three weeks later, he strolled home an incredibly easy winner of a mile allowance race, winning eased up by 6 1/4 lengths.
"Norberto (Arroyo) said he could have won by 20 lengths," trainer Dick Lundy said. "But he was just galloping along in the stretch and there was no reason to ask him for any more. I've never had a horse win that easily."
Because the race was such a cakewalk, Lundy worked the colt a mile Wednesday morning in 1:43 4/5, getting his last half in :50 2/5. "Noel Wynter worked him and said there was a lot more there," Lundy said. "I really believe this could be a very, very good horse, and I'm usually very low-keyed when it comes to my horses. He's the best 3-year-old I've had since (1991 Santa Anita Derby winner) Dinard. He's a beautiful horse, with good size, and he gets over the ground beautifully. He has a super good disposition, and no bad habits at all. He's just a lovely horse to be around."
Lord ofthe Thunder will have some stiff competition to deal with in the Whirlaway, with D'Coach and Saratoga Blues also pointing for the race.