When Robby Albarado suffered a broken ankle in a gate mishap two weeks before last year's Kentucky Derby, the jockey said that horse owner Tom Conway sent a text telling him not to worry, that “your Derby horse is in Dale's barn.”
Conway, a Louisville attorney, was referring to the 2018 Derby, trainer Dale Romans and a young colt that Conway co-bred and owned outright that was a son of Curlin, whom Albarado rode throughout two Horse of the Year campaigns. King Zachary, the colt in reference who was still almost seven months from making his first start at the time of the text, missed the Kentucky Derby. But he is the 6-5 favorite in Saturday night's $500,000 Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand. Albarado believes that King Zachary's victory in Churchill Downs' Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes last month and the Indiana Derby will prove just the start of a huge second half of the season for the youngster.
“We've always really, really been high on him,” Albarado, who has won the Indiana Derby a record three times and will be riding in the race for a record 11th running, said recently. “I really like the colt. He has a lot of characteristics of Curlin, not comparing them. But he's tactically fast, he rates, he's a smart horse, a nice physical specimen. I think he's going to become special.”
King Zachary missed his chance at the Kentucky Derby when he finished sixth in New York's Grade 2 Wood Memorial after winning a maiden race at Gulfstream Park by 7 3/4 lengths.
“He just wasn't ready for those horses yet in the Wood,” Albarado said. “He was a race behind him. They took off at the half-mile pole and he wasn't ready for that.”
King Zachary, who who breaks from post 8 in the field of nine 3-year-old rivals in the 1 1/16-mile Indiana Derby, is unbeaten in two starts since the Wood. He did run Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs, winning an allowance race under trying conditions, and then driving to a 4 3/4-length romp in the June 16 Matt Winn over stablemate Tiz Mischief.
“The other day was just impressive,” Albarado said. “He wasn't stressed or tired or anything. I thought it was it was a hard-fought race Derby Day. He really had to gut it out. The other day when I squeezed, he turned it on like, 'This is what we're doing it for.'
“He's fast enough to be close. He can do whatever you want with him. I've been inside and outside with him. He's something to look at, too. I like his swagger. His last race didn't exceed my exceptions, but I was like 'Wow, this is impressive.'”
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