R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables' Vekoma launched his career for trainer George Weaver with a first-out sprint score at Belmont Park and has since matured into a top Kentucky Derby contender.
Weaver said the regally-bred Candy Ride chestnut has made great progress following his September unveiling, having captured the Grade 3 Nashua at the Big A and last weekend's Grade 2 Blue Grass at Keeneland.
“He's grown up and developed some. He's a May 22 foal, so he's a later foal. Technically, he's not even three yet,” Weaver said. “He's done well in his development. He broke his maiden at Belmont and he won the Nashua at Aqueduct. We gave him a break after that and we'll look forward to getting him back to New York when we're done with the Derby and maybe the Preakness.”
Vekoma is currently second on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 110 points, second only to Tacitus [150 points], who captured the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets last Saturday.
The handsome Vekoma, bred in Kentucky by Alpha Delta Stables, was hammered down for $135,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. His dam, Mona De Momma, captured the Grade 1 Humana Distaff in 2010, while his third dam, Long Legend, produced multiple graded stakes winner and eventual stallion Mr. Greeley.
Weaver said the colt demonstrated significant ability from the early stages of his development.
“He's always shown a decent amount of talent. He's always acted like he was going to be a nice horse from the beginning,” Weaver said. “There's so many things that go into reaching the level he's reached so far. You have to get lucky, they have to stay sound and we're fortunate the way things have gone. On a talent level, he's always acted like he had some.”
Vekoma's prominent effort to capture the Blue Grass, drawing off to win by 3 ½ lengths over Win Win Win, drew attention not only for its ease but also for the chestnut's unique, reaching stride.
“It's just the way he goes. He's always moved like that,” said Weaver. “I guess you would think it's less than ideal action, but he's always been a real sound horse and he covers a lot of ground. That's just the way he runs.
“You wouldn't know it watching him walk. Perhaps he just moves that way out of his shoulders,” continued Weaver. “There has been a lot of talk about it, but I'd rather have a horse that moves like him, and can run like him, than a horse that moves perfectly but can't run.”
Weaver said that all is well with Vekoma following the Blue Grass score and he will train the colt into the Derby from his Palm Beach Downs base in Delray Beach, Florida.
“He came out of the Blue Grass in good shape. The horse just shipped back down to Palm Beach Downs. He'll work twice here and then ship back up for the Derby,” Weaver said. “That's what won us the Blue Grass and we want to stick with the program. He's acclimated to this track and has done well over this track in South Florida.”
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