Trainer Calhoun Exuding ‘Confidence’ In Pair Of Sophomore Talents

Last year at this time, trainer Bret Calhoun had a pair of promising three-year-olds in the barn in By My Standards and Mr. Money, both for Allied Racing Stable LLC. The former upset the Louisiana Derby (G2), while the later would go on to take down a quartet of graded stakes.

Only time will tell what the future holds, but fast forward twelve months and Calhoun has another pair of potential aces housed under his New Orleans shedrow in Allied Racing Stable LLC’s Mailman Money and Tom Durant’s Digital.

Following a 24-1 upset win in his career debut at Churchill Downs in November, a race in which he upset his more highly touted stablemate and even-money favorite Digital, Mailman Money stretched out successfully at Fair Grounds in a first level allowance race over 1 mile and 70 yards on January 12. Bumped at the break and forced wide around both turns, the 3-year-old son of Goldencents sat third early, took control off the turn for home and opened up to win by a convincing 5 ¾ lengths, stamping himself worthy of joining the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

In his first serious move since that local route win, Mailman Money breezed a half mile in 49.60 on January 24 and according to Calhoun, the plan is for him to return to the work tab this weekend. If all goes well, he will make his stakes debut in the Risen Star (G2) on February 15, which is part of Louisiana Derby Preview Day presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln.

“He’s always been solid in the mornings,” Calhoun said of Mailman Money. “I think he’s along the same lines as By My Standards was in the fact that they were both physically and mentally immature early on. They got better as they grew up a little bit. This horse has surprised us being two for two. Physically and mentally he’s not where I know he will be soon. That gives us a lot of confidence and optimism going forward into the Risen Star.”

Once again odds-on in his second career start on December 28 at Fair Grounds, Digital was not to be denied. Sitting fourth of nine early on behind hot fractions on a muddy track, he made a bold move in the stretch and ran by Steely Danza to win by 1 ¾ lengths. Asked to tackle a route of ground for the first time in a January 18 allowance, Digital was in a position to win at the top of the stretch, only to be held at bay by the pacesetter and likely Risen Star participant Blackberry Wine. The final time of 1:43.22 was slightly faster than the featured Lecomte (G3) later in the day.

“We thought he ran a really good race,” Calhoun continued. “It was his first try going two turns and the horse that won had some experience going two turns already as well as just more race experience in general. That race was faster than the Lecomte so we were really pleased with how he ran. We don’t have a plan going forward yet. We’d like to keep him local and not have to travel too much, and we also want time between his races. We’re just taking everything into consideration.”

Calhoun indicated that Digital should have his first work back this weekend.

“He’s a horse that is a little lighter physically,” said trainer Bret Calhoun. “He needs a little more time between works and races. He came out of the race good. The first couple of days afterwards you could tell he was a little tired. He’s bounced back well though.”

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