Wright: Anneau d’Or Has ‘Got To Step Up His Game’ In Santa Anita Derby

Blaine Wright knows his way around the race track,

You might say he was born in the game.

His father, Richard, was a jockey and a trainer. His mother, Susan, was an assistant trainer, an owner and a breeder, so when Blaine sends out an outsider against two deservingly obvious favorites in a Grade 1 race, it should be given more than a longshot’s chance.

That’s the scenario the 46-year-old trainer will find himself in next Saturday when he runs Anneau d’Or against undefeated Authentic and Honor A.P. in the Grade 1 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

As a 2-year-old, a future of gold and glory seemed on the horizon after Anneau d’Or lost the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by a head at 28-1 to Storm the Court, who would go on to win an Eclipse Award as outstanding two-year-old male of 2019.

That effort was followed by a neck defeat as the 6-5 favorite behind well-regarded Thousand Words in the Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity.

But that was then and this is now. In his two races at 3, Anneau d’Or (ring of gold) was an eventful ninth in the G2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds on Feb. 15 and fifth of six by 9 ½ lengths in the first division of the G1I Arkansas Derby on May 2.

Next up: the Santa Anita Derby.

“Our plans are to leave Monday morning (from Golden Gate),” said Wright by phone from the Bay Area, adding that Victor Espinoza has been engaged to ride the $480,000 son of Medaglia d’Oro owned by 85-year-old Peter Redekop, an inspirational story in his own right.

Born in a Mennonite colony in the former Soviet Union–in the area now known as the Ukraine–Redekop’s family was oppressed by Communists for their religious beliefs and displaced in Germany for two years after World War II ended.

“We basically didn’t have any food to eat,” Redekop has said. “I was 10 years old and remember it very vividly. I will never forget it.”

Following several years in The Netherlands, Redekop immigrated to Canada in 1948, landing in Winnipeg. He made his fortune in real estate, jumped into racing with both feet in 1968 and has been a prominent fixture for more than half a century.

Redekop is the perennial leader among owners and breeders in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he is a member of the Hall of Fame.

Wright, who began training full time in 2006, is best known for developing millionaire Alert Bay into a four-time graded stakes winner including Santa Anita’s G2 City of Hope Mile in 2015.

But back to Anneau d’Or.

“We had to use him a little more than we wanted the first part in the Arkansas Derby,” continued Wright, a native of Ogden, Utah, who has been a mainstay in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, where he was leading trainer at Emerald Downs in 2016-17.

“He broke bad, but that’s no excuse. The winner (Charlatan) ran off the charts (leading throughout to post a six-length triumph). Nobody was outrunning him that day. Maybe we would have placed a bit better, but on the other hand, it had been nine weeks since he ran in the Risen Star and it was another nine weeks from the Los Al Futurity to the Risen Star.

“We had been at Santa Anita and breezed over the track for the Santa Anita Derby when it was originally to be run on April 4, but was ultimately postponed, so we came home to Golden Gate.

“Now we’re looking forward to running him back in 30 days, but make no mistake; all of what transpired is no excuse as to why he got beat. He’s got to step up his game, obviously.

“He really likes the track at Santa Anita. He breezed super over it (six furlongs in 1:13 flat March 28) when we had him there earlier and we were really looking forward to the Derby before racing was shut down.”

Now the countdown is on in earnest.

The post Wright: Anneau d’Or Has ‘Got To Step Up His Game’ In Santa Anita Derby appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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