The 140th running of the Kentucky Derby is a little less than a week away, and locally owned Wicked Strong is gathering momentum as one of the favorites to contend for the crown in the Run for the Roses.
The horse, partially owned by Beverly based Centennial Farms, arrived in Kentucky over the weekend. A 3-year-old colt, he won the Wood Memorial in New York and finished fourth in the qualifying standings for the Kentucky Derby.
California Chrome was first with 150 points, followed by Vicar’s in Trouble with 120 and Dance With Fate with 108. Wicked Strong had 102 points, which are earned in races leading up the derby.
“Wicked Strong has a real chance to win the Kentucky Derby,” Chip Tuttle, the Salem native who is chief operating officer at Suffolk Downs, said. “His performance in the Wood Memorial over some of the top Derby prospects from the east was very impressive and no fluke.”
A group led by and including Centennial Farms bought Wicked Strong in 2012, and re-named him as a tribute to the spirit of Boston after the Marathon bombings a year ago. The owners have donated a portion of the colt’s earnings to the OneFund, and there is a $2 million purse at the Kentucky Derby.
Wicked Strong had his final workouts in New York last Friday, along with fellow Derby runners Samraat and Uncle Sigh, at Aqueduct. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens told the Associated Press the horse would take a van to Kentucky, since he’d never been on a plane before.
Jerkens trained the horse over the winter in Florida, where Wicked Strong didn’t finish as well as the group had hoped at the Holly Bull Stakes. He surely overcame that by winning the Wood at Aqueduct, and how that translates to the huge crowd and the neutral track at Churchill Downs will go a long way to determining if he can win the race.