Vekoma’s still more than a week out from his first breeze since a 12th-place Kentucky Derby finish. Or, as trainer George Weaver puts it, “We’re getting the gas tank full again.”
The goal is a cut back in distance in the July 6 Dwyer (G3) going a mile at Belmont Park, where Code of Honor, promoted to second in the Derby, is also expected to make his next start.
“I had my reservations about how far he wants to go,” Weaver said, reflecting on the Derby trail. “He won the Blue Grass going a mile and an eighth, which obviously he got that job done. As far as what his best distance is, I don’t think we’ve gotten to the bottom of that yet.
“My suspicions are he’s a one-turn horse, and the Dwyer at a one-turn mile gives us a chance to recover from the Triple Crown process.”
Vekoma, a son of Candy Ride campaigned by R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables, has relocated to Saratoga to continue his training. The Derby marked the chestnut colt’s fifth career start, from which he has three wins.
Heading to the paddock on the first Saturday in May, Weaver added another concern as rain drenched a harrowed Churchill Downs track.
“I took my dress shoes off and walked over in cowboy boots, and they almost got pulled off,” he said. “That’s how gooey it was.”
The track crew did eventually seal the surface, but not until after heavy rain started. Vekoma ran wide up the back stretch and near the pace. He never kicked on.
“He just didn’t show up for the Derby,” Weaver said. “I don’t think he cared for the track much. He seemed to be climbing around the first turn, and you could tell coming to the 3/8 pole he just didn’t have it that day.”
Going back to his 2-year-old season, Vekoma won on debut at Belmont Park before taking Aqueduct’s Nashua (G3). His other defeat came off a nearly four-month layoff when third behind Code of Honor in the Fountain of Youth (G2).