It was déjà vu for Team Valor and trainer Graham Motion in Saturday’s Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park.
The connections scored in last year’s Spiral with Animal Kingdom, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) following his triumph in Florence, Ky. , and on Saturday sent out Went the Day Well. The New York-bred son of Proud Citizen carried the Team Valor colors to an impressive victory under jockey John Velazquez in the 1 1/8-mile race while making his stakes debut. He covered the distance in 1:51.33.
“He did everything great today,” said Velazquez. “When he got to the lead he was waiting on other horses. He didn’t really know what to do when he made the lead. I think he will run all day,” he told a nationwide audience on NBC Sports.
Went the Day Well broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park last time out for Motion in his second U.S. start. The colt, a $15,000 Keeneland November graduate, began his career in England where he finished second twice last year at age two. Mark Ford is also a co-owner of the colt in partnership with Team Valor.
“I was very impressed with him,” said Motion. “Apart from a little greenness (in the stretch) he couldn’t have been better. When Animal Kingdom won this race last year, he was very explosive, but this horse was a little explosive, too. I hate to compare the two because they are such different horses.
“The beauty of (the timing of) this race is you have the option to run him one more time or not run more time. Probably the only option (if he does run) is the Lexington Stakes (at Keeneland April 21).
“I feel confident telling you this horse will run in the Kentucky Derby,” Motion continued.
Holiday Promise finished second for trainer Todd Pletcher and WinStar Farm. The $160,000 OBS graduate is a son of Harlan’s Holiday.
Turfway Publicity contributed to this report.
Went the Day Well/Patrick Lang photo