BALTIMORE | Went the Day Well finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby. But how owner Barry Irwin saw that result changed in the moments afterward.
“When he ran fourth, I was not disappointed. Anytime your horse puts in a big run, you have to feel good. The Derby’s a tough race to run 1-2-3 in,” said Irwin, a partner in Team Valor, which also owns last year’s winner, Animal Kingdom. “I watched the replay and I thought he could’ve run better. But then when I watched that blimp shot and I saw how he finished, I wanted to throw up because I knew that if he broke cleanly that he could’ve won that race.”
It was a bad break that cost Went the Day Well and made him have to play a game of catch-up. He felt short and couldn’t get close enough to I’ll Have Another or Bodemeister to be a real threat at the wire.
But trainer Graham Motion, preparing to run his colt again in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, doesn’t feel cheated.
“He ended up much farther back than Johnny wanted in the Derby, and that’s probably what cost him being second. Maybe cost him the win,” he said. “He was about eight or 10 lengths farther back than he would have liked to have been in the first turn.”
Having won with Animal Kingdom a year ago, Motion was willing to give I’ll Have Another and trainer Doug O’Neill the bulk of the credit rather than cry about losing.
“So many people can come back and say that after the Derby Look, Doug’s horse had a great run. He was the best horse. It somewhat amuses me that people want to talk about the other horses,” Motion said. “I mean, he won the race. He was the best horse on the day. He had a great trip. We had a great trip last year. There are going to be horses that did not have a great trip in the Derby.”
Irwin on Wednesday night envisioned a scenario that could work out well for Went the Day Well.
“In the best of all possible worlds, I think Bodemeister, that Derby race has got to tell something on him. You can’t run as fast and as hard as he did and not have it affect you,” he said. “I’ll Have Another, if he wants to win the Triple Crown or win the Preakness, the onus is on him to go after Bodemeister. And if both those things happen, and my horse breaks cleanly, I hopefully will be the beneficiary.”
Motion called that “unlikely,” but that doesn’t mean he’s pessimistic about Went the Day Well’s chances at Pimlico.
“My horse is very adaptable. I think that’s one of his biggest attributes,” Motion said. “He can kind of do anything you want with him. But he’s a very straightforward horse. If nobody goes with the speed horse, he’s not going to be too far off the pace, probably.”
Of course that requires a good break, which could be the break Motion and Went the Day Well need to win the Preakness.