State of Honor to Kentucky This Week
(NOTE: A separate story covers plans for Always Dreaming.)
State of Honor is confirmed for the Kentucky Derby, according to Mark Casse. The trainer said State of Honor exited the Florida Derby in good order and is bound for Churchill Downs the middle of this week.
Today Casse was more bullish on running in the Derby than he was in the immediate aftermath of the Florida Derby. Casse shed blinkers on State of Honor trying to get him to relax.
“The winner was very impressive,” Casse said. “Was there anything we could have done to change the outcome? No. I think if he had settled a little better . . . you know, he’s still learning to settle, which we’re trying to achieve. I think he did that in the middle of the race, he didn’t do it early. He was probably a little bit intimidated down inside, turning for home, where (Always Dreaming) kind of got first kick on him, where we had to play catch-up.
“I was actually, after watching the replay, more impressed with his performance than initially,” Casse said. “He’s a very consistent horse and ran well, so I think he deserves a shot. The owners are excited, we’re excited, and he’s going to Kentucky.”
Beaten favorite Gunnevera emerged from his third-place finish in good order, said trainer Antonio Sano on Sunday morning.
“Gunnevera is very good, very good. He was checked by the vet, and everything is very good,” said Sano, whose even-money favorite trailed the 10-horse field after breaking from the far outside post position and before rallying late to finish third.
“I’m very happy with my horse,” Sano said. “Considering everything, it was a good race for my horse.”
Sano said Gunnevera is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on April 22 to begin preparations for a start in the Kentucky Derby that include a planned breeze on April 29.
Trainer Dale Romans said he had no plans as of yet for Impressive Edge, who finished fourth in the Florida Derby.
“We’ll see how he comes out of this race, but I will find a good spot for him,” Romans said. “I think the winner is a really good horse, I think the second horse is a really good horse, I think they’re all really good horses and I think they will all have an impact on the Triple Crown series.”
Edited Gulfstream Park release