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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Janney Takes High Road to Derby


By Dick Downey

Among the owners of starters in the Grade I Florida Derby, Stuart Janney III may be the one with the mildest case of Derby Fever.  

Janney bred and owns Orb along with Phipps Stable, but he doesn't like to get ahead of himself -- or put the cart before the horse.

“We don’t gear anything around the Derby. The best way to describe it is that the horse carries you there," Janney said. "That may be what you want to do. I do have a fairly strong opinion that the worst thing you can do is to identify it as your goal and basically kind of push the horse to conform with what your aspiration is."

Janney said that making the Kentucky Derby field having become an end unto itself is probably a reason fans don't hear much more from some of the runners.

“If you say that’s what your goal is, then you can’t miss a day, you can’t miss a work. There are no days off. You need to go in certain race. I think that’s a big reason why a lot of these horses don’t particularly perform well after the Derby,” said Janney.

Janney, who heads the Bessemer Trust, has never been represented by a Kentucky Derby starter. He could have started Coronado’s Quest in 1997, but Janney and Shug McGaughey took a pass because the colt tended to engage in odd pre-race behavior. Immensely talented, he had trouble staying off the lead pony during post parade and had other issues.

“It was not at all tough to not go in the Kentucky Derby. I couldn’t be any more happy about the whole thing. Shug and I completely saw eye-to-eye on that. We weren’t going to go to the Derby regardless of how he did in the Wood. Obviously, he did everything right in the Wood. He just needed time,” Janney said. “We needed to be sure that on a big day he could handle it all. Neither one of us had any confidence based on the Wood in front of a relatively small crowd that the Derby would be a good thing for him.”

Instead, Coronado’s Quest was pointed toward the Preakness Stakes in Janney’s home state, but a minor foot problem knocked him out of action. He went on to capture the Grade I Haskell and Grade I Travers Stakes.

 “We were more disappointed about missing the Preakness, but sometimes things work out for the best,” Janney said. “Winning the Haskell and the Travers is not bad.”

Orb has one last test before a final decision is made on his participation in the Kentucky Derby, and Janney sounds optimistic.

“He is calm and takes things as they come. I think his pedigree suggests that me might like that distance, and his running style is probably pretty good for what goes on,” Janney said. “So those are the things that suggest that maybe he might want to do it.  But we’re a long way from there.”

At this point, at least a mile and an eighth.


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