Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®
Graham's Methods Off the Beaten Path
Postulation, who looms a major force in the 1 1/2-mile Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup on Saturday, is one of 11 horses trained by former steeplechase jockey Eddie Graham, and his training fits right in with the unique course at Kentucky Downs. But Graham denies it gives him an advantage.
At a farm in Unionville, Pa., near the Maryland border, Graham's horses are usually vanned four days a week to nearby farms to train over grass gallops with an uphill component. Pretty much the only times his horses see a true oval is when racing and at nearby Fair Hill Training Center.
“That’s why this course is kind of suited for him,” Wendi Graham, the trainer’s wife, said of Postulation after the 5-year-old gelding trained Friday at the Franklin, Ky. track. “Eddie will do works up a hill, more of like a steeplechase horse. Where we’re at is big-time horse country. He’ll use Joyce Slater’s place. She has a beautiful, beautiful turf gallop, and he works a lot of his horses there. The Bentleys (owners) also have turf gallops on their property.
“If it’s an easy day, he might go for a hack in the woods. Because he switches it up. That’s one thing about Eddie: If a horse seems like he wants to go hop logs in the woods, if it seems like it’s going to help his mind, he’ll go hop logs in the woods. He tries to gear the horse toward just being happy and being a horse. They get turned out every day. It’s not your normal race track environment.
“He’s used to being at home,” she said. “He gets a little nervous when he gets to the track, going on and off the gap. It seems like it kind of messes with his brain a little bit because he is used to an extremely laid-back environment. But he was good today.
“This course is kind of geared to the way that Eddie trains. He trains in more of a European style than an American style. He trains very much like Jonathan Sheppard. With the steeplechasing roots and steeplechasing background, stamina is not an issue.”
Postulation is in the best form of his career, having won Delaware’s 1 1/2-mile Cape Henlopen by six lengths and the 1 11/16-mile St. Leger by 2 1/2 lengths over Taghleeb, who is part of a strong quartet of Mike Maker-trained horses in the field of 12.
“He just seems like he likes the distances,” Eddie Graham said by phone. “The distance and being able to stay at his one pace is what he likes. He can be wherever, it just depends on the pace.”
Postulation is the 9-2 third choice behind the Maker-trained Enterprising (3-1) and 2016 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby winner Oscar Nominated (7-2).
Graham has experience of his own at Kentucky Downs. He ran his first horse at the track last year, finishing third in the Dueling Grounds Oaks with Leafy Shade.
“This is a tough race. I think anybody can win it,” Graham said. “A mile and a half, it’s who has the best trip. And Michael Maker’s horses, any one of them can win it.…. What I like, what I train on is that kind of course. So I thought this race would fit him.”
Asked if he thought Postulation’s comfort level with varied terrain gave him an edge, Graham said, “No. I wish. I wish I could think like that, but I don’t. I just try to keep them happy.”
Postulation was bred in Kentucky by Juddmonte Farms but started his career with modest success in Ireland. Trained by Dermot Weld, he was gelded and came over for the 2015 Belmont Derby, finishing sixth, and several months later was sold to Caroline and Gregory Bentleys’ Runnymede Racing and turned over to Graham.
The son of Harlan’s Holiday didn’t run for almost 14 months after the Belmont Derby.
“When he came over here, I didn’t feel like he was quite right,” Eddie Graham said. “He didn’t acclimate well. He didn’t look well with the trip. I just gave him time. I don’t train in the winter anyway, so horses have time off. He ended up having more time off because of that.”
Graham, who worked as an assistant to steeplechase stalwart Bruce Miller before going on his own, is best known for his work with Hardest Core, who was bought as a steeplechase horse but nearly died when an undetectable high hernia caused his intestines to fall through the incision after he was gelded.
Hardest Core, who was campaigned in the name of the Bentleys' son Andrew, bucked the odds just to survive but recovered to win his first three races for Graham, culminating in the 2014 Arlington Million. The 7-year-old gelding is nearing a return to racing after twice being off more than a year because of tendon issues.
Both Hardest Core and Postulation won Delaware Park’s $50,000 Cape Henlopen before prevailing at Arlington Park. Daily Racing Form’s Mid-Atlantic writer Jim Dunleavy observed that both of Graham’s graded stakes victories came on Million Day.
“That they both came at Arlington Park on Million Day is amazing,” Dunleavy wrote. “That he legged both horses up for their victories in the minor Cape Henlopen Stakes at Delaware Park borders on the unbelievable.”
Edited track release
Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup
Post time: Saturday at 5:42 p.m. Central
Purse: $600,000 ($300,000 KTDF)
Distance: 1 1/2 miles
pp horse (weight) jockey/trainer odds
1 Postulation (123) Vergas/Graham 9-2
2 Lucky Ramsey (121) Hill/Morse 30-1
3 Muqtaser (123) Bravo/McLaughlin 6-1
4 Oscar Nominated (121) Leparoux/Maker 7-2
5 Crescent Drive (121) Mena/Amoss 20-1
6 Zulu Alpha (121) Albarado/Fernandez 30-1
7 Enterprising (123) Lanerie/Maker 3-1
8 Bullards Alley (121) Pedroza/Glyshaw 12-1
9 One Go All Go (121) Cannon/Matejka 20-1
10 St. Louie (123) Gaffalione/Maker 30-1
11 Taghleeb (123) J. Ortiz/Maker 5-1
12 Nessy (121) Hernandez/Wilkes 20-1