|By JENNIE REES— Mr. Money seeks to cash in on $1M, G1 Pennsylvania Derby. ‘He’s a beast,’ Bret Calhoun says of streaking colt’s confidence Video: B-roll on Mr. Money training 9.18.19 and Bret Calhoun interview
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Wednesday, Sept. 18) — Mr. Money goes for the big money in Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Park Racing on Saturday. Racing in the name of Madisonville, Ky., entrepreneur Chester Thomas’ Allied Racing Stable, the 3-year-old colt carries a win streak spanning four Grade 3 stakes into the 1 1/8-mile race.
“Obviously it’s deeper water here,” said Churchill Downs-based trainer Bret Calhoun. “We’ve been looking forward to it for a long time…. I think developmentally, physically but obviously mentally, he’s learned how to be a complete racehorse. Learning how to settle and relax, that’s the big thing. Of course I’ve said it a hundred times: His confidence level is unbelievable right now. He’s a beast.”
Thomas and Calhoun have taken a patient approach to Mr. Money ever since he finished fifth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in late March, a race for which his team was forced to play catchup after the Goldencents colt missed a January prep race with a mild but untimely illness. The payoff for patience has played out with impressive victories in Churchill Downs’ Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard, Churchill’s Matt Winn Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby and most recently Mountaineer Park’s West Virginia Derby. That six-length margin brought Mr. Money’s combined victory margin in his last four races to 20 1/4 lengths.
Calhoun had said all along that there would be a time to step up to Grade 1 company, but that they wanted to take advantage of the lucrative races for 3-year-olds along the way to build both Mr. Money’s confidence and bankroll. Mission accomplished, and Mr. Money became a millionaire after the West Virginia boosted his earnings to $1,074,220.
Asked the difference in Mr. Money then and now, Calhoun said, “Two things: Confidence level, and he didn’t have to have any gut-wrenching, grinding, all-out kind of races. He won pretty handily, and I think that kept him fresher.”
Regular rider Gabriel Saez has the mount.
Calhoun expressed disappointment that favored Maximum Security — the Kentucky Derby’s first-place finisher who was disqualified for interference — was scratched from the race Tuesday with a colon issue. Mr. Money now is the 2-1 second choice behind the Bob Baffert-trained 8-5 favorite Improbable, with Preakness Stakes winner War of Will the 4-1 third choice in the field of six.
“I was looking forward to running against him,” Calhoun said. “I feel bad for his connections that he didn’t make it. I am disappointed. He’s a top horse, and I think we were ready to take him on and just see who was the best.
“It’s a good race still, obviously a tougher race for us. But our horse is doing very good. He’s gotten very consistent. I think he’s answered a lot of the questions people had about distance and things like that.”
Thomas is a two-time leading owner at Ellis Park, where Mr. Money started his career last year with a second and a third. Mr. Money, who off a maiden victory at Churchill Downs was fourth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, might not have won the $1 million Louisiana Derby but Thomas did anyway with the Calhoun-trained By My Standards. The Pennsylvania Derby would be Thomas’ first Grade 1 victory.
Also on Saturday’s showcase card at Parx, Churchill Downs-based Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress and Fair Grounds Oaks winner Street Band are in the $1 million, Grade 1 Cotillion for 3-year-old fillies. Joel Politi’s Tom Amoss-trained Serengeti Empress won the 2018 Ellis Park Debutante by 13 lengths, while the Larry Jones-trained and co-owned Street Band won an Ellis maiden race by 7 1/4 lengths.
Jennie Rees for Kentucky HBPA and Ellis Park