Long Range Toddy qualifies for Run for the Roses
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Publicity has never lingered near the Willis Racing Stable, LLC. The ownership hasn’t been wined, dined or invited to the Barnstable pre-Derby party in Louisville.
Two mares are on the premises used for breeding purposes. Willis Racing’s most notable broodmare was Pleasant Song, a creamy white 14-year-old, whose son, Long Range Toddy, already has earned enough Kentucky Derby points to be ensured a place in the 20-horse field for the most-watched race of any social season.
Long Range Toddy is a striking jet black colt with a wide, white blaze covering much of his face. He’s not an overpowering physical presence with a mile-long stride or late-running style lighting up the stretch of his races.
Long Range Toddy was born in Kentucky in April 2016. His sire is Take Charge Indy, a member in good standing of the A.P. Indy family.
Usually ridden by Jon Kenton Court, the little-noticed thoroughbred has raced three times this year and recorded a win in the two-part Rebel Stakes, as well as a second and a third. As a two-year-old, he raced four times and recorded three wins, including the Clever Trevor and Springboard Mile at Remington Park in the Southwest.
His earnings are now $851,125, with the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas as the possible next stop on his cloaked path to the Kentucky Derby.
The Arkansas Derby comes up on April 13 and is a Grade I race. Only three weeks after that race would come the Kentucky Derby on May 3 this year.
The thoroughbred is black and white and the Willis Racing Stable colors are white and black with white silks on jockey Court’s back.
Notoriety found its way to Long Range Toddy and his handlers when he outlasted the more fashionable Improbable during a stretch duel in the Rebel Stakes. He’s now a little more recognized and draws a lot more attention than before that victory.
Not too many thoroughbreds coming strictly from Remington Park and Oaklawn Park have been successful at converting their skills into 10-furlong victories at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May at the Kentucky Derby.
The jury and the judges are still out in the deliberation rooms as to whether Long Range Toddy has the right stuff to compete in a race as significant as the Kentucky Derby. Twenty horses will be in that field. The noise produced by at least 125,000 fans will dwarf that which is calculated at Remington Park.
Long Range Toddy has never been involved with large fields, or ever had to face the bumping and body slamming that often takes place leaving the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby. He won’t have the most experienced jockey aboard. Jockey Court doesn’t ride at Santa Anita, Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Gulfstream or Del Mar.
But Long Range Toddy already has accumulated 53.5 points and stood third last week in the point total for thoroughbreds chasing after a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
An unexpected win in that race would excite the public, which often rides along on the coattails of the underdog.
Willis Racing Stable, LLC, with its unassuming owner, would make a “feel good” story for the Disney Studios or the Hallmark Channel, if a movie were to be made.
At any rate, watch for the ebony-colored colt with the jockey in white silks on Kentucky Derby day.