Longshot Commanding Curve rallies for second-place Kentucky Derb - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Longshot Commanding Curve rallies for second-place Kentucky Derby finish

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Commanding Curve started the Kentucky Derby as a 37-1 longshot. He ended the race in a mad dash to actually win it.

California Chrome won Saturday’s Derby, but Commanding Curve streaked from the middle of the pack in the Churchill Downs stretch and finished less than two lengths behind in second place.

“This is a great horse,” said Louisville-based trainer Dallas Stewart, who was a Derby runner-up for the second straight year. “He’s got a big future ahead of him.”

Commanding Curve didn’t get much respect during Derby week. He was given 50-1 odds in oddsmaker Mike Battaglia’s morning line – the highest in the field --and bettors believed that only two other horses had a worse chance in the race.

But Terry Finley, founder and president of West Point Thoroughbreds, did have faith in his horse.

“We were very confident coming into this race, and when we walked out of the barn I said, ‘We’ve got a shot to win the Kentucky Derby,’” Finley said.

Commanding Curve came into the race with six previous starts – three of them on the Churchill dirt track. His previous race in Louisville was last November, when he notched the only win of his career.

The past experience was one reason West Point executive vice president Jeff Lifson was optimistic on the Churchill backside last week.

“We think that he has some kind of an advantage,” Lifson said Tuesday morning. “We’re thrilled, and we can’t believe that the plan we put together back in November, when he broke his maiden here, has actually come to fruition.”

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan said Commanding Curve “gave me everything” in the Derby.

“I was starting to get him geared up when he turned for home, and I had half the field to beat at that point,” Bridgmohan said. “I was just looking (for) somewhere for him to go. Once I got him down the lane, man, he lengthened his stride and really dug in for me.”

West Point bought Commanding Curve last year at an auction for $75,000. He raced in New Orleans during his two starts of 2014, finishing third in the Louisiana Derby and sixth in the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds Race Course.

Another West Point horse, Ring Weekend, was pulled from Derby contention last week after developing an illness. That move helped Commanding Curve, whose No. 20 Derby points ranking allowed him to slide into the field.

West Point assembles partnerships that buy ownership stakes in racehorses. The company’s previous Derby entrant was Flashy Bull, who finished 14th in 2006.

Two years later, Macho Again finished second in the Preakness Stakes. As with Commanding Curve, Stewart also was West Point’s trainer in that race.

Finley said California Chrome is a deserving Derby winner, but there’s another leg of the Triple Crown coming up.

“That horse is alright. I’d love to own him, but I think our horse is alright, too,” he said. “And I can’t wait to get back to the Preakness in two weeks.”

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