R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables’ Vekoma earned a berth in the starting gate at Churchill Downs on May 4 with a convincing tally in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland. The once-beaten colt earned 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby to book his spot in the starting gate for conditioner George Weaver.
The Blue Grass winner was bred in Kentucky by Alpha Delta Stable LLC. He was purchased for $135,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale from the Lane’s End consignment.
Vekoma is by top sire Candy Ride, who is also represented on the Derby Trail through his son, champion Game Winner. Candy Ride’s popularity has grown in recent years, in part due to the success of Horse of the Year and near $16 million earner Gun Runner. In total, progeny of Candy Ride have amassed at least 83 stakes wins to date.
Vekoma’s first dam is the Speightstown mare Mona de Momma, who was victorious in the 2010 Humana Distaff Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs and Las Flores Handicap (G3) at Santa Anita Park. Mona de Momma was a one-turn specialist who finished well back in her lone route attempt.
Eclipse Award winner Speightstown was a brilliant racehorse who concluded his career with a convincing score in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Lone Star Park. The son of Gone West has been a good broodmare sire, with his daughters producing at least 20 stakes winners to date, though the majority of those have ben sprinter/miler types.
The second dam of Vekoma is the Linkage mare Society Gal, who is a half-sister to a pair of stakes winners including influential sire Mr. Greeley. This is the same female line as multiple Grade 1 queen Paradise Woods as well as 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) and 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) star Street Sense.
Vekoma has done little wrong to date with three wins and a good third from four lifetime tries. The Kentucky-bred chestnut was much the best at Keeneland in his debut at nine furlongs, and the colt might be able to carve out 1 1/4 miles under the right circumstances.
However, I think his questionable action combined with a pedigree that is geared towards middle distances, will make the 10-furlong voyage in a 20-horse field at Churchill Downs a huge obstacle for him.
Vekoma is clearly one of the more talented horses in his generation, but I feel that he will be a cut below at the Kentucky Derby distance.
PHOTO: Vekoma and jockey Javier Castellano win the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland on April 6, 2019 (c) Coady Photography/Keeneland