KENTUCKY Derby hopeful Ground Transport has been the centre of a major transaction in the USA with West Point Thoroughbreds and St. Elias Stable purchasing an interest in the son of Big Brown.
The Mike Stidham-trained colt finished second on debut behind the still undefeated Departing at Fair Grounds before winning his next two starts impressively at the New Orleans venue.
Ground Transport is expected to contest the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on the 30th of March to stake his claim to the 139th Kentucky Derby as is impressing in his work.
The rapidly progressing Ground Transport has taken off in recent days as a live chance for the 100th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby Gr.2 at Fair Grounds.
The sophomore son of Big Brown breezed a fast four furlongs in :47 last Saturday at Fair Grounds on the same morning that Gr.2 Risen Star winner Ive Struck a Nerve covered that same distance in :48 2/5.
“We like him,” trainer Mike Stidham told Brisnet.com, speaking outside his barn during training hours Wednesday morning at Fair Grounds. “The horse is doing very well right now and that was a very good work for him the other day. We’re pointing for the Louisiana Derby with him.”
The “we” Stidham was speaking of originally included a partnership between Jeffery Yingling, Marty Nixon, Frank Calabrese and Marrette Farrell, but Stidham was quick to update the status of that ownership group on Wednesday.
“West Point Thoroughbreds just bought into the ownership for a one-quarter interest,” Stidham said. “Originally, we had bought him out of a two-year-olds in training sale last year at Keeneland.”
Ground Transport is showing a lot of potential, having made three starts in his career, all at the Crescent City oval.
In his career debut and only start as a two-year-old on December 22, he was beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Departing, who remains undefeated after winning the Texas Heritage at Sam Houston most recently on March 2.
However, in his next start on January 19, Ground Transport broke his maiden in handy fashion by 1 1/2 lengths then on Louisiana Derby Preview Day, February 23, the Kentucky-bred’s three-length win in the first-level allowance ranks was overshadowed by the four graded stakes run on the same afternoon.
“It’s very exciting for us to be involved with a colt who has a legitimate chance to step on to the Kentucky Derby radar,” said West Point Thoroughbreds president Terry Finely.
“He’s in great hands, has improved in every start, and is proven around two turns.”
Meanwhile still in the USA, Big Brown’s inital stakeswinner – Brown Almighty – finished third in the rich $100,000 OBS Stakes Championship (1 1/16m) in Florida this week.
Brown Almighty is one of his sire’s 23 individual winners from 44 starters and took out the Sunny’s Halo Stakes at Fair Grounds at only his second race start.
Vinery stallion Big Brown will be represented by seven yearlings at the 2013 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale at Newmarket.