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Samraat sets sights on Kentucky Derby

Samraat hopes to become the second NY bred to win the Run for the Roses.
Samraat hopes to become the second NY bred to win the Run for the Roses.
Diana Duel archives

Better known for The Hampton’s Classic equestrian show, the east end of Long Island is now looking to make a name for itself as the home of this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, as Samraat (an Indian term for a noble man) heads south after winning 5 out of 6 starts (all in New York). His only defeat so far was in the Wood Memorial, when he came in second to Wicked Strong.

“It was the first time he was surrounded and covered up, and he handled it well, coming back three times before being beaten by 3-1/2 lengths,” stated trainer Rick Violette, who added that his colt has never been farther back than fourth for jockey Jose Ortiz.

This will be the second time Violette has run a horse in the Derby. Last time he finished 7th with Read the Footnotes in 2004. It will also be the second Derby attempt for Samraat’s owners, Leonard and Louise Riggio who ran his sire, “Noble Causeway,” in 2005, only to end up 14th. Samraat was born at the Riggio’s My Meadowview Farm in Watermill, where dam My Little Indian Girl literally dropped him into the arms of broodmare manager Tawnia McKenzie.

While the only New York-bred to win the Kentucky Derby was Funny Cide in 2003, Samraat’s team has a lot of confidence in their colt, despite concerns that running in a field of 20 horses can provide plenty of traffic jams and fatigue. In addition, this year’s line-up in stocked with a number of front-runners likely to force a fast pace which might work against him. Still, Violette stated that his colt is “very rateable.”

“We’ve ridden him aggressively, but because he can go into neutral after getting position is what makes him so valuable. We are able to put him behind the speed, and if nobody else goes, we’ll be in the lead.”

Those who can't make it to Louisville can watch the running of the 140th Derby Saturday May 5th on channel 4 at 6:24pm.