Riker earns Kentucky Derby points, shot at Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with Grey win

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Jen Caldwell

October 4th, 2015

The connections of undefeated Riker are dreaming big after the Include colt wired Sunday’s $114,045 Grey S. (Can-G3) at Woodbine by 1 1/2 lengths.

The Tucci Stable colorbearer grabbed command soon after the start and never looked back, drawing off by as much as four lengths on the backstretch while setting splits of :24.18, :48.92, 1:14.29 and 1:38.10. Kasseopia, who shipped over from England and was making his North American debut in this spot, chased throughout but could never get to Riker.

Jockey Jesse Campbell was still sitting chill on Riker as the field hit the stretch and had little to do in the lane as his mount crossed under the wire in 1:44.31 for 1 1/16 miles on the synthetic Polytrack.

Kasseopia ran well in second, 1 1/2 lengths up on Tizzarunner, while Van Damme and Ruck completed the order under the line.

Riker, the even-money favorite, brought a perfect three-for-three mark into the Grey and has now earned a shot at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) thanks to Sunday’s easy score. The dark bay colt was stretching out in this event following sprinting wins in the Colin S. and Swynford S. in his last two.

The Kentucky-bred colt not only could go on to Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup on October 31, he also might find himself in the Bluegrass State next spring for the Kentucky Derby (G1). The Grey is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series of races that award points toward a starting berth in the Run for the Roses, and Riker has now joined the Derby leaderboard with 10 points.

Riker photo courtesy of WEG/Michael Burns Photography


Nick Gonzalez, trainer of winner Riker: "That will be our plan now (to go to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile [G1]). We'll see how he comes out of the race, but we're dreaming the dream.

"I was really happy. Jesse and I weren't surprised. He's always galloped out well after his races. He worked out in :59 and change (:59.80 on September 24) and he galloped out very strong after that. He's always showed lots of stamina in the morning. We give him lots of two-mile gallops and he takes it like it's nothing. He's growing from a boy to a man."

Jesse Campbell, jockey of winner Riker: "I wanted to be in front and it worked out that way. He was very relaxed going into the first turn and at about seven-eighths he grabbed me pretty good. It wasn't rank, he just surprised me a bit…he was ready to run today.”