Cecil Whig: Cecil County’s Win Win Win to compete in Kentucky Derby

Photo by Scott Serio

Mike Trombetta-trained colt latest contender from Fair Hill

By Jordan Schatz | Link to Article

Win Win Win was all alone Thursday as he performed his early-morning workout at Churchill Downs under a blanket of gray clouds.

It marked a stark difference from Sunday’s timed workout, when the Fair Hill-based colt, under direction of local trainer Mike Trombetta, galloped alongside fellow Kentucky Derby contenders Tacitus and Country House, generating a buzz usually reserved for the first jewel of the Triple Crown.

“It’s a little bit of a strange circumstance that they wound up all doing it at the same time, but no harm done. Everybody was fine,” Trombetta said by phone Thursday. “The horse is doing good. He’s been training well. We’re excited to be here.”

Saturday represents the second time that the 52-year-old Trombetta, who operates barns at the Fair Hill Training Center and Laurel Park, has overseen a horse in the Kentucky Derby. He previously guided post-time favorite Sweetnorthernsaint in 2006, eventually finishing seventh.

Win Win Win is the latest Fair Hill thoroughbred to compete in the Kentucky Derby, entering the race just two years after Graham Motion-trained Irish War Cry placed 10th in the Run for the Roses.

“Maryland has been home, and that’s where we work and we live. There’s been a lot of very good horses come out of this state over the years, and to be a part of it is kind of sweet,” Trombetta said. “There’s a lot of excitement. All of us hope to be able to have a horse that can get us there. To have one is a big deal and it’s something to look forward to.”

Sunday wasn’t the first time Win Win Win shared the course with one of the Kentucky Derby hopefuls.

Trombetta’s horse placed third behind Tacitus in the Grade Two Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 9. Nearly a month later, Win Win Win battled back to take second by a nose behind Vekoma — another Derby contender —in the Grade Two Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland on April 6, qualifying for this weekend’s big race at Churchill Downs.

“We’ve had a few other horses over the years that ran OK in some of the races prior to [the Kentucky Derby] but were never quite good enough to make it there,” Trombetta said. “To get one that’s been able to get in is nice.”

A jockey familiar with Win Win Win, but with zero Kentucky Derby experience, will be in the saddle for Saturday’s race. Thirty-eight-year-old Maryland-based Julian Pimentel, who was aboard Win Win Win for his first three races — including a record-setting performance in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in January — will reunite with the black-colored colt after a two-race hiatus.

Following the Pasco Stakes, Trombetta turned to Irad Ortiz Jr., the reigning leading money winner in North America, to captain Win Win Win in the final two races leading up to the Kentucky Derby. However, after Ortiz opted to compete in the Derby atop Bob Baffert-trained Improbable, Trombetta once again called on Pimentel.

Unlike his previous trip to the Kentucky Derby, Trombetta will not be guiding the betting favorite into Saturday’s race. As of Thursday afternoon, Win Win Win will compete in the field of 20 with 15-1 odds, trailing favorites Game Winner (5-1), Improbable (6-1), Roadster (6-1), Tacitus (10-1) and Maximum Security (10-1).

Motion’s Animal Kingdom in 2011 was the last Fair Hill-based horse to win the Kentucky Derby.

The pageantry surrounding the first Saturday in May remains the same as the last time Trombetta crossed the country with a Kentucky Derby contender.

“Fair Hill is a little bit more laid back of a training center. It’s quite a bit quieter. Even though there’s a reasonable amount of activity there, it’s nothing like what’s at Churchill,” he explained. “I try not to disrupt the routine of the horse anymore than you have to, but you do have to move around and you do have to get there and do everything that comes with that. You try to keep it as normal as you can.

“It’s a busy week,” he added. “That’s most of it. You just go out there and train your horse, try to keep him settled and give him his best chance. It’s such a large crowd and everyone is there mostly to see that race, so it’s pretty intense.”