Storm Tower to run for the roses Wood win makes him a Derby favorite

April 20, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

It's final.

Storm Tower is headed to the Kentucky Derby.

What's more, the horse is training for the race this week i Maryland at the Bowie Training Center.

It is the first time a Derby favorite has prepped for the race at Maryland track since 1988, when Private Terms, who, like Storm Tower, won the Wood Memorial, was based at Laurel Race Course.

Storm Tower arrived at Bowie yesterday about noon after three-hour van ride from Aqueduct Race Course.

Trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said the 3-year-old colt, one of the thre Kentucky Derby favorites along with Prairie Bayou and Personal Hope, will go to the track about 8:30 a.m. today and train at Bowie all week.

Perkins plans to ship Storm Tower by van to Churchill Downs i Louisville, Ky., late Saturday afternoon.

"We'll give him a good open gallop Saturday morning. Then ship him about 4 to 5 p.m.," Perkins said. "He'll arrive in Kentucky early Sunday morning. He will walk that morning and then I'll fly down Sunday afternoon."

Perkins said the decision to run in the Derby was made afte co-owner Charlie Hesse talked with his partner, Anthony Tornetta.

"Tony told him [Hesse] to do 'Whatever you fellas want to do,' Perkins said.

Tornetta, gravely ill, probably will not travel to the Derby.

The Derby was not originally in Perkins' plans. The thinking wa vTC that the 1 1/4 -mile Derby distance might be too far for the colt.

But after Storm Tower ran a strong race in the Wood Memorial the trainer and owners reconsidered.

"His time for the Wood [1 minute, 48 2/5 seconds] the fastest o the three Grade I Derby preps," Perkins said. "And he is the only one of the top horses in the race to win carrying the Derby weight of 126 pounds."

Rockamundo, upset winner of the Grade II Arkansas Derby, ra faster at Oaklawn Park, getting 1 1/8 miles in 1:48. But the horse carried 118 pounds and will pick up 8 extra pounds for the Kentucky Derby as well as run an eighth of a mile farther.

Among previous Wood Memorial winners to win the Kentuck Derby are Pleasant Colony (1981), Seattle Slew (1977), Bold Forbes (1976) and Foolish Pleasure (1975). The Maryland-based Wood winner, Private Terms, finished ninth in the Derby.

Although other potential Derby starters have been training a Churchill Downs for a couple of weeks, Perkins said having Storm Tower in Kentucky for a week before the race is time enough.

"We've been to the Derby before and run horses in the Oaks an in other races," Perkins said. "The track that you run on on Derby Day is different than the one you've trained on all week. They comb it down pretty good."

Perkins said he and his owners already have heard a couple o times from Kentucky Gov. Brereton Jones.

Jones stands Irish Tower, the sire of Storm Tower, at his Airdri Stud farm near Lexington, Ky.

Last year's Derby winner, Lil E. Tee, was sired by another one o

Jones' stallions, At The Threshold.

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