Zayat can't help but think of Eskendereya, even as hope soars for Nehro

May 05, 2011

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Occasionally, Ahmed Zayat will watch a clip of the 2010 Wood Memorial and daydream. He tries not to do it too much, but he can't help but think about what might have been.

Watching a horse as good as Eskendereya will do that to an owner. A year ago, after Zayat's horse dominated the Wood Memorial like few horses ever have, Eskendereya came to Louisville as a huge favorite to win the Kentucky Derby. But before the week even began, he was scratched with a leg injury, and he was retired shortly after.

“Every time I watch, with my son Justin, his Wood Memorial, the race gives me goose bumps,” Zayat said. “The sheer dominance, the beauty and the majesty of Thoroughbreds. That was a horse that was once in a lifetime. In the bottom of my heart he would have won the Triple Crown. It is very hard to think, ‘What if?’ ”

Zayat, however, would be happy to forget about last year's race if he could get a little luck this year. He made it back to the Derby with Nehro, the Louisiana Derby winner, and his horse has flown under the radar a bit this week with all the focus on Uncle Mo and Dialed in. Nehro is currently listed at 6-1 odds, even though he's stuck in the No. 19 post position, a spot that has never produced a winner in the history of the race. Still, Zayat feels his horse has been training so well, he's good enough to overcome what he's facing.

“His energy level is unbelievable,” Zayat said. “Believe it or not, I think he’s actually gained weight. This horse keeps showing us every sign of a horse that is going to put in a big performance. He’s giving every indication that he’s getting better. The most important thing is, when I look at him I see a very happy horse, a very healthy horse.”

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