The homebred three-year-old son of Curlin was coming off of a third-place finish in a Maiden Special Weight event going one-mile at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day. King Ottoman, facing seven other rivals, went off as the fifth-choice in the wagering in the one mile and one-sixteenth test at Lone Star Park.
Jockey Stewart Elliot broke alertly aboard the grey colt, but was intent on rating his mount behind the early pace setter in the early going. Richard Baltas trained Cover Me Up set the early pace down the backstretch with Saffie Joseph, Jr. trained A.P.’s Secret pressing the pacesetter with jockey Edwin Gonzalez aboard. Cover Me Up’s fractions for the opening quarter of the race went in a dawdling :24.22 and :48.12.
Turning for home, both Asmussen stablemate were forced wide around the three-front runners into the stretch. Elliot took King Ottoman widest of all to collar his stablemate Presidential for what turned into be quite the duel down the stretch in Grand Prairie, Texas. At the wire, King Ottoman was able to prevail by a head over his stablemate Presidential to win the $300,000 Texas Derby in a final time of 1:45.29.
“I was in behind horses and I tried to get him(King Ottoman) to run up in there as I thought I would have room to do so,” said jockey Stewart Elliot. “The horse was a bit hesitant to do just that, and therefore I decided to take him out to go around the horse in front of us. Once he was clear he began to fire down the lane, and he showed me that he was a bit green as he was trying to lay over on the other horse in the stretch. It was a great win, and this horse is going to be really nice once he really starts to figure things out.”
The one-two finish in the Texas Derby gave Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen a banner afternoon at Lone Star Park, as he recorded a four-win day that included three of them coming in stakes company.
“I am extremely proud of both colts that we ran today in the Texas Derby as they both showed up to run,” said trainer Steve Asmussen. “King Ottoman has always worked in the mornings with the best horses that we have in our barn and has flashed his talent in some of those works. We were flabbergasted they had gotten beat in some of his maiden races that he had ran in. Having faith in him, and staying the course proved the right thing with him.”
King Ottoman paid $23.60 to win, $8.00 to place, and $5.80 to show. The remaining order of finish behind stablemates King Ottoman and Presidential was A.P.’s Secret, Win The Day, Strike Hard, Fowler Blue, Cover Me Up, and Got Thunder.
The victory in the Texas Derby pushed the King Ottoman’s career earnings to $191,484 from four-career starts. Asmussen indicated that the 3-year-old Curlin colt would be consider for the later three-year-old stakes events on the racing calendar, but no exact plans have been determined as of yet.