'Not About the Kentucky Derby Right Now'
OXO Equine's Larry Best was at Aqueduct this Friday to watch Instagrand engage in his final gallop ahead of Saturday's Gotham, Stakes.
Best, who served as the chief financial officer of Boston Scientific, a developer, manufacturer, and marketer of medical devices, is also the founder and chairman of OXO Capital LLC, so he knows a lot about risk.
After Best saw Instagrand gallop on the main track under exercise rider Yadiel Ortiz and handed walked him through the shed row, he recalled his early introduction to horse racing.
"I grew up in Akron, Ohio, and my dad was a fireman. On days off we'd go to Ascot Park, about 20 minutes outside of Akron. On sunny days we'd sit outside, and he'd smoke cigars and we'd watch the races. I have many fond memories of Thoroughbred racing, but I never thought I'd own a horse," said Best.
Best made his initial foray into racing in 2016, and one of his first purchases was the graded stakes winner Instilled Regard, who finished a credible fourth in last year's Kentucky Derby at odds of 85-1.
"I started off with three colts and three fillies, and now I'm moving up," said Best. "It's an adrenalin rush, and either you get into it or you don't. I did, and it's a big source of fun and excitement for me."
Instagrand, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, was a $1.2 million purchase at Fasig-Tipton's 2018 The Gulfstream Sale, but Best said he prefers not to concern himself with the price tag.
"I try not to make the market. I like to pick a horse with a good pedigree that looks the part and then I buy it and the market speaks for itself," said Best. "This particular horse, all the parts fit together really nice, and there's not many horses that move you to the extent that you want to buy them, but when they do move you, you take that risk, and that's what I've done with Instagrand."
The flashy Into Mischief colt, out of the Lawyer Ron mare Assets of War, posted a pair of easy sprint victories as a juvenile including a 10 1/4-length score at Del Mar on August 11 in the Best Pal Stakes.
"I still don't know if he's a sprinter or a two-turn horse. We're just getting him back here in 2019, and this is his first race. This is more about prepping him for the future. It's not about the Kentucky Derby right now," said Best. "It's the right race, the right distance and we'll learn a lot. I just hope he gets on the board."
Best acknowledged that the Derby is a significant goal as a horse owner.
"Instilled Regard got into the Derby, and we went there to celebrate the unbelievable excitement of being in the Derby, and we ended up coming in fourth in my first year. I don't take that for granted, it's a blessing," said Best. "I think if you're playing in the high end of the Thoroughbred space, you have to be driven by the Kentucky Derby. We'll know after this race what the next step is for Instagrand.
"Hopefully he shows up and a mile is good for him and easy for him and he shows speed," said Best. "The next race after that would be a mile and an eighth."
Best said he will wait until after Saturday's race before considering which Derby prep might await his star colt, if any.
"Any one of them is a possibility. They're all great races," said Best.
Assistant trainer Dan Ward said the horse was well within himself during Friday's gallop, and Instragrand appears to be a happy horse.
"He just jogged back to the wire and galloped a mile and a half. Very smooth. He didn't get tired, didn't sweat, and it didn't take much out of him. We're ready to go," said Ward.
Edited release with additional content by Dick Downey