Phantom Fireworks Owner Zoldan's Horse Building Momentum Toward Preakness Saturday
YOUNGSTOWN, O hio - Phantoms Fireworks owner and CEO Bruce J. Zoldan has just the place in mind for the Woodlawn Vase - the trophy handed out to the winner of the Preakness Stakes.
"It would certainly be a beautiful trophy to add to my Kentucky Derby trophy case," the Youngstown-based businessman said with a grin.
Zoldan, who is part of the Team Valor International ownership group, captured the Kentucky Derby Winner's Trophy last year when the team's horse Animal Kingdom won the Run for the Roses. Zoldan then defied the odds again this year by having another horse qualify for the race - Went the Day Well.
Unfortunately, Derby Day this year did not go as well as planned when a bump out of the Churchill Downs gate snuffed out the horse's chance of making Zoldan and Team Valor repeat winners, despite a "furious" final run that saw the 3-year-old colt go from 17th to a fourth-place finish. This Saturday, Went the Day Well will look for an even better finish at the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course.
"I'm once again honored to be in one of the Triple Crown races," Zoldan said. "I was very pleased with Went the Day Well's finish in the Kentucky Derby. We had a lot of unfortunate bumps in the road... but to finish the fastest final quarter of any of the horses was encouraging. We've got a shot [at the Preakness]."
Team Valor International president Barry Irwin told The New York Post that last year he initially had some reservations with running Animal Kingdom in the Preakness, but he chose to enter the horse and was rewarded with a second-place finish. This year with Went the Day Well, however, there was no hesitation from the horse racing authority.
"He's bounced out of The Derby in great shape. I couldn't be happier with him," Irwin told The New York Post. "Another jump in The Derby and he could have finished second, so I think he belongs in the Preakness."
Zoldan echoed Irwin's comments.
"Knowing [trainer] Graham Motion and Barry Irwin as well as I do, if they didn't think Went the Day Well was in tip-top shape and continuing to progress, they wouldn't put him in the Preakness," Zoldan said. "They know that going into the Preakness, he's probably the freshest horse in there and I think they're very comfortable about his chances of putting on a great performance."
The oddsmakers appear to be even more comfortable with Went the Day Well's chances. After closing the day of The Derby at 27-1 odds, the current line for bay colt at the Preakness is at 6-1. Recent history is also on the Went the Day Well's side as it drew the No. 5 post position for the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans. Last year's winner Shackleford came out of the same No. 5 post to take first, finishing a half-length ahead of Animal Kingdom.
With the field reduced from 20 at The Derby to just 11 horses at the Preakness, Zoldan said there could be more room for jockey John Velazquez to maneuver out of the gate. He acknowledged, however that the sharp turns at Pimlico's track, which is 1/16 mile shorter than Churchill Downs, may present a different challenge for Went the Day Well
"I think the biggest key will be how John Velazquez is able to position Went the Day Well out of the gate and heading into the final turn," Zoldan said. "He could be in a position to put on the show that he did at The Derby with that furious burst of speed at the end.
"It takes talent combined with luck and we certainly feel comfortable that we have the talent. Now we just have to see what happens on race day Saturday."
Photo line: Zoldan_Went_the_Day_Well: Phantom Fireworks owner and CEO Bruce J. Zoldan with Went the Day Well at the stables at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Photo line: Went_the_Day_Well: Went the Day Well, a 6-1 favorite at this Saturday's Preakness Stakes, ridden by jockey John Velazquez in a training session.
Phantom Fireworks operates permanent showrooms in 16 states and Puerto Rico, seasonal and temporary sales venues in 17 states, as well as selling at wholesale and to chain stores. For fireworks safety information and safety tips visit www.Fireworks.com and click on "Fireworks University."
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