Dallas Stewart was overshadowed by fellow trainer Shug McGaughey. He didn’t care. Stewart’s smile was the same size as the one worn by the popular man who had just won his first Kentucky Derby.
[cleeng_content id="434718532" description="Read it now!" price="0.15" t="article"]McGaughey was roundly congratulated for his 2013 Kentucky Derby win with Orb.
Stewart was roundly congratulated for the second-place finish of his longshot, Golden Soul. The bold chestnut had just rewarded his backers with the money and prestige a 35-1 shot pays and brings.
The outcomes in this year’s Kentucky Derby had been victories for the little guys of racing.
Shug had his first Kentucky Derby victory.
Dallas Stewart hadn’t won the race. But he had the next best thing — a second-place and vindication for running an outsider that came into The Derby with only 14 qualifying points.
Second place, mud-soaked though it was, had made for a $400,000 payday for Stewart and Golden Soul’s owner, Charles Fipke.
Like Orb, The Derby winner, Golden Soul had come through the mud-throwing traffic to pass everything in front of him except Joel Rosario on the new champion.
Golden Soul was covered in so much mud it was difficult to tell he had been a golden chestnut when the race started. His jockey, Robby Albarado, was equally covered. The twosome had eaten mud and water for most of the 10-furlong distance.
How was it that Golden Soul was such a longshot in the field of 19 three-year-old hopefuls?
He hadn’t won any of his three races this year. His earnings for 2013 were just $84,000.
In five lifetime starts, he had just one win and two seconds.
But owner Fipke had noted that Golden Soul had been a close-up second in his only other race at the Churchill Downs track. In fact, the first race of his life had that runner-up finish on the same track where the Kentucky Derby was just run.
The general racetrack consensus was that there were no potential Secretariats in the field for this year’s Kentucky Derby. Maybe there weren’t even any potential Gato Del Sols or Giacomos, other longshot winners of the Kentucky Derby in the past.
Trainer Stewart and owner Fipke saw an opportunity to corner a little history. And the sloppy track was also in their favor.
“I always thought he would run well here,” Stewart said in the aftermath of The Derby. “He’s been training well the last couple of weeks. I thought he would step up here and he did.”
Fipke has never been swayed much by the doubt or questions of others. He made a fortune by finding diamonds in northern Canada.
When his wealth gave him an open door into thoroughbred racing, he bought a 400 acre spread just outside Lexington in bluegrass country. Fipke raises his own bloodstock, much preferring his own broodmares to outside sources such as auctions or private sales.
Golden Soul is a product of second generation Fipke bloodlines from the time in 1997 when a trusted friend confided that a specific mare be flown to Ireland to one of the world’s finest stallions. Perfect Soul was the colt from that mating.
Perfect Soul earned more than $1 million.
Perfect Soul was bred to the Fipke mare, Hollywood Gold. And Golden Soul is the colt from that pairing.
In Perfect Soul’s lineage is a lengthy list of the best thoroughbreds ever seen in flat racing. The ubiquitous Northern Dancer and the ultimate race horse, Secretariat. Then there’s Bold Ruler, Native Dancer, Hail to Reason, Nasrullah, Princequillo, Raise A Native and Crimson Satan.
On Hollywood Gold’s star-studed family tree are Mr. Prospector, Raise A Native, Native Dancer, Nashua, Roberto, Nasrullah, Triple Crown winner Count Fleet, and Hail to Reason.
Dallas Stewart was an assistant to D. Wayne Lukas for 11 years before finally going out on his own. He’s 53 years old and has rarely tasted the fruits of the sport’s most important races.
But he has won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, the Kentucky Oaks, the Jim Dandy Stakes and the Louisiana Derby.
His string of thoroughbreds most often race in Kentucky at Churchill Downs, Turfway Park and Keeneland as well as at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Arlington Park near Chicago and historic Saratoga in New York.
As for Golden Soul’s immediate future, Stewart looked to the third jewel of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, as his next mission.
Said owner Fipke of The Derby success and the rest of 2013: “I’ve always been confident in the horse, Dallas and the Darby Dan crew where he was born and raised.
“It’s a team effort, not one individual. First it is the breeding and then raising the foals correctly. It is very, very hard to get a horse to The Derby.”
And it’s even harder to maneuver through a field of 19 and then find the finish line before all but one of the entries that are flailing through the slop and standing water.