Jockey Court puts Foyt on winning track
Colonelsdarktemper, a 3-yearold thoroughbred colt ridden by 56-year-old jockey Jon Court, made two older gentlemen real happy Saturday by winning the $750,000 West Virginia Derby.
Court steered Colonelsdarktemper to the lead in of the 11/8-mile race at Mountaineer Racetrack in New Cumberlands, W.Va., and never looked back en route to a 1-length victory in the Grade III race.
It was almost an old-timers day celebration. Court was greeted in the winners’ circle by the horse’s trainer, 77-year-old Jinks Fires, who also happens to be Court’s father-in-law.
Not at the track but watching on TV was the colt’s owner, 82-year-old auto racing legend A.J. Foyt, a fourtime Indy 500 winner who dabbles in horse ownership while still overseeing A.J. Foyt Enterprises.
Talk about horsepower.
Foyt, who did all his racing on four wheels, has owned four-legged runners on and off for more than 30 years.
He knows a winner when he sees one.
“Once he got the lead nobody really went with him, and it looked like it was no contest,” Foyt told racing writer Tom Lamarra. “Actually my horses are running better than my race cars.” Maybe he can say that now. Foyt’s most notable equine runner, Rare Brick, did his racing 31 years ago, and was on track to run in the 1986 Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby before a bone chip ended the colt’s career while undefeated in eight starts.
Colonelsdarktemper is what horse racing people call a latedeveloper.
The son of 2008 Travers winner Colonel John broke his maiden in his career debut at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs in February, but didn’t win again until his fifth start, an allowance race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. on May 29.
He entered Saturday’s West Virginia Derby having finished second in back-to-back stakes races.
Fires, winning his first graded stakes race since Archarcharch won the Grade I Arkansas Derby in 2011, joked that Colonelsdarktemper is a bit ornery, much like the auto racing legend.
“The horse is competitive like his owner,” said Fires, who has trained 1,448 winners dating back to 1968.
Court, a winner of 4,056 races and more than $100 million in purses, concurred with Fires.
“This horse is all business,” Court said.