Story by Bozz

…and they’re off!! The fastest two minutes in sports is taking place this Saturday. I’m talking about the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby of course. Among the 20 contenders is Irish War Cry, a New Jersey-bred colt who hopes to become the third Jersey-bred ever to win the first leg of the Triple Crown. The first was back in 1915 by a horse named Regret and then nineteen years later in 1934, Cavalcade crossed the finish line first at Churchill Downs.

The owner of Irish War Cry is 86-year old Red Bank native, Isabelle de Tomaso. She is the daughter of Amory L. Haskell, the late co-founder, first president and chairman of the Monmouth Park Jockey Club and whose namesake is one of the top 3-year-old thoroughbred races in the country, the Haskell Invitational, which is held at Monmouth Park every summer. Irish War Cry is the son of Curlin, the winner of the 2007 Breeder’s Cup Classic, which was run at Monmouth Park.

It is rare to have Jersey-bred horses compete in the Kentucky Derby. New Jersey has become an underdog when it comes to thoroughbred horse racing in recent years. When you go up against horses bred in California, Kentucky, and New York, this could be quite intimidating especially when you take notice of Steve Asmussen, Todd Pletcher, and all the top trainers in the sport. Irish War Cry’s trainer, Graham Motion, is certainly no stranger either. He trained Animal Kingdom, who won the 2011 Kentucky Derby among the many stakes races he won in his career thus far.

Dan Heary/Eclipse Sportswire, Getty Images
Dan Heary/Eclipse Sportswire, Getty Images

As for New Jersey racing, a victory for Irish War Cry in the Derby would hope to give the sport a much-needed boost in the state if he comes to Monmouth Park this summer. Two years ago when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, horse racing in NJ seemed to be alive again when 60,000 plus fans (yours truly and Mrs. Bozz among them) watched the future hall of fame horse win the Haskell. That was extra special because it was Pharoah's first race since winning the Triple Crown. Once in a while you’ll have a Triple Crown winner or runner-up come along and spark local interest and draw large crowds. Long gone are the glory days when Mrs. de Tomaso’s father ran Monmouth Park and every seat in the grandstand and club house was filled consistently on weekends during the entire summer meet.

Irish War Cry has post-position #17 with jockey Rajiv Maragh aboard. He is already an early favorite at 6-1. Derby coverage begins Saturday at 2:30 pm on NBC, post time is 6:34 pm. Go Irish War Cry!!

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