By Marty McGee DRF
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Like most everyone else, George Weaver would rather be lucky than good. If not for the fickleness of South Florida weather, nobody would yet know how good Point of Honor is on the dirt – and Weaver surely wouldn’t be one race from having a live contender for the Kentucky Oaks.
“Luck plays a big part in a lot of things we do in this game,” Weaver said Monday, less than 48 hours after Point of Honor became an Oaks consideration by dominating the Suncoast Stakes on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.
“I’m sure we would’ve eventually tried her on dirt, but I seriously doubt we’d be in this situation if the filly had started out on the grass.”
Point of Honor, a strapping Curlin filly owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Stetson Racing LLC, won her career debut in the last race of the Dec. 16 card at Gulfstream Park. As fate would have it, the race was taken off the turf because of weather, and Point of Honor responded with a six-length romp in a depleted field of six.
Weaver then sent her from his Palm Beach Downs winter base across the Florida peninsula for the one mile and 40-yard Suncoast, which offered 10 qualifying points to the winner toward the May 3 Kentucky Oaks. The filly was even more impressive this time, winning by 2 3/4 lengths and earning an 82 Beyer Speed Figure under Javier Castellano.
“She’d never really flashed her hand in the mornings,” Weaver said. “She never broke any stopwatches or did anything freaky. But she always showed potential, and now obviously we’re happy with the position we’re in.”
Weaver said Point of Honor will have to earn her way into the Oaks with just one more prep, either the March 23 Fair Grounds Oaks or March 30 Gulfstream Oaks.
“There’s just not enough time to squeeze two more races in her,” he said.
Weaver, 48, may have another reason to return to his Louisville, Ky., birthplace on the first weekend of May, as he also has a serious prospect for the Kentucky Derby in Vekoma, who closed at 41-1 in Pool 2 of the Derby Future Wager offered last weekend by Churchill Downs.
Vekoma, owned by R.A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stable, is being pointed to the March 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream after having a short break following a 1 3/4-length victory (and 97 Beyer) in the Nov. 4 Nashua. The Candy Ride colt worked five furlongs Sunday in 1:02.40 at Palm Beach, marking his fourth breeze on the comeback trail.
“He’s a May foal, and he was just a little tucked up after the Nashua,” he said. “When you’re looking to run in the Derby, you don’t really want to run them once a month. We’re just hoping to have him right at the right time.
“I’m very happy with the horse and the way he’s come along. He’s really filled out and is a lot stronger. Hopefully the way we’ve played this works out.”
Weaver said the Tampa Bay Derby or Gotham, both on March 9, are backup races in case Vekoma isn’t quite ready for the Fountain of Youth, “but right now we’re looking real good” for the Gulfstream race.