Bunny's Derby Darlings is a series on my favorite Kentucky Derby contenders.
Part Six: Toby's Corner
In my previous blog, I compared champion two-year-old, Uncle Mo, to Toby’s Corner in pedigree, conformation, and, most notably, addressing their different training styles. I would like to focus on the three year old career of Toby’s Corner.
The track was muddy at Aqueduct, due to rain prior to the race. It was to be 9-5 undefeated favorite, Uncle Mo’s first start on a sloppy track, but eventual winner, Toby’s Corner, won the Whirlaway, his first race of the year, on a muddy surface at the same track.
Toby’s Corner, owned and bred by Dianne Cotter, was breaking from the second gate from the rail, and was starting, for the first time, with blinkers to help him focus on the race. In the Whirlaway, he paired up with the second-placer for some time, before pulling off to win by three-fourths of a length.
In the Wood Memorial, he broke cleanly, immediately being brought to the rail by his regular rider, Eddie Castro. Toby’s Corner was placed fourth to last going around the first turn, which came shortly after the break. Even when he was bunched up between other horses, and the rail, he remained extremely professional for such a young horse, staying very calm, and relaxed, with a fluid stride.
The Bellamy Road colt was kept on the rail for almost the entire running of the race, only moving from his spot when he was urged entering the final turn. Into the homestretch, Castro sharply cut Toby’s Corner wide when a path on the outside opened. Most horses, even a seasoned champion, would have trouble regaining their rhythm, but Toby’s Corner proved he was a special horse by re-engaging forcefully down the homestretch, pursuing longshot, Arthur’s Tale, who had passed the tiring Uncle Mo.
He ignored Arthur’s Tale, as he powered onward to win by a neck. Toby’s Corner breezed out remarkably, even fighting his rider’s command to slow down, revealing that he was willing to handle at the minimum, another furlong.
One of the most endearing, distinctive differences between Toby’s Corner and the vast majority of Derby contenders is that he is owned and was bred by the same person, Dianne Cotter. Something you don’t see much of nowadays. Whatever Kentucky Derby outcome lies ahead for Toby’s Corner, I can’t help but imagine the pride that Mrs. Cotter will feel watching her colt parade in front the twin spires as tens of thousands of people sing “My Old Kentucky Home”.
His pedigree, and great build, devastating come-from-behind style, and exceptional training by Graham Motion offers Toby’s Corner a prominent chance of performing well in the Derby. He is clearly a flourishing, high-quality horse who has not yet grasped the apex of his success. This horse has established himself as one of the key contenders in this year’s Run for the Roses.