CALCULATOR AN EARLY DERBY LOOKER
As the road that leads to the Kentucky Derby becomes a little more crowded, there is one particular contender that is striking for more reasons than one. At first glance, his gray coat is prettier than a peach, but what is even more beautiful is that lengthening stride.
In recent years, the West coast has featured some of the top contenders for the Kentucky Derby. Horses that have prepped in the Golden state have even won two of the past three runnings (I’ll Have Another2012, California Chrome 2014). So it should not come as a big surprise that California once again features a cornucopia of contenders. One of those vying for a spot in the starting gates on the first Saturday in May is Calculator. A striking son of In Summation, the three-year old colt has given his team reason to believe he can be beneath the twin spires on May 2 when the gates open for the 141st Run for the Roses.
Trained by Peter Miller, Calculator has been an ever-improving runner. After beginning his career at Del Mar in July of 2014 with a 3rd place finish, this great grandson of 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled finished fourth again at Del Mar before two strong second place finishes to the highly regarded American Pharoah to close out the year. In his first start of 2015, Calculator proved to be doing more than simple addition as he romped to a very impressive win in the 1 mile Sham Stakes on January 10. Rating off a solid early pace (22.87 opening quarter and 46.36 in the half mile) under jockey Elvis Turjillo, Calculator seized command around the far turn and pulled away easily inside the final furlong. Covering the distance in 1:34.88, the beautiful gray runner put on a very pretty performance. Going off as the post-time favorite in the Sham, it was not a great surprise he won, but the way he made it look so easy might have caught some off-guard. Trainer Peter Miller was not one of those with jaw agape after this stunning run.
“We have always known he was a good horse, so it really was no surprise he won,” says Miller. “He has been improving and the signs were there he was ready to run.”
The win in the Sham has Calculator currently in the fifth position (14) in the 2015 Kentucky Derby points race. At these early stages that is a pretty place to be, but according to Miller, Kentucky Derby fever is not something he is concerned with.
“I’ve been vaccinated,” says Miller, who started Comma to the Top in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. “My clients get really excited, but I do not really get worked up about it all.”
Miller may not have rising mercury in his thermometer, but he has laid out a potential pathway that leads to Louisville. Taking care of his colt is of the utmost importance, but there will be an early test the former assistant to training legend Charlie Whittingham wants to see this striking stalker pass.
“We are going to travel for his next start,” says Miller. “We may go to the Risen Star (February 21 at Fair Grounds) or the Southwest Stakes (February 16 Oaklawn Park) for his next time out. I want to see how he handles shipping and can get some of that experience under his saddle. If he does well there, we will come back and use the Santa Anita Derby (April 4) as our final prep for the Kentucky Derby.”
Keeping things in perspective, the cool-thinking California native is not trying to do too much too soon with Calculator. Sitting pretty right now, Miller just wants to make sure his colt looks just as beautiful come May.
“He came out of the Sham in great shape,” says Miller. “I am very pleased with how he is doing right now, but we just want to take things one day at a time.”