Pyramist, Sweet and Sour Nina, Lacy’s Slew, Sonja’s Angel, and Sir Quesqueyano are just a few of the horses Peter Walder, Gulfstream Park trainer, moved from the claiming ranks into stakes company. He has been doing it for years while consistently winning at high percentages. He came within a head of a Breeders’ Cup sprint victory and a likely Eclipse Sprint Championship with Force Freeze who very well may have been the victim of an ever so slight early move and an ultra game Amazombie. His career and record is filled with trips to the winners’ circle but this weekend he hopes to make a very special trip in a land far away from Gulfstream Park.
Fast Pass is not exactly a household name in the Sport of Kings and not on any short lists for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. That has not stopped him from being noticed by Korean racing and getting invited to the Grade 1, $ One Million Dollar Korea Cup Sprint at Lets Run in South Korea. The prestige of a Grade 1, along with a $ One Million Dollar Purse was enough to prompt Mr. Walder to travel abroad with his latest former claimer competing in stakes company.
Fast Pass was acquired out of California with the Claiming Crown in mind at Gulfstream Park, Peter’s home track. The then 5, now 6 year old Successful Appeal gelding had run for as low as $4 and $5000 claiming prices. In his debut for Peter Walder he was a fast closing third after breaking slowly in the Claiming Crown Express at Gulfstream. Since then he won a non winner of 1, the Open Lead stakes and ran third in the Grade 3 Smile Sprint. That last effort along with how the horse moved up in the Walder barn probably earned the call from Mr. Seungho Ryu inviting the horse and his trainer to compete in the Korea Cup.
“At first I was not sure about going. It is not really something that was on my radar. After I got the call I started thinking about it, and the purse is great, it is a Grade 1, and my horse is doing really well. It is easier to make a decision like that when your horse is doing great.”
Walder followed up and ultimately decided it was worth taking a shot at. he learned that some of the tougher Japanese horses were not going, and that made it look even more attractive.
With the race just a few days out we checked in with Peter Walder on how things were going:
” My horse shipped really well. I liked getting here somewhat early to get him acclimated. He seems to have settled in, and he is as happy and doing as well as he was when we left Florida. The track here is heavy, like sand, probably more of a Big Sandy than Belmont. I was concerned at first and made some adjustments to his equipment and his training I thought may help him. I didn’t like how he responded so I ultimately decided to go with what got us here, and he is adjusting and getting over the dirt good. If he handles it the same way in the race I expect he will run well. I like our chances or I wouldn’t be here nor would Fast Pass. It won’t be easy, it is a million dollar Grade 1, far from home, but we have come to run. “
Gerald Melancon who is there to ride in another stake on the card got the call on Fast Pass. He has experience over there and should suit the gelding. Fast Pass drew the three post. When you look at Peter Walder’s ability and record you know there are some big races with his name on them. One just may turn out to be in Korea.
Always check with Past the Wire for the latest horse racing news and more…..