Duanesburg man sets sights on Kentucky Derby - 05/01/14
Don Lucarelli is full of it. But what "it" is might not be what you are thinking. The Duanesburg man and horse owner with Starlight Racing has two entries for Saturday's 140th running of the Kentucky Derby. Intense Holiday will break from post 16 and his newly acquired colt General a Rod from post 8.
"With Intense Holiday, we bought him as a yearling and brought him through the whole process and he has progressed very nicely" Lucarelli continued, "We are excited about his possibilities."
The Capital Region native, along with his ownership partners, purchased General a Rod earlier this week. It is a target they have had their eyes set on for several months now.
"We have actually been trying to buy the horse for the last three or four months" Lucarelli said. "Luckily it worked out just before the Derby."
Without a graded stakes win, General a Rod most likely will not be one of the top choices when the gate opens on Saturday, but that is no concern for Lucarelli.
"He just really caught our eye down in Florida" Lucarelli said talking about General a Rod.
On the other hand, Lucarelli's other Derby horse, Intense Holiday, should take more money than his stablemate. His owner thinks he fits the mold of previous Derby champions. "He will come from behind and usually make one bold move and you hope that is the winning move," he explains.
This is not Lucarelli's first chance at the garland of roses. He remembers well when Keyed Entry led through the first mile and a sixteenth in the 2006 Kentucky Derby. "That's the good news," he said with a chuckle, "the bad news is he finished last."
Experience is key. For horses, jockeys, trainers, handicappers and owners. Things can only get better with experience. But, even though he has been there before and knows what to expect, there are still things that hold a special place in a horseman's heart, no matter how many times they do it.
"When you walk the horse over you get that feeling, the sense of what it is all about" he said as he got a little misty-eyed. "When they play My Old Kentucky Home, you have to melt, there is no doubt about it."
Having been a part of the sport for as long as Lucarelli has, he knows how high this game can bring you up and how low it can throw you down. He is part owner of 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby. It was the biggest win of his ownership career. There are more memorable ones though, including stakes wins at his home town track, Saratoga.
"Selfishly, we would like to win the Travers, that would probably be the biggest thrill for us," he said with a smile.
Returning his focus to the Kentucky Derby, Lucarelli, always a betting man, does not like that Intense Holiday could be a big wise guy selection on Saturday.
"It worries me because the odds will go down" he explained jokingly. "I am not worried about what he pays. If he wins, that is the main thing."
The local horse owner is heading south with one thing on his mind, "I hope we can bring back a Kentucky Derby trophy to the Capital District."
Confidence. Yeah, Lucarelli is full of it.