When the most expensive horse West Point Thoroughbreds has purchased lost on debut, panic wasn’t among the range of reactions from Terry Finley and his partners.
“They’re seasoned vets,” said Finley, West Point’s CEO. “They’re all patient, and they all know what they’re doing. It’s really, really a good partnership with the right combination of people. I knew we weren’t going to go bonkers when he got beat in that first start.”
Since New York-bred Chestertown hammered for a record $2 million at last March’s OBS Company’s 2019 March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, breeders Chester and Mary Broman have joined an ownership group that also includes Woodford Racing, Siena Farm and Robert Masiello.
Connections were rewarded for their cool on Sunday when the Steve Asmussen trainee rolled to a maiden victory against fellow state-breds in Aqueduct’s fourth race.
Stretching from six furlongs first out at Belmont Park to a mile at the Big A, Chestertown broke inward at the break and chased the pace under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. He rallied widest of all as the even-money favorite in a field of eight, then drove down the center of the track to prevail by 2 3/4 lengths.
“We think he’s a legitimate horse,” Finley said. “I look at Steve and his team. They’ve been around horses like this. They certainly don’t get rattled. We’re on a journey, and we’re excited to see exactly where that journey takes us.”
A gray or roan colt, Chestertown breezed an eighth of a mile in 10 1/5 seconds under tack before the sale. He’s the first foal out of Grade 1-winning Artemis Agrotera, a daughter of Roman Ruler, and went to a trainer who has conditioned top progeny of Tapit, including Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Untapable.
Finley said it was more experience than distance that moved Chestertown forward in his second start, a performance that puts him on the 2020 Kentucky Derby Radar detailing 2-year-old horses that figure to appear in a points prep.
“We knew we were close enough where we didn’t feel uncomfortable leading him over there for his first start, and they don’t give anything away,” Finley said. “…I don’t care if it’s a New York-bred maiden. There are going to be some runners. Some nice horses were in that first race, and some solid runners were in this race.”
From here, partners will discuss whether to leave Chestertown in New York, where there will be more lucrative state-bred options, or bring him to Louisiana with Asmussen’s top string.
“We’ll give this colt a shot to take a deep breath, and we’ll do our best to try and make the right decision,” Finley said. “I think there’s a legitimate chance he’ll go to Fair Grounds for the winter.”
Fair Grounds hosts three preps: the Jan. 18 Lecomte (G3), Feb. 15 Risen Star (G2) and March 21 Louisiana Derby (G2).