Tom Amoss says patience is the key when it comes to his promising three-year-old Defeater going into his Triple Crown year.
Defeater landed a maiden at Fair Grounds over the weekend in eye-catching style and announced himself on the 2021 Kentucky Derby Trail in doing so.
However, despite his opening success and some impressive home-work being reported, Amoss says the colt must be allowed more time to mature, both physically and mentally.
The $210,000 son of Union Rags was slowly out of the starting gates at Fair Grounds and found himself behind horses and stuck on the running rail as a consequence.
Jockey James Graham had to sit and wait for things to develop in front of him before he eventually took his mount past the well-touted Godolphin pair of Colonel Bowman and Gershwin to win the six-furlong event in one minute and 11.06 seconds. He had more than two-lengths in hand over Colonel Bowman at the line.
Given his inexperience, and the kick-back he had to face in the contest, it was a professional and pleasing performance from Defeater.
The reports of speed in his track-work suggest that there will be plenty of improvement to come as he gains experience in coming out of the starting stalls. Amoss admits that he had reservations about Defeater getting a positive start when the bell sounded.
“Defeater is a very, very nice colt, but he comes with some difficulties for a trainer,” Amoss said.
“He’s not a precocious gate horse. Any of the young horses that are coming up like him, these are developing young horses and no matter how hard you try, you can’t rush that development because a lot of that is getting physically bigger and stronger, as well as mentally understanding the racing. But make no mistake about it, Defeater is a runner.”
Defeater is likely to take his education onwards via some of Louisiana’s upcoming Triple Crown prep races as he looks to push his name further up the pecking order for the ‘Run for the Roses’ in May.
Amoss’ string were misfiring at the start of December but he’s watched 11 of his last 23 starters come home to win. Amoss last won the Fair Grounds trainer’s title in 2014-15 but he’s now in the mix, alongside four-time defending champion Brad Cox, for the honour this year.
While admitting he’s thrilled to ride the wave of recent successes, the New Orleans native suggests there are other priorities for his team now, compared with earlier in his career.
“If you asked me that question—what would winning the Fair Grounds title mean—10-to-15 years ago, I would have told you it means a lot—because it did,” Amoss said.
“Fair Grounds was our major emphasis in the winter and the bulk of our horses were down here. And it was a great motivator to our barn, which works so hard all meet.
“But a lot has changed since then and what kind of stable we have. If we win the training title it’s great, but it’s not going to have the meaning it once did. And I don’t mean to take anything away from something that would be an accomplishment for sure, but it’s not an emphasis.”