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Sierra Leone Returns to Post-Derby Work Tab

Multiple graded stakes winner and Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Sierra Leone  had his first work back since his effort in the Run for the Roses when covering a half-mile May 18 over Saratoga Race Course‘s Oklahoma training track in company with Tampa Bay Derby (G3) winner Domestic Product 

New York Racing Association clockers caught the pair in :48 1/5 while trainer Chad Brown had them galloping out six furlongs in 1:14 4/5 seconds over the fast footing and under a light sprinkle of rain. 

“I thought the horse worked super,” Brown said of Sierra Leone, who once again sported blinkers for his exercise. “I’m very, very pleased with him. He’s settled into Saratoga nicely.” 

Sierra Leone, owned by Peter Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg, and Brook Smith, was a hard-fought second to Mystik Dan  in the Kentucky Derby when using his typical deep-closing tactics under jockey Tyler Gaffalione. The son of Gun Runner   came from 12 lengths back to be two lengths off the lead in third at the top of the lane as Mystik Dan hugged the rail and Forever Young  made his bid between his rivals. 

The three drove to the wire in a thrilling stretch run that saw Forever Young and Sierra Leone brush with each other in the heat of battle with Mystik Dan fighting on valiantly along the inside. Sierra Leone got the better of Forever Young in the shadow of the wire, but came up a nose short of the victorious Mystik Dan in a dramatic photo finish. 

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“I’m just so proud of this horse. I didn’t really learn anything about him that I didn’t already know—the horse just always shows up and is a real warrior,” said Brown. “He had a challenging trip from where he was early. I’m really proud of his effort, it’s just a little disappointing that he came up just an inch short, but I’m so proud.” 

Brown said Sierra Leone gave his all in defeat, and that he is not concerned with any drifting or bumping in the talented colt’s future races. 

“I think he was just getting a bit tired in the stretch and those two horses were leaning on each other,” said Brown. “I’m turning the page on that. It’s just part of him.”

Sierra Leone, who won the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) two starts back at Keeneland, is pointing towards the $2 million Belmont Stakes (G1) June 8 at Saratoga Race Course. 

Klaravich Stables’ Domestic Product also worked back for the first time since the Kentucky Derby, where he finished a troubled 13th after being bumped and pinched at the start and jostled in the final turn before putting in a mild bid with a nine-wide move.

Brown said the Practical Joke   colt had clear excuses in the Derby. 

“He had a rough trip. He lost a shoe and grabbed his quarter,” said Brown. “It’s healed up and is satisfactory. I have no immediate plans for this horse, and he is not under consideration for the Belmont. I’ll figure out what I want to do with him.” 

On the May 4 Kentucky Derby card, Brown came out on the winning end of a tight photo finish in the Turf Classic Stakes (G1T) with Klaravich Stables’ multiple grade 1 winner Program Trading , who returned from a five-month layoff to prevail by a head after a stretch duel with Naval Power 

“(He was impressive) off the layoff and got a good, ground-saving trip, too, which helped,” said Brown. “He hadn’t run all winter, but he’s back front and center again. Hopefully, he keeps on that consistent pattern he’s had really since we’ve had him.”

The son of Lope de Vega  also returned to the work tab Saturday morning, covering four furlongs on the Oklahoma training track in :49. The next likely target for the ridgling is the June 8 Manhattan Stakes (G1T) on the Belmont Stakes card.

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.

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