04/16/2012 8:32AM

Kentucky Derby 2012: Under the Radar - Went the Day Well

Patrick Lang Photography
Went the Day Well earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory in the Vinery Racing Spiral.

Barring late defections, this year’s Kentucky Derby will feature the top stars of the 3-year-old crop. Among them:

◗ Bodemeister, an Under the Radar selection following a scintillating maiden victory, who figures to take heavy betting action following a huge win in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.

◗ Gemologist, trained by Todd Pletcher who is undefeated after a professional performance in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial.

◗ Dullahan, a half-brother to the popular Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird who stormed into the picture with a late-running win in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

◗ Hansen, last year’s 2-year-old champion, who has yet to finish out of the exacta in his career and will return to the scene of his gutsy victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

◗ Union Rags, runner-up in the Juvenile and winner of the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, who will try to rebound after a difficult journey in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

◗ Creative Cause, who defeated Bodemeister in the San Felipe Stakes and just missed in his final Derby prep, the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

◗ I’ll Have Another, who took Southern California by storm in winning the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and Santa Anita Derby.

Toss in Florida Derby hero Take Charge Indy, Gotham winner Alpha, a pair of international invaders trained by Aidan O’Brien, the Under the Radar runner Daddy Nose Best and several other leading lights, and the Derby is chock-full of talent.

Usually, the story of Went the Day Well would get a ton of press on Derby week because it writes itself. The same owner, trainer and jockey of last year’s Kentucky Derby winner are back with another hopeful, one that followed the same prep path as that of Animal Kingdom.

But, considering all of the heavy-hitters in this division, Went the Day Well may be somewhat ignored leading up to the first Saturday in May. Went the Day Well was foaled in New York on Feb. 21, 2009. The bay colt is by Proud Citizen, the winner of the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on dirt at Keeneland. Following the Lexington, Proud Citizen finished second in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness Stakes for trainer Wayne Lukas. Proud Citizen won at distances ranging from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles and is the sire of champion Proud Spell, the winner of the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes as a 3-year-old filly of 2008. This year, Proud Citizen has been represented by Grade 2 winners Believe You Can and Vamo a Galupiar.

Went the Day Well is the first foal out of Tiz Maie’s Day, an unraced daughter of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow. Tiz Maie’s Day is a half-sister to Jah, the winner of the Street Dancer Stakes at 11 furlongs on turf at Del Mar. Another half-sister, Sweet Breanna, placed in four stakes races in Canada including the Woodbine Oaks. A half-brother, Elshabiba, finished third in the listed Easter Stakes at one mile on the grass in England.

The second dam, Sweet Roberta (by Roberto), won the Grade 2 Selima Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on grass and finished second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The third dam is a winning half-sister to Grade 1 winner Cure the Blues.

Went the Day Well sold for $15,000 as a weanling at the 2009 Keeneland November breeding auction. The following year, he was purchased for $43,385 at the Tattersalls October yearling sale.

Sent to trainer Ed McMahon in England, Went the Day Well made a nice impression in his career debut at 2, a maiden race at one mile on grass at Kempton. Far behind early, Went the Day Well gobbled up late ground to finish second, ahead of two next-out winners.

Went the Day Well utilized different tactics in his second start, a maiden race going one mile and 70 yards on grass at Leicester. This time, he went to the front and made the lead until the final yards. There, he was caught by favored Thomas Chippendale.

Purchased privately by Team Valor following that race, Went the Day Well was sent to Graham Motion’s stable in the United States. In his first start for his new connections, Went the Day Well finished fourth in a nine-furlong maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 4. The winner of that race, Teeth of the Dog, returned to finish third in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial while the second- and fifth-place finishers both placed in stakes next out.

Went the Day Well graduated from the maiden ranks with a victory in a maiden special weight going 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream on March 3. Ridden by Javier Castellano that afternoon, Went the Day Well broke sweetly from the inside post and pressed the early leader while racing on the rail. Favored at even-money, Went the Day Well settled into the pocket before angling three wide at the quarter pole. He went past the leader with a minimum of fuss despite being a bit late to make his final lead change.

Team Valor and Motion decided to follow Animal Kingdom’s path to the Kentucky Derby by sending Went the Day Well to the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at nine furlongs over the Turfway Park Polytrack. Partnered with Animal Kingdom’s Derby-winning pilot, John Velazquez, Went the Day Well utilized his tactical speed to find a pace-tracking position while in between rivals on the opening bend. Went the Day Well saved ground leaving the backstretch and angled three wide on the final turn while moving in tandem with longshot Holiday Promise. Went the Day Well was again slightly late to change leads in the stretch, but once he did he turned away Holiday Promise to win comfortably by 3 ½ lengths with a career-best 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

Although Went the Day Well was a solid winner, Velazquez felt the colt still had lessons to learn. “When he got to the lead he started waiting and lugging in, and then just went on,” Velazquez told the Turfway Park media department. “He still doesn’t know very much. You can tell. As soon as he pulled out at the quarter pole and he found himself on the lead, he didn’t know what to do. So I just encouraged him to keep going forward.”

Went the Day Well must improve on the Beyer scale if he is to upset the Kentucky Derby. He’ll face much-tougher competition in Louisville than he has in any of his races and he can’t afford to wait on horses if he moves into a prominent position.

His positional speed allows Velazquez several options. With the Derby pace expected to be solid, Went the Day Well may wind up in a comfortable spot in midpack. He has enough pedigree to last this trip and the connections, obviously, must be respected in any big race. Best of all for Went the Day Well fans should be his price. With the big names taking money, Team Valor, Motion and Velazquez have another opportunity to strike at generous odds.

(This will be the final Under the Radar for 2012. Performance of the Week returns for the next issue.)