Durkin’s Call much the best in Gander Stakes

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

Durkin’s Call, a recent private purchase by Wachtel Stable, Peter Deutsch and Christopher Dunn, proved his mettle for his new connections Sunday at the Big A when he made his stakes debut in the $100,000 Gander Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-olds. Sent off as the even-money favorite, the Jump Start gelding rallied from off the pace and found another gear in the stretch to win by more than seven lengths going away.

Breaking cleanly from his outside post under Junior Alvarado, Durkin’s Call raced along the backstretch and into the turn well off the fence while trading third and fourth position with Kadens Courage.

Four lengths ahead, Kosciuszko set the pace, pressed along by Pipes through an opening quarter mile in 23.84 and a half in 46.87. Traveling three deep around the far turn, Durkin’s Call advanced into second as six furlongs went by in 1:12.01.

Asked for more run in upper stretch, Durkin’s Call overhauled Kosciuszko with less than a furlong to go, then found an entirely new gear, drawing off impressively to cross the wire a 7 1/4-length winner. Kosciuszko, who hung on for second, finished a neck ahead of Pipes in third, while Kaden’s Courage completed the order of finish. The final time for the mile was 1:37.90. [VIDEO REPLAY]

According to Mott’s assistant Leanna Willaford, after Durkin’s Call relocated from trainer Mike Trombetta to Bill Mott’s barn when he changed hands, he built on a strong foundation and adjusted nicely.

NYRA/Susie Raisher

“We’ve had him for about a month or so in the barn and he had been working well heading into this race,” Willaford said. “It was our first time running him, but we were happy with him. He had good prior form and he was training well.”

Junior Alvarado said, “I worked him three times since they got him in the barn. I was expecting something like he did today. He worked against other nice horses in the barn and he was better than them. I was expecting this type of run, but you have to see if they can transfer morning workouts to the races. He did.”

As to race strategy, Willaford said, “It looked like there were one or two horses in the field that might show a little speed, but he [Durkin’s Call] is very ratable, so I just relayed that to Junior and he gave him an excellent ride and it worked out.”

Alvarado added “I was waiting and by the three-eighths pole I had to make a little move just to make sure to keep the other horses right there, where I wanted them to be. Turning for home, I put him outside in the clear and asked him. After a few strides, he finished strong. He galloped out really good. We should have some fun with him going a mile an eighth; it shouldn’t be a problem at all for him.”

Unplaced in his first four races at two, including two grass starts, and dangled once for a $50,000 tag at Saratoga, Durkin’s Call shipped to Laurel to break his maiden, where he aired by more than eight lengths going one mile. After that initial win, he hasn’t run a bad race, finishing on the board three times in three starts, all the while racing in open company. In his previous start on February 1 he won an optional claiming/starter’s allowance contest at the same trip as the Gander.

Bred by Richard Zwirn, Kay Zwirn and Richard Golden, Durkin’s call was purchased by Trombetta for only $4,000. The stakes winner has now earned $142,325 from three wins, a second and a third in nine starts. The gelding’s dam is Feelin Abit Frisky, a winning Kentucky-bred daughter of Posse, who has produced three winners from three foals to start. She has a yearling colt by Strong Mandate and was bred in 2018 to Tu Brutus (CHI).


Leave a Reply