Derby Contenders

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Kathleen O' Connell


O’Connell, a native of Detroit, Michigan, started out riding show horses as a youth before taking a job at the race track walking horses at age 19. She moved her stable to Florida in 1985 and became the first female trainer to ever win a training title at Calder Race Course in 2010. Her top runners include millionaire Blazing Sword, Shananie’s Best, Lindsay Lane, and Shan’s Ready.

Rafael Bejarano


Bejarano fell in love with horse racing while attending the races in his native Peru. He studied at the country’s jockey school and groomed horses in the mornings to pay for his tuition. In May of 2002 he came to the United States and won his first race in July that same year. He has won riding titles at all major tracks in California and Kentucky. He won the 2010 Kentucky Oaks aboard champion Blind Luck.He was the regular rider for Breeders Cup winners Intercontinental and Ginger Punch. Other top horses from 2011 include Liaison, Weemissfrankie and Euroears.

Gilbert Campbell


Campbell is a real estate developer in his native Massachusetts and owns Stonehedge Farm South in Williston Fla. He found instant success in racing with his first horse being a multiple stakes winner Shananie. Campbell has raced over 20 stakes winners including top earner Blazing Sword, who earned more than $1 million.

  • Photo: Tom Cooley Photography

  • Photo: Tom Cooley Photography

  • Photo: Tom Cooley Photography

  • Photo: Tom Cooley Photography


West Acre--Sabbath Song, by Deputy Minister

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Watch Me Go, who entered the Kentucky Derby picture with an upset victory in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), hails from a relatively low-profile family.

Watch Me Go was bred in Florida by owner Gilbert Campbell

Sire West Acre, whose other notable offspring include 2003 Bonnie Miss S. (G2) winner Ivannavinalot and 2010 Orchid S. (G3) heroine Speak Easy Gal, was unraced. However, he was a three-quarters brother to Preach (Mr. Prospector), a Grade 1 winner at two who later produced Blue Grass S. (G2) winner and noted sire Pulpit (A.P. Indy).

Preach’s full sister, Yarn, produced Irish juvenile highweight Minardi (Boundary) and noted Grade 2-winning sire Tale of the Cat (Storm Cat), and was the second dam of 2001 juvenile colt champion Johannesburg (Hennessy). This female family yielded Hall of Famer Round Table, third in the 1957 Kentucky Derby.

Watch Me Go’s dam, Sabbath Song (Deputy Minister), was also unraced. In addition to the subject, she’s produced the minor stakes-placed Asgoodasshelooks (West Acre) and Lucky Paco (Lucky Lionel). Sabbath Song is a half-sister to stakes winners Blitzer (Ziggy’s Boy), Diamonds Galore (Diamond Shoal [GB]) and Cozy Star (Cozzene), all produced by the stakes-winning Sirona (Irish Stronghold).

Students of ancestry will note Watch Me Go’s seventh dam was Samos (Bruleur), who in 1935 became the second three-year-old filly ever to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Watch Me Go’s broodmare sire, Deputy Minister, was champion juvenile colt of 1981 and had an illustrious career at stud. His daughters’ best produce include dual Horse of the Year Curlin (Smart Strike), Belmont S. (G1) winners Rags to Riches (A.P. Indy) and Sarava (Wild Again), juvenile filly champion Halfbridled (Unbridled), and another current Derby contender, To Honor and Serve (Bernardini).

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