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Violette: Wood was great 'learning experience' for Samraat
Samraat, who suffered his first career defeat when second by 3 1/2 lengths to Wicked Strong in Saturday's Grade 1 TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial, will breeze twice at Aqueduct before he departs for Louisville, Kentucky, to compete May 3 in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Rick Violette said Sunday morning.
"In two weeks he'll go a half (mile), and then a week later he'll go a mile, and then on (April 28) we'll get on a plane and go to Kentucky," said Violette, who trains the homebred for Leonard Riggio's My Meadowview Farms.
Samraat, who had previously won the Withers and Gotham and three races for New York-breds, raced between horses in third early in the Wood before dropping back to fourth up the backstretch while continuing to be surrounded. He advanced into second by the three-eighths pole, came under a drive while trying to match strides with the leader Social Inclusion, was overtaken by Wicked Strong a furlong from the wire, and stayed on well to edge Social Inclusion by a nose for second.
"One horse ran better (than Samraat)," Violette. said "It was a great experience. He had been clear in his previous starts.
"Yesterday, he got surrounded for the first time, which was terrific. It was a learning experience; he had to run hard to put Kristo away to be able to go after Social Inclusion. He didn't change leads great up the lane. Again, it was a new experience chasing down horses off the bridle rather than inhaling them.
"I thought he was going to be fourth up the lane. A couple of times I went 'Oh, well.' He kept finding more. He made three surges.
"(Wicked Strong) ran great," Violette added. "He had a perfect trip. Everybody else did the hard work, and he picked up the pieces on what might have been the best part of the racetrack."
In contrast to the Wood, Samraat raced outside his main competition in the Withers and Gotham, and Violette hopes the experience gained by the son of Noble Causeway will help him when he competes in the Kentucky Derby.
"If he's a good horse, he's supposed to move forward off this," Violette said. "Most tough running experiences make the better ones better."