From a Laurel Park release
Preston Stables and Prestonwood Racing’s One Go All Go made history Saturday at Laurel Park while posting a front-running victory at 35-1 odds in the $400,000 Commonwealth Derby (G2).
In the process of registering a length triumph over Fundamental, the 3-year-old son of Fairbanks became the first Virginia-bred to capture the 1 1/8-mile turf feature formerly run as the Virginia Derby.
Presented at Laurel for the first time by the Virginia Equine Alliance, the Commonwealth Derby and the co-featured $250,000 Commonwealth Cup (G2) highlighted Saturday’s 10-race program.
One Go All Go, who provided trainer Pavel Matejka and jockey Ronald Hisby their first successes in graded-stakes competition, was sent right to the lead and was allowed to set comfortable fractions of 24.49 seconds and 49.37 for the first half mile. Force the Pass, the 2-5 favorite in the field of seven, settled in fourth along the backstretch behind One Go All Go and stalkers Gallery and Go Around. One Go All Go continued to show the way around turn and into the homestretch, as Trevor McCarthy took Force the Pass four-wide in pursuit of the longshot.
“I couldn’t believe 49-and-change. He was right there on the loose. It worked out perfect,” Matejka said. “We talked with Ronald before the race and said, ‘If they let you go, go. If you get in trouble, take him back and sit and wait.’ But nobody wanted the lead.”
After being allowed to conserve energy setting the comfortable pace, One Go All Go sprinted clear in mid-stretch and held off a late bid by Fundamental to win the first stakes of his six-race career, completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.35.
“My horse broke well, and I just kept going,” Hisby said. “No one was there, so we kept going and going. He just kept going and never stopped.
Fundamental, ridden by Jose Ortiz, rallied from last to finish second after bumping with the favorite in the stretch. Force the Pass finished a head behind the runner-up and another head in front of Great Dancer.
One Go All Go had run only once previously in 2015, finishing first in an optional claiming race against older horses in his turf debut at Indiana Grand Aug. 21, only to be disqualified and placed second for interference.
Matejka, a native of the Czech Republic who had worked three years in Australia for Gai Waterhouse and served as assistant to Eddie Kenneally, Rusty Arnold, Kathleen O’Connell, among others, trains privately for Preston Stables and Prestonwood Racing at the Lexington (KY) Training Center.
“We knew he had huge ability, but he didn’t show it on the dirt,” Matejka said. “We were looking at a Triple Crown career and tried him on the dirt twice and it didn’t work out.”
One Go All Go won his debut and finished a close third in the Arlington Washington Futurity (G3) over Arlington Park’s Polytrack surface last year for trainer Michael Stidham. He finished fifth and fourth, respectively, in two starts on dirt for trainer Bill Mott before going to the sideline with a front ankle chip. He returned to action last month after a nine-month layoff.
“He tried him on the grass and it worked out,” Matejka said.