Sunday, April 28, 2024

Sierra Leone, winner of both the Blue Grass S. (G1) and Risen Star S. (G2) this year, drew post 2 in the full field of 20 3-year-olds set to contest the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1).

The Gun Runner colt was made the 3-1 second choice on the morning line in the 1 ¼-mile classic.

Sierra Leone is owned by Peter Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg and Brook Smith, who purchased the colt for $2.3 million at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling sale.

The striking dark bay has been nearly perfect in his four starts to date. In addition to his two wins this year, he broke his maiden at first asking on Nov. 1 at Aqueduct, then was beaten just a nose in the Remsen S. (G2) in early December. His earnings stand at $918,000.

“Not that bad. Sierra Leone, he’s in just a touch farther in than I wanted but he didn’t get the 1 hole so I’m OK with that,” said trainer Chad Brown after the post position draw. “With this particular horse, what I didn’t want was the 19 or 20. In fact, it would have been hard for him to drop over without losing ground, significant ground around the first turn.”

Tyler Gaffalione, who was aboard in the Blue Grass and Risen Star, has the mount on Saturday.

Sierra Leone got his final pre-Derby workout on Saturday, when he breezed five furlongs in company with stablemate and fellow Derby entrant Domestic Product. They covered the distance in 1:00.20 on a fast track.

“Just that,” Brown said when asked what he wanted to see from his Derby duo. “It was executed perfectly. I wanted them to a good five-eighths out in three-quarters but well within themselves. (Sierra Leone) is super fit and it was just an outstanding work. I’m just trying to get him in there happy and sound.

“He’s a very rare horse. He’s just everything you want as a trainer.”

Sierra Leone is just one of six horses that Gun Runner will have competing in stakes over the coming week at Churchill Downs. The Three Chimneys stallion, who was recently elected to the Racing Hall of Fame, is currently fourth on the General Sire list and leading the Fourth-Crop list with over $5.3 million in progeny earnings.