Hat Trick colt heading to Kentucky Derby

Hat Trick has a live chance for this year’s Kentucky Derby after his colt Howe Great won the G3 Palm Beach Stakes (1800m) at Gulfstream Park on Sunday.

The former Victorian shuttler is a son of Sunday Silence and he has already sired 2011 French Horse of the Year Dabirsim in his first crop.

Hat Trick (Jpn) was a G1 winning miler in Japan and Hong Kong before retiring to Walmac Farm in Kentucky.  He shuttled to Independent Stallions in 2008 and that sole trip to the southern hemisphere generated 26 foals.

Howe Great (3c Hat Trick – Ginger Sea by Western Winter) is a homebred for Team Valor owner Barry Irwin and extended his winning run to four in a row with a one length victory over Dullahan (Even the Score).

The first two home already have close connections to the Run for the Roses.  Team Valor raced 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and the runner-up is a half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby hero Mine That Bird.

The two are on course for a rematch in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 14.  “That’s the logical race for him,” trainer Graham Motion said.  “He’s a very classy, straightforward horse.  The more he races, the more relaxed he has become.”

Howe Great was runner-up on debut at Parx Racing before graduating to a maiden victory at the same venue in October.  He handled two turns and a switch to turf at Gulfstream Park in December before claiming the LR Kitten’s Joy Stakes back at the Florida course on January 21.

Team Valor played an integral part in brokering the deal to bring Hat Trick to Kentucky.  After starting his stud career at Walmac Farm, he was relocated to Gainesway Farm for the 2012 season after the leading Kentucky stud purchased a significant interest in the 11-year-old.