Commanding Curve goes for a training run at Churchill Downs ahead of Sunday’s Kentucky Derby. The horse, which is partially owned by a Carrollton woman, beat long odds and came in second place.
Commanding Curve goes for a training run at Churchill Downs ahead of Sunday’s Kentucky Derby. The horse, which is partially owned by a Carrollton woman, beat long odds and came in second place.

Kentucky class

Published 8:33pm Monday, May 5, 2014

Carrollton woman owns share of Commanding Curve

A Carrollton tax preparer is on cloud nine after the racehorse in which she owns a stake streaked from the back of the field Saturday to take second in the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby.

Commanding Curve, in which Jan Martin purchased a 4-1/2 percent share about a year ago, went into the race as a 37-1 long shot.

After starting from the 17th post, the only starting position never to have previously won the Derby, he picked his way to the middle of the field, then made an adrenaline-pumping dash in the final stretch of the historic race to finish less than two lengths behind the winner.

“A little longer of a race, and he would have passed” California Chrome, the race winner, said Martin, who was trackside for the spectacle.

She had traveled to Churchill Downs with her sister, her sister’s husband and a friend, Martin said, and the quartet had become separated before the race.

Martin said she had gone to the barn to walk with the trainer and her horse to the starting gates, adding that Commanding Curve was so relaxed that he seemed asleep.

“We have 165,000 fans cheering and yelling and people all over the track,” Martin said. “Some horses get very agitated, but he was just unfazed.”

Martin grew up around horses. Her uncle showed Tennessee Walkers, she said, and her sister rode competitively.

But “I was never a good rider,” she added. “I didn’t ride much, and I was a little bit afraid.”

About 10 years ago, Martin started visiting a cousin in Charleston, W.Va., who was “trying to break into the horse-training ranks.”

She got the bug.

Martin bought into her first racehorse about five years ago, she said, and currently has shares in five of them.

Martin was sold on Commanding Curve when West Point Thoroughbreds, which manages “equine portfolios” for investors like Martin, announced who would be training the horse after purchasing him at auction in April 2013 for $75,000.

Dallas Stewart had previously trained several West Point horses, Martin said, and the investor community was “very excited to buy in with this horse.” She said she got the final share.

Martin didn’t get to see the horse in the flesh until he ran in Saratoga in New York last summer.

A points system determines which 20 horses get to run in the Kentucky Derby. Commanding Curve, which had been 21st on the list, only qualified after ill health ruled another horse out.

He raced only twice this year before Kentucky, which Stewart in a news release stated was “by design.”

“We wanted to give him some time off,” Martin explained.

While Commanding Curve commanded the field Saturday, waking up and galloping home to clinch a very unexpected and headline-generating second place, Martin was trackside with the colt’s other owners.

“We were all just excited (and) jumping up and down,” she said. “We thought he was capable of this type of performance, but nobody was sure until the race.

“It really felt like a win, even though it was only second place.”

Martin said Commanding Curve’s next big race will be the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 7.

“It’s a 1-1/2 mile race, more suited to a deep closer like Commanding Curve,” she said.

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