September 1, 2014

Iowa owners hope to finish a few spots higher in this year’s Kentucky Derby

Jerry Crawford and Dullahan.

For the second time in three years, a group of mostly Iowans has put a horse in the Kentucky Derby. The 138th running of the race is set for 5:24 p.m. (CST) Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Des Moines lawyer Jerry Crawford is primary owner of Donegal Racing. He says it’s “remarkable” to have another horse in the sport’s premier race.

“We feel some confidence in the system we’ve been using to get horses in the Triple Crown series,” Crawford said. “We know we’re fortunate, but we’ve worked hard at it as well.” In 2010, the Donegal owned horse Paddy O’Prado finished third in the Kentucky Derby.

This year, the group has a three-year-old colt named Dullahan in the 20-horse field. Dullahan drew the number five post. That has Crawford confident his horse can contend for the crown.

 He notes, over the past 20 years, more Kentucky Derby winners have come from the five or eight post than any other position. “Secondly, we us in the five hole, there are a lot of speed horses right next to us and in the inside 10 horses. We’re not a speed horse, we’re a closer,” Crawford said.

 “Those horses will clear on out ahead of us and be forwardly placed in the race. It gives us more room to run and it should provide for a less congested run down the stretch the first time.”

The Donegal Racing group consists of 21 owners. “But, if you were down here, you’d be convinced we have hundreds of owners,” Crawford said. “There are hundreds of people wearing Dullahan buttons and hats. I’m pretty sure by post time we’ll have 500 Iowans on the premise and if Dullahan can get smiled on by the gods and get to the finish line, you’ll see what I’m talking about in the celebration.”

Dullahan’s jockey is Kent Desormeaux, who also rode Paddy O’Prado two years ago.