Tom Pedulla is interviewing prominent owners, trainers, and jockeys for America’s Best Racing as they travel the road to the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve on Saturday, May 2, at Churchill Downs.
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Trainer Tom Amoss is featured this week. He will saddle No Parole in the $1 million, Grade 2 Rebel Stakes on Saturday at Oaklawn Park. The Louisiana-bred son of Violence, owned by Maggi Moss and Greg Tramontin, has dominated his first three starts by a combined 34 lengths while leading at every call.
No Parole went around two turns for the first time and coasted by 6 ½ lengths in the one-mile Louisiana-Bred Premier Night Prince Stakes Feb. 8 at Delta Downs. He will be venturing outside of Louisiana and competing in open company for the first time.
The winner of the 1 1/16-mile Rebel will be virtually assured a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate since the race awards the top four finishers qualifying points on a 50-20-10-5 basis. No Parole drew post five in a field of eight.
PEDULLA: No Parole did not make his first start until Dec. 15 at Fair Grounds. Do you feel you are playing catch-up with him?
AMOSS: From the standpoint of him having only three races until now, I think it is very important to see how he fits in on a national scale with the top 3-year-olds going a distance of ground. So am I catching up in the sense of the competition he’s run against thus far? Yes, I probably am. Am I catching up in trying to get him ready if he’s good enough to continue on in these big races? No, I don’t believe so.
PEDULLA: I guess it is time to see what you have?
AMOSS: It is definitely time to see what we have. This is what we know. We know he is a very good sprinter. Is he a horse that can be good going long? We don’t know the answer to that. That’s where this race comes in.
PEDULLA: Why did you pick the Rebel?
AMOSS: We were fairly limited if we wanted to stay regional and we did. The Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds is increased in distance this year. It’s now a mile and three-sixteenths. I thought it was too much to ask this horse to go from what he’s done to a mile and three-sixteenths. I think a mile and a sixteenth is a little bit easier transition for a racehorse.
PEDULLA: How do you feel about his ability to get distance?
AMOSS: Well, he did it at Delta in the mile. Two things are important to note there. One, the class of competition is not what it is going to be on Saturday. Two, that was on a bullring track and this is going to be different.
PEDULLA: Is he a horse that must have the lead?
AMOSS: I don’t know the answer to that. But I’m not going to complain that he’s got speed. When you look at the Derby, particularly in recent times, speed is a great thing to have.
PEDULLA: Do you feel good that you have Joe Talamo aboard?
AMOSS: I think the world of Joe. I’ve known him since he was an apprentice at the Fair Grounds and I feel fortunate to have him.
PEDULLA: Do you have a gut feeling about what we will see from No Parole on Saturday?
AMOSS: I think he’s a real wild card. I know he is a very good sprinter on a national scale. What he can do on a traditional track going a mile and a sixteenth, I think there are a lot of unanswered questions there. Myself and obviously a lot of other people are anxious to see what happens.
AMOSS: It’s not as if the stable became better at training horses because we won the Oaks. We’ve always been what we are. But, on the other hand, I think it brings a little clout to us. I just feel there are some things that have happened differently for me since that. Perception is reality. Perhaps in some sense people thought he was just a claiming trainer and now they see he can develop a horse. It didn’t make us better at our job. We were blessed to finally have a horse that could win a race like that.
PEDULLA: Does winning the Oaks add to your determination to win the Derby?
AMOSS: Well, look, the idea of winning the Oaks and Derby is the dream of anyone. To taste it for the very first time, and that’s over 30 years in the business, was not only a thrill but it makes you want it more because you actually know what it feels like.