Challenging the goliaths

CHESTER – The last time Only I Know won a race was on the wintry night of March 4. He was a step slow leaving the starting gate in the five-furlong allowance at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort. But Only I Know quickly rushed to the lead in the field of five, and from thereon couldn’t be caught, registering his second career victory in as many starts.

Since then, Only I Know has gone winless in five efforts He looked pretty good, though, in his most recent try, finishing second in a one-mile Mountaineer allowance on July 12. This Saturday, Only I Know may boggle many a mind. The Flying G Racing partnership plans to run him in the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby presented by Xpressbet.

This appears to be a case of David challenging multiple Goliaths – without his slingshot. Only I know has a career resume that reads seven starts, two wins, a placing and $33,650 in purse earnings. He’ll possess something of a minor home-ring advantage, having made six prior efforts at Mountaineer. But Only I Know also seems to be akin to a lightweight taking on a tag-team of Joe Fraziers.

“Yes, but from the time we purchased Only I Know (for $10,000 as a yearling), we’ve been targeting him for the West Virginia Derby,” said Scott Bowerman, managing partner of the 42-member Flying G. “We’re not really thinking he can win. But it will be great to be at Mountaineer’s celebration on Saturday, and we’re proud that we’ll play a part in it.”

One mile and 70 yards is the longest race distance Only I Know has attempted to date. That was on the grass at Mountaineer on June 24, and he finished unplaced. Only I Know has made one prior effort in stakes company, in the six-furlong Woodstock at Woodbine near Toronto. He finished last in a six-horse field.

An examination of Only I Know’s pedigree, however, reveals some impressive bloodlines. His sire, Flower Alley, earned $2.53 million at the races. Flower Alley’s victories included the 2005 editions of the Jim Dandy and Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

Only I Know’s dam, Cuz You Never Know, did most of her racing in starter allowance and optional claiming company at Northern California tracks. She made 10 career starts, and gained of a trio of wins, a trio of placings and modest purse earnings of $52,000.

But go back several generations in Only I Know’s family tree and there resides an impressive representation of major Thoroughbred sires. There’s a 4×3 Danzig cross, a 4×4 Mr. Prospector cross, a 5×5 Raise a Native cross and Northern Dancer crosses, both top and bottom.

Bred in Kentucky by Three Chimneys Farm, Only I Know was purchased as a weanling at Keeneland’s November auction by E.J. Hubel for $1,200. Hubel subsequently sold Only I Know to Flying G in a private transaction.

“We’ve never paid more than $10,000 for a horse,” Bowerman said. “Right now we own five, including a pair of yearlings, a colt and a filly, by (the 2007 West Virginia Derby winner) Zanjero.” Debra E. Rombis is Flying G’s trainer. The West Virginia Derby will represent her first stakes try at the Hancock County track.

Flying G donates two percent of its purse earnings to its Pick-Up Mount Program, “which aids jockeys who have ridden for us before, who have gotten hurt on the track,” said Bowerman. “T.D. Houghton was supposed to ride Only I Know on March 4 But Terry got injured – broke his back – in a riding accident a few nights earlier.”

Andrew Ramgeet has been Only I Know’s regular rider. But Ramgeet’s being replaced by Christian Pilares in the West Virginia Derby.

“Only I Know’s got speed, and Christian’s an expert at getting a horse to gun early,” Bowerman said. “He’ll be setting the pace, and we’ll see what happens from there.”