Angel of Empire (Classic Empire) and Wet Paint (Blame) weren’t the only 3-year-olds to impress on Oaklawn Park’s loaded GI Arkansas Derby program.
WinStar Farm and Siena Farm’s Federal Judge (c, 3, Army Mule–Congarette, by Congaree) announced his presence with authority on the undercard, kicking off his career for trainer Rodolphe Brisset with a razor sharp, front-running performance, good for a flashy 97 Beyer Speed Figure.
He broke sharply from post five beneath Ricardo Santana, Jr. and quickly cleared his six rivals, including a trio of older horses, at debut odds of 7-1. Taking some pressure from his outside through an opening quarter in :22.10, the bay was headed by a rival on the far turn. Federal Judge was still going strong, however, and blasted off once Santana got busy in the stretch to win going away by 4 1/2 promising lengths. The final time for six furlongs over the fast going was 1:09.87.
“Very excited with his performance and can’t wait to see him run against winners and see where we go from there,” WinStar Farm President/CEO & Racing Manager Elliott Walden said.
“Rudy had told me that he worked very well with Royal Spa (Violence), who ran [ninth behind Wet Paint] in the [GIII] Fantasy, and he was encouraged by that. But I think Rudy’s the kind of guy who doesn’t overtrain them for their first start, so you kind of see where they really are. I was very pleased to see him run like he did because I think a lot of that’s on natural ability.”
Hailing from the first crop of unbeaten GI Carter H. winner Army Mule, Federal Judge is the second foal and first to the races for two-time winner Congarette. From the same female family as GI Super Derby winner Home At Last (Quadratic) and graded winners Niner’s Home (Forty Niner) and Indy Groove (A.P. Indy), Federal Judge, bred in Florida by Caperlane Farm, brought $40,000 as an OBSWIN yearling and $200,000 as a FTKJUL yearling. Army Mule, already responsible for seven black-type winners, commands a $12,500 stud fee at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm.
“His dad was very talented,” Walden said. “[WinStar General Manager] David Hanley and I loved [Federal Judge] at the sale at Fasig-Tipton July. He was the one horse that we wanted to come away with. He had a setback at two and we had to take a little chip out of the top joint of his knee.”
Walden concluded, “He ran a big number–we’re really excited about what lies ahead. We’re moving him back to Kentucky to Rudy’s stable this week, then we’ll try to pick out something that makes sense either late at Keeneland or at Churchill or Belmont.”
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