Kentucky Derby 2013 horses: Java's War

Matthew Stockman

What do you do if you are a multimillionaire diamond magnate like Charles Fipke? You buy horses, preferably ones that have a chance to run in the Kentucky Derby, like Blue Grass Stakes winner Java's War.

Java's War

War Pass
Dam: Java (GB)
Damsire: Rainbow Quest

Trainer: Ken McPeek
Jockey: Julian Leparoux
Owner: Charles Fipke
Record: 7-1-3-2
Earnings: $672,091
Notable Races: 1st, G1-Blue Grass Stakes; 2nd, G2-Tampa Bay Derby; 6th, G2-KY Jockey Club; 3rd, G1-Breeders' Futurity; 1st, Sunday Silence

First things first, check out the silks of owner Charles Fipke pictured at the top of the post. If your claim to fame is discovering one of the largest diamond mines in the Canada you've earned the right to put a big old diamond on your silks.

Positives: It's never a bad sign when a three-year-old colts starts to put it all together late in the spring before the Kentucky Derby. The last two races for Java's War were visually very strong as there's nothing wrong with finishing second behind Verrazano (even if he never really challenged the winner at any time in the stretch). And while his Blue Grass win has the caveat of occurring over the Polytrack at Keeneland, his form heading into the Derby is excellent.

2013 Blue Grass Stakes

If Java's War takes to the Churchill Downs dirt surface, and he gets a good pace to run at, he could be just the kind of late runner to play hard in the trifectas or superfecta on Derby day and, if things break right, possibly the winner's circle.

Negatives: Is this colt going to be better on turf/synthetics or dirt? Based on his seven race career, he's a better runner on non-dirt surfaces, a difficult hurdle to overcome in the Kentucky Derby. Java's War has won three races in his career: two on turf (a Maiden Special Weight and the ungraded Sunday Silence Stakes), and one on Polytrack (G1-Blue Grass). He was a good second to Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby on dirt but was a disappointing sixth in the G2-Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs in mid-November of 2012. The Jockey Club was six months ago so, maybe it was just a bad day, maybe it was the track. Tough to tell.

Keep and eye on Java's War this week at Churchill Downs for clues as to how he's taking to the dirt in Louisville.

Another potential negative for Java's War is his inability to get out of the starting gate with any meaningful urgency. A quick browsing of the comment lines from his past performances and you find phrases such as "hesitated at the start", "broke slow", and "bothered at the start" dominating the page. While Java's War prefers to do his running from off the pace, it's probably not to his advantage to get too far back early if he hopes to reel in the leaders in deep stretch and avoid traffic issues.

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