Louisville native gets his first shot at Derby glory
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Two trainers who are superstars of the sport of horse racing, legendary four time Derby winner Wayne Lukas, and his former protege, Derby winner Todd Pletcher, get their fair share of the limelight that comes with the Kentucky Derby.
Meanwhile, Trainer George Weaver can be found quietly hanging back in Barn 42.
While his name isn't as familiar, his training style is. He's all business. Something he learned from two of racing's best.
"I'm happy for George," said Pletcher, "he's worked hard and deserves it."
After coming in second in the Wood Memorial, Tencendur finally brought Weaver, a Louisville native, home.
Weaver used to go to Churchill Downs as a kid. It's where he fell in love with the racing form and the game itself.
"Oh it means a lot. I was raised here and I went to the races with my mom and dad when I was young and Derby week and the Kentucky Derby itself was a big deal," he said.
While some of Weavers' best memories were certainly made at Churchill Downs, they weren't limited to the track. He grew up in the Highlands and was a 1988 graduate of Atherton High School.
After deciding college wasn't his kind of school Weaver studied under Lukas then Pletcher, based out of New York and Florida. He's thrilled to be back in the 'Ville with old friends and his parents to see his big moment.
When asked what his parents thought about him being back with a Derby horse Weaver said, "Oh there excited. They've been wondering when I was going to have one good enough to come here and finally we do."
Weaver almost got back home once before with a horse that ran third in the Arkansas Derby, but he decided not to go to Churchill Downs.
With the big athletic Tencendur he knew this time he had more than a fighting chance.
"Tencender is the name of Charlamane's war horse in the 'Song of Roland,'" he said.
A horse Weaver believes is now ready for battle.
"To me, the Derby is a level in itself. It just feels above the other races and so I'm not sure what I would do if we won the race, there's no telling what I would do," he said.
Weaver says Tencendur just keeps improving. He has worked well at Churchill, he has a huge stride. With the speed horses in the Derby he should be mid pack.
Weaver says his move might have been a little premature in the Wood, so if he moves at the right time in the Derby it could turn out well.
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