Hallandale Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm has had some excellent 3-year-old racehorses over the last several years, most notably Rockport Harbor and Hard Spun. For 2014 the Wilmington, Del. operation is preparing Coup de Grace for a possible Kentucky Derby venture.
Trained by Chad Brown, Coup de Grace is a likely starter in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes on Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park. The 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull would be the colt's initial race of 2014.
"His last race was a nice progression to a one-turn mile. He handled it fine, so now he needs to run two turns," Brown said. "He'll work again over the weekend coming up, and we'll continue to keep all our options open with him. Right now, we're leaning toward staying at home and running him in the Holy Bull."
Coup de Grace is perfect in two career starts after winning on Dec. 15 at Gulfstream in an optional claiming allowance race. The 3-year-old is stabled at Palm Meadows Training Center where he worked last Sunday a half-mile in 49.75 seconds.
"He's convinced me he needs to run in a stakes race," Brown noted. "I don't know if I'm looking for something very specific out of his next work; I just want to see him continue to thrive down here and show me that he'll be fine with the stretch-out around two turns. As long as he continues to train the way he has been, the way he's moving and the way he's galloping out, every indication is that he should be able to handle two turns."
Porter and Brown are also looking for last year's Wood Memorial runner-up Normandy Invasion to return to the races this year.
"He's been working well and moving well. Right now, we're real happy with his progress," Brown said. "I don't know where or when we'll run him, but when the time comes we'll discuss that with Mr. Porter and come up with a plan together."
After setting the pace in last year's Run for the Roses before finishing fourth, he suffered an abscess in his front hoof which kept him from competing the remainder of 2013.
"It was disappointing to lose him for the second half of the year," commented Brown. "Sometimes, those are the risks when you march on to the Derby. It's a hard road, and it's a hard race if you run it in. Not every horse can come out of that 100 percent. He was one that seemed like it took a lot out of him. He had a couple different minor things that all added up to a vacation. He looks great now, and hopefully he'll have a great 2014."
Normandy Invasion has one win and two seconds in six lifetime starts for $400,240.