Quality Road colt Integration, with Kendrick Carmouche in the irons, winner of the Virginia Derby (G3)
While many of the heavy hitters in the North American turf division are receiving a winter freshening, undefeated two-time graded stakes winner Integration is just starting to announce his presence following a superb five-length conquest in Saturday’s Hill Prince (G3) for sophomores at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Integration registered a career-high 98 Beyer Speed Figure for the performance, where he equaled the Aqueduct track record for one mile on the turf when stopping the clock in 1:46.06. The time is on par with that of Slew the Dragon’s 1:46 in the 1985 Lashkari. But setting track records is nothing new for the gifted son of Quality Road, who broke the nine-furlong record over the Colonial Downs lawn in the Virginia Derby (G3) on Sept. 9, completing the 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.41.
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and Woodford Racing and trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, Integration has won all three of his lifetime starts by a combined 12 3/4 lengths.
Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds expressed a strong level of excitement for his rising star heading into his 4-year-old campaign. He mentioned the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) on Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park as a possibility.
“That certainly is something that will be on our radar,” Finley said. “It would be two and a half months and he’s run well with those kind of gaps between races. Shug put some space between the Virginia Derby and the Hill Prince, so that’s very reassuring. The partners are over the moon and there are a lot of good vibes around this colt. He has an amazing turn of foot and he has the ability that very few seem to have just to continue that surge and that run. Seemingly, that’s what separates the really good ones from the great ones, the ability to carry that run further and further. He looks like he could be that kind of horse. He certainly has put himself in the position. We’re excited about him.”
Finley spoke high volumes of Kendrick Carmouche, who piloted Integration in both of his graded coups.
“Kendrick is overall as good a person as there is in this industry,” Finley said. “He has a great attitude and is positive every single day. You always know that you’ll get a 100 percent effort from him. We’re just tickled pink that we’re able to share this ride with a guy who people are realizing is elevating himself to the top echelon of jocks in North America.”
In his career debut, Integration defeated elders going 1 1/16 miles on August 12 at Colonial Downs under Tyler Gaffalione, who Finley said was very impressed with his debut effort.
“Tyler rode the next day at Saratoga and he came up to me and his eyes got as wide as they could get,” Finley said. “He just said ‘Integration, wow’ and was very deliberate with each syllable. For him to make such a mark on a top rider like Tyler, that’s when we started thinking this horse could be an upper echelon type of horse.”
Finley spoke of his high level of respect for McGaughey.
“For a long time, my relationship with him has just been saying hello to him at the races. It’s been really cool to get more involved personally and have more horses in his barn. He’s a fascinating guy,” Finley said. “We’re one of the few games where you have Hall of Famers in their 70s still doing what got them there to begin with. What other sport do you have that? I’ve vowed to really take advantage of those type of relationships and Shug is a prime example of that. It really is a blessing to have so many people in our game that are still working hard every day that you can learn from and engage with.”
Finley also reported that the McGaughey-trained Signator – co-owned by West Point with Woodford Racing, Gainesway Stable, Phipps Stable, Ken Langone, Edward Hudson, Jr. and Lane’s End Racing – could target the $150,000 Queens County on Dec. 31 at the Big A.
The three-time winning 3-year-old son of Tapit ran a career-high 94 Beyer Speed Figure when capturing a local allowance optional claimer going nine furlongs on Nov. 12, which came following a first-level allowance score on Oct. 21 going a one-turn mile over the main track.
“We’re looking forward to seeing him take the next step. He had a little issue in January and we thought we had a shot to get onto the Triple Crown trail, but it wasn’t to be,” Finely said. “Now he’s put everything together. Those Tapits can force you to take your time with them, but he’s very exciting. His reach and stride were always good but as he’s gotten bigger and stronger, I think it’s better than good. He’s carrying himself with a lot of confidence. Shug is thinking about the Queens County. If he can take another step forward in his next start, I think the Pegasus is something Shug would entertain.”