Horse Racing

Co-owner of Congruent on the Road to the Kentucky Derby

Tom Pedulla is interviewing famous horse owners, trainers and runners as they make their way to the 149th Kentucky Derby (G1) hosted by Woodford Reserve on May 6 at Churchill Downs.

This week’s installment features Luis Gavignano, co-owner of Lugamo Racing Stable Congruent with Tami Bobo. They bought gray faucet colt for $350,000 at Ocala’s March Training Sale for 2-Year-Old Puppies.

Congruent won three of his nine starts with a pair of finishes in third place earning $240,825 in his youth career for South Florida-based coach Antonio Sano. He set himself on the Derby trail by capturing the John Battaglia Memorial Stock on March 4 Turfway Park Tapeta surface to earn 20 qualifying points.

Congruent could secure a spot in the Derby starting gate with a strong showing in the $700,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) on Saturday back at Turfway. He emerges as a top contender in that 1/8 mile contest, awarding qualifying points to the top five finishers on a 100-40-30-20-10 basis. Sonny Leon keeps the mount from Battaglia. That name sounds familiar because Leon caused one of the major upsets in racing history when rich attack shocked the world with a score of 80.80-1 in last year’s Derby.

Gavignano, 55, and his two sons, Luis Jr., 22, and Andres, 18, are involved in a variety of industries. The Venezuelan native discussed his passion for racing, Congruent, and Leon’s potential impact as part of a Q&A session conducted on behalf of America’s Best Racing.

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PEDULLA: How long have you been in racing?

GAVIGNANO: I have been passionate about horse racing since I was young. I became the owner in 2018. My enthusiasm and passion for racing is something that I can share with Claudia Diaz, who is soon to be my wife.

PEDULLA: What do you get from the race?

GAVIGNANO: I enjoy every aspect of horse ownership and horse racing, from the moment a horse is born and watching it grow, develop and train and appreciate its improvement over time. time. It’s thrilling to go to the racecourse and watch it compete with other horses. It is gratifying and rewarding to see the horse in which you have invested so much energy and passion take first place in a race. Adrenaline and thrill can’t be beat.

PEDULLA: What convinced you to buy Congruent?

GAVIGNANO: I’ve always been a Tapit fan. His children were very successful. When we saw him at the OBS sale and watched him practice, we knew he was talented and decided he was worth buying.

PEDULLA: What happened when Congruent finished eighth in the Underage FanDuel Breeders’ Cup (G1) presented by TAA at Keeneland?

GAVIGNANO: When I think back to the Breeders’ Cup for the minors, Congruent isn’t ready yet. He doesn’t have enough experience or maturity. I also think he is not well adapted to the track. The Juvenile Race turns out to be one of the toughest races, especially for a horse that needs more time to mature and develop.

PEDULLA: Congruent played at 16.50-1 when he beat Battaglia. Are you as surprised as others by discomfort?

GAVIGNANO: That’s not a surprise. Based on his last workouts, we think he has a good chance on the compound track and at race distance.

PEDULLA: How would you rate Antonio Sano as a coach?

GAVIGNANO: Antonio Sano has been in the horse business for many years and has had a successful career. Even in Venezuela, he has been a champion for many years. When I started Lugamo Racing, I followed him on social media for a while and I saw his achievements. Later, when I met him in person, I knew he would be great at training some of my horses. Sano has the ability to make everyone feel like family. He is very friendly and welcoming. In my opinion, that ability, combined with his extensive knowledge, makes for the perfect trainer formula.

PEDULLA: What does Sonny Leon mean to Congruent?

GAVIGNANO: When we decided that Congruent had to go to Turfway, we knew Sonny Leon was the right racer for Congruent. We all know what he did last year when he won the Kentucky Derby against Rich Strike. Sonny is an experienced jockey and knows the track. We therefore determined him to be the perfect fit and we were right.

PEDULLA: Since Congruent’s biggest win comes on the surface in all weather, can he handle the dirt?

GAVIGNANO: I find Congruent very adaptable in this way. Looking back, he earned a special maiden weight on earth. Future laurels have also been won on wet soil. So I think he can handle different surfaces.

PEDULLA: Did you expect to win Jeff Ruby?

GAVIGNANO: I feel that since we won Battaglia on the same track, he will give us a great race. A little more distance would help his performance. So for sure we have a good chance.

PEDULLA: What does it mean if you can go to the Derby and win it?

GAVIGNANO: It is a great honor for Congruent to be able to qualify and participate in the Derby. I think most people in the sport would agree with me that the Derby is a dream to achieve. I can’t even imagine winning. Just thinking is surreal.


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