In giving Golden Pal nearly all he could handle, the 8-year-old son of Kodiac showed owner J. Larry Johnson and trainer Graham Motion what they needed to see to give the world traveler his own shot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) at Keeneland this fall.
“He just barely got beat by the two-time Breeders’ Cup winner yesterday; that’s kind of why we wanted to run, to find out how we stacked up with those guys… (The Breeders’ Cup) has to be on our radar now,” Motion said.
True Valour was 10th in the 2019 TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1T) at Santa Anita Park when trained by Simon Callaghan for Qatar Racing before Johnson bought him for $225,000 at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton July Horses of Racing Age Sale.
Winner of the April 23 King T. Leatherbury Stakes at Laurel Park, True Valour came off a third in the June 11 Jaipur Stakes (G1T) at Belmont Park. Making a successful return to the races after missing much of 2021 due to a minor hairline fracture, he has gone straight to the lead in each of his three starts this year.
“He’s just a really cool horse, and I think he really enjoys it, and he’s very honest,” Motion said. “The extraordinary thing about this horse is, he’s now an 8-year-old, and he seems to break sharper and sharper every time he runs.”
Bred in Ireland by Mr. P. O’Rourke out of the Acclamation (GB) mare Sutton Veny , True Valour sold to agent David Redvers for the equivalent of $112,030 from Tally-Ho Stud’s consignment to the Gorsebridge Flat Breeze-Up Sale in 2016, and began his career for Qatar Racing and trainer J.P. Murtagh in Ireland. He won the 2018 Ballycorus Stakes (G3) at Leopardstown Racecourse, his 14th and final European start. After running in Ireland and England, he found himself on the West Coast with Callaghan, where he won the 2019 Thunder Road Stakes (G3T) and the City of Hope Mile (G2T) through 10 starts before he sold to Johnson and moved into Motion’s barn.
In nine starts for Motion, True Valour has left no dust on his passport or his tack trunk. He’s raced at Churchill Downs, Pimlico Race Course, Woodbine in Canada, Aqueduct Racetrack, Santa Anita, Meydan in Dubai, Laurel Park, Belmont, and Saratoga. Overall, he has a 7-4-9 record from 34 starts, with earnings of $690,237.
“I cannot believe he’s an 8-year-old,” Motion said. “He doesn’t act like an 8-year-old in the barn.”
Motion said his gritty runner may next appear for the big dance itself.
“I think for a race like the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, it doesn’t hurt to be fresh,” he said. “He puts a lot into his races. There’s going to have to be a really perfect setup to run him again; it would have to be some time in September, but I think it’s unlikely. We’re going to try to get him there, and I want to give him his best shot.”