ST. CLOUD, Minnesota — On Monday morning, Jeff Drown was back at work after an exciting time at the Kentucky Derby.
Drown, CEO of Lyon Contracting in St. Cloud, is the owner of Zandon. The thoroughbred placed third after long-shot Rich Strike pulled ahead at the very end to win the 148th Kentucky Derby.
Zandon was one of two horses with Minnesota ties to compete in the Kentucky Derby. An Eden Prairie couple own the other racehorse, Zozos.
"It was a fantastic experience... we were obviously hoping to win. We ran third. Still very exciting," said Drown of Clearwater. "To get to the Kentucky Derby is super difficult and to be able to go out there and be competitive was awesome."
Drown started racing horses more than 20 years ago for fun. But he started to take it more seriously about five years ago.
This was his first time at the Kentucky Derby.
"I told my wife... years ago she's like, 'We should go to the Derby.' No, we're not going to the Derby until we have a horse in," Drown recalled.
In April, Zandon won the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. Going into the Derby, Zandon was the morning-line favorite.
"We felt good about it. We were competitive. We worked hard to get there. The horse did his job and that day we weren't good enough. I think as time goes on, we're going to find ourselves in a different position," Drown said.
So, what's next for Zandon? He's headed to New York for training.
"Everything's on the table. We're still considering the Preakness. We're considering the Belmont. The race we want to win is the Travers at Saratoga. It's called the Mid-Summer Derby," Drown said.
Drown's family lives in Saratoga Springs for about a month and a half every summer.
While Zandon did not win, his third-place finish is one Drown will remember. His family, including his five kids and his wife, all traveled to Churchill Downs for the Derby.
One of his favorite memories from the weekend?
Drown responded, "Just watching my kids' faces. It was so much fun."
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