Only twenty horses are allowed in the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby. This means that each year, there will be many horses who just barely missed obtaining the points needed to make it to the Kentucky Derby. Signalman ranked #21 on this year’s Kentucky Derby leaderboard, narrowly missing a chance to run for the roses. He is now looking for his revenge in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.
Signalman was bred by Monticule Farm in Lexington, KY. The colt’s dam, Trip South, is an unraced daughter of multiple-graded stakes winner Trippi. The colt’s sire is General Quarters, who finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby and 9th in the Preakness Stakes. His two Gr.1 wins came in the Blue Grass Stakes and in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.
The colt was born on March 21st, 2016. Trainer Kenneth McPeek saw the horse at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Yearling Sale and was impressed with him. In an article with Blood-Horse, McPeek said, "He was a big, strong horse—modest pedigree—but on the physical side, he was a real standout”. McPeek purchased him for just $32,000.
The colt is now owned by a partnership including Lewis, Tommie M., Crabtree, Steve, Demaree, Dean, Bernsen, David, Chambers, Jim and Magdalena Racing. He is named after Lewis’ husband who served as a signalman in the Vietnam War.
Signalman made his debut on May 17th, 2018, at Churchill Downs. He finished second after a slow start. He then shipped to Saratoga, breaking his maiden on September 1st.
On October 6th, Signalman made his graded stakes debut in the Gr.1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. He made a strong run on the inside but was unable to defeat Knicks Go.
Signalman’s run in the Breeders’ Futurity got him into the Gr.1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He ran near the back of the pack throughout the early stages and put in another strong run. He was, however, unable to catch Game Winner and Knicks Go.
Twenty-two days later, Signalman was entered into the Gr.2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He was able to battle down the stretch to win the race by a neck over Plus Que Parfait.
Signalman had finally earned his first graded stakes victory and was on his way to a possible start in the Kentucky Derby. He was given a break from racing until March of 2019. He made his three-year old debut in the Gr.2 Fountain of Youth Stakes. He was again near the back of the field early on. Unfortunately for his connections, Signalman lost a shoe and could not finish better than seventh.
In a final attempt to get Signalman into the Kentucky Derby, he was entered into the Gr.2 Blue Grass Stakes. He went off as the third favorite behind Vekoma and Win Win Win. He raced in third behind Somelikeithotbrown and Vekoma on the backstretch. Signalman made a strong run down the stretch, finishing third by a head under Win Win Win.
Signalman did not make it into the Kentucky Derby, but he has been proved himself as a tough and consistent horse. He has only finished off the board one time in his entire career. He has already out-earned his purchase price and has run well given his pedigree.
Signalman currently has a career record of 7:2-2-2 and has earned $552,990. In his latest workout, Signalman breezed 4f in 47.60, ranking 5/49.
Signalman's last start - a third place finish in the Gr.2 Blue Grass Stakes.