Risen Star Stakes winner El Padrino signaled his readiness for a clash with Union Rags in Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park during a half-mile workout at Palm Meadows Training Center Sunday morning. The son of Pulpit, who was ridden by jockey Javier Castellano, was timed in :49.
“He went well. He went in :49, which is what we set out to do. He seemed happy and is coming up to the race in good order,” trainer Todd Pletcher said.
El Padrino worked in company with Brethren, who is scheduled to make his first start since finishing off the board in the Arkansas Derby last April in the Sir Shackleton Stakes on the Florida Derby undercard.
“(El Padrino) finished slightly ahead of Brethren at the wire and galloped out nicely,” Pletcher said.
El Padrino, who finished a close third in the Grade II Remsen in his 2011 finale, took a big step forward in a stakes-quality allowance at Gulfstream on Jan. 9 with a two-length victory over Florida Derby candidate Take Charge Indy after lacking room early. He came back to catch Mark Valeski by a nose in the Grade II Risen Star at Fair Grounds in his most recent start.
“Physically, he’s a big strong colt but has good acceleration and can be pretty tactical in his races. He’s becoming more and more professional,” Pletcher said. “His allowance race here was an impressive race for a young horse, sitting behind horses on the inside and having to wait for something to open and finishing up strongly against a horse that was kind of loose on the lead.
“Then, he went to Louisiana and showed he had some courage in a dogfight with a nice horse and was able to put his nose down at the wire,” Pletcher continued. “It’s nice to know that he’s capable of sitting behind horses and taking some dirt when he’s down inside and that when he gets in a situation that he needs to find more, he can come up with it.”
Sunday was a busy morning at Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Boynton Beach for Pletcher, who also sent Awesome Maria to the track for a half-mile workout. The daughter of Maria’s Mon, who captured the Grade III Sabin by eight lengths over champion Royal Delta in her first start since June, was timed in :51.83 in her final workout in preparation for the Grade III Rampart Saturday.
“She went an easy half and she’s coming up to the race in good shape,” Pletcher said.
Our Entourage, who captured a turf allowance at Gulfstream Park in his season debut on Feb. 25, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.56.
“We’re going to the Grade III Illinois Derby with him,” said Pletcher of the $500,000 Derby prep at Hawthorne on April 7. “He was only beaten a couple lengths in the Remsen and he’s been training well all winter on the dirt in good company, so we’re optimistic he’ll handle the dirt just fine.”
Pletcher-trained runners finished second and third behind Went the Day Well in Saturday’s $500,000 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. Holiday Promise, sent to post at 25-1, finished 3 ½ lengths behind victorious Went the Day Well and a length ahead of stablemate Heavy Breathing.
“Both came out of the race in good order. We’re going to take Holiday Promise to the (Coolmore) Lexington Stakes (at Keeneland) and Heavy Breathing will come back here to Palm Meadows and we will survey how he’s doing and take a look at the numbers, but we haven’t decided what the target is for his next start yet,” Pletcher said.
Holiday Promise won’t be prepping for a start in Kentucky Derby in the Lexington on April 21.
“We don’t have him nominated for the Triple Crown, and we decided (Saturday) that we weren’t going to supplement him and we’ll find other spots for him,” Pletcher said.