Trainer Aidan O'Brien said Tuesday that he and Coolmore are seriously considering sending Castle Gandolfo to Churchill Downs to run in the Kentucky Derby with Johannesburg. So, now the Coolmore group has at least two possible Derby starters.
We all know about Johannesburg and Mayakovsky, and the obstacles they have to overcome. But what do we know about Castle Gandolfo?
Well, pedigree-wise, it doesn't get much better, and form-wise, he's a group III stakes winner at a mile in Ireland, and has finished second in two group I stakes – one at a mile in England and one at the Kentucky Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles.
Castle Gandolfo is a son of Gone West, sire of Belmont Stakes winner Commendable, out of the Northern Dancer mare Golden Oriole, who is a full-sister to Irish Derby and English 2,000 Guineas winner El Gran Senor, who also finished second by a nose in the English Derby; and Try My Best, champion 2-year-old colt in England and Ireland and winner of the group I Dewhurst Stakes.
Golden Oriole's dam, Sex Appeal, is a daughter of Best in Show, who has also produced Irish 2-year-old champion Malinowski and Kentucky Oaks winner Blush With Pride. This also is the family of major stakes winners Spinning World, Senure, Yagli, and Xaar, in addition to countless other stakes winners. Best in Show is by the top handicap horse Traffic Judge, who won such major events as the Woodward Stakes and Metropolitan and Suburban Handicaps, and has proved to be a major influence on off tracks. We have yet to see an offspring of Traffic Judge who didn't love the slop.
Castle Gandolfo is inbred 5x4 to Tom Fool through Kentucky Derby winner Tim Tam on top and Buckpasser on the bottom. He also is inbred 4x4 to Native Dancer, and has names such as Secretariat, Mr. Prospector, Nashua, and Nearco in his ilustrious pedigree.
Castle Gandolfo broke his maiden at Cork going 6 furlongs, then gollowed that up with a 7-length romp in the Beresford Stakes (gr. III) at the Curragh. Sent to England, he was second to High Chaparral, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the group I Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster over heavy ground. In his final start at 2, he finished second by a length to stablemate Ballingarry in the group I Criterium de Saint-Cloud at 1 1/4 miles. It is noteworthy to mention that Saint-Cloud is a left-handed track, and one of the flatter surfaces in Europe, making it as close to an American-style track as any in Europe.