Square Eddie, a top 2-year-old last year who has been playing catch up for most of his early sophomore campaign, worked a half-mile April 26 at Churchill Downs in :50 1/5. Third last time out in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II), Square Eddie got in his final workout prior to the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Under exercise rider Tony Romero, Square Eddie went to the track from Barn 17 right at 8:30 a. m. following the renovation break at Churchill Downs. He spent quite a lot of time on the track, galloping 1 ½ miles before breaking off at the three-eighths pole. Trainer Doug O’Neill watched from the frontside while assistant Leandro Moro watched from the clocker’s stand on the backstretch.
“We were looking for :48 or :49, not too fast,” Moro said. “He’s a genuine athlete.”
“We were looking for a nice little work,” O’Neill said once he got back to the barn. “He exercised about two miles. We can give him the day off tomorrow.”
O’Neill said the son of Smart Strike will walk the shedrow Monday, and jog Tuesday. He’ll gallop Wednesday and Thursday, and jog again Friday and Derby morning.
Purchased by J. Paul Reddam after starting his career in England, Square Eddie won the Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) over Keeneland’s Polytrack layout, then ran second to champion Midshipman in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride synthetic track. Sore shins put him on the sidelines for a good part of 2009 and he returned in the Lexington run at Keeneland. A start in the Kentucky Derby would be his first race over a dirt track.
“He trains on a (dirt) training track they have at Hollywood Park and he goes up there three times a week, so he’s not a foreigner to dirt exactly,” O’Neill said. “The fact he hasn’t raced on dirt puts an extra challenge into it, but I loved the way he got over it today. Tony Romero said he just kept getting stronger out there the longer the work went on. He handled it well. He got stronger. We’re pumped; we’re excited.”
In the Lexington, Square Eddie broke last, settled at the back of the back, then made a big move to the lead on the turn. He flattened out in the stretch, finishing third to WinStar Farm’s Advice. It was Square Eddie’s first start since a runner-up effort Jan. 17 in the San Rafael (gr. II).
“Our main thing was getting him right, and once we got him right, we started talking about the Lexington and wanted to get a good race out of him there and I thought he ran dynamite,” O’Neil said. “We were curious how he’d come out of it and he came out of it great shape. Everything so far hasn’t been exactly what we planned after the Breeders’ Cup, but we’re happy with where we are right now.”
“He looked like Arazi,” Moro said of Square Eddie’s move in the Lexington. “The way the race was set up for him was different. It was twice as hard for him. We’re not worried about that. He came out of it good and it was a prep for fitness. It was what we’re looking for. Since then, he hasn’t lost any appetite. Sometimes horses back off their grain, but this guy is eating everything.”
Square Eddie, bred by Kinghaven Farm in Canada, is out of the El Gran Senor mare Forty Gran.