Virginia Derby: Paddy O'Prado the One to Beat
As far as trainer Dale Romans is concerned, Paddy O'Prado deserves to be mentioned among the elite 3-year-olds in the country. A maiden just four and half months ago, the son of El Prado has quietly risen near the top of the class and should keep getting better.
“He’s classic-placed on dirt, grade I-placed on Poly, and a grade II and a grade III winner on turf,” said Romans, who trains the colt for Jerry Crawford's Donegal Racing. “He does it all. He has the whole game and never misses a beat in training.”
Paddy O’Prado looks to continue his ascent to the top of the ranks when he meets seven rivals in the $600,000 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT), and will take on a field that includes multiple graded stakes winner Interactif and grade I winner Stately Victor . All three colts raced in the Triple Crown during the spring but are back on turf for the 1 1/4-mile Virginia Derby, which headlines Colonial’s 14-race program July 17.
Kent Desormeaux will ride 7-5 morning-line choice Paddy O’Prado, a three-length winner in the June 19 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT). It was the first race for the gray/roan colt since he finished sixth in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 15.
“He came out of (the Preakness) well, so I thought he’d run a good race and he did,” Romans said. “He’s such a tough horse.”
Paddy O’Prado was sent off at 12-1 in the May 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) when he finished third, but easily could have been runner-up. He was second to Stately Victor in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) in April on the Keeneland Polytrack, one race after breaking his maiden in the Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 13 at Gulfstream Park. All but one of Paddy O’Prado’s nine starts have come at two turns.
In the Colonial Turf Cup, Paddy O’Prado came from off the pace to win. Romans would like to see that scenario play out again, and should get a favorable pace setup. Allowance winner Formulaforsuccess, maiden winners Majestictroubadour and Awesome Dream, and the Colonial Turf Cup pacesetter, Two Notch Road, are all entered and capable of racing on the front end.
“When he has a target to run at he is better,” said Romans of his charge.
Paddy O’Prado, bred in Kentucky by Winchell Thoroughbreds and out of the Prized mare Fun House, will break from post 7 and carry 123 pounds. Romans said he will target the grade I Secretariat Stakes Aug. 21 at Arlington Park next.
Also carrying that weight will be second choice Interactif (3-1), trained by Todd Pletcher for Wertheimer and Frere. Most recently seventh in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Interactif has earnings of $355,750 but has been in the money in all four of his turf starts, including wins in the With Anticipation (gr. IIIT) and Bourbon (gr. IIIT) stakes as a juvenile.
The son of Broken Vow was runner-up by a nose in his lone turf start of the year, that coming back in February in the Hallandale Beach Stakes. He still seeks his first victory of the season. Javier Castellano has the mount.
Tom and Jack Conway’s Stately Victor was eighth in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont after pulling a 40-1 shocker in the Blue Grass back on April 10. The Mike Maker trainee broke his maiden on turf last September at Saratoga but was off the board in both starts on the grass this season. He will get a rider switch to Ramon Dominguez, the top rider in the country by wins and earnings.
Rounding out the field is Krypton, who enters off a win in the Hill Prince (gr. IIIT) going one mile at Belmont June 4. The Rock Hard Ten colt also has an impressive allowance win on the Polytrack at Keeneland this spring when scoring by more than six lengths in a sprint. Rajiv Maragh will ride for Kiaran McLaughlin.
While in New Kent, Dominguez will also be aboard the likely favorite for the $150,000 Virginia Oaks (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-old fillies going nine furlongs on the turf. Brereton Jones’ homebred Check the Label tops the field of 10 and will carry high weight of 120 pounds after scoring consecutive graded stakes.
Check the Label, by Stormin Fever and out of the Mazel Trick mare Don’t Trick her, won the one-mile Appalachian Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland April 15 and followed up with a triumph in the Sands Point (gr. IIT) May 31 at Belmont under Dominguez.
The dark bay/brown filly is 4-2-1 from 11 starts with earnings of $253,927. She is trained by Graham Motion.
Trainer Eric Reed has entered a pair in the race for Jerry Jamgotchian, Distorted Promise, an impressive allowance winner on turf at Indiana Downs making her stakes debut, and Morekissesforpatti, a maiden winner May 10 when setting the 7 1/2-furlong track record.
$150,000 Virgnia Oaks (gr. IIIT, Race 11, 5:20 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
$600,000 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT, Race 12, 6 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
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