Let’s Go Stable’s El Padrino and WinStar Farm’s Gemologist , both trained by Todd Pletcher, arrived by van at Churchill Downs in late morning May 1 following a flight from South Florida to continue preparations for the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Pletcher elected to keep El Padrino and Gemologist at Palm Meadows because the colts were doing so well in South Florida.
Owned by the Versailles, Ky., nursery that won the 2010 Derby with Pletcher-trained Super Saver , Gemologist is seeking to join the ranks of undefeated Derby winners. The colt’s five-race unbeaten streak was climaxed by a victory in the Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I). After breaking his maiden at Turfway Park, the son of WinStar stallion Tiznow won an entry-level allowance and the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II), both at 1 1/16 miles at Churchill.
“What’s important is that not only is he undefeated but he’s two-for-two at Churchill," Pletcher said of Gemologist. “That’s significant as we’ve seen in the past. Not all horses take to this surface. The fact that he’s won twice around two turns here I think is a big edge.”
“He’s a horse who’s had a tendency to idle a bit when he makes the lead. I think he did that a little bit in the Wood, but it was reminiscent of Tiznow in both Breeders’ Cup wins,” Pletcher said of the stallion’s two Classic (gr. I) wins. “It looked like he was beat and he found more.”
Pletcher said an anticipated early speed duel in the Derby would not pose problems for either Gemologist or El Padrino.
“For Gemologist, it won’t bother him; he’s tractable enough to be in a stalking position. It could benefit a horse like El Padrino, who has been running in races not having the kind of pace you’d like to have. His last two races the fractions have been a little slow. It’s going to help those kinds of horses.”
A son of Pulpit , El Pradrino was bred in Kentucky by Emory A. Hamilton and was sold for $210,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale.
With three wins in six starts, El Padrino won the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) before finishing fourth in the Florida Derby (gr. I).
Although rain in South Florida delayed the final workouts for the two Derby contenders over the weekend, Pletcher was still comfortable with his decision not to ship to Kentucky earlier than May 1.
“We’ve had a very successful winter training at Palm Meadows. We won 40% of our races at Gulfstream,” Pletcher said. “Gemologist shipped from Palm Meadows to Gulfstream and won; he shipped from Palm Meadows to Aqueduct for the Wood and won. El Padrino shipped from Palm Meadows to the Fair Grounds and won. So we were in a good rhythm there. The horses were doing well and it made sense to stay there as long as possible.”