El Padrino

El Padrino

Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges, Jr.

El Padrino On Target for Florida Derby

Risen Star victor posts solid half-mile drill at Palm Meadows for Todd Pletcher.

El Padrino  put the finishing touches on his preparations for the upcoming Floriday Derby (gr. I) with a half-mile workout in :49 flat at Palm Meadows Training Center March 25.

The son of Pulpit will be meeting Union Rags , the leading contender for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) in the $1 million Florida Derby, which is contested at 1 1/8 miles March 31 at Gulfstream Park.

Javier Castellano was aboard El Padrino, who won the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 25 for trainer Todd Pletcher, for the drill. Owned by Let's Go Stable, El Padrino was an impressive allowance winner over the Gulfstream track on Jan. 29 before he shipped to New Orleans to win the Risen Star at Fair Grounds.
“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,” Pletcher said.

El Padrino worked in company with 4-year-old Brethren , who is scheduled to make his first start since finishing off the board in the 2011 Arkansas Derby (gr. I) last April. Brethren is expected to run 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 reported.

El Padrino, who finished a close third in the Remsen (gr. II) in his 2011 finale, caught Mark Valeski by a nose in the Risen Star. His development this year has impressed his trainer.

“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. 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,” Pletcher said.

“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. 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 Sabin (gr. III) by eight lengths over Eclipse champion Royal Delta in her first start since June, was timed in :51 4/5 in her final workout in preparation for the Rampart (gr. III) Saturday.

“She went an easy half and she’s coming up to the race in good shape,” Pletcher said.

Three-year-old Our Entourage, who captured a turf allowance at Gulfstream Park in his season debut Feb. 25, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5.

“We’re going to the Illinois Derby (gr. III) 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 the $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III) at Turfway Park March 24.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 Lexington (gr. III on April 21 at Keeneland). 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, Pletcher noted.

“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.

In other Florida Derby news, jockey Jeffrey Sanchez has picked up the mount on Fort Loudon.

The Jacks or Better Farm homebred is a longshot in the Florida Derby. Trained by Stanley Gold, Fort Loudon is a son of Awesome of Course that was fifth behind Union Rags last out in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 26.

“We thought he ran a decent race in the Holy Bull (finishing fourth) but is capable of better than he showed in the Fountain of Youth,” said Gold March 25. “He had a good work yesterday morning (half mile in :51 at Calder) and he‘s ready to go.”

Jockey Rajiv Maragh rode Fort Loudon in both the Holy Bull and Fountain of Yourth, but will be aboard Fountain of Youth runner-up News Pending in the Florida Derby.

Sanchez will also be aboard Stronach Stable’s undefeated 4-year-old filly Awesome Feather, bidding for her 10th consecutive victory in the $150,000 Rampart Stakes (gr. III) March 31.