El Padrino in the Risen Star Stakes.

El Padrino in the Risen Star Stakes.

Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges, Jr.

El Padrino Was One Cool Yearling Dude

The Triple Crown nominee is a $210,000 graduate of Keeneland's September sale.

El Padrino, who defeated Mark Valeski by a nose in the Feb. 25 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II), was one cool dude when he resided at Middlebrook Farm near Lexington.

“Believe me, you could have set a bomb off under him and he wouldn’t have done anything; he was very laid-back,” said Middlebrook owner Helen Alexander. “He was pretty straightforward and had a great disposition, which is one of the things that I think has really helped him get as far as he has, to be honest.”

Alexander’s sister, Emory Alexander, bred El Padrino, a 3-year-old son of Pulpit and the Giant’s Causeway mare Enchanted Rock. The chestnut colt was foaled and raised at Middlebrook. In 2010, Middlebrook, as agent, sold El Padrino for $210,000 to Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, agent, at the Keeneland September yearling auction.

“I was always concerned about his (El Padrino’s) mating just from the perspective of maybe Pulpit with Giant’s Causeway would get something that was a little bit high strung,” Helen Alexander said. “As stallions, they (Pulpit and Giant’s Causeway) aren’t high strung, but they can get that in their offspring. But he (El Padrino) was never like that.

“At the farm, we were always laughing and saying, ‘Oh, let’s wait until we start getting him fit for the sale and see how he is.’ But that made no difference. Then we said, ‘Well wait until we get him over to Keeneland for the sale and see how he handles that.’ But he was still no different. Last summer, when I went over to see him at Todd’s barn (at the Oklahoma Track at Saratoga Race Course), they told me he was still the same.”

El Padrino also stood out before being offered at Keeneland because of his stature, Alexander remembered.

“He wasn’t ever small,” she said. “He was bigger and stronger than everybody else. His mother is a very big mare and so far, her foals have been big, strong horses.”

A Triple Crown nominee, El Padrino is the first foal out of Enchanted Rock, who ran only once and didn’t win. She produced a More Than Ready  colt in 2010, a Tapit  filly in 2011, and a full sister to the Risen Star winner earlier this year. El Padrino’s second dam, Chic Shrine (by Mr. Prospector), triumphed in the 1987 Ashland Stakes (gr. I). Her offspring include 1994 Ladies Handicap (gr. II) winner Tara Roma (by Lyphard) and 1995 True North Handicap (gr. II) winner Waldoboro (also by Lyphard).

“He (El Padrino) was always one of our favorites,” Alexander said. “He kind of turned out a little bit in front and he might have been a little bit flat in one knee, but he handled himself so well that those weren’t the kind of things that discerning horsemen would worry about. He was a beautiful mover; he covered a lot of ground.”

Alexander had high hopes for El Padrino heading into the Keeneland September sale, but his price fell short of her expectations.

“I thought he was going to make about $400,000,” she said. “But with the market the way it was (still struggling in the wake of an international recessions), it was hard to get a real line on stuff and he ended up making about half of that. His vet work was good and he didn’t do anything at the sale to make you not like him. There was a lot of interest in him and then it sort of seemed to evaporate for some reason. Maybe it was because people had already spent their money (before he was offered during the auction’s fourth session). Who knows?”

El Padrino, who carries the colors of Let’s Go Stable, won one of his three races at 2 last year and finished second and third in the others. His third-place effort came in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) and he was beaten by only three-quarters of length. In his only outing this year prior to the Risen Star, El Padrino rolled to a two-length win in a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claiming event at Gulfstream Park Jan. 29. The colt has earned $266,100.

“He was always such an easy, quiet horse to be around that I was kind of surprised to see him jump up in the air in the saddling stall there at the Fair Grounds (before the Risen Star),” Alexander said. “I wasn’t really expecting that and they (Pletcher and his staff) probably weren’t either.”

According to Alexander, Kentucky-bred El Padrino probably gets his usually calm demeanor from his dam.

“She’s very laid-back, too” she said.

El Padrino also was featured at TrueNicks.com.