Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado, third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and winner of the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) on turf at Arlington Park, breezed five furlongs over a fast track in 1:01. Exercise rider Tammy Fox was up for the move, which came just after the mid-morning break for track maintenance. The 3-year-old son of El Prado covered the distance in fractional times of :12 2/5, :24 2/5, and :36 1/5, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15 2/5.
Donald Dizney’s homebred First Dude breezed six furlongs under Fox a short time later and covered the distance in 1:15. The Stephen Got Even colt was timed in fractions of :12 3/5, :24 3/5, :36 3/5, :49 1/5, and 1:01 4/5. He galloped out seven furlongs 1:29 3/5.
First Dude’s move was the slowest of five works at six furlongs.
“They’re both fit,” Romans said. “We were looking for maintenance and we’ll come back and work them again next Saturday.”
Paddy O’Prado’s work, which ranked as the seventh fastest of 34 at the distance, was the first since his owners and Romans decided that the Classic would be the colt’s Breeders’ Cup target. The Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) was also an option, as was the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) in Tokyo on Nov. 27.
“It was a tough decision,” said Romans. “There really wasn’t a wrong choice. You’re running for big money in all three races, but the bottom line is that if he runs well in the Classic it does so much more for him as a stallion prospect. That’s what kind of sealed the deal.”
And, Romans added, a victory over the star-studded Classic field headed by unbeaten Zenyatta, Blame , and Quality Road could give Paddy O’Prado a shot at 3-year-old championship honors. Preakness (gr. I) winner Lookin At Lucky , a BC Classic rival, is the current front-runner for that Eclipse Award honor.
“The one thing he needs to do is to show up in another dirt race and show everybody he’s dirt or turf,” he said. “Even if he wins the Turf and ‘Lucky’ runs well on the dirt, it’s still an uphill battle to be 3-year-old of the year. If he runs big here, he’s got a legitimate shot.”
Romans said that Preakness runner-up First Dude, a winner of just one of 11 starts but second or third in nine of those races with earnings of $860,160, might be the most accomplished horse ever to still be eliglble for a non-winners of two race.
“He shows up every single time and we expect him to show up in this race, too,” Romans said. “He’s showed he can run with anybody. We’re right here in our back door, he runs well over this racetrack and trains here everyday. He’s going to run well.”