Favored Paddy O'Prado, returning to the turf after a sixth-place finish in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) last month, swept to an easy three-length win in the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) June 19 at Colonial Downs.
Breaking from the rail in the 1 3/16-mile test for 3-year-olds, Paddy O'Prado raced patiently in fourth at the rail for much of the journey. He made the winning move for jockey Kent Desormeaux late on the final turn when angled out three wide as an opening appeared. With a burst, Paddy O'Prado ranged alongside the pacesetters Two Notch Road and Workin for Hops in upper stretch and soon got the lead in spite of drifting in.
Paddy O'Prado continued to drift in a bit from mid-stretch but got the job done under brisk handling from Desormeaux. He edged away from Workin for Hops and E.T. Baird in the final sixteenth to win without getting a challenge from the late runners Doubles Partner and Dean's Kitten.
“Going down the backside, I didn’t know if I had horse or not because he was just cantering along under a dangling rein,” said Desormeaux. “I picked a spot to run him and thought with his turn of foot, I could beat the horse that was in front of me on the outside just as long as he shortened up and picked up the line. I kissed at him, popped him on the shoulder, and we had him in two strides.”
Workin for Hops, who pushed Two Notch Road through fractions of :24.27, :48.42 and 1:12.39, finished second by 1 3/4 lengths. Two Notch Road, who sprinted to the front for jockey Sheldon Russell after veering out at the start, edged Doubles Partner by a half-length for third.
The final time was 1:54.20 over firm going.
A sharp third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) over a sloppy Churchill Downs track before his disappointing effort in the Preakness, both of Paddy O'Prado's wins to date have come on the turf. He broke his maiden in his fifth start, the nine-furlong Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park March 6 by 2 1/2 lengths. In his firt start after the Palm Beach, Paddy O'Prado ran second to Stately Victor in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on Keeneland's Polytrack.
Dale Romans trains the powerfully built gray/roan son of El Prado--Fun House, by Prized, for owner Donegal Racing. A $105,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase in 2008, Paddy O'Prado was bred in Kentucky by Winchell Thoroughbreds.
Jerry Crawford, manager of Donegal Racing, looks forward to further success on the turf with Paddy O'Prado after the decision was made to skip the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
“El Prado’s progeny always get better as they get older,” said Crawford. “I expect his best racing to actually come as a four-year-old. But we’re going to see him continue to do better through the course of this year and we’re going to start mapping a calendar that ends with the Breeders’ Cup and has a big intermediate date of the Secretariat (gr. IT) and the next leg of that will be coming to the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT).”
The Virginia Derby is July 17 at Colonial Downs while Arlington Park's Secretariat is part of Arlington Million day Aug. 21.
Paddy O'Prado improved his career mark to 2-2-3 in nine starts. He earned $294,000 for the Colonial Turf Cup victory, pushing his career total to $758,497.
Carrying co-top weight of 121 pounds, Paddy O'Prado paid $5, $3.20 and $2.40 as the 3-2 favorite. Workin for Hops, coming off a front-running 2 1/4-length win in the Arlington Classic May 22 for trainer Michael Stidham, returned $8 and $5.40 and completed a $36.80 exacta. Two Notch Road, the longest shot on the board at 26-1, was $6.20 to show.
Second choice Doubles Partner, who also shouldered 121 pounds after winning the American Turf Stakes (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs April 30, was never a factor from off the pace. He finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Dean's Kitten, who was followed by Vamos a Ver and Kindergarden Kid.