“I am leaving for California, but I am going to be at Churchill Downs Friday morning to see his gallop,” said Lobo from Louisville April 22. “Then I am going back to California after his work, and then I am coming back (to Kentucky) Tuesday and am going to stay all week.”
Lobo conditions Gayego for the Cubanacan Stables of Carlos Juelle and Jose Prieto. The 39-year-old trainer was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil, but now calls Pasadena, Calif., home. He is married to Carolina, who is an attorney, and they have 2-year-old twin daughters.
Lobo’s biggest runner to date is 2002 champion 3-year-old filly Farda Amiga, who provided the trainer with some experience in handling the carnival atmosphere of Kentucky Derby week when she won the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). While Gayego figures to be respected by bettors, Farda Amiga went off at 20-1 in the Run for the Lilies after finishing fourth by two lengths in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I).
“Farda Amiga, when she came to Churchill, she was doing very well,” said Lobo. “She ran a huge race in the Santa Anita Oaks that year. I think for sure people focus more on the Kentucky Derby, but they are two very big races. I think every trainer wants to participate in and win both races.”
Lobo also trained multiple grade I winner Pico Central, a Brazilian-bred whose victories included the 2004 editions of the Carter and Metropolitan Handicaps as well as the Vosburgh Stakes (all gr. I). The talented sprinter was an Eclipse Award finalist that year.
In a tumultuous year of Derby prep races, Gayego is one of the few contenders that has run consistently well. He went into the Arkansas Derby off a second-place finish in the March 15 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) after kicking off his 3-year-old season with a win in the Jan. 20 San Pedro Stakes.
“Gayego came (to Churchill Downs) April 14, right after the Arkansas Derby,” said Lobo, a third generation horseman. “He is enjoying the new environment. He has been galloping and jogging very well. He is a very kind horse to be around. He is a big, happy, sound horse.”
The Gilded Time colt, who broke his maiden in his first start as a juvenile, has never competed in a grade I race, but the Arkansas Derby has proven to be a very fruitful contest in recent years. The four previous winners all went on to receive Eclipse Awards, including reigning Horse of the Year Curlin.
“It is a great opportunity to run in the Kentucky Derby, and I think this horse has a good potential to run well,” said Lobo. “It is a nice time.”