Champagne winner First Samurai to make '06 debut in Saturday stakes.

Champagne winner First Samurai to make '06 debut in Saturday stakes.

Adam Coglianese

Prado, 'Samurai Get Acquainted in Gate Work

(from Gulfstream Park notes)
With co-owner Bruce Lunsford looking on from the new Gulfstream Park clubhouse, leading Hutcheson Stakes (gr. III) contender First Samurai breezed a half-mile from the starting gate Saturday morning with his new jockey Edgar Prado aboard.

Prado is taking over the mount on the multiple grade I winner because of the retirement of Jerry Bailey. After the :48 2/5 drill, trainer Frank Brothers said things appear to be on schedule for the colt's first start as a 3-year-old Saturday.

"It was what we were looking for. Just an easy work to let Edgar get a feel for him," said Brothers. "I wanted to let him pop out of the gate and just take it easy from there. Nothing too hard."

The son of Giant's Causeway  went to the gate soon after the second renovation break and built up a bit of a sweat while charging down the backstretch under tight restraint from Prado. After the half-mile, the colt continued to gallop out willingly.

First Samurai was mostly calm back at the barn while Lunsford looked on, although he did have the energy to throw a kick toward his groom while getting a post-exercise bath.

"We're cautiously optimistic," said Lunsford, who co-owns along with Lansdon Robbins III. "He worked good this morning, and he worked good last week. I don't think he's going to be at 100 percent making his first race after three months. He shouldn't be at his sharpest, nor would you want him to be."

First Samurai has been off since finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Oct. 29 at Belmont Park. He won the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga and the Champagne (gr. I) at Belmont Park before suffering his first loss behind Stevie Wonderboy and Henny Hughes in the Juvenile.

Brothers indicated this gate workout was important for the colt's preparation for the new season, although not necessarily because this particular horse needs the training from the barrier.

"Most trainers have a style," said Brothers. "When you haven't raced in three months, in my opinion, I think it's a good idea to pop them out of the gate before you bring them back. Now I know he's doing fine right now. I'm sure that we'll be ready to try next week."