James Spence’s El Caballo shook off a more than seven-month layoff to earn his first stakes victory, as he rolled to an easy 3 1/4-length win in the $98,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) Jan. 23 at Fair Grounds.
The son of El Corredor came into the 1 1/16-mile Bradley having last raced last June at Churchill Downs—an optional claiming victory over the turf. He was sent off as the 8-5 favorite in his 6-year-old debut.
Ridden by Robby Albarado for trainer Ralph Nicks, El Caballo stalked the pace set by Tend, who hit the opening quarter-mile in :24.10 and continued his lead despite going wide into the first turn. Swains News was also close up early on, with El Caballo and Tybalt not far behind.
Tend ran a half-mile in :49.67, but as they approached the far turn El Caballo and Vanquisher moved in tandem towards the leader. Those two struck the front as they rounded the turn, but it wasn’t long before El Caballo pulled away from Vanquisher and opened up a clear lead into the stretch. The dark bay was never seriously challenged in the final furlong and hit the wire in a final time of 1:46.26 on a turf labeled good.
Get Rich Quick rallied for runner-up under Miguel Mena, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Vanquisher.
In his only other try over the Fair Grounds grass, El Caballo missed by a nose in the grade II Mervin Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap last March. A month before that he scored an optional claimer over the Fair Grounds main track.
Bred in Kentucky by Paragon Farms, El Caballo is out of the Storm Cat mare Fine Jewel. He is now 6-5-0 from 14 starts with earnings of $357,075.
The winner paid $5.40, $3.40, and $2.60. The exacta (4-3) returned $36.20 and the trifecta (4-3-7) was $171.