At 2, El Padrino showed promise while running third to O'Prado Again in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II), beaten less than a length for it all. This year, the Let's Go Stable colorbearer fulfilled that promise with a hard fought victory in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II), propelling himself squarely into the Triple Crown picture.
Bred in Kentucky by Emory Hamilton, El Padrino is by Pulpit and is the third graded stakes winner representing his sire this year, the others being grade III winners Sacristy (Old Hat Stakes) and Heavenly Landing (Marshua's River Stakes on turf). To date, Pulpit has sired 60 stakes winners from 725 foals of racing age (not counting 66 juveniles of 2012), making him one of A.P. Indy's most successful sons at stud. With Tapit , Sky Mesa , and Stroll among his sons, he appears on his way to establishing his own branch of the Seattle Slew/A.P. Indy line.
Pulpit was at one time considered a promising Triple Crown prospect on his own account after winning the 1997 Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (both gr. II), but he could do no better than fourth behind Silver Charm in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). He proved to have suffered a leg injury and was retired to Claiborne Farm, where he has stood throughout his stud career.
As a sire, Pulpit has proved more of an influence for speed than his sire, with most of his better offspring scoring their biggest successes in the seven- to nine-furlong range. This tendency reflects the influence of his female line, which descends from the great Round Table's full sister Monarchy (by Princequillo). While Round Table was probably at his best at 10 furlongs, Monarchy was a precocious juvenile more like her dam, the speedy Knight's Daughter, and scored her biggest victory in the Arlington Lassie Stakes. Her son Blade (by Bold Ruler) was a quite useful sire of speed, and her other descendants include U.S. and European champion juvenile male Johannesburg, English and Irish highweighted juvenile male Minardi, 1997 King's Bishop Stakes (gr. II) winner and sire Tale of the Cat, and Pulpit's dam Preach (1991 Frizette Stakes, gr. I).
Whether El Padrino has what it takes to stay 10 furlongs may depend on how much he takes after Giant's Causeway , the sire of his dam Enchanted Rock. Horse of the Year in Europe in 2000, the son of Storm Cat and the Rahy mare Mariah's Storm won five group I events that year at eight to 10½ furlongs and was just beaten by Tiznow for the 2000 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) after a thrilling duel through the length of the stretch. El Padrino showed something of that same gritty determination in winning the Risen Star, a trait that may stand him in good stead down the road.
Enchanted Rock made only one unplaced start but is a half sister to two grade II winners in Tara Roma (1994 Ladies Handicap) and Waldoboro (1995 True North Handicap), both by Lyphard. Their dam, Chic Shirine, won the 1987 Ashland Stakes (gr. I) and is a full sister to 1991 champion older female Queena, being by Mr. Prospector out of Too Chic. The last-named mare, a daughter of Blushing Groom, was also a classy runner, winning the 1982 Maskette Stakes (gr. I) and running second in that year's Alabama Stakes (gr. I). She was out of Remedia, a good allowance-winning daughter of the great Dr. Fager and the 1962 Epsom Oaks Stakes victress Monade.
Despite the fine staying qualities of Monade, who was the champion 3-year-old filly in both England and France after also winning the Prix Vermeille and running second in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, this female line has tended more towards brilliance than stoutness, perhaps in part because of the brilliant qualities of the stallions it has been crossed with. Still, 10 furlongs has not been beyond the scope of some of its members, so El Padrino cannot be ruled out of classic contention on this ground. Nor is his 3x3 cross to Mr. Prospector necessarily a disqualifier, as Mr. Prospector can be found close up in the pedigrees of fine runners all over the distance spectrum. The primary concern here would be the sources through which the Mr. Prospector crosses are coming, since both Preach and Chic Shirine showed their best form at eight to 8½ furlongs.
With $200,000 in graded stakes earnings in the bank, El Padrino is now in the enviable position of not having to win his next start to ensure eligibility for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), although his connections certainly wouldn't mind another trophy—perhaps from the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), which would be a logical next spot. The main challenge now is for Todd Pletcher to keep his star happy, fit, and sound on the way to Churchill Downs.
Suggested reading: Emory Hamilton discusses her breeding philosophy in El Padrino’s Breeder Takes Realistic Approach.