Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Derby Hopeful: El Padrino

Several “wise guy” horses emerge along the Kentucky Derby trail each year. One of the first ones to arise on the 2012 trail to the Run for the Roses is El Padrino. He has certainly appeared to be a top Derby contender and currently ranks sixth on my top ten list.

El Padrino debuted on August 20, 2011 at Saratoga over a fast track in a seven-furlong maiden special weight, in which the chestnut colt closed gamely to finish second by three-quarters of a length. He found the winner’s circle about two months later at Belmont Park after remarkably winning a one-mile maiden special weight over a sloppy track. In that race, he settled off the pace before striking to the lead and galloping to a 12 ¾-length victory.

Trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Let’s Go Stable then ran the colt in the Remsen Stakes (GII) at Aqueduct, in which the colt found a position off the frontrunners before being asked for run by John Velazquez around the far turn. Down the stretch, it didn’t appear as if El Padrino would gain any ground on the leaders, but once he was angled out in deep stretch, he seemed to find a gear and rallied to finish third before galloping out ahead of the others.

He made his sophomore debut on January 29, 2012, coming from off the pace to score by 2 lengths over a sealed track labeled ‘good.’ Impressively, he strode past the talented, graded stakes-placed Take Charge Indy to finish the mile and one-sixteenth allowance optional claiming in a final time of 1:42.68. The mile split (1:36.28) was just .11 seconds slower than stablemate Algorithms’ final time in the one-mile Holy Bull Stakes (GIII).

El Padrino is expected to make his next start in the Risen Star Stakes (GII) at Fair Grounds Race Course on February 25, in which he could face Mr. Bowling, winner of the Lecomte Stakes (GIII).

El Padrino’s pedigree hints that he will certainly be able to handle the ten-furlong Derby distance, as he is by A.P. Indy’s outstanding son, Pulpit, and out of a Giant’s Causeway mare. Both his sire and dam side should allow El Padrino to attain the distances of the Triple Crown races.

A.P. Indy, of course, won the 1992 Belmont Stakes (GI, 12F) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI, 10F) and was by the Triple Crown-winning Seattle Slew. Pulpit, El Padrino’s sire, produced Essence of Dubai, who won the U.A.E Derby (GII) when it was competed at the distance of 2,000 meters (about ten furlongs) and the Super Derby (GII, 9F). Pulpit is also the sire of Rutherienne, winner of the Del Mar Oaks (GI, 9F), and Ice Box, winner of the Florida Derby (GI, 9F) and runner-up in the Kentucky Derby.

The dam of El Padrino, Enchanted Rock, is by the 2000 European Horse of the Year in Giant’s Causeway, who won at the distance of ten furlongs several times and has produced horses capable of winning distance races. For example, he has produced Giant Oak: winner of the Clark Handicap (GI, 9F) and Donn Handicap (GI, 9F), runner-up in the Washington Park Handicap (GIII, 9.5F) and Hawthorne Gold Cup (GII, 10F), and third-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Marathon (GII, 14F). Other horses Giant’s Causeway has sired include Delaware Handicap (GII, 10F) winner, Swift Temper, and winner of the Santa Anita Handicap (GI, 10F), Heatseeker.

El Padrino’s fourth dam, Remedia, is a Reine De Course mare who produced the grade one-winning dam of Chic Shirine – winner of the Ashland Stakes (GI, 8.5F) – and the three-time grade one-winning 1991 Champion Older Female, Queena. Queena in turn produced Brahms – victor of the River City Handicap (GIII, 9F) and the Early Times Hollywood Derby (GI, 9F), La Reina – winner of the Tempted Stakes (GIII, 8F), and Olympic, winner of the ten-furlong Mataji Stakes. Chic Shirine was the dam of Tara Roma, winner of the Ladies Handicap (GII, 10F).

El Padrino hails from female family thirteen, the same family from which Sinndar – winner of the Epsom Derby (GI, 2423 meters), the Irish Derby Stakes (GI, 2414 meters), and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (GI, 2400 meters) – descends from. Another remarkable descendant of this family is the 1977 Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew.

El Padrino also possesses the conformation of a top racehorse, having a long and slender neck that ties in extremely well to his shoulder, which is quite powerful. Though his shoulder could have a more sloping angle to it, it is still angled well enough to allow him to be very evenly balanced. He is very strong through the loin, having a short, sturdy topline. His croup is rounded and long, tying smoothly into his defined gaskins. This allows him to move with drive and impulsion, therefore having a long stride. He is also quite structurally correct, possessing short, strong cannon bones and angular pasterns.

This colt has every aspect of a top Derby contender with his impressive conformation and pedigree, and his performances on the track enforce this. Should he continue his classy performances, El Padrino could very well be on the way to stardom.

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