HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Donegal Racing’s Dullahan, fourth behind Hansen and Union Rags last out in the Breeders Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5, will get a chance to join those star 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail when he makes his season debut in a field of six drawn for Sunday’s $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Jockey Kent Desormeaux will be back aboard Dullahan for trainer Dale Romans in the 1 1/8 miles turf test. Desormeaux was on Dullahan when he won the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1) on the polytrack at Keeneland and again in the Breeders’ Cup, when he rallied from last of 13 to finish fourth, six lengths behind Hansen.
A chestnut colt by Even the Score, Dullahan was a maiden when he won the Breeders’ Futurity, but had run very well in his two previous starts on turf at Saratoga, finishing second by a half-length in August allowance race and a close-up third in the With Anticipation Stakes (G3) in early September.
Dullahan was a $250,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase and is a half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby hero Mine That Bird. Romans indicated that plans for Dullahan are to run in the Palm Beach and then the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland on Apr. 14 before the Kentucky Derby.
“Like Paddy O’Prado, he’s proven he can run on anything. We’re creatures of habit and it did work for us,” said Romans, referring to Paddy O’Prado’s 3-year-old campaign in 2010 when he won the Palm Beach, finished second in Blue Grass and third in Derby. “We have the luxury of not having to worry about Graded earnings. He’s proven on turf and Polytrack. We just need to keep him safe and sound.
“His race in the Breeders’ Cup was sneaky good. I mean he got really squeezed. He got shut off in the first turn, was all the way back to last, and showed a big run down the lane. He runs well on turf and synthetic, but I think he’ll prove to be best on dirt. That was a good group of horses in the Breeders’ Cup. We’ve seen Union Rags and Hansen come back to do so well.”
Dullahan faces a pair of solid contenders proven on turf in Team Valor International’s Howe Great with jockey John Velazquez named to ride for trainer Graham Motion and Julien Leparoux aboard Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Coalport for trainer Wayne Catalano.
Howe Great is a Kentucky homebred by Japanese-bred stallion Hat Trick and has won both of his starts at the meet over the course, most recently the Kitten’s Joy Stakes on Jan 21 after an allowance victory on Dec. 15. Howe Great began his career at Parx Racing in September, finishing second in his debut and breaking his maiden in October, both races sprinting on dirt.
Coalport ran a big race to finish fourth in the Dania Beach Stakes here over the course on Dec. 18 after finishing 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5 with trouble in the race. The son of the Ramsey’s 2004 Eclipse turf champion Kitten’s Joy missed a start in the Kitten’s Joy because of a “minor (physical) issue,” according to Catalano.
Completing the field for the Palm Beach are Rontos Racing Stable’s Scorcher, J.L. Castanon; Jacks or Better Farm’s Argentine Tango, Elvis Trujillo; and Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff’s Csaba, Paco Lopez.
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