Gulfstream Park News & Notes
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Everything remains on target for Grade 2 winner Cairo Prince, who is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in the $400,000 Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25.
Working in company with 4-year-old Shadwell-owned colt Qeyaas, the gray or roan son of Pioneerof the Nile breezed five furlongs in :59 4/5 on Sunday morning at Palm Meadows.
It was the fourth work for Cairo Prince since coming to South Florida following his runner-up finish to Honor Code in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct on Nov. 30, and nearly identical to his breeze one week ago.
“I wasn’t looking for 59-and-4 again, but he’s just doing great,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Cairo Prince for Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman, Harvey Clarke and Craig Robertson III. “He had company, but he hooked into a horse that was in front of him a little bit. It kind of made him work a little faster than we needed, but he’s doing that well. No worries, no negatives; he worked great.”
McLaughlin said he will give Cairo Prince one more work leading into the Holy Bull, which is run at 1 1/16 miles and is the first in a series of preps for the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) on March 30. “We’ll work again next Saturday or Sunday, a half-mile probably on his own now, hopefully in something like 49,” McLaughlin said. “When you ask a horse to go a little slower and they end up going fast, that’s a good sign that he’s doing extremely well. He’s happy, and we’re happy.”
McLaughlin picked up a pair of wins on Saturday’s card at Gulfstream, with 4-year-old Elnaawi in the seventh race, a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance on dirt, and 3-year-old Macaroon in the eighth, a 7 ½-furlong turf sprint.
A half-brother to multiple Grade 1 winner To Honor and Serve, Elnaawi went gate to wire to win by 1 ¼ lengths as the even-money favorite on Saturday, finishing up in 1:44.35. A workmate of Cairo Prince last Sunday, it was Elnaawi’s first start since running fifth in the Wood Memorial (G1) last April.
“That was fun,” McLaughlin said. “It was a very good effort. He’s a nice horse. Obviously, he was on the Derby trail last year and he’s very well-bred. He had to go home for a while with bruising of the cannon bone. He came back and has been working well, and he ran great yesterday. It says a lot about the horse. Where we go next, I’m not sure. We will maybe take the next step in an allowance race or maybe look for a stake. We’ll see how he’s doing and go from there. He’s a really nice horse.”
Velazquez Back on Horseback at Palm Meadows
Jockey John Velazquez is continuing his recovery from injuries sustained in a spill at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 and hopes to return to race-riding in February. He breezed a horse at Palm Meadows on Saturday morning to gauge his fitness level. “It’s nice to be here and good to be getting back on horses,” the Hall of Fame rider said. “I’m coming along pretty well and I’m getting stronger. I worked one instead of galloping, and the reason for that is working horses is more similar to race-riding. When you gallop them, it’s a slower movement and you use different muscles in different ways. Working horses will get me fitter and stronger than just galloping.” Velazquez, 42, was forced to have his spleen removed after being thrown from Secret Compass during the running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. He was the regular partner of reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, and missed out on riding him in his successful Breeders’ Cup Mile title defense. Velazquez won 37 graded stakes in 2013 despite being sidelined during November and December. “It felt good,” Velazquez added. “I just need to build myself up a little more and, hopefully, by the beginning of the month I will be ready to start riding in races.” A two-time Eclipse Award winner, Velazquez was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2012. He has ridden 5,088 winners to date, and his mounts have amassed over $298 million. His career highlights include guiding Animal Kingdom to victory in the 2011 Kentucky Derby and riding 12 individual Breeders’ Cup winners.