Mr. Online Returns To Gulfstream With Victory in $100,000 El Prado
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL– Mr. Online made a triumphant return to Gulfstream Park with a front-running victory in the $100,000 El Prado Stakes on Saturday afternoon. Claimed twice last winter, including a $30,000 snag by owner Tim O’Donohue and trainer Michael Pino in March, the 4-year-old gelding took advantage of his inside post to secure an uncontested lead through a :50.24 half-mile.
Jockey Kendrick Carmouche let out a notch on the far turn and Mr. Online ($5.30) opened up enough of a cushion to hold off 8-5 favorite Salto in the closing strides. The final time over the yielding course was 1:39.60. Utley drew in off of the also-eligible list to complete the trifecta.
“It worked out great,” Pino said via telephone. “I was worried about the horse that was getting blinkers [Hobbs], that he might pressure us a little bit, but then they were interviewing the trainer and it turns out they wanted to let their horse relax earlier, so that gave me a little more confidence. He had the rail and could get right on out of there. I didn’t want anyone to go head-to-head with him.”
Bred in Ontario, Mr. Online rose through the ranks during his tenure under Pino and had shown career-best form in turf sprints. The son of Silent Name was narrowly beaten by veteran Ben’s Cat in the Laurel Dash on September 21 and was also second in the Nearctic Stakes (G1) at Woodbine on October 13. He returned to Laurel to win a 5 ½-furlong test under optional claiming conditions at Laurel on November 23 before making his way back to Gulfstream. Mr. Online was unplaced in three Florida outings last winter, but things look to be different this time. He went postward as the second choice in the wagering for the El Prado.
“It was a nice claim,” O’Donohue remarked. “It’s ironic that we stretched him back out because he had really done his best running going one turn in sprints. We couldn’t really find a spot for him; we were thinking of shipping to the Fair Grounds last week for the Bonapaw. But I didn’t want to do that to the horse, ship him 15 hours there and back.
“I spoke to Michael about this race and said he’s going to show speed coming out of those sprints,” O’Donohue continued. “We didn’t expect yielding turf—we’d been hoping for nice, firm ground, but everything worked out for the best. We know he can get a mile, so it gives us more options.”
Defending titlist Nikki’s Sandcastle was scratched due to the surface. Also taken out were Coalport, Lea, Majestic Express and Riding the River.