With the Kentucky Derby (G1) prep races in their final few weeks, usracing.com is publishing profiles of the contenders for the $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) on Saturday [March 27], a Derby points-qualifier offering 100-40-20-10 points to the first four finishers. Post-position and odds will be updated following Wednesday’s draw.
By Ed McNamara
There was buzz about this guy heading into Gulfstream’s Holy Bull Stakes (G3) on Jan. 30, but there was nothing to it. Papetu never got involved and finished fourth, 10 lengths behind Greatest Honour.
Papetu improved four weeks later in the Fountain of Youth (G2), making a sustained, f
our-wide move to be second at the eighth pole before Greatest Honour surged past him and pacesetter Drain the Clock. Papetu ran third, but this time only 3 1/2 lengths behind Greatest Honour, after losing lots of ground from post 10.
Handicapping insight: Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will ride Papetu for the first time, which is a plus. He was last of 10 early in the Fountain of Youth and passed Greatest Honour on the far turn before the winner was able to get into top gear.
Can Papetu make up more ground Saturday? If Greatest Honour regresses after two terrific efforts, maybe Papetu can capitalize and not flatten out this time. The price will be right.
Post position: TBD
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Owner: Magic Stables
Career record: 7-2-1-1
Career earnings: $116,425
Best Equibase speed rating: 96
Pedigree: Dialed In-Lady Malkin, by Sharp Humor
Running style: Stalker
Notes: Papetu is winless in five starts, all stakes, since opening his career with two victories in 5 1/2-furlong races at Gulfstream. He had a leisurely gallop Saturday at Gulfstream Park West, going 5 furlongs in 1:12.80 … Sano excelled with deep closer Gunnevera, a winner of six of 21 starts and more than $5.5 million. He won four stakes, including the 2017 Fountain of Youth, was second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and third in the Dubai World Cup … Like Gunnevera, Papetu is a son of Dialed In, a late runner who finished eighth as the 5-1 favorite in the 2011 Kentucky Derby.
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.