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2012 Kentucky Derby Contenders: El Padrino

Horse: El Padrino
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Pedigree: By Pulpit out of a Giant’s Causeway mare (Enchanted Rock)
Career Record: 6-3-1-1
Career Earnings: $316,100
Notable Races: G2-Risen Star (1st); G1-Florida Derby (4th); G2-Remsen (3rd)

Can He Win The 2012 Kentucky Derby?:

El Padrino made his three-year-old debut at Gulfstream Park on January 29th and dazzled race fans with a huge performance in a $75k Optional Claiming race, rocketing him into everyone’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 lists. He followed that up with a nose victory in the G2-Risen Star at the Fair Grounds, edging second place Mark Valeski by the slimiest of margins. His final Derby prep was a poor performance in the G1-Florida Derby, a race where he got a clean trip all the way around the track but had nothing in the tank when it came time to roll towards the judge.

There are two big issues with El Padrino that any handicapper must consider prior to Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. First, his most dominating performance came over a wet race track, and overall, two of his three wins were races over wet tracks. Can he run a big race on a fast track? Second, his one win over a fast track, the G2-Risen Star, looks very poor in retrospect when you consider that the Kentucky Derby preps at the Fair Grounds this spring were decidedly below par. On paper, the Fair Grounds had the weakest prep races of any circuit.

El Padrino is a talented colt but it remains to be seen whether he can perform at his best over a non-wet surface. If it rains on Saturday, he’s got to be in your tickets. If it doesn’t, he becomes a much more difficult horse to evaluate.