On the same day the newly-elected Pope Francis first appeared on the balcony at St. Peter’s Square, a Pulpit colt named Abstraction emerged from the shadows at the race course in this very Catholic city of New Orleans to stamp himself as one to watch among this year’s 3-year-old Thoroughbred crop.
In Wednesday’s sixth race at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Abstraction, who had been under heavy restraint by jockey Leandro Goncalves in the early going of the one mile and 70-yard test, was given some free rein to take command at the top of the stretch and drew off the rest of the way. At the furlong grounds Abstraction was three lengths in front and without further urging by Goncalves was 9 3/4-lengths the best at the wire.
“Yes, I thought his race was very impressive,” said Abstraction’s trainer David Carroll Friday morning during training hours at the local oval, “but I’ve always thought a lot about him since Mr. (Leonard) Riggio (of My Meadowview Farm) sent him to me. He’s beautifully bred (a homebred out of the Quiet American mare Andujar) and that’s a credit to Mr. Riggio’s bloodstock advisor Lincoln Collins, who is putting together a very good band of mares for Mr. Riggio. Hopefully, this horse is just the first in the start of something big.
“It’s a pleasure to get a good horse to train for an owner like him because he’s the kind of owner who always puts the horse first,” Riggio said. “I’ve trained for some owners who sometimes let their horses get lost because they have their own personal agendas.
“We’re not going to jump on the Derby trail with this horse,” said Carroll. “He’s a Pulpit so we’re going to give him a chance to develop so we can see just how good he is. As a 2-year-old, he developed a hairline fracture of the right hind pastern so we stopped on him and that was probably a blessing in disguise.
“I found a race for him in a sprint last month to get him started and I thought he finished well (second),” said Carroll. “I thought it was a good race for him. He finished up strong.
“But he’s such a long-striding colt I was really looking forward to seeing him go two turns,” Carroll said. “When we found that race for him this week he ran like he trained in the mornings, and he’s been awfully impressive in the mornings here. Obviously, now he has to go on and prove himself against better horses, but for now I’m more excited for Mr. Riggio (of Barnes & Noble bookstore background) than anything. He has horses with several other very good trainers like Graham Motion and Roger Attfield, and it’s wonderful to be part of a team like that. Also, for me to have a horse like this one for Mr. Riggio makes it real easy to get up a little earlier in the morning.”
If the Kentucky Derby comes up too quickly for a still-developing horse like Abstraction, was the Preakness a possibility?
“A possibility but not a probability,” said Carroll. “I would think we would probably plan more toward something like the Belmont and work backwards from there.”
TRAINERS MIKE MAKER, STEVE ASMUSSEN MOVING CLOSER TO MILESTONES
Conditioners Mike Maker and Steve Asmussen, both of whom have divisions of their stables at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, are each moving closer to personal milestones in their careers.
Maker, approaching a personal milestone of 1,000 Thoroughbred wins, enters Friday with 998 wins with one scheduled starter at Fair Grounds – Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Rules of Honor in the fourth race of the night.
Asmussen entered Friday’s races 13 wins behind Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg in his quest to move into second on Thoroughbred racing’s all-time wins list for trainers.