When Purple Egg
couldn’t even handle participating in the post parade
and was scratched twice at Monmouth Park last summer, it would have
been difficult to believe that he would go on to become a major
contender for the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby on Jan. 1.
Some might have said that trainer Jane Cibelli got what she paid for with the $22,000 yearling purchase.
In the post parade for his debut, the well-bred son of Lion Heart acted up and unseated his rider.
“He had schooled in the paddock; he schooled with a pony…I have my
own pony. He’d done everything right,” Cibelli said. “But when we handed
him off to the pony in the post parade, he just lost it and dropped the
Writing it off as first-race jitters, Cibelli went back to schooling
Purple Egg before dropping him back into the Monmouth entry box.
Unfortunately, he once again acted up in the post parade and dropped his
rider again, prompting his trainer to make a difficult decision.
“It broke my heart to geld him,” Cibelli said. “But I don’t think he would have made it as a colt.”
Gelding Purple Egg proved to be the right decision, as evidenced by
three straight impressive victories to launch a now very promising
career. Cibelli wasn’t exactly surprised by Purple Egg’s performance
once he finally made it to the starting gate.
“The first time I saw this horse gallop, I said, ‘What a stride!’ He
did things so easily,” said Cibelli, recalling his early training at
Tampa Bay Downs last season. “When I watched him gallop, I said, ‘His
stride is about twice as long as everybody else’s.’”
That physical talent was very much in evidence when he captured his
debut at Monmouth on Aug. 23 by nearly five lengths. He came right back
to handily win an entry-level allowance race at Parx by nearly seven
lengths. Purple Egg was tested in the $75,000 Inaugural at Tampa Bay on
Dec. 1, and he came through with a gutsy off-the-place victory over
multiple stakes-winner Brave Dave by a length.
“It certainly was his toughest race. His first two races came
somewhat easily to him. (Brave Dave) had already shown that he was
accomplished. When they ran the first quarter in 23 (seconds), I
honestly didn’t think (Purple Egg) could win it at that point,” Cibelli
said. “I said, ‘There’s no way he’s going to win that race. (Brave Dave)
has got everything his way. He’s a speed horse and after getting the
first quarter in 23, he’s going to have some kick left.’ My horse
impressed me to beat that horse on his own terms.”
With a six-furlong stakes victory on Purple Egg’s resume, Cibelli is
looking at the one-mile, one-turn Gulfstream Park Derby as a perfect
opportunity to start the process of stretching out her gelding.
“I’ve always thought that he wanted to go long,” said Cibelli, the
two-time Monmouth training titlist who has divisions at both Gulfstream
Park and Tampa Bay Downs.