It wasn’t easy
getting Purple Egg into the starting gate, but the 2-year-old proved on
Thursday at Monmouth that he was worth the wait and the trouble.
leading trainer Jane Cibelli, the Kentucky-bred son of Lion Heart out of the
Prized mare Luminous Prize won a $40,000 maiden special weight by almost five
lengths. In doing so, he overcame a speed duel in which the first spilt was run
in :21 4/5, took complete control in the turn, and then shifted to another gear
to draw off through the lane under Paco Lopez. It was a very impressive effort
for a first time starter.
“I’m getting quite a few phone calls and texts
from those showing interest in buying him,” said Cibelli while savoring the
victory on Friday morning. “He’s got
quite a following.”
Owned by the Goodwood
Racing partnership, Purple Egg had been a bad actor. Twice before he was led to
the starting gate, and twice he had to be scratched.
“The first time he
went right up in the air and ran off,” Cibelli explained. “The next time I
walked out there with him and even though he’d been schooled with the pony in
the mornings, he acted like he wanted to kill him. It was horrible. He had both
front feet over the pony and knocked the pony girl off. That kind of behavior
only gets worse, so unfortunately, we had to geld him.”
That made all of the
difference and it showed in his first start since the surgery.
“His race was very
exciting. He always had a lot of potential. The first time I laid eyes on him
on the track I liked the way he moved. I thought ‘my goodness, he’s got a stride’.
You can see that he takes one stride for everyone else’s two,” said Cibelli.
Partner Sven Johnson
had the opportunity to choose the horse’s unusual name.
“My wife, Sara Sawti,
was pregnant when we were trying to think of one,” he said. “She was wearing a
purple sweater at the time and looked like an egg, so there you have it.”
When Cibelli was
told, her first reaction was, “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me. But Sven said
that the best horse in the world (at that time) was Black Caviar and those are eggs,
so why not?”
Johnson, who lives in
Singapore with his Nepalise wife, was on hand for Purple Egg’s debut and was
ecstatic in the winner’s circle afterward. “I have horses racing in Singapore, New Zealand and now Monmouth. I
used to cut school to come to the races here so standing right here with this
horse is fantastic.”