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Velazquez Works Coup de Grace

John Velazquez 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Unbeaten colt Coup de Grace signaled his readiness for the biggest test of his young career with a bullet half-mile work on Sunday morning at Palm Meadows.            

Under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, the 3-year-old son of Tapit breezed four furlongs in 47.40 seconds, the fastest of 52 horses. He will make his next start in Saturday’s $400,00 Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park.            

“He worked good. It was cold out, and he was a little sharp,” said Chad Brown, who trains Coup de Grace for owner Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms. “Johnny seemed to get along with the horse well, and he said he learned a couple things about him in the morning, and that was really the reason for putting him on. All systems are go for the Holy Bull.”            

Velazquez is returning to ride for the first time since suffering serious injuries, including surgery to remove his spleen, following the fatal breakdown of Secret Compass in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. He inherits the mount on Coup de Grace from Javier Castellano, who will be aboard Wicked Strong for trainer Jimmy Jerkens in the Holy Bull.            

Coup de Grace broke his maiden at Aqueduct on Nov. 9 by three-quarters of a length, going six furlongs in 1:10.11. He returned to take his first try against winners on Dec. 15 at Gulfstream, hitting the wire a length in front after a mile in 1:36.76.            

As he did following his maiden win, Coup de Grace has breezed three times since his last race, the most recent coming in company. He was timed galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.40.            

Also pointing to the Holy Bull are Grade 2 winner Cairo Prince; Grade 3 winner Mr Speaker; General a Rod and Wildcat Red, who ran 1-2, respectively, in the Gulfstream Park Derby on Jan. 1; Swynford Stakes winner Conquest Titan; Wicked Strong and Financial Mogul, both Grade 2 placed; Almost Famous, Intense Holiday and Our Caravan.         

“It’s going to be a tough race,” Brown said. “He’s unproven around two turns, and it’s a real test for him. I think it’s that time of year to try him around two turns and then we can figure out how to campaign him the rest of the year.”            

Meanwhile, Brown was unsure where he would bring back Storming Inti, who ran his win streak to four races with a thrilling head victory over Grade 1 winner We Miss Artie in the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy on Sunday at Gulfstream.            

Owned by Santa Rosa Racing Stables, the Pennsylvania-bred son of Stormy Atlantic has won three consecutive stakes: the one-mile Awad and 1 1/16-mile Kitten’s Joy on grass and the one-mile Pulpit on dirt, the latter two at Gulfstream.      

“We’ll just have to see how he comes out of it,” Brown said. “If he’s going to need that little extra time to recover, I’m not sure. But, we have the whole rest of the year and a wonderful ownership group that lets me operate, so we’re under no pressure to run the horse back anytime soon. He’ll tell me.”    

 

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