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
“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
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.”