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Who is Joe Petalino?

The best trainer no one's ever heard of sent his Kentucky Derby hopeful out for a breeze last Saturday morning at Oaklawn Park.

"Don't write about me, write about the horse," he insisted. "That's the real story."

It is early March at Oaklawn, little more than two weeks after the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes, with a week-and-a-half left until the Grade 2 Rebel. These are the Kentucky Derby preps that culminate in the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 14, and "the horse," 3-year-old J P's Gusto, readied for the second leg of the series with a strong six-furlong stint in 1:13.60 on March 5. It was his first official move since a troubled runner-up finish behind Archarcharch in the Feb. 21 Southwest.

"That's a good work for him when he's working by himself," said Joe Petalino. "He's got an even running style and a big stride. He's going good right now (and) we'll look for a sharper five-eighths the next time before we run."
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