Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Premier Star 'something special'

January 16, 2020 09:15am
Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Premier Star 'something special'
Photo: Ryan Thompson/Gulfstream Park

Trainer Jorge Navarro has built his reputation on conquering some of the world’s biggest races around one turn. Now, could he have a candidate for some prestigious events going longer?

Sonata Stable’s Premier Star rolled to an easy 5 1/4-length victory Wednesday afternoon at Gulfstream Park that had Navarro talking about a path to the March 28 Florida Derby (G1). Of course, a win or runner-up finish there also means a trip to the 2020 Kentucky Derby.

“From Day 1 I knew I had something special,” Navarro told Gulfstream’s publicty staff after the race. “When I had him at Monmouth, I called the owner and said, ‘This is the real deal.’

"...The owner wants to do the right thing by the animal. We’ll see if we can make the Florida Derby. I know that’s far ahead. We’ll take it step by step. I think we have a nice horse.”

RELATED: More updates from the Kentucky Derby Radar

A son of Tapiture, himself once a Derby contender, Premier Star improved to 2-for-2, following up on a Dec. 8 debut going seven furlongs. The second-place finisher that day, Caracaro, looked like a prospect for the preps as well when returning as a winner last Saturday.

A move to allowance company didn’t slow Premier Star, who went straight to the front, then lasted on an uncontested lead after opening up in 22.49 seconds for the quarter mile and 45 flat for the half. He stopped the clock under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. in 1:23.15.

“Irad said, ‘He was looking for company,’” Navarro relayed. “Once they hit the stretch, he was like, ‘What do I do next?’ Irad said, ‘Jorge, I have so much horse, but he doesn’t know what to do.’ We’ll correct that.”

Americanus, a debut winner who was off the board in Aqueduct’s Nashua (G3) when trying stakes, ran second. It was another six lengths to third-place Peruvian Boy in a race where Premier Star was under wraps across the wire.

Navarro, who has trained horses such as Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) winner X Y Jet, Cigar Mile (G1) winner Sharp Azteca and Private Zone, runner-up in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, is seeking his first Kentucky Derby starter.

Between Wednesday’s allowance and the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, local options for 3-year-olds include the Feb. 1 Holy Bull (G3) and Feb. 29 Fountain of Youth (G2), both at 1 1/16 miles.


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About the Derby Radar

Back for the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail, Horse Racing Nation's Derby Radar seeks to identify promising maiden, allowance and even stakes winners who could target points-paying preps down the line. We'll cover the buzz horses, of course, then using a systematic approach based on past years' Derby contenders identify other talented colts moving up the ladder.

Did we miss one? Email editor Jonathan Lintner ( if you know of a horse that should be on the radar.

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