Ete Indien, who stamped himself a serious Triple Crown prospect on Saturday in Gulfstream Park's Fountain of Youth (G2), emerged well from his dominant 8 ½-length triumph, trainer Patrick Biancone said Sunday.
“Very good,” Biancone said. “He ate all his dinner and he’s happy and sound this morning, which is what you want to see. We’re good.”
The 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth marked the first graded-stakes triumph for Ete Indien, a 3-year-old son of four-time graded-winning millionaire Summer Front owned by Linda Shanahan, Sanford Bacon, Dream With Me Stable, Horse France America, D P Racing and Biancone.
Under Florent Geroux, subbing for injured jockey Luca Panici, Ete Indien led all the way around in the Fountain of Youth, in which he broke from the far outside Post 11 following the early scratch of Chance It, who drew Post 12. The winning time was 1:43.02.
“I’m going to be honest with you: He’s impressing me every day when he trains since I’ve had him,” Biancone said. “Yesterday, he had a difficult task. We got a bad draw but everything did go well.”
Ete Indien opened his sophomore campaign running second to Tiz the Law in the Holy Bull (G3) Feb. 1 at Gulfstream, 11 ½ lengths clear of third-place finisher Toledo. The two horses are headed for a rematch in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on March 28, where Tiz the Law figures to be a solid favorite.
Purchased in France as a 2-year-old in training last May for $269,640 by Biancone, Ete Indien debuted last September with a maiden special weight score at Gulfstream. After finishing eighth in the Oct. 6 Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland in his second start, he returned to Gulfstream for a 2 ½-length optional claiming allowance score Dec. 20.
“At this age, it’s just a question of improvement,” Biancone said. “Hopefully he keeps improving and developing the right way. That would be good.”
Biancone also trains Sole Volante, winner of the Pulpit and third in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream who captured the Sam F. Davis (G3) Feb. 8 in his most recent start. Owned in part by Biancone’s daughter, Andie, Sole Volante is scheduled to run next in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) March 7.
Both of Biancone’s Triple Crown prospects are based at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
“Maybe it’s too much, I don’t know. We’ll see,” Biancone said. “We don’t want to get overexcited, you know?”
Tiz the Law won the Champagne (G1) in his second start and kicked off his 3-year-old season with a three-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull. He has worked once since the race, a half-mile breeze in 50 seconds Feb. 10 at Palm Meadows. Tiz the Law is trained by Barclay Tagg for Sackatoga Stable, the same connections that campaigned 2003 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner Funny Cide.
Ete Indien’s record at Gulfstream gives Biancone reason for optimism heading toward the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, which in its first 68 runnings has seen 44 starters go on to win a remarkable 59 Triple Crown races. Last year’s edition was won by Maximum Security, who was disqualified from victory in the Kentucky Derby and captured the $20 million Saudi Cup Saturday.
“I want to see how he comes back, how he works the next time. He’ll need to improve a little bit to be able to win the Florida Derby,” Biancone said. “We’re here in Florida, he’s training in Florida and we love Florida. I think we’ll take a shot if he’s in good form.”