03/25/2012 4:35PM

Gulfstream: El Padrino gallops out nicely in final prep for Florida Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
El Padrino is the probable second choice behind Union Rags among seven 3-year-olds probable for Saturday's Florida Derby.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -   El Padrino’s final work for Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby may not have gone quite as planned at the beginning. But in the end, trainer Todd Pletcher got just what he was looking for from the Risen Star winner, who figures to be the second choice behind Union Rags in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. 

With Javier Castellano aboard, El Padrino broke off at the half-mile pole six lengths in front of his workmate Brethren.  The pair joined up on the turn with Brethren nearest the rail. El Padrino was easily the stronger of the two coming to the wire, covering his final quarter in 24 seconds and completing a half in 49.10 while finishing a length in front of his mate before galloping out willingly and well clear into the turn.

Although El Padrino was visually the more impressive of the pair, Brethren was credited with a faster final time of 48.22. 

“He got a little confused with Javier going to the pole and there was some separation for the first sixteenth of a mile but they got together by the three-eighths and he was moving well throughout,” said Pletcher. “He wound up getting exactly what we wanted out of the work, a half in 49 with a good gallop out.”

El Padrino, who won an allowance race here earlier in the meet prior to his game victory over Mark Valeski in the Grade 2 Risen Star, is one of seven 3-year-olds currently confirmed for the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby. The others are Union Rags, Take Charge Indy, Neck ‘n Neck, News Pending, Reveron, and Fort Loudon.

Pletcher said Brethren, who has not started since finishing 11th in the 2010 Arkansas Derby, will launch his comeback Saturday in the 6 1/2-furlong Sir Shackleton.

“He’s fit and now it’s just a matter of getting him a race to see where he is,” said Pletcher.

El Padrino was one of a trio of Kentucky Derby candidates Pletcher worked at Palm Meadows on Sunday along with Windsurfer and Our Entourage, who went five furlongs in company in 1:01.56 earlier the same morning.

Pletcher had been pointing Windsurfer for the Illinois Derby on April 7 but said he is now considering pushing his start up six days to run in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds next Sunday.

“He’s been touting us pretty good here in the morning, especially his last two works, and if we wait for the Illinois Derby it means we’ll have to work him again,” said Pletcher.  “So I’m seriously considering entering him [Monday] for the Louisiana Derby.”

Windsurfer, an improving son of Speightstown, is coming off an easy maiden special weight win going a1 1/16 miles here on Feb. 18.

Pletcher also said that Our Entourage, an allowance winner on the turf earlier in the meet, will make his next start in the Illinois Derby.