01/10/2013 4:56PM

Gulfstream Park: El Padrino will skip Hal's Hope in favor of Donn Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
El Padrino will skip a planned start in Sunday’s Grade 3 Hal’s Hope.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – El Padrino was expected to vie for favoritism with Csaba in Sunday’s Grade 3 Hal’s Hope, but trainer Todd Pletcher has instead opted to pass the race to await the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 9.

El Padrino returned from a 7 1/2-month layoff to finish second behind Citrus Kid as the 1-5 favorite going a mile under allowance conditions here Dec. 19 to conclude his 3-year-old season. El Padrino finished fourth behind Take Charge Indy in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and 13th in the Kentucky Derby prior to going to the sidelines last spring.

“We talked about coming back in the Hal’s Hope. It was a very tempting spot, but I just felt he needed a couple of more works to be dead-on,” Pletcher said by phone from New York on Thursday. “I just thought he’d be better off training up to the Donn and run two turns, which is better for him, rather than try a one-turn mile again.”

Even without El Padrino, the Hal’s Hope has drawn a full and very competitive field led by Csaba, Pants On Fire, Delegation, Soldat, and Pool Play, who was supplemented into the race at a cost of $5,000 by trainer Mark Casse. The remainder of the lineup includes Swagger Jack, Associate, Good Morning Diva, Scatman, and Cool Blue Red Hot.

Archwarrior sent to farm

Pletcher also reported that Archwarrior, among the most promising juveniles in his barn last summer, has been taken out of training and sent to a farm in Kentucky. Archwarrior won his much-anticipated debut at Saratoga by 3 1/4 lengths as the 1-5 favorite on Aug. 30 before finishing fourth behind Shanghai Bobby in the Grade 1 Champagne in his only other start at 2.

“Archwarrior wasn’t traveling quite as well as we’d like, so we just decided to give him a little time off on the farm,” Pletcher said.

As for Shanghai Bobby, Pletcher reported that the undefeated and soon-to-be-named juvenile champion for 2012 remains on schedule to launch his 3-year-old campaign Jan. 26 in the Grade 3 Holy Bull.