Updated on 09/17/2011 8:54PM

Papi Chullo aiming high in Fountain of Youth


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Two questions immediately come to mind regarding Papi Chullo, a California-based maiden owned by Greg Norman who has traveled all the way to south Florida for Saturday's $250,000 . Is the owner the Greg Norman of professional golf fame, and why run a maiden in a Grade 2 Kentucky Derby prep?

The answer to question number one became obvious immediately upon visiting Papi Chullo Tuesday morning in Barn 8 at Gulfstream, where Norman was watching his horse being walked around the shed by trainer Salvador Gonzalez.

"I get that question all the time," said Norman, who is African American and builds schools for a living in California. "I sure wish I could play golf as well as my namesake. Actually my brother, who is partners with me in the business, is a scratch golfer. That's his passion. Mine is horse racing."

As for running a maiden in the Fountain of Youth?

"My critics say why are you putting a maiden in that race, but we think we know what we're doing," said Norman. "The main reason we're here is because we wanted to run him a mile and one-eighth, and we couldn't get a race for him at that distance on the West Coast. We need to run him a mile and one-eighth to get him to the first Saturday in May."

The distance obviously is no problem for Papi Chullo, who finished second in the 1 1/8-mile Sham Stakes Feb. 5 at Santa Anita.

"He proved his quality when beating several multiple winners finishing second in the Sham," Norman said. "And if he didn't get trapped down on the rail the whole way, I feel he would have won that race."

Papi Chullo, a son of Comeonmom, did not launch his career until December when he finished a late-running fourth in the Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields. He was second, beaten a length, in maiden company in his 3-year-old debut before losing by a length to Going Wild and earning a 98 Beyer Speed Figure in the Sham.

"He had bucked shins at 2 and started late, so we realize we're playing catch-up at this point," said Norman.

If Papi Chullo runs well Saturday, he will go next in the April 2 Floriday Derby, Norman said.

Russell Baze, who will be in town to ride the odds-on favorite Lost in the Fog in the Grade 2 Swale on Saturday, will ride Papi Chullo for the first time in the Fountain of Youth.

A field of 11 is shaping up for the Fountain of Youth. Papi Chullo is one of two California invaders currently on the grounds for the race, along with General John B.

The rest of the probable lineup is Bandini, High Fly, Defer, B.B. Best, Park Avenue Ball, Dearest Mon, Natural Phenomenon, and the Ken McPeek-trained pair of Kansas City Boy and Wild Desert.

Velasquez picks up mount on Defer

With jockey Jerry Bailey confirmed to ride High Fly in the Fountain of Youth, trainer Shug McGaughey was forced to make a late rider switch on Defer and has given the call to Cornelio Velasquez. Bailey rode Defer to victory in the Grade 3 Laurel Futurity and a fourth-place finish here earlier in the meet in the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes.

McGaughey said he was pleased with the performance of his other Kentucky Derby hopeful, Survivalist, who finished a well-beaten second behind Sun King in an allowance race here Saturday.

"I thought he ran good; he just ran into a buzzsaw," said McGaughey. "I might try bringing him back on the grass next time. He's by Danzig and should like it. Or I might run him in the Gotham. I'll just wait and see."

Chandtrue all set for Swale

Chandtrue, the unbeaten California colt who has not raced since the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile last July, was scheduled to ship to Florida on Wednesday for a showdown with Lost in the Fog in the Swale Stakes at seven furlongs. Chandtrue went 4 for 4 last year, and trainer Bob Hess Jr. believes he will fire first start back.

"We're ready; we'll run our best race," he said.

Chandtrue was nominated to a turf sprint Saturday at Santa Anita, but Hess and owner Harold Greene decided to keep him on the main track. "He should be a real nice horse for us up to a mile," said Hess, who added that Jorge Chavez would ride Chandtrue on Saturday.

Added distance may aid Contante

Trainer Stanley Hough believes the 1 3/16-mile distance of Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap will benefit his Argentine-bred Contante.

Contante went 2 for 2 at 1 1/4 miles in Argentina before being purchased by North American interests last fall. After finishing last in the Mel's Hope Stakes at Calder on Nov. 28, Contante finished a strong third behind Badge of Silver and Dynever in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Stakes at Gulfstream in January.

According to Hough, Contante grabbed a quarter in the Mel's Hope. He trained solidly leading up to the Hal's Hope, in which he loomed a threat at the quarter pole but flattened out late. Hough believes that Contante may have just gotten a little tired in the Hal's Hope.

"He was a nice horse in Argentina and he still is," Hough said. "He ran his best races at a mile and a quarter in Argentina."

On Tuesday, Contante breezed four furlongs in 51 seconds at Palm Meadows. Two weeks ago, he breezed a bullet six furlongs in 1:12.80. According to Hough, Contante breezed an easy mile last week, though no official time was recorded.

Ramon Dominguez will be in from Maryland to ride Contante. Edgar Prado, who rode Contante in the Hal's Hope, will be in California to ride Saint Liam in the Santa Anita Handicap on Saturday.

Contante was assigned 114 pounds for the Gulfstream Park Handicap. Also expected to run are Classic Endeavor (118 pounds), Zakocity (117), Eddington (115), Second of June (114), Collateral Damage (113), and Pies Prospect (113).

Mustanfar seeks Grade 1 glory

Mustanfar's powerful fourth-level allowance win over this course last month makes him a strong contender for Sunday's Grade 1, $250,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on the turf.

Mustanfar ran in several Kentucky Derby preps last spring before finding his niche as a long-distance turf horse. He won the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes - albeit via disqualification - and the Sycamore Breeders' Cup Handicap at Keeneland. He also finished second in two other graded events.

Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Mustanfar ended his 3-year-old season with a fifth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf. In his 4-year-old debut, he rallied from last to win a fourth-level allowance race by 2 3/4 lengths while earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 102.

"It was one of those things where you say, 'Wow, what a race,' and you don't get to say that very often as a trainer," McLaughlin said.

On Monday, Mustanfar worked four furlongs in a solid 47.60 seconds over the Palm Meadows turf, in company with Nopexi.

Mustanfar was assigned 118 pounds for the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap. He will be in a field that will likely also include Prince Arch (119 pounds), Burning Sun (118), Host (115), Macaw (114), Navesink River (113), Quest Star (113), Rio Guapore (112), and Niigon (111).

- additional reporting by Brad Free and David Grening