Despite losing their turf star Paddy O'Prado to injury last spring, owner Donegal Racing and trainer Dale Romans will have much to look forward to next year as they now have a contender for the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby with a similarly-named gray colt named O'Prado Again, also by the late sire El Prado. The move into the ranks of classic contenders came in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Remsen Stakes, which O'Prado Again prevailed in by three parts of a length after racing wide much of the way. Guided by Kent Desormeaux, O'Prado Again covered nine furlongs on a fast track in 1:52 and paid $16.80, $7.20 and $5.10 at 7-1.
The pace of the Remsen was set by Souper Speedy, who slowed the proceedings down with splits of :24 1/5, :49 4/5 and 1:15. Seventh after a quarter-mile, O'Prado Again advanced into third down the backside as the field bunched up due to the slow pace. O'Prado Again settled in good striking position less than two lengths from Souper Speedy, with Our Entourage applying pressure on the leader around the final turn. In the stretch, those three gave their all to get the win, but it was O'Prado Again who proved to have the best closing kick as he edged a game Souper Speedy, also at 7-1. El Padrino, the 5-2 third choice rallied for third, a head behind Souper Speedy.
"He's a horse you can move into a spot and sit again, which is characteristic of a serious horse," Desormeaux said of the winner. "He's got gears. He's silky smooth, like (Fusaichi Pegasus) was. You can't tell his feet hit the ground. He's really, really smooth."
Done Talking finished a head back of El Padrino in fourth and was followed under the wire by Our Entourage, Managed Account, Stephenoatsee, Speightscity, Mucho Mas Macho and Scatter a Star.
"I think he's a special horse," said Romans, speaking from Kentucky. "We went (to the Remsen) for the extra distance. The further he goes, the better he gets. We pointed to the Remsen not so much because of how he ran in his last race, but because of the way he trained into the last race and way he trained after it. The light really came on for him. He was training so well that we thought he would run a big race, so we decided to run in the Remsen. Kent rode him with a lot of confidence. He really liked him a lot too, which is why he gave up a lot of mounts in Kentucky to ride him at Aqueduct.
"We'll ship him to Florida and he probably won't race the rest of the year. There is a slim chance he could run at Hollywood (Grade 1 CashCall Futurity on December 17), but we will probably wait until next year. We think he is a Kentucky Derby horse so we will treat him like that."
Unplaced in his first two outings, one on the Churchill Downs main track and one on the Saratoga turf, O'Prado Again showed improvement when third in an October 9 maiden on Keeneland's grass course. He broke through 19 days later with a maiden victory by 1 3/4 lengths going nine furlongs on the Polytrack, a race originally scheduled for the turf. His record now stands at 5-2-0-1, $156,290.
O'Prado Again was bred in Kentucky by Highclere and was a $350,000 Keeneland September yearling. He was produced by the Pulpit mare Leh She Run, a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Sky Blue Pink and the multiple stakes-winning producer Freddie Frisson, the dam of multiple Grade 1 winner and sire First Samurai. This is the family of Grade 1 winner A Huevo, multiple Grade 2 hero Jeranimo and Grade 2 victor Kantharos.