Everything remains on target for Nashua winner Cairo Prince, who is scheduled to make his three-year-old debut in the Grade 2, $400,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park on January 25.
Working in company with four-year-old Shadwell-owned colt Qeyaas, the gray son of Pioneerof the Nile breezed five furlongs in :59 4/5 on Sunday morning at Palm Meadows. Cairo Prince posted the fastest of 29 moves at the distance on the fast main track, and easily surpassed his workmate's time of 1:00 4/5.
It was the fourth work for Cairo Prince since coming to South Florida following his runner-up finish to Honor Code in the Remsen at Aqueduct on November 30, and nearly identical to his breeze one week ago. Last Sunday, he fired a bullet :59 3/5.
"I wasn't looking for :59-and-4 again, but he's just doing great," said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Cairo Prince for Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman, Harvey Clarke and Craig Robertson III.
"He had company, but he hooked into a horse that was in front of him a little bit. It kind of made him work a little faster than we needed, but he's doing that well. No worries, no negatives; he worked great."
McLaughlin said he will give Cairo Prince one more work leading into the Holy Bull, which is run at 1 1/16 miles and is the first in a series of preps for the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 30.
"We'll work again next Saturday or Sunday, a half-mile probably on his own now, hopefully in something like :49," McLaughlin said. "When you ask a horse to go a little slower and they end up going fast, that's a good sign that he's doing extremely well. He's happy, and we're happy."
McLaughlin picked up a pair of wins on Saturday's card at Gulfstream, with four-year-old Elnaawi in the 7TH race, a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance on dirt, and three-year-old filly Macaroon in the 8TH, a 7 1/2-furlong turf sprint.
A half-brother to multiple Grade 1 winner To Honor and Serve, Elnaawi went gate to wire to win by 1 1/4 lengths as the even-money favorite on Saturday, finishing up in 1:44 1/5. A workmate of Cairo Prince last Sunday, it was Elnaawi's first start since running fifth in the Wood Memorial last April.
"That was fun," McLaughlin said. "It was a very good effort. He's a nice horse. Obviously, he was on the Derby trail last year and he's very well-bred. He had to go home for a while with bruising of the cannon bone. He came back and has been working well, and he ran great yesterday. It says a lot about the horse. Where we go next, I'm not sure. We will maybe take the next step in an allowance race or maybe look for a stake. We'll see how he's doing and go from there. He's a really nice horse."