Cairo Prince, the early favorite for the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 29, breezed a half-mile in :48 3/5 Saturday morning at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park's satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
The three-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile was posting his first move since his dominating 5 3/4-length victory in the January 25 Holy Bull at Gulfstream. He completed the workout under a tight hold by motionless exercise rider Rob Massey.
"It really went well; it went perfect. We were looking for :49 or :50 , and we got :48-and-3. He looked great doing it," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "We'll most likely work him every Saturday from now on, although we may take one Saturday off, because there are a lot of Saturdays between now and March 29."
McLaughlin has opted to bypass next Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream in favor of waiting for the Florida Derby, a premier prep for the Kentucky Derby on May 3. In the direct aftermath of Cairo Prince's sensational victory in the Holy Bull, McLaughlin said keeping his exciting prospect "happy and healthy" was is main objective.
"The Holy Bull was quite an impressive race by all figures. These horses aren't machines. You can't run them every four weeks, even if you want to," McLaughlin said. "We just thought we'd wait -- the best chance to get ready for the Florida Derby is wait."
McLaughlin has enjoyed considerable stakes success with horses coming off long layoffs, most notably with Invasor, who clinched the 2006 Horse of the Year title with a Breeders' Cup Classic victory three months after winning the Whitney.
"I think a lot of it depends on the horse. When we gave Invasor extra time, it was because he was a special horse. Well, this is a special horse, too," McLaughlin said. "There are no secrets. It's all about the horse."
Cairo Prince has won three of four lifetime starts, launching his career with a maiden win at Belmont and a victory in the Nashua at Aqueduct before suffering his first career loss in the Remsen, in which he lost by a nose to Honor Code. Jockey Luis Saez, whom McLaughlin said misjudged the slow pace in the Remsen, made amends with a perfect off-the-pace journey in the Holy Bull.
McLaughlin also sent recent allowance winner Penwith to the track at Palm Meadows Saturday for a half-mile work in :49 in preparation for a scheduled start in the next Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Davona Dale. The three-year-old daughter of Bernardini has won two of four starts and finished a close third in the Demoiselle at Aqueduct on November 30.
"She ran very well that day. She came back and won on January 2 and she's been working well for the race, and we're excited about it," said McLaughlin, who is planning to enter Abtaal, who won an allowance race at Gulfstream in his U.S. debut on January 25, in next Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Canadian Turf.