Favored Dennis’ Moment Fades to Last Curlin Florida Derby (G1) Prep
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Ete Indien gave trainer Patrick Biancone a second hot Triple Crown prospect Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where the son of Summer Front captured the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) with an overpowering 8 ½-length triumph.
The Fountain of Youth, a key prep for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) March 28, wrapped up Gulfstream’s fantastic 14-race program that offered 10 stakes, including nine graded stakes, worth $1.95 million in purses.
Biancone, who saddled Sole Volante for an impressive winner in the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa earlier in the February, sent out Ete Indien for a sensational front-running performance that virtually clinched a berth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs May 2.
Ete Indien, who finished a clear second to Tiz the Law after setting the pace in the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Feb. 1, earned 50 qualifying points for the Derby Saturday while ridden for the first time by Florent Geroux, who was subbing for injured Luca Panici, and breaking from the far-outside No. 10 post position.
“We have been through a week of hiccups. First, we lose our jockey and second, we draw [outside] Good horses can overcome everything. I think he’s an exceptional horse,” Biancone said. “We look forward to the future.”
Dennis’ Moment, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Flavien Prat, was never a serious factor and finished last.
“He bobbled out of the gate but then after that he regrouped and I thought I was in a good spot. When I hit the five-eighths pole, he just dropped the bit and after that I was done,” Prat said. “After that, there was no reason to beat him up. He didn’t want to go.”
Ete Indien, the 3-1 second choice, was on ‘go’ from the start, sprinting to the lead before the first turn and taking immediate control that he would never relinquish. The Kentucky-bred colt set fractions of 23:14 and 46.72 seconds for the first half mile, chased by Gear Jockey and As Seen On Tv. The pacesetter began to draw away on the turn into the homestretch and continued to separate himself from his rivals through the stretch.
“As soon as I secured a spot, I just put the horse on cruise control and the horse was nice and easy and took a nice breather. When he got into a rhythm, he just felt very good,” said Geroux, who flew from New Orleans to gallop Ete Indien for the first time Wednesday at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County. “He wanted to get out at first when he saw the lights, but he’s very professional. I didn’t think he was that quick, to be honest. I didn’t think he had this kind of speed, which gives us way more options in the future.”
Candy Tycoon, ridden by Manuel Franco, finished second in a four-horse photo for second, a neck ahead of As Seen On Tv, who was another head in front of Shotski.
Chance It, who was rated second at 7-2 in the morning line, was scratched by trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. earlier in the afternoon due to concerns about the Mucho Macho Man winner’s far-outside post position.
Ete Indien, who ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.02, began his career on turf, winning a five-furlong sprint at first asking at Gulfstream in September. After finishing off the board following a troubled trip in the Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland, he won a mile optional claiming allowance on dirt by 2 ½ lengths at Gulfstream Dec. 20. He lost by three lengths to Tiz the Law in the Holy Bull but finished 11 ½ lengths clear of the third-place finisher in the Holy Bull.
Ete Indien, who is owned by Linda Shanahan, Sanford Bacon, Dream With Me Stable Inc., Horse France America, D P Racing Inc. and Patrick Biancone Racing LLC, is likely to return in the Florida Derby, a final stop on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
“I want to see how he comes back and how he works next time,” Biancone said. “He’ll need to improve to win the Florida Derby, but we are in Florida, he trains in Florida and we love Florida, so I think we’ll take a shot if he is in good form.”
Although he clinched a berth in the Derby starting gate, Ete Indien isn’t necessarily a cinch to run in the first leg of the Triple Crown.
“He will have one more run before the Derby and if he wins next time, we’ll go to the Derby. And if he doesn’t win next time, he will stay home,” Biancone said.
However, Biancone isn’t one to back away from a challenge.
“At one stage of my life I was playing poker and what you say? no gamble, no future?. You have to gamble a little bit to have a future and I think that horse was the perfect horse to do it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sole Volante, who won the Pulpit Stakes on turf at Gulfstream in December before finishing third in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream and winning the Davis, is expected to make his bid to join the Kentucky Derby field in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) next Saturday.