How would "The Pamplemousse" look on the list of Kentucky Derby winners, alongside such immortal names as Whirlaway, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Citation and Affirmed?
Trainer Julio Canani and jockey Alex Solis think the odd name fits just fine -- especially after the Kentucky-bred son of Kafwain upset odd-on favorite Square Eddy to win Saturday's $100,000 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita.
The gray colt, with only a maiden win to his previous credit, shot right to the lead and wasn't seriously challenged. He finished the 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:35.31. Ryehill Dreamer finished third.
"I'm speechless. I really am," said Solis. "This horse has such a high cruising speed, I thought I was going 24 and 48." In fact The Pamplemousse did the first quarter in 23.04 seconds and the half mile in 45.97. "It feels like he's walking. He does everything so effortlessly … I better start going to church and hope he stays sound."
Canani said his colt is "developing mentally and physically. He's awkward because he's growing and growing. He's huge but he's got a great mind and I've got no problems with him."
Canani said he may start The Pamplemousse once more before the April 4 Santa Anita Derby, provided all goes well.
Oh, the name? Members of the owning partnership also have the Pamplemousse Grill near Del Mar.
In other weekend races on the Road to the Roses:
-- If "The Pamplemousse" doesn't sound like a Derby name, how about Chocolate Candy, the impressive winner of Saturday's $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields? The son of Candy Ride, from the Seattle Slew mare Crownette, quickly circled to the lead when asked on the second turn and drew clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Axel Foley. Merus Miami was third. Chocolate Candy, with Russell Baze riding for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.98. Earlier, the bay colt won the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood and finished third in the Cash Call Futurity.
-- In an early turf test for 3-year-olds, Jack Spratt rallied four-wide down the lane to upset Saturday's $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park, beating Lime Rickey by 1/2 length. It was a nose and a head back to Beacon Hill Road and Adari, completing a $26,623.30 superfecta. Jack Spratt, a Kentucky-bred colt by Candy Ride, got the 1 mile on firm going in 1:35.59 under Julien Leparoux. "He broke good (from post No. 14) and I was able to settle behind and save ground," said Leparoux. "We got going around the turn and finished strong the rest of the way." Winning trainer Mike Maker said Jack Spratt next will try the Hallendale Beach Stakes on Valentine's Day.
-- On Friday's opening day at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, Silver City justified his favorite status by drawing off nicely in the stretch run to win the $50,000 Dixieland Stakes by 4 lengths over Dance Caller. Early leader Regardlesofoutcome faded to finish third. Silver City, a Kentucky-bred colt by Unbridled's Song, finished the 5 1/2-furlong sprint in 1:04.12. Miguel Mena had the mount for trainer Bret Calhoun. "Miguel has worked on him to get him to relax better in races and today he proved that his hard work paid off," said Calhoun. The victory could set up a match between Silver City and trainer Larry Jones's Old Fashioned in the $250,000 Southwest Stakes at 1 mile on Feb. 16 -- a key stop on the Arkansas Derby trail.
-- Musket Man got the lead at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $75,000 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, turned back a challenge from General Quarters and went on to win by 1 length over that rival. Miles and Miles was 8 1/4 lengths farther behind in third. Musket Man, a Kentucky-bred colt by Yonaguska, got the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.06 with Luis Gonzalez aboard. He now is undefeated in three starts. Trainer Derek Ryan said his charge is "a very laid-back horse. Because of his disposition, I don't think he'll have any trouble with the distance" in the 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis -- his next scheduled start.
-- It Happened Again rallied from a pace-pressing trip to take the lead turning for home in Friday night's $50,000 Triple Sec Stakes at Delta Downs and held off the favorite, Valid Stripes, to win by 2 lengths. Code of Honor was third. It Happened Again, a Kentucky-bred son of Proud Citizen, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25.82 under Gabriel Saez. Trainer Larry Jones attributed It Happened Again's eighth-place finish in the Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds last month to the distance. The sprint, he said, "is not really his game." Jones said he believes It Happened Again belongs in the same class as Old Fashioned and Friesan Fire, who won the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grouds last week.
Alpha Kitten rallied three-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita and drew off to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Evita Argentina. Nan was third. Alpha Kitten, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Tale of the Cat, got the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:21.84 under Tyler Baze. John Sadler trains the top two. "Evita Argentina had to give away a lot of weight (9 pounds) for a 3-year-old filly at this time of year," he said. "There wasn't a lot of pace and both of my horses ran really, really good races."
Oilgonewile sprinted to a quick lead in Sunday's $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream Park and was never seriously threatened on her way to a major upset. At the wire, the Florida-bred Montbrook filly was 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Weekend Strike, with Exe third and the favorite, Banker's Choice, last of 11. Oilgonewile, with Wesley Henty Sr. riding for trainer Joseph Calascibetta, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.24. "There is a whole series of races for her division here at the meet," said Calascibetta. "So we're set for the winter. I think she's all-terrain, so if a race comes off the turf, we're still in it."
Southern Yankee led all the way in Friday night's $50,000 Genesis Stakes at Delta Downs and then won a stretch duel with odds-on favorite On the Menu to triumph by a neck. Smokin Again finished third. Southern Yankee, a Florida-bred daughter of Yankee Gentleman, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:26.33 under Ricardo Feliciano.
Rock Candy found room along the rail in the stretch run of Saturday's $65,000 Gasparilla Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, came to the leaders with a furlong to run and went on to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Vicki'sprideandjoy was second and Market Vendor finished third. The favorite, Glacken Queen, never challenged and finished seventh. Rock Candy, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Mineshaft, got the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25.63 with Carlos Montalvo up. Trainer Mike Zwiesler said the Suncoast Stakes on Feb. 14 is next. "It seems like she'll run all day," he said.
Excessive Victory led most of the way to a 1 1/4-length win in Saturday's $125,000 LaSenora Hanidcap for New Mexico-bred 3-year-old fillies at Sunland Park. Winter Mist was second, 1 length ahead of Devonairre. Excessive Victory, a daughter of In Excessive Bull, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10.8 for jockey Ricardo Jaime.
In other weekend racing:
Nownownow saved ground well back in the pack through the early furlongs of Saturday's $150,000 San Fernando Stakes for 4-year-olds, then got outside to take the lead turning for home and went on to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Dakota Phone. Wishful Tomcat was third. Nownownow, a Kentucky-bred colt by Whywhywhy, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:41.45 for jockey Joseph Talamo. Nownownow added blinkers Saturday after suffering six straight losses since winning the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in October of 2007. "The blinkers put him more into the race early," said Palamo. "I was able to stay on the rail and it opened up for me there at the top of the stretch." Trainer Patrick Biancone said the Santa Anita Handicap on March 7 is under consideration.
Life Is Sweet came from far back to win Sunday's $150,000 El Encino Stakes for 4-year-old fillies by 2 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Country Star. Miss Singhsix finished third. Life Is Sweet, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Storm Cat, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:41.3. Garrett Gomez rode for trainer John Shirreffs. Shirreffs saddled Zenyatta to victory in last year's El Encino, starting a seven-race win streak that made her a candidate for Horse of the Year. It was her third win and first stakes victory. Gomez said he was farther back than he wanted but, "By the eighth pole, she had inhaled the whole field and she stayed on her left lead, so she's still learning. It's nice to know there's more left in the tank." Shirreffs said he hopes to continue Life Is Sweet along the 4-year-old filly series at Santa Anita.
Ikigai dueled for the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes, got the advantage and then drew clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Rollers. Black Seventeen was third and the favorite, He's So Chic, checked in fourth. Ikigai, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Whywhywhy, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.37 with Jermaine Bridgmohan riding.
Game Face came from well off the pace to win Sunday's $100,000 First Lady Stakes for fillies and mares by 2 3/4 lengths over Any Limit. Slewfoundmoney finished third. Game Face, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Menifee, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.57 with John Velazquez up for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Rolling Sea rolled to the front around the stretch turn in Saturday's $60,000 Truly Bound Handicap for fillies and mares, then drew off when asked by jockey Shaun Bridgmohan to win by 5 1/2 lengths over the odds-on favorite, Bear Now. Adrhytym was third. Rolling Sea, a 6-year-old, Illinois-bred mare by Sefapiano, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.05. Steve Asmussen trains the mare.
Barrier Reef started out "down under" in Saturday's $65,000 Evening Attire Stakes, trailing all four rivals. But at the end, the 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Mizzen Mast colt was in front, beating Broadway Producer by a neck. Brilliant Son finished third. Barrier Reef, with Ramon Dominguez up for trainer Tom Albertrani, got the 1 1/16 miles on the fast inner track in 1:43.81.
Yet Again rallied from last to upset Sunday's $65,000 Affectionately Handicap for fillies and mares, getting to the front at mid-stretch and winning off by 2 3/4 lengths over Are We Dreamin. The favorite, Sprightly, was rushed to the lead after a slow start, set the pace and faded to finish third. Yet Again, a 4-year-old, New York-bred daughter of Catienus, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the fast inner track in 1:45.28 with Orlando Bocachica in the irons.
Rated Fiesty pressed the pace set by Palanka City in Saturday's $50,000 American Beauty Stakes for fillies and mares, then stuck a head in front under the wire. Maren's Meadow was third. Rated Fiesty, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred filly by Exchange Rate, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.47 under Justin Shepherd. "We were lucky to have our nose up at the wire," said Hank Gensler, assistant to winning trainer Steve Asmussen. The top two are long-standing rivals, going back to a close finish in last year' Dixie Belle, which was decided by a disqualification of Rated Fiesty -- her first career loss.
Bingham took charge in the stretch in Saturday's $75,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile, drawing off smartly to win by 3 lengths over Highland Games. Canard finished third. Bingham, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Monarchos gelding, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.04 under Glenn Corbett.
She's Sensational rallied from last of six to win Saturday's $50,000 Glendale Handicap for fillies and mares, getting clear late to finish 1 3/4 lengths ahead of the favorite, Star of Whitney. Double Dip was third. She's Sensational, a 5-year-old daughter of Point Given, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.41 for jockey Kyle Kaenel.
Suave Jazz came from last to win Saturday' $50,000 Fire Plug Stakes by 2 lengths over Yes It's the Truth, with Spring Road settling for third after leading briefly at the top of the lane. Suave Jazz, a 6-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Suave Prospect, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10.96 with Jeremy Rose riding.