March 20, 2019

Galilean eyes Kentucky Derby points after Cal Cup Derby romp

Galilean and jockey Flavien Prat win the $200,000 California Cup Derby, Monday, February 18, 2019 at Santa Anita © BENOIT PHOTO

Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has taken the conservative route so far with well-regarded sophomore Galilean. But after he toyed with overmatched state-breds in Monday’s $188,000 California Cup Derby, a Kentucky Derby (G1) points race is next on the agenda.

Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Denise Barker and William Sandbrook, Galilean was entitled to win for fun as the 1-20 favorite in a five-horse field at Santa Anita. The $600,000 sale topper at Barretts last April was coming off a nine-length rout of the King Glorious S. at Los Alamitos, and none of his rivals could hold a candle to him on paper.

Yet Galilean did accomplish something other than getting his three-year-old debut out of the way in a soft spot. For a colt who’s been on the engine in all three starts at two, the son of Uncle Mo proved capable of rating kindly for jockey Flavien Prat.

Stablemate Loud Mouth scampered to the front from his rail post, carving out splits of :23.95 and :47.85 on the fast track. Irish Heatwave, the 8-1 second choice, applied pressure, while Galilean was perched in a sweet traveling third. Prat nudged him as they passed six furlongs in 1:11.60, and the heavy favorite put them away turning into the stretch.

Galilean might have thought he was in an orchestrated work in company, for all the competition he got. Once he forged clear, the race was over. He crossed the wire a handy 4 1/2-length winner and negotiated 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.43.

Feeling Strong, a distant third to Galilean in the King Glorious, deserves credit for pursuing him the length of the stretch in second. The runner-up was himself 10 lengths ahead of Whooping Jay in third. The early leaders gave way badly, with Irish Heatwave tiring to fourth and Loud Mouth last.

Galilean is 3-for-4, a neck away from being unbeaten, with $261,000 in earnings. Having twice sold at Barretts, the bay was eligible for the restricted stakes for sales alumni at Los Alamitos. As a yearling, he had brought $60,000 and turned into a pinhook home run when Eddie Woods resold him for $600,000 as a two-year-old in training.

Unveiled in the September 22 Barretts Juvenile, Galilean was sent off as the 4-5 favorite – already a measure of his reputation. He made a rookie mistake by breaking inward, but overcame his inexperience to open up in the stretch and hang on by a neck. Next time in the November 3 Golden State Juvenile, the newly blinkered colt set a hot pace under pressure and just got outdueled by Cruel Intention, the pair gapping the rest by 16 lengths.

Hollendorfer kept Galilean in Cal-restricted company for his two-turn debut in the King Glorious. Judging by how he dominated on the front end, extended his margin late, and polished off the mile in 1:35, it’s worth wondering how he might have fared in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1).

The Golden State Juvenile-King Glorious-Cal Cup Derby itinerary recalls California Chrome, who likewise lost the first (finishing sixth) before crushing the following two. One major difference is that “Chrome” raced a total of seven times at two. The popular chestnut passed his class tests on  the Triple Crown trail and famously went on to 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) glory.

Now Galilean must embark upon a similar class test as he ventures outside of the restricted ranks for the first time. Plans are fluid about just where he’ll tackle a Kentucky Derby scoring race.

Galilean was bred by Bar C Racing Stables Inc., which bought his dam, the El Prado mare Fresia, for a bargain $35,000 while she was carrying him at the 2015 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. Fresia is a half-sister to multiple Canadian Grade 3 winner His Race to Win. They’re out of the Gone West mare Fleet of Foot, a full sister to stakes-winning sire Sail from Seattle and a half-sister to Canadian champion Hello Seattle.

With his fourth dam being Canadian champion Classy ‘n Smart, and fifth dam No Class, Galilean hails from the all-star family of Smart Strike and Sky Classic.

Quotes from Santa Anita

Winning rider Flavien Prat: “It was easy; he was traveling well the whole way. Jerry’s other horse in the race, Loud Mouth, was coming from a sprint so it was either him going to the lead, or me. It was going to be one of us. He broke better than me so I sat off the two leaders and when I went to make a move, he responded well.

“It’s quite exciting because he’s done everything right so far. Like everyone else though, he needs to improve of course, but it’s exciting to win this time of year. He’s a good three-year-old.

“He relaxed well. In his last race he went to the lead, but today, he had speed to his inside and sat off them and stayed relaxed, was breathing well and made a good move.”

Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer: “You’re always a little anxious coming off a little bit of a layoff, but he did everything perfect, rated perfectly, and you couldn’t (ask) for much more than that. We have a whole bunch of options (for his next race). There are a lot of races everywhere for him and we’re nominated everywhere, so we’ll try to make a good decision as to where to run next.

“I don’t think (distance) is an issue. We wanted to take advantage of him being a Cal-bred, take advantage of giving him another race and running here. That’s what we wanted to do and that’s what we did.”

Jeff Lifson of West Point Thoroughbreds: “We pointed for this after he ran so big winning the Los Al race. I don’t think we necessarily were thinking (on duplicating) what California Chrome did; we just wanted to give him one easy enough for his three-year-old start and then see what happened.

“What was most important to me was that he had clean air in front of him and wasn’t boxed in. That was my biggest fear. In a small field everybody gets to ride our horse to some degree and that’s always a worry. When he had a clean trip down the backstretch I really was more relived.

“Understandably, we have a Hall of Famer (Hollendorfer) who is calling the shots here and he’s got a great staff as well. My sense is we don’t come back for the San Felipe (G2), but that’s just a guess, and Jerry’s gonna make the real call there.

“I think we’ll look for one of those 50-point (Kentucky Derby qualifying) races in March and then maybe come back here in for the Santa Anita Derby (G1) or one of those early April races where they have 100 points on the line.

“We have some newbies (owners) on this particular horse which is such a cool thing but the best part about this partnership is they are all wonderful people and have a ton of fun.”