Kentucky Derby (G1) fans had to wait an extra couple of weeks to see Prevalence follow up on his smashing debut win at Gulfstream Park, but the Godolphin homebred advanced on the trail with an allowance tally at the same venue Thursday.
The Brendan Walsh trainee had stolen the show on the Jan. 23 Pegasus World Cup (G1) undercard, putting himself into the discussion for the Feb. 27 Fountain of Youth (G2). Before he could step up to that Derby points race, or the more conservative option of an entry-level allowance, Prevalence came down with a fever and cough. Although the minor illness was no more than a blip on the radar, his timetable was pushed back a bit.
Prevalence needed a race to confirm his status on the trail, one more run on the way to a major Derby prep. Thursday’s one-mile affair filled the bill, if more from an experience and fitness perspective than for the competition. Only five rivals stood in opposition, none Triple Crown-nominated, and Prevalence was bet down to 1-10 favoritism.
Breaking alertly but a tad outward from post 6, the Medaglia d’Oro colt eased back to fifth through the opening quarter in :23.90, just a length or so off the pace. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione exuded confidence as he then let the favorite improve on his own volition. Prevalence was already up to second at the half-mile split, prompting the pacesetter Tio Magico in :46.35 and increasing the pressure passing six furlongs in 1:10.74.
As the leaders turned for home, Prevalence took over and responded to minimal cues to dispatch the field by three lengths. Gaffalione kept him to task after clocking the mile in 1:35.82, and the exciting sophomore turned in a bonus furlong at the end of a paid workout.
The 32-1 Southern Passage, the lone entrant in for the $75,000 tag, rallied from last to take second. Tio Magico, last seen finishing second in the Nov. 1 Coronation Futurity, held third at 9-1. Caxambas Candy, the 7-1 second choice after a track-and-trip debut victory, chased hard and tired to fourth. There was a long gap back to Distorted Limits and Slashing.
As Gaffalione pointed out, this was not as eye-catching as his 8 1/2-length maiden rout on the engine. As a means to an end, however, it hit the mark.
“It was probably not as flashy as his first race, but I think we’re going to get a lot more out of this race today,” his rider told Gulfstream publicity.
“He was definitely more green. He was looking up at the grandstand down the lane. He kind of got lost by himself. I just had to remind him to keep to his task. He has a really bright future. I’m really looking forward to getting to the bottom of him.
“He didn’t disappoint at all today, if anything, I’m even more excited about him because I know, if it comes to it, he will give me some fight.”
Walsh noted that the allowance also offered a useful progression in distance.
“I think it was a good step up for the horse going from the seven (furlongs) to a mile,” his trainer said. “It seemed like he got the distance good; the time was good. We can’t ask for much more than what we saw.
“It was very important that we did what we did today, and not throw him in too deep. I’m very pleased we got this race. Hats off to the guys at Gulfstream for getting the race to go, because I think it was very important for the horse.”
Now 2-for-2 with $52,800 in earnings, Prevalence is expected to take the next logical step to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Walsh had indicated previously that the turnaround to the March 27 Florida Derby (G1) is too tight. He has options on April 3, although the Blue Grass (G2) is unlikely since that’s the target for Godolphin’s unbeaten champion Essential Quality. The April 10 Arkansas Derby (G1) would give Prevalence the best spacing to a 170-point scoring race, so perhaps Oaklawn Park is in his future.
“We’ll get back and let the dust settle and talk to the team at Godolphin and see where we go after that,” Walsh said. “(A Derby prep) is a strong possibility, for sure.”
Aside from top hope Essential Quality and Prevalence, Godolphin has other candidates in pursuit of the elite operation’s first Kentucky Derby trophy. Proxy, runner-up in both the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star (G2), is set for the March 20 Louisiana Derby (G2). Internationally, Highland Avenue scored recently on the European Road, Lemon Pop has points on the Japan Road, and Rebel’s Romance could be seen in the March 27 UAE Derby (G2) on Dubai World Cup night.
Prevalence is a half-brother to Estihdaaf, hero of the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) in 2019. Their dam, the Ghostzapper mare Enrichment, is herself a full sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Better Lucky. Enrichment is a daughter of 2000 Beaumont (G2) queen Sahara Gold, who is in turn out of 1995 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) heroine Desert Stormer.