The road to the Kentucky Derby takes many twists and turns. Much like a puzzle, horsemen and horsewomen travel to great lengths looking for the perfect piece (race) to add to their derby picture. A horse may be based in Florida, but their road to the derby runs through New York. Or a California bred may run in New Mexico. Whatever path is paved in front of them, they must take extreme precautions and proceed with delicacy. For Mount Pelato, his journey begins in France and hopefully ends with a victory on the first Saturday in May.
On Saturday, Mount Pelato, trained by Cristophe Ferland, will attempt 1 1/4 miles, the distance of the Kentucky Derby, at Cagnes-sur-Mer racecourse. Located on the Southeast coast of France along the Mediterranean Sea, Cagnes-sur-Mer will host the $75,000 Prix Policeman. Thirteen horses are entered for the contest, but all eyes are on Mount Pelato. Undefeated, the horse already has two wins at 1 3/16, the distance of the Preakness. So distance should not be a problem for this Kentucky bred colt. Mount Pelato will be ridden by Thomas Huet.
The Kentucky Derby has not had a foreign raced winner since Canonero II in 1971 and France has not had a classic winner on American soil since Arcagnes scored an upset win in the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Classic at odds of 133-1. If Mount Pelato wins this weekend, the plan is to ship him to Kentucky for the Grade I Toyota Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland on April 16. If the horse succeeds in Kentucky, look for him to enter the gate on derby day to represent his country.
Confidence and experience may be on Mount Pelato’s side, but he has many long strides ahead of him. We will be paying close attention this weekend as the road to the derby runs through France. We would like to wish Mount Pelato good luck and we hope to see him on this side of the pond very soon.
Written by Big Brink