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Location: Stockton, California, United States

Some call me OlRailbird.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Pamplemousse

First, read this article and watch the video of the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.

The first time I saw this horse entered I was attracted to his bizarre name -- The Pamplemousse! "What the hell is a Pamplemousse?" I thought. His name was wacky enough to stand out as a maiden and be remembered as he started winning.

It turns out Pamplemousse is French for grapefruit, a fact that exposes my poor breeding. Had I had a Hoity-Toity upbringing I would have known this and never enjoyed watching the horse develop. Ignorance really can be bliss!

It turns out the horse isn't so much named for a fruit as named for a restaurant near Del Mar racetrack that is popular with jockeys and trainers. Some of the same people who own the horse own the restaurant and so the name of the horse makes sense after all.

There is more strangeness to this story, however. It turns out the son of the horse's jockey, Alex Solis, owns a piece so it will be a cold day in hell before The Pamplemousse suffers a jockey change. Add to the mix the colorful Julio Canani as trainer and we have a tale worthy of a bonefide Derby Contender. The LATimes reveals details in this great story.

There is still more than two (2) months until the Kentucky Derby and a lot can change for fragile thoroughbreds in such a long span of time. Between now and then lies the Grade I Santa Anita Derby, and even a win there may only label The Pamplemousse as a synthetic specialist.

Well, I have a theory about synthetics (but it may be wrong.) I think they're slippery, nasty surfaces in the heat and clumpy, holey obstacle courses in the cold. Maybe horses that run well on synthetics are horses that watch where to put their feet. Dirt and turf horses just run along stepping where they please without paying attention to their footing. A switch from dirt to synthetic might be the kiss of death, but a switch from synthetic to dirt might be fine.

Anyway, The Pamplemousse is a big, strong, fast horse. I don't know who on the West Coast has the credentials to challenge him in the Santa Anita Derby. If he wires the field there, look for him to try the same on the first Saturday in May.


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