High expectations for El Afortunado
FOLLOWING El Afortunado’s emphatic win in the $1.2-million Sir Howard Stakes on Sunday, March 12, 2023, trainer Anthony “Baba” Nunes says his bay colt will continue his “Road to the Triple Crown” in the Prince Consort Stakes scheduled for April 9.
Ridden by Anthony Thomas, El Afortunodo, who surrendered his lead to Big Guy In TheSky approaching the half-mile (800m) turn, changed gears in deep stretch and powered home by 3½ lengths in the native-bred three-year-old Restricted Allowance ll (non-winners of two) contest over 6 furlongs (1,200m).
A designated prep for colts and geldings for the upcoming native-bred, three-year-old Classic series of races, the Sir Howard Stakes was run in honour of outstanding racehorse Sir Howard, a multiple stakes winner who retired in 1984 as the leading all-time stakes winner with 10 wins from 28 starts.
“That’s the whole idea; we think that he [El Afortunado] has the potential. How far he will go? I don’t know distance-wise but obviously the goal is to reach the 2000 Guineas in June. The expectations are obviously high, but this is just the start so let’s see what happens as we have the Prince Consort Stakes.
“Hopefully he comes out of this alright and we will be at the Prince Consort Stakes, and so it is all the process to get him where he is supposed to go. The important thing is that he ran down Big Guy In TheSky and he was pulling away in the end, and that’s good,” Nunes told The Supreme Racing Guide.
El Afortunado broke off well at the start of the race and assumed the lead early. However, approaching the half-mile (800m) Big Guy In TheSky (Dane Dawkins) surged to the front and began to open up nearing the final bend.
In deep stretch El Afortunado changed gears and powered home ahead of Big Guy In TheSky and Whizz Kidd (Trevor Simpson).
“I don’t think he is a six-furlong horse. What I am pleased about is that he left the starting gate really good. The first couple of starts he didn’t leave the gates so sharp, and we did some work with him and I love the way he left the gates. Overall, I am pleased with his performance,” Nunes said.
Nunes was again smiling as another Classic hopeful, Wow How (Perfect Curlin – Sarah Barrcuda) added her name to the pool of potential aspirants for the Classics.
Ridden by Tevin Foster, Wow How came from behind runners late in deep stretch to win a maiden condition race for native-bred three-year-old fillies over 6½ furlongs (1,300m) going away.
Wow How won by 2 lengths ahead of Kissmet (Anthony Thomas) and Lion Charmer (Samantha Fletcher) in a time of 1:23.2.
“Wow How is a nice filly. She is still very green, and she stays a distance of ground. We just gave her an easy introduction and didn’t realise what was going on until maybe two furlongs, and she actually finished up nicely in sixth place by nine lengths.
“I knew that just stretching her out would make her run better, and the longer it goes, the better it is for her. She is beautifully bred and let’s hope, again, that she continues to improve; you want her to improve. She broke her maiden but the big step now is what you see them do from here to non-winners of two, and then we will know if we have a classic horse. Breeding-wise, she has the Classic bloodline,” explained Nunes.