By Jon Forbes | 05/08/2010 03:00 PM ET
A sluggish start couldn’t stop Cocalero from breaking his maiden on debut and becoming the 10th horse featured in the New York Watch series, which shines the spotlight on promising colts and fillies that have recently cleared the maiden and allowance ranks at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, or Saratoga Race Course.
By A.P. Indy and out of Grade 1 winner Got Koko, Cocalero, a $175,000 yearling, topped the 2009 OBS Spring Sale as a juvenile when he was purchased for $675,000 by John Ferguson, agent for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who raced the colt at Belmont Park under the colors of Darley Stable. Despite being coupled in the wagering along with fellow first-time starter Stratford Hill, another well-bred son of A.P. Indy, Cocalero received only mild betting support at 5-1.
Cocalero, after loading reluctantly, reared in the starting gate. He stood still for the break, but was away several lengths slowly.
“It was unexpected,” trainer Tom Albertrani said of Cocalero’s gate problems. “First time out, you never know what to expect or how they are going to act. He was really tense in the gate.”
Jockey Alan Garcia didn’t panic, however, and let the Cocalero bide his time at the back of the pack. The bay raced with his head held high through the far turn, but got down to business once he was swung out at the top of the stretch, splitting rivals and closing strongly to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
“[Garcia] was really patient, and the horse was able to recover for him,” said Albertrani. “He rode him beautifully.”
Cocalero, who was bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, LLC, covered the seven furlongs in 1:23.71.
While Albertrani was pleased with Cocalero’s debut, the trainer wants to improve the colt’s behavior at the gate before pressing forward.
“We’ll teach him how to settle down for his next race,” said Albertrani. “We’ll run him a little longer in an allowance, and go from there.”
Cocalero is the second foal out of Got Koko, who won graded stakes at distances from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles and was third in the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. His sire A.P. Indy was awarded Horse of the Year Honors in 1992 after winning the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes and 1 ¼-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic.