Correas Warming Up in Florida

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Ignacio Correas, Ben Correas and Frank Leal | TurfDiario.com

By Diego Mitagstein

On winter days, trainer Ignacio Correas watches the snow in Kentucky on television, although occasional trips back to Lexington–his home base–are inevitable. Part of his stable stayed behind in Kentucky to compete on the local circuit, while the trainer known as “Nacho” temporarily relocated to Tampa Bay Downs with his son Benjamin and Frank Leal, his two assistant trainers. Correas is always flanked by Marina, his life partner, and Lola and Emma, the couple’s two adorable Weimaraners.

After his great 2017, the Argentine trainer maintains dreams that he will do even better this season. Correas has three Argentine champions in his stable: Dona Bruja (Arg) (Storm Embrujado {Arg}), Blue Prize (Arg) (Pure Prize) and Le Ken (Arg) (Easing Along), as well as several horses he expects to reach the stakes level.

“Certainly, we are very excited to enjoy another season full of joys–we no longer have Kasaqui (Arg) (Lasting Aproval) and Idolo Porteno (Arg) (Jump Start) with us [both were retired], but there are other bullets to shoot,” said Correas, hopeful and cheerful as usual.

A two-time graded stakes winner in 2017 and second to Dacita (Chi) (Scat Daddy) in the GI Beverly D. S. at Arlington last summer, Dona Bruja’s early-season goal is Keeneland’s GI Jenny Wiley S. Apr. 14. But, for the time being, she will appear for the first time this year in Saturday’s GIII Lambholm South Endeavour S. over a grassy 1 1/16 miles. Jose Ortiz will ride the bay, who Correas said is training forwardly in the mornings.

“When I draw up a plan, I always try not to leave it,” Correas said. “[Dona Bruja] looks great in the mornings, and we are confident that she will give everything, because she always does. It will be her first time with Jose Ortiz in the irons…the only thing he has to know with her is to wait.”

Le Ken will get his season underway in Saturday’s GIII Tampa Bay S. over the same trip as the Endeavour. A dual Group 1 winner in his native land, Le Ken finished off the board in two graded stakes tries on turf in America before recently finishing fifth in the Bet on Sunshine S. over the Churchill Downs main track.

“He did not like the sand at Churchill Downs in his last start,” Correas said. “It is very different than, for example, Palermo, in Argentina–much deeper. That is why he will return to the turf. In the morning, he continues to be a rocket and I think that, with time, he will repeat all the good things he does working in races.”

One major obstacle in Le Ken’s path Saturday will be the presence of GI Breeders’ Cup Mile winner and champion turf horse World Approval (Northern Afleet), who also gets his season started in Oldsmar.

“We don’t have too much luck,” Correas joked.

Correas said Blue Prize, another runner with high hopes in 2018, has also been progressing according to plan. Her return to the races will come in Oaklawn Park’s GII Azeri S. Mar. 17, with the idea of later returning to Arkansas for the GI Apple Blossom H. in April.

“She also is very good, and little by little we will start to train her a little more firmly,” Correas said. “It’s like Dona Bruja, they do it all on their own. The idea is to travel to Arkansas about 10 days before the Azeri, to give her a little time for acclimatization.”

After knocking on the door throughout 2017, Blue Prize finished last season with a victory in the GII Falls City H. at Churchill Downs.

“Nacho” is hesitant to say so, but Dona Bruja and Blue Prize could well be considered contenders for the 2018 Breeders’ Cup to be contested in early November at Churchill Downs–a track that both love.

There are plenty of reasons for Correas to be delighted at the thought of repeating–or even improving upon–his remarkable campaign of 2017. Dona Bruja, Blue Prize and Le Ken are clearly the big names in his barn, but he has others under his care who allow him to browse the stakes calendar quite often.

After years of fighting to gain a foothold, Correas has returned to enjoy the profession that he is passionate about. As many in the business know, there are few things comparable to knowing that a Grade I victory is within your grasp.

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