TDN Top Triple Crown Contenders


2) PAPPACAP (c, Gun Runner–Pappascat, by Scat Daddy) O/B-Rustlewood Farm, Inc. (FL). T-Mark E. Casse. Lifetime Record: GSW & MGISP, 6-2-2-1, $596,000. Last Start: 3rd GIIII Lecomte S. Next Start: Next start: Possible for GII Risen Star S., FG, Feb. 19. KY Derby Points: 14.

Pappacap got dethroned from the No. 1 ranking, but his third-place effort as the beaten favorite in Saturday's GIII Lecomte S. doesn't warrant a full-scale banishment from the upper crust of the crop. These winter stakes are, after all, preparatory efforts, and the wider view of Pappacap's career arc still portends well for getting 10 furlongs three-plus months from now. As usual, this always-engaged Gun Runner homebred broke without issue, then settled fifth at the fence, underscoring this colt has no confidence issues racing in a covered-up position at the rail. Jockey Joe Bravo let Pappacap cruise up under his own power between the six-furlong and half-mile poles to range within two lengths of pacemaking Epicenter (Not This Time). But by the far turn Pappacap was so seriously hemmed in that Bravo's commitment to the rail started to look like a liability rather than a ground-saving advantage. Epicenter drifted out under pressure, and while Pappacap leapt forward through the suddenly larger opening at the quarter pole, he didn't truly seize command. Pappacap gave Epicenter a stout run for his money from the three-sixteenths pole until 50 yards from the finish, where both were blindsided by a fresh 28-1 closer. “He fought all the way down the lane,” Bravo said. “Both [he and Epicenter] are special horses. They got into a fight and guess what happens? It set up for somebody else to run by both of us.”


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