2022 Kentucky Derby Hopeful Snapshots: White Abarrio

2022 Kentucky Derby Hopeful Snapshots: White Abarrio

Welcome to 2022 Kentucky Derby Prospect Snapshots, where we’ll take a look each week at a recent winner on the Triple Crown trail, usually from the Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule from which the race horses earn points toward qualifying.

The 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve will be held May 7, 2022, at Churchill Downs.

This week, we’ll take a closer look at White Abarrio, winner of the $250,000 Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 5 at Gulfstream Park. He earned 10 points toward qualifying for the 2022 Kentucky Derby with that win. White Abarrio ranks third on the latest Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 12 points

Racing Résumé: White Abarrio enjoyed a very nice 2-year-old campaign that featured a pair of runaway victories at Gulfstream Park, albeit against overmatched competition, before a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs. Yet, there was still plenty of room for debate about his ability entering his 3-year-old bow in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes, given the quality of competition in his wins and the fact that he was beaten six lengths by Smile Happy in the Kentucky Jockey Club.

He stepped forward with a breakout performance in the Holy Bull that stamped him as a legitimate contender for the 2022 Kentucky Derby. White Abarrio stalked pacesetter Galt from second, seized command near the final quarter-mile, and then surged away to a commanding lead en route to a 4 ½-length win. White Abarrio completed his final five-sixteenths of a mile in 30.79 seconds according to Trakus data with a final sixteenth of a mile in a strong 6.35 seconds. The ability to stalk a solid pace and still finish strongly bodes well for White Abarrio’s future.

Speed Figures: White Abarrio earned a career-best 102 Equibase Speed Figure, seven points better than his previous best, for his Holy Bull win and a 97 Beyer Speed Figure that rates the best by a 3-year-old in 2022.

Running Style: White Abarrio won his second career start while leading from start to finish but seems to excel with a target while pressing or stalking the pace. He has a high cruising speed, settles nicely in the early stages of his races, and responds on cue to his jockey’s instructions. He used his speed to overcome a slow start from the inside post in his career debut, gaining tactical position that set up his winning bid.

Connections:  C2 Racing Stable and La Milagrosa Stable purchased White Abarrio privately after his 6 ¾-length debut win Sept. 24, 2021, at Gulfstream Park. The new owners subsequently transferred him to trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., who enjoyed the best season of his career in 2021 with more than $9 million in purse earnings. Joseph earned nine of his 16 career graded stakes wins last season and picked up a pair of Grade 1 wins with Drain the Clock and Mischevious Alex.

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione was aboard White Abarrio for the first time in the Holy Bull and gave him a perfect ride. Gaffalione also had a career year by purse earnings in 2021 with more than $19.1 million. The 2015 Eclipse Award winner as outstanding apprentice jockey won the 2019 Preakness Stakes on War of Will.

Pedigree Notes: White Abarrio is from the fourth crop of 2015 Oaklawn Handicap winner Race Day, by influential sire Tapit. He is one of nine stakes winners through Feb. 6 for Race Day, a two-time graded stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles. White Abarrio was produced by the Into Mischief mare Catching Diamonds, who was winless in three starts and is a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to multiple group stakes winner Cool Cowboy.

Derby Potential: White Abarrio has absolutely dominated in three of his four starts and he had a reasonable excuse in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, his lone defeat, when he was trapped behind wall of horses on turn, where he likes to launch his move. In that race, he still finished willingly once he was angled to the  outside and passed several horses in the stretch. Additionally, I think the winner of that race, Smile Happy, is a very promising 3-year-old.

On paper, White Abarrio’s speed figures look much better than his somewhat unfashionable pedigree, but if given the choice I’d always take the fast horse over the regally-bred runner with a combination of the two, obviously, being ideal.

I like the way White Abarrio relaxes after gaining ideal position and also how he identifies and puts away targets. He doesn’t play around after passing an opponent and instead keeps driving well clear. He’s also fast and has shown the ability to overcome some adversity and not get discouraged, which leads me to believe he’s a serious racehorse with legitimate Kentucky Derby potential.