The Pamplemousse, a Triple Crown candidate and the winner of the Sham (gr. III) and San Rafael (gr. III) Stakes, wasn't the star of the show at last year's Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. March select sale of 2-year-olds in training. While his $150,000 price was above the auction's all-time-high average of $143,262, it didn't come close to sale peak for an individual horse of $650,000.
Vision Sales 2007 purchased The Pamplemousse for $80,000 from Clarkland Farm, agent, at the 2007 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling auction. Then Vision Sales consigned the colt to the OBS March auction, and he worked an eighth of a mile twice in :10 1/5. The times were good, but not spectacular.
John and Jill Stephens, who prepared 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro for the races, and Brandon and Diannah Perry are partners in Vision Sales.
The Pamplemousse was "a big, pretty horse," John Stephens said. "He looked good when he worked, and he galloped out good. But he had a little bit of high knee action and his sire was cold at the time, so he was penalized. But those are the kinds of things that go with sales. He's turned out to be a very nice horse, thank goodness."
Alex Solis II purchased The Pamplemousse at OBS, and in retrospect, it looks as if the other buyers were too critical about the colt's action, the speed of his works, and his pedigree.
"We all critique horses as yearlings and as 2-year-olds for things we think look efficient or inefficient, and we all make mistakes because we put too much emphasis on something that we really don't know what its effect will be until they race fast and far," Stephens said. "Ten (seconds) flat and nine and fourth-fifths (seconds) are wonderful works, but working that fast doesn't mean a horse can run three quarters of a mile or more. And you can have high knee action as long as you can do it faster than everybody else for a mile.
"Always, even as a yearling, The Pamplemousse trained good and stuff," Stephens continued. "Everyone's thought is that they want a Kentucky Derby horse. He was by Kafwain out of a Rubiano mare and that wouldn't tend make you think that he qualified (because of a heavy sprinting influence), but any good horse has some speed. It's what keeps the business going, a horse that maybe isn't expected to be at such a high level jumps up and is. It makes the dream possible for everyone."
The Pamplemousse is owned by a partnership that includes Solis, and his regular rider is Solis' father, 2009 Racing Hall of Fame candidate Alex Solis. Julio Canani trains the colt.
"They've done a wonderful job with the horse, and he's doing great," Stephens said. "It's an exciting time this time of year to have a horse like that. It's exciting for them to be on that ride. He (The Pamplemousse) has a tough race coming up in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I)."