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Purple Egg Seeks to Hatch Gulfstream Park Win

Purple Egg Seeks to Hatch Gulfstream Park Win: Popular gelding Purple Egg faces a solid group of runners in a seven furlong optional claiming race on Gulfstream Park’s main track, scheduled as Race 9 on Friday, December 27, 2014.

Once discussed as a promising Kentucky Derby contender, Purple Egg’s journey up until this point has taken fans on a roller coaster ride. For starters, as a two-year-old the Egg dumped his jockey in the post parade and ran riderless around the track. He repeated the incident a second time.

After being gelded, Purple Egg finally kept his jockey weeks later and began his career with three straight wins before running last in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby. The fan favorite followed the same pattern since then, with flashes of talent and clunkers making him an enigma.

Despite finishing last for three straight races this year, trainer Jane Cibelli never lost faith. Rather, she became concerned about Purple Egg’s health after a poor effort in the G3 Gulfstream Park Sprint. The horse showed early speed and soon faded rapidly while bearing out.

“We sent him for a body scan after the race, and found nothing conclusive other than a few odds and ends,” Cibelli said. “So, we gave 90 days off.”

Returning in a stakes race at Monmouth and starting at Presque Isle afterward, Purple Egg ran last both times again. Cibelli still felt optimistic though and attributes the last place finish at Presque Isle to not liking synthetic. In October, Purple Egg backed his trainer’s confidence by running second to graded stakes winner Bahamian Squall at Gulfstream.

“The extension blinkers seemed to work,” Cibelli explained.

But, despite the improved effort, the gelding found more misfortune.

“He got hit in an eye with a dirt clod and ended up in the hospital,” she added. “That’s why we gave more time off.”

Now Purple Egg returns after two months. Leading rider Javier Castellano, who Cibelli described as “one of the best,” gets the mount.

Purple Egg’s competition includes Midnight Cello, a four-year-old gelding trained by Marcus Vitali. A son of Midnight Lute, Midnight Cello’s resume includes a recent second place finish to stakes horse Valid. In this race, he attempts to improve his 1 for 2 record on Gulfstream dirt.

Another contender, I’m Steppin’ It Up, shows a pattern of displaying early speed. In the Millions Classic Preview Stakes, the six-year-old ridgling opened up a two length lead before fading against notable names such as East Hall, Wildcat Red and Schivarelli.

The race also features two three-year-old colts. One of them, Little Daddy, won impressively two starts back by eight lengths in an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park West. He returned to finish sixth in the Kenny Noe, Jr. Stakes on the same racetrack.

Just outside Little Daddy in post seven, Hip Four Sixtynine is no stranger either to last year’s Derby trail. He dueled in the Louisiana Derby before fading to 11th and never factored in the Lexington S. weeks later. Since then, the four-year-old Southern Image colt switched trainers four times.

Cibelli remains adamant Purple Egg belongs competing against good horses.

“He can be a problem horse at times,” Cibelli said. “But, he really looks good in the mornings. He’s older, stronger and improving … I know what he’s capable of. He’s got the talent.”