Darley announced Feb. 28 that it has purchased a majority interest in Cairo Prince, a leading contender for this year's Kentucky Derby. The colt will remain with trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and race in the blue colors of Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Stable.
The winner of the Jan. 25 Holy Bull Stakes is being pointed toward the Besilu Stables Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park March 29. He is currently the 13-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 3 that runs through March 1. His ownership group consisted of Namcook Stables (Terry Murray), Paul Braverman, Harvey Clarke, and Craig Robertson III.
"We are excited to be involved with such a promising 3-year-old at this time of year, and it is also special that our longtime trainer is handling the horse and we have the opportunity to share this excitement with the colt's current owners," said Jimmy Bell, president of Darley America.
McLaughlin has had an association with Darley and Godolphin and trained for the outfit for many years. Of late he conditioned Godolphin's Alpha to compete in the 2012 Derby and scored victories with him in the Travers and Woodward stakes.
"We've observed Cairo Prince all along and he's a colt that really hasn't done anything wrong and has done everything right," Bell said. "Given his past performances he makes us excited about what could be. But obviously we'll take it one step at a time. We are delighted to have the colt with Kiaran, which is significant to us. He's a horse we hope still has more good things to come.
"Kiaran was positive about this horse from early on. The really good horses get a hold of your attention pretty early, so I don't think this is an overnight feeling that he's having. He's felt this way for quite some time. Outside a nose defeat in the Remsen, he's got an intact record, which is not easy to do at any age and any distance. Kiaran feels he that he is legitimate, and as such, it makes everybody cautiously, but optimistically, look forward."
Cairo Prince worked four furlongs in :49.90 Feb. 22 at the Palm Meadows Training Center in preparation for the Florida Derby.
"I wish the Kentucky Derby was in two weeks," said McLaughlin.
Bred in Kentucky by Richard and Katherine Elam, Cairo Prince has won three of four starts and has earned $512,000.
Cairo Prince broke his maiden at first asking Oct. 6 at Belmont Park going six furlongs. He then stepped up to the one-mile Nashua Stakes Nov. 3 at Aqueduct Racetrack and won by 2 ½ lengths. He finished his 2-year-old campaign dropping a tough nose decision to Honor Code in the nine-furlong Remsen Stakes at the Big A Nov. 30.
A $200,000 Keeneland January sale short yearling in 2012 purchased by Vinery Bloodstock and Mandy Pope's Whisper Hill Farm, Cairo Prince sold to Namcook Stables through bloodstock agent Steve Shahinian for $250,000 later in the year at Keeneland's September yearling sale.
The gray/roan colt is by Pioneerof the Nile , last year's second leading first-crop sire. Pioneerof the Nile, winner of the 2009 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), ran second behind longshot Mine That Bird in that year's Kentucky Derby. The son of Empire Maker stands for $20,000 at WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky.
Cairo Prince, a half or full brother to a pair of stakes horses, is out of grade III-placed Holy Bubbette, a daughter of Horse of the Year Holy Bull. Holy Bubbette is a half sister to Grade 2 winner Sum Runner.