Pirate’s Punch did just that last Friday, knocking out the competition in a five-length allowance victory for trainer Grant Forster, who said Tuesday afternoon that the gelding is scheduled to run next in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses at 1 1/8 miles May 2.
Pirate’s Punch, who was ridden by Tyler Baze, sat just off a stout early pace early before accelerating away from the field turning for home. The 4-year-old son of champion Shanghai Bobby covered 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in a meet-best 1:42.48.
“It was very similar to his allowance win (at Fair Grounds) this winter,” said Forster, who trains Pirate’s Punch for an ownership group headed by Southern California resident and handicapper Phil Bongiovanni. “He’s just a really talented horse. He’s got so much speed that he ends up on the lead all the time, but he’s very ratable.”
Pirate’s Punch began his racing career in Southern California with trainer Bill Morey, competing against promising 2-year-olds like Gunmetal Gray, Rowayton, Dueling and Parsimony. Then with trainer Jeff Mullins, Pirate’s Punch broke his maiden for a $30,000 claiming tag July 6 at Ellis Park.
Forster said he received Pirate’s Punch last summer after Mullins was moving his Kentucky string to Southern California for the Del Mar meeting.
“It just worked out that Billy Morey, who bought the horse and trained the horse as a 2-year-old initially, is a good friend of mine,” Forster said. “He recommended me to the owners. It just worked out that I ran in a race at Ellis Park the same day that Pirate’s Punch broke his maiden and I got to meet the primary owner, Phil Bongiovanni, and we kind of hit it off. Very fortunate for me they elected to give the horse to me, and I just kind of got him at the right time. He had just broken his maiden and got a little confidence. He’s just been on an absolute straight upward trend ever since.”
In seven races for Forster, Pirate’s Punch has allowance victories by 8 ¾ lengths at Indiana Grand, 11 ½ lengths at Fair Grounds and five lengths at Oaklawn, run third in the $300,000 Super Derby (G3) at Louisiana Downs and $200,000 Mineshaft Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds and never finished worse than third.
Overall, Pirate’s Punch has a 4-2-3 record from 13 starts and earnings of $191,551. He is a half-brother to graded stakes winners Cocked and Loaded and Girvin, the latter a career earner of $1,624,392.
Oaklawn Press Release