Plus Que Parfait

April 30, 2019

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Plus Que Parfait More Than Perfect for Breeders

By Peter Lee

If Plus Que Parfait brings home the roses on Saturday, it will be a boost to what Tyler Alexander and Clint Joiner call “the smallest broodmare operation in the world.”

Calloway Stables is the result of a dream Alexander and Joiner had of being in the horse business. Friends since they were children living in Tennessee, the two formed the partnership and bred Plus Que Parfait, who won the UAE Derby and a trip to the Kentucky Derby.

For the two friends, the colt couldn’t have come at a better time. They had bought Plus Que Parfait’s dam, Belvedera, at a 2014 Keeneland sale. “We wanted to search for value, and we wanted to have a broodmare that was in foal to a commercial sire,” Joiner said. They opted with Belvedera, a mare who had raced only once but had good bloodlines, including her sire, Awesome Again, and Arts and Letters on her dam’s side.

Belvedera was in foal to 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned. They had one other broodmare who was in foal to Cairo Prince, but the mare died of bacterial meningitis – a rare disease. “It just makes us sick every time we think about it,” Joiner said.

They were down to one mare and one foal. But one other advantage of buying Belvedera was that it also included a breeding session with multiple Grade I stakes winner Point of Entry. The resulting foal was Plus Que Parfait.

Alexander said Plus Que Parfait was a “very engaging foal,” which had a lot to do with Belvedera, who had a calming influence on him. He spent a lot of his early days in the paddock, which strengthened his bones and seasoned him.

Alexander and Joiner eventually sold the yearling, and the colt, later named Plus Que Parfait (French for “more than perfect”), broke his maiden after three tries, defeating top colts such as Cutting Humor and Harvey Wallbanger. He finished second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes to Signalman, earning four points toward the Kentucky Derby.

His 3-year-old season did not start out well; he finished 5th in the Lecomte Stakes and 13th in the Risen Star Stakes, both won by fellow Derby entrant War of Will. But he bounced back in the UAE Derby, making a bold move to the inside on the homestretch to overtake the front-runners and win by 3/4 of a length.

The victory earned him an easy 100 points to the Kentucky Derby, and for a while, Plus Que Parfait was all alone atop the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.

Alexander and Joiner are hoping for a good post position. They believe Plus Que Parfait will rate around the middle of the pack, getting a ground-saving run toward the inside, and then make his  move around the far turn. “We wouldn’t mind if it’s a sloppy track,” Alexander said. Plus Que Parfait’s second-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes was in the mud.

At odds of greater than 30-1, a win by the horse will prove to be an upset over the slate of contenders, but this year’s Derby is anyone’s guess. “We are absolutely trying to cherish every moment of it,” Joiner said.

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