By Michael Adolphson @AdolphsonRacing
Gunnevera did not exactly burst onto the scene when he dismantled nine other Fountain of Youth (G2) rivals March 4 at Gulfstream Park. As a multiple graded stakes winner, the son of Dialed In was already respected. He has earned his credibility with repeated top performances against the best of his generation.
Still, when the chestnut colt became the punch line, barreling past multiple grade 1 winner Practical Joke and galloping on to a nearly six-length victory, trainer Antonio Sano’s faith was justified in the horse he adores and has developed with precision.
“I really enjoy this horse,” Sano said. “He is very talented and came out very good from the race. We are going to run in the Florida Derby (G1) next and if everything goes well, we will go straight to Kentucky after that. I actually thought about going straight to the (Kentucky) Derby, but the horse is doing really well. The race is here, it’s a million dollars, and there is no reason not to run.”
A racing legend in his native country of Venezuela, with 3,338 wins and hailing from a successful lineage of trainers, Sano fled his turbulent homeland after being kidnapped for 36 horrific days in 2009. Moving first to Italy, he then decided Miami was where he wanted to restart his life and career seven years ago. Now he is on the verge of living the dream as he marches toward America’s greatest race with a serious player.
Gunnevera working with Edgard Zayas at Gulfstream Park West