Kentucky Derby contender profile: Ete Indien
The transformation of Ete Indien, from a modest grass runner into a full-fledged dirt star was completed Feb. 29, when the improving colt landed a blowout victory in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
Such a victory would have been hard to imagine in September, when Ete Indien debuted in a 5-furlong turf sprint at Gulfstream, where he rallied to win by a neck. As a son of the graded stakes-winning turf miler Summer Front, out of a mare by Mizzen Mast—the sire of two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Mizdirection and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) champion Flotilla—Ete Indien is bred top and bottom to excel on grass, and his maiden win suggested the colt found his calling on the lawn.
But following a modest eighth-place effort in the 1 1/16-mile Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland, trainer Patrick Biancone elected to try Ete Indien on dirt. The result? An easy, 2 1/2-length victory in a 1-mile allowance race at Gulfstream.
Ete Indien showed a new dimension, vied for the lead through quick fractions, and he proved his dirt debut was no fluke when he returned to finish second in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull (G3), when he was beaten three lengths by early Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite Tiz the Law.
The connections of Tiz the Law chose to skip the Fountain of Youth, which left Ete Indien to dominate the 1 1/16-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race. With bold, frontrunning tactics from an outside post, Ete Indien carved out a quick pace and pulled away easily in the homestretch to score by 8 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:43.02.
Bred by Robert Tillyer and Eric Buckley, Ete Indien sold for $80,000 as a yearling before he traveled to France, where Biancone purchased the colt as a 2-year-old for $269,640. This acquisition returned Ete Indien to the U.S., where he now races for a partnership that includes of Biancone, Linda Shanahan, Sanford Bacon, Dream With Me Stable, Horse France America, and DP Racing.
There are still plenty of questions for Ete Indien to answer. He has the pedigree of a miler, so it’s unclear whether he’ll thrive when asked to negotiate classic distances.
But winning the Fountain of Youth secured Ete Indien 50 qualification points toward the 2020 Kentucky Derby, which virtually guarantees the colt a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate on the first Saturday in May. And with his large ownership group, the winner’s circle will be crowded if Ete Indien claims the roses.