Papi’s Back in Town

Papi Chullo being groomed prior to the 2007 Whitney (Banamine)

GbG sentimental fav Papi Chullo is back in New York and running in the first at Aqueduct tomorrow, a starter handicap at 1 1/8 on the dirt.

I first became of aware of Papi Chullo in his eye popping victory in the Birdstone on Belmont day last year where he dominated a classy field including Hesanoldsalt and AP Arrow. Apparently I’m not the only one who noticed him as IEAH bought in to him not too long after that.

After his emphatic win in the Birdstone, the next stop was the G1 Whitney. His new trainer, Gary Contessa, had just won the Belmont training title and it seemed that Papi Chullo had finally found the right fit with his new connections. Papi had definitely been around the block and back by the time he made his way to Contessa’s Winning Move Stables.

Papi Chullo, 5, came into Contessa’s barn in a unique way. Following a last-place finish in the Oaklawn Handicap, Papi Chullo was put up for sale in an auction-type format.

“A guy tells us whoever makes the best offer by Wednesday gets him, and he gave us a fax number where to send the offer,” said Contessa, whose owner Steve Sigler made the offer. “We made an offer and on a Wednesday we got a call that we got him.”

In mid-April, Papi Chullo vanned from Oaklawn Park to Contessa’s Aqueduct stable. Contessa found a third-level allowance on May 4 at Belmont Park and told Sigler that though the horse had trained well, “don’t be surprised if he’s second or third.”

The race scratched down to four horses and Papi Chullo rolled to a 7 1/4-length victory, running 1 1/16 miles in 1:39.89, just missing the track record of 1:39.51.

After the race, Contessa told Sigler, “We got us a racehorse here, boy.”

It was not to be in the Whitney as he finished 9 out of 11. His next out was the Iselin at Monmouth where he didn’t fare much better. Not too long after the Iselin he was taken out of training with an injury. While I remember it happening I can’t track down any details on it other than Dan Ilman’s excellent disabled list, which has it listed as “bleeding” on 10/02/2007.

On October 21st of this year, he made his return in $16k claimer at Delaware park and he was in for a tag. I cringed when I noticed and was hesitant to look at the results after the fact. I was relieved to find out that he won AND he wasn’t claimed. In my quest for info on Papi’s post-Iselin injury I did find this convo by Papi Chullo fans at They’re weren’t as jazzed about his comeback win as I was.

Best of luck to Papi Chullo tomorrow, here’s hoping the 6yo horse still has some race some in him… Nostradana believes he does.

Update: Papi didn’t do so hot, saved ground nicely but couldn’t make a run of it. Fingers crossed that he’s not tossed back in for a tag.