The Pamplemousse

The name is French for "grapefruit," and it is a moniker you cannot forget. But there was more to The Pamplemousse than just his unique title.

His first two starts came sprinting, and he came out on the short end of the draw both times. Starting from the extreme outside in each meeting, The Pamplemousse did not have a good start on debut, but rallied impressively from way back to finish fourth after going six furlongs at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting. Moving down south to Hollywood Park for race number two, The Pamplemousse left the gate much better, taking third for a much improved effort going an extra half-furlong.

Aside from the bad post draws, the two races shared a common event: The Pamplemousse galloped out either alongside or past the leader both times. It seemed more distance would be to The Pamplemousse's liking, and his pedigree contained some routing ability. With that, he was entered in a one and one-sixteenth mile maiden special weight contest at Hollywood Park, and the third time proved to be the charm.

Stalking the leader, The Pamplemousse and Alex Solis (who was aboard for the debut before Martin Pedroza followed) got the lead and went on to win by a couple of lengths. Favored at just over even money, fans recognized that more distance might have been needed for graduation. They were proven right, and The Pamplemousse headed into the 2009 season no longer a maiden.

For his three-year-old debut, trainer Julio Canani sent the gray/roan son of Kafwain to the Grade III San Rafael Stakes a few weeks after that first win. A Kentucky Derby prep race, the San Rafael was a major step up from maiden special weight company. But it also signaled the connections saw something in The Pamplemousse. They saw some talent, and they believed he might handle the boost in class.

They were right.

After taking the lead early, The Pamplemousse turned away a rival at the top of the stretch and won handily, making his case as a Kentucky Derby hopeful. He only strengthened that next time out in the Grade III Sham Stakes in late February. Asked to go a mile and eighth after taking the eight and one-half furlong San Rafael, The Pamplemousse was in a class by himself. He did not just win the Sham, he romped in it. The margin of victory was six lengths, and that set The Pamplemousse up for a start in the Santa Anita Derby.

But, plans change quickly in Thoroughbred racing. Likely the post-time favorite for the Santa Anita Derby, The Pamplemousse was scratched from the Grade I on the morning of the race after a lesion was found on one of his tendons. Plans were made for him to run again at four years old, but they never came to fruition. After three wins in five starts, The Pamplemousse was retired in 2010.

A California-based stallion at Rancho San Miguel for several seasons, The Pamplemousse has sired North County Guy, winner of the 2021 Unusual Heat Turf Classic, and Thermondynamics, runner-up in the 2015 Melair Stakes. In 2018, he embarked on an equestrian career in Idaho. Instead of racing on tracks, his game changed to three-day eventing. Here is hoping for continued success.

Talking about The Pamplemousse, Julio Canani stated that he "had more raw ability than any horse I ever trained." His career was brief, but The Pamplemousse clearly made a lasting impression on the veteran horseman.

The Pamplemousse never got to show what he could do in classic races like the Kentucky Derby, but he will go down as one of the best three-year-olds in Southern California during the 2009 season.


lesion on his tendon. Wilson, Art. "Pamplemousse, Santa Anita Derby Favorite, Out For Year." Pasadena Star-News, April 6, 2009.

equestrian career in Idaho. Mitchell, Eric. "Career in Three-Day Eventing for The Pamplemousse.", January 31, 2018.

"had more raw ability..." Ibid.

Entry added March 14, 2021 by AF.