The colt is the namesake of "a retired car dealer from (New) Jersey," who is the father of his owner's best friend. He is Pappa Riccio, likely to be favored in today's 60th Laurel Futurity.
Ten other starters round out the field of 2-year-olds who will run the 1 1/16th-mile race that usually showcases next spring's Derby colts. Post time for the feature event will be 3:50 p.m.
Copelan, the season's top 2-year-old, is not in the race, which could be a boon to Pappa Riccio. Trained by Reynaldo Nobles, the chestnut son of Nashua finished second to Copelan in the Champagne Stakes earlier this month.
"No excuses for that race," said Nobles yesterday, watching his colt gallop. "He's ready now. Anything you want him to do, he'll do it. Easy to train. I wish all my horses were that easy."
In nine starts this year, Pappa Riccio has won four and finished in the money seven times for $141,876. A victory today could add $145,292, the winner's share of the $249,655 purse.
But Nobles knows his colt won't go unchallenged. Trainer LeRoy Jolley has an entry, White Birch and Primitive Pleasure, a son of 1975 Laurel Futurity winner Honest Pleasure.
Angel Cordero Jr. will ride White Birch, who had a rocky start and wound up sixth in the Champagne, and Jack Kaenel will handle the lightly raced Primitive Pleasure.
Should that colt win, all the joshing about Jolley's doubling pleasures could turn serious. He and his mother Dorothy Jolley bred Primitive Pleasure, who was sold at auction for $90,000 to Wall Street financier Charles Harris. Harris promptly turned the colt's training over to Jolley.
Jolley calls him "a nice, tough horse, who I think has a chance to improve and run well."
But Sunny's Halo, a blaze-faced chestnut from Canada who is one of seven supplemental entrants, is the most seasoned of the field. Trained by David Cross, he has won six of nine starts, earning $235,829 and finishing out of the money only once, in the Sanford at Saratoga.
Sunny's Halo has also won at 1 1/16 miles, and two weeks ago ran to a six-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Grade I Coronation Futurity at Woodbine. Both victories were on sloppy tracks.
Other entrants are the Greentree Stable's Cast Party, ridden by Jorge Velasquez; Two Davids, who has won his last three starts; Pax In Bello, trained by Steve Jerkens and ridden by Ruben Hernandez; Current Hope, ridden by Jeffrey Fell; Gaylord's Carousel and King's Corsair, both Maryland-breds, and Dixieland Band, a Northern Dancer colt who has raced just twice.