Photo: Eclipse Spotswire - Alex Evers
BLACK ONYX (No. 12) – Sterling Racing’s Black Onyx walked the shedrow at Barn 41 the morning after working a half-mile in :48.60. Exercise rider Aurelio Gomez
reported that the Spiral Stakes (Grade III)
winner came out of the work “good” and likely would return to the track
Monday during the portion of training hours dedicated to Derby and Oaks
contenders from 8:30 to 8:45 a.m. (all times Eastern).
CHARMING KITTEN (No. 19) / OVERANALYZE (No. 5) / PALACE MALICE (No. 13) / REVOLUTIONARY (No. 6) / VERRAZANO (No. 2) / WINNING CAUSE (No. 20) – Trainer Todd Pletcher
a much quieter morning Sunday after Saturday’s hustle and bustle in
which he worked five Derby candidates and four Oaks hopefuls on the
Churchill Downs strip.
Sunday, as a few light
showers danced in and out of the Louisville area, the conditioner sent
his Derby contingent back to the track for one-mile jogs under their
regular exercise riders. Heavy rains had been expected
to hit Saturday and then Sunday morning, but that proved to not be true,
which provided advantages.
“We were a bit surprised and
pleased by the weather and the condition of the track this morning,”
Pletcher said. “They both were better than we thought and that’s why we
went back out there with the horses.”
Jogging for the five-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Sunday were possible Derby favorite Verrazano, Louisiana Derby winner Revolutionary, Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze, Blue Grass Stakes
runner-up Palace Malice, Blue Grass Stakes third-place-finisher Charming Kitten and Lexington Stakes hero Winning Cause.
Winning Cause is slated to
work Monday, after which a final decision on his possible Kentucky Derby
status may become more clear.
The trainer indicated that his one-two finishers in Saturday night’s Derby Trial – Forty Tales and Capo Bastone – were “very unlikely” to be given Derby consideration.
“We’ll just play it by ear
now for the rest of the week,” Pletcher said. “Everybody is doing fine
and we’d like to keep it that way.”
CODE WEST (No. 21) / GOVENOR CHARLIE (No. 11) / POWER BROKER (No. 24) – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday that Power Broker was no longer a candidate for the Derby, that a decision on
Code West’s status will be made after he talks with owner Gary West about the colt’s breeze and that Govenor Charlie will work Monday morning.
Working in company with unbeaten Kentucky Oaks prospect Midnight Lucky, Code West completed five furlongs under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in 1:00.40. He turned in splits of :12.60, :24.80, :37 and
:48.80, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.60. The work time was the sixth fastest of 42 at the distance.
“He worked nice today,”
Baffert said. “He likes this track. He’s starting to do much better. He
had a setback; the second time I took him to Louisiana (finishing sixth
in the Louisiana Derby), he didn’t run well.
I was really disappointed in his run, but now it looks like he’s coming
“Our options are the Derby,
the Preakness, the Peter Pan. The Belmont has been the target for him.
I’m just going to sit down and talk with Gary West today after I worked
him and see what I thought. We’re going to
go over it. There’s no rush to judgment yet.”
Power Broker was a Grade I
winner as a 2-year-old last year, but has only made one start in 2013, a
well-beaten fifth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1).
“Power Broker is a nice
horse,” Baffert said. “He’s coming back and had that one out. Code West
and him are going to get better with age. Mr. West does not want to
compete unless he has a chance to win the race.
He wants to be right there. That’s what you have to look at. Just
leading them up there to be part of it, is not how he rolls. He wants to
be competitive. When they turn for home, we want to be able to root.
“By the summer, they’re going to be really good horses.”
Governor Charlie has not breeezed since April 11 and was examined by Dr. Larry Bramlage after he was found to have a foot bruise and some soreness in his hind end. The Sunland Derby (GIII) winner
has been given a clean bill of health, but Baffert has been careful not to push him.
know more tomorrow,” Baffert said. “It was a nice track today and we
let Govenor Charlie gallop a little bit. I just want to monitor
him really well. If not here, he’ll go to the Preakness. You can’t have a
hiccup and we had a little hiccup with him. I just want to see how he
went. He looked good today, but there is no rush in making that call
However, Baffert said experience tells him to be cautious with Derby candidates.
“Govenor Charlie’s last out
was pretty impressive,” he said. “It’s a shame that we had that little
setback with him. He looks really good now, but I’m a little tight for
time and I don’t want to press him. Everything
has got to go smooth. Every time I’ve come with these Derby horses, you
can’t miss a beat. It’s one of those things where I let the horse tell
FALLING SKY (No. 18) – Newtown Anner Stud, James Covello and Joseph Bulger’s Falling Sky walked the shedrow of Barn 36 at Churchill Downs Sunday morning two days after turning in a five-furlong
“bullet” breeze in :59.60. The John Terranova-trained colt had returned to the track on Saturday for a mile gallop on the morning after his breeze.
do that with certain horses. It depends on the horse,” Terranova said.
“With the weather situation here, we weren’t sure there wasn’t going to
be a washout today, so we decided Sunday was
going to be a day off. Originally, we had planned on breezing Saturday,
so it would have been that way anyway.”
Falling Sky, who
captured the Sam F. Davis (GIII) at Tampa Bay Downs with a front-running
performance, is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby
(GI), in which he set a pressured pace. The
son of Lion Heart is expected to be forwardly placed in Saturday’s
“I’d just like to
see him comfortable wherever he’s going to be, whether it’s on the lead
or close. Knowing him, he’s going to be forwardly placed. There’s no
getting around that fact,” Terranova said.
Falling Sky does not need the lead to run his best race, Terranova said.
“Obviously, he has
that natural speed to him, but I don’t think he’s a rank type of horse.
He’s never shown us he’s been a rank-type speed. He’s been able to
relax on the lead.
FRAC DADDY (No. 15) / JAVA’S WAR (No. 4) – Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Frac Daddy and Charles Fipke’s Java’s War walked the shedrow at trainer Ken McPeek’s Barn 6 the morning after their final
official works in advance of the Kentucky Derby.
“Everything’s in order,” assistant trainer Phil Bauer said. “We got through another day. We’re one day closer and everybody looks good this morning.”
Frac Daddy and Java’s War are expected to return to the track Monday during the Derby and Oaks training session.
GOLDENCENTS (No. 3) – Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Goldencents got
his first feel for the Churchill Downs strip Sunday when he jogged a
mile during the designated Derby/Oaks training period following the
renovation break at the big oval.
Trainer Doug O’Neill was
on hand for the exercise and indicated he has no special plans for his
bay colt coming up to his date with destiny Saturday in the 139th Kentucky Derby.
“We’ll just keep him going
forward and try to keep him happy,” O’Neill said. “He’s done his
training and we’re happy right now.”
O’Neill gave the son of Into
Mischief a final six-furlong work last Thursday at Santa Anita, a drill
in which he was asked to accelerate late in anticipation of the extra
furlong he’ll have to run beyond his nine-furlong
Santa Anita victory. Though the final time of the work – 1:16.20 -- was
nothing exceptional, it was just what the barn ordered in that he
covered his final three furlongs in :36. His connections are convinced
he’ll be able to finish well Saturday.
O’Neill flies the “Team
O’Neill” banner when he goes on the road now and he comes with a posse
attached. He’s assembled a 15-horse stable at Churchill and brought a
party of 10 to work with them, led by his longtime
assistant Leandro Mora and his current riding go-to-guy, Kevin Krigger.
But the focus remains on Goldencents and a possible double-up following the stable’s rousing victory with I’ll Have Another in last year’s Derby.
“We’ll take him to
the gate one time during the week and we’ll take him to the paddock,
too,” O’Neill said. “But otherwise we really aren’t going to do anything
special with him. We think he’s good to go.”
GOLDEN SOUL (No. 23) – Trainer Dallas Stewart remained hopeful Sunday that Golden Soul, the fourth-place finisher in the Louisiana Derby (GII), would be able to draw into the body of the Kentucky Derby
field. The colt ranks 23rd on the Derby
leaderboard, and though it appeared Sunday that defections are possible
and Golden Soul might reach the top 20, Stewart didn’t want to talk
about such matters.
“It’s Sunday we
don’t enter till Wednesday,’’ Stewart said. “We don’t make no
predictions. We’ll just be ready if we get the chance.’’
If Golden Soul gets into the race, Stewart would be participating in his third Derby as a head trainer. Kimberlite Pipe finished sixth for Stewart in 1996, 2 ¾ lengths behind winner Charismatic.
Stewart’s other starter was Dollar Bill, who finished 15th in 2001.
“Kimberlite Pipe ran well,’’ Stewart said. “Dollar Bill got in some trouble. Charismatic won that year,’’
As an assistant for D. Wayne Lukas, Stewart played a part in Derby victories by Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (1995) and Grindstone (1996).
Golden Soul jogged Sunday in his first day back on the track after working Friday.
ITSMYLUCKYDAY (No. 10) – Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa’s Itsmyluckyday made
his first visit to the Churchill Downs racetrack Sunday morning after
arriving by van from his Calder Race Course home on Saturday.
The Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (GIII) victor galloped once
around the track under exercise rider Peter Shelton.
“We took him out
early. He goes out early at home, so we didn’t want to take him out late
today and have him get all worked up in his stall,” Shelton said.
The Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained son of Lawyer Ron showed no signs of fatigue from the 18-hour van ride from his South Florida base.
“He was bouncing
this morning. When I went to pull him up, he didn’t want to stop,” said
Shelton, who has worked for Plesa for 14 years.
Assistant trainer Frankie Perez, who has worked for Plesa for 20 years, oversaw Itsmyluckyday’s morning exercise.
“Eddie’s a great
person to work for. He’s a great trainer. He’s very good to his help and
to his horses,” said Perez, who reported that Plesa is scheduled to
arrive in Louisville on Monday.
Perez has been involved with two previous Kentucky Derby starters, the Frank Brothers-trained Dansil, who finished fourth in 1989, and Plesa-trained Three Ring, a filly who finished 19th
against the boys after steadying sharply.
“This is very
exciting. The other two horses have a place in my heart, and this horse
is very special,” Perez said. “He does everything right; he’s very
sweet. I say, ‘He’s the perfect horse that everyone
wishes to have.’ ”
MYLUTE (No. 16) – Gold Mark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm’s Mylute walked the shedrow at Barn 29 one morning after his final Derby tune up – an easy half-mile move in :50.60 for Tom Amoss.
“To use trainer
parlance, ‘It was just what we wanted,’ ” Amoss said, knowingly
employing one of the greatest hits from the Trainer Interview Clichés
catalog. “It was just an easy work. Tomorrow he’s going
to jog, maybe make a trip to the paddock. He’ll just gallop into the
race with probably a day of schooling in the starting gate, probably
Thursday during the races.”
Amoss showed off the handsome Midnight Lute colt while emphasizing that he could not be doing better coming into the Derby.
“He’s got a lot of
body to him and he’s just a pretty horse,” Amoss said. “Most people
don’t realize he’s gray because he’s so dark.”
The Louisiana Derby (GII) runner-up will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik, racing’s current breakout star, who will be featured in a 60 Minutes
profile airing tonight at 7 o’clock EDT. Napravnik
was aboard Mylute for a 10-plus-length allowance win at Fair Grounds in
December but was otherwise committed for both of his starts in 2013,
when he was piloted by Shaun Bridgmohan.
“Rosie rode Mylute
to his most recent win,” Amoss said. “Shaun did nothing wrong; the
ownership just decided that Rosie would be the right pilot.”
hoping for a juicy price on a live longshot, though, should anticipate
the horse being bet down by Napravnik’s growing fanbase,
especially in light of her recent mainstream media attention, including a
New York Times Magazine profile. The first time Rosie had a Derby mount, aboard Pants
On Fire in 2011, she went off as the 8-1 second choice despite a 20-1 morning line.
“I think the ‘Rosie Effect’ puts Mylute somewhere around 15-1 instead of the 25-1 or 30-1 he should be,” Amoss said.
NORMANDY INVASION (No. 14) – Walking and grazing were the order of business Sunday for Fox Hill Farms’ Wood Memorial (GI) runner-up Normandy Invasion.
The Tapit colt had a typical light day after working five furlongs in :59 Saturday.
“He came out of his breeze bouncing around. I’m real happy,” trainer Chad Brown said. “We walked him for about 40 minutes in the shedrow and then got him out there on the grass for a half-hour. He’s
full of himself, so I’m real happy how he took his breeze.”
Brown said the colt will trot on the track Monday morning.
ORB (No. 1) – Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb galloped 1½ miles under exercise rider Jennifer Patterson Sunday morning at Churchill Downs.
“He was the most
settled he’s been. He just stood quietly and took everything in. He
galloped around there with his head down, happy – still bucking and
playing, but happy,” Patterson said.
The Shug McGaughey-trained
Fountain of Youth (GII) and Florida Derby (GI) winner wintered in the
country setting at Payson Park in Indiantown, Fla.
“Everything was so
quiet there, especially at the end when absolutely nothing was going
on,” Patterson said. “Coming from Payson to here … To be honest, he’s
handled it really well, but today was the first
day, he was just happy to stand and look around. When he galloped, he
was relaxed going to the pole.”
Orb is scheduled to breeze on Monday morning.
“I was glad today was such a relaxing day,” Patterson said.
OXBOW (No. 17)/WILL TAKE CHARGE (No. 9) – OXBOW/WILL TAKE CHARGE – Oxbow, under exercise rider Rudy Quevedo, and Will Take Charge, with exercise rider Taylor Carty aboard, jogged
Sunday morning and are set for workouts Monday, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.
“They had four solid gallop days; I gave them a jog day to just freshen them a little bit,’’ said Lukas, who trains Oxbow for Calumet Farm and Will Take Charge for Willis Horton.
Jockey Gary Stevens,
who was riding Oxbow for the first time when he finished fifth in the
Arkansas Derby (GI), will work him, and Quevedo will work Will Take
Charge, Lukas said.
“I don’t care for
the jocks to work horses,’’ he said. “Oxbow, it’s not for me. It’s for
Gary. I’m letting him try to get to know him a little better. I don’t to
have the jocks work them. It’s like giving
them a Ferrari and telling them to go out on the interstate here and
don’t go over 40.’’
Lukas said that
during the training time reserved for Derby and Oaks horses, he looks at
the competition, but he declined to comment on specific rivals.
“I see four or
five horses I think are really legit, and there’re some pretenders, like
every year,’’ Lukas said. “I wouldn’t offend any of these guys. I get
along with all of them.’’
Looking at the
other horses has on impact on strategy, he said. “What they’ve done in
the past, they’ll do Saturday,’’ he said. “Everybody talks about, ‘Well,
we’re going to do this. We’re going to do that.’
But they’ll be doing what they’ve been doing all along. Don’t worry.’’
It was raining off
and on Sunday. Although Will Take Charge lost by 18 lengths in the
Southwest (GIII) on a sloppy track at Oaklawn Park, Lukas said he
doesn’t think a wet track would hamper him.
“I think he
stumbled, got away bad that day. He wears blinkers. He got all that slop
in his face and everything, and I think he wasn’t seasoned enough to
maybe handle it. Don’t worry. He’s an Unbridled’s
Song, and they usually handle wet. I hope it’s dry, obviously.’’
“Oxbow doesn’t care – crushed glass, Coke bottles broke up, sawdust – he’ll run on anything.’’
VYJACK (No. 8) – Pick Six Racing’s Gotham (GIII) winner Vyjack had some light exercise and visited the paddock and starting gate under trainer Rudy Rodriguez Sunday morning.
The gelding worked Friday, walked Saturday and entered Derby week with another non-taxing morning.
“A little jogging, a little schooling and freshening him up a little bit,” Rodriguez said.
Vyjack spent very little time on the track during the period reserved for Derby and Oaks horses at 8:30 a.m.
“I jogged to the gap and
stood him there for a little bit, took him to the paddock and walked
around there a few times,” Rodriguez said. “He looked like he was happy
and enjoying himself. He came out of there feeling
good. Then I took him to the gate. He stood there then they backed him
up and put him back in. Everything was very good.”
Rodriguez said all the pre-Derby preparations are going smoothly.
“So far, so good,” he said. “I wish the race was tomorrow.”