Trainer Todd Pletcher
his stable full of Kentucky Derby candidates have been the focus of
attention at Churchill Downs in this year’s run-up to the Run for the
Roses, and Monday morning was no different.
The four-time Eclipse Award winner had several
balls in the air on a gray and chilly morning and he was sorting them
out as best he could.
After having to withdraw the Derby favorite Eskendereya on Sunday morning because of injury, the conditioner took another of his horses – WinStar Farm’s Rule – out of the mix after the colt had jogged a mile Monday morning under Patti Barry.
“His last couple of works, he’s just seemed flat,”
the trainer said. “And we just can’t tell what it is. His blood tests
fine and he eats up, but he’s just not right. Maybe he needs more time.
It’s been six weeks since the Florida Derby (GI) (in which he ran
third) and you’d think that would be enough time, but maybe he needs
some more. We’ll take a pass with him on the Derby and consider the
Preakness. Maybe a change of scenery will help him. If he’s back doing
well in the next week or so, we’ll give the other race a look.”
Also on Monday, Pletcher sent the 3-year-old filly Devil May Care through a one-mile gallop under Horacio De Paz during the “Oaks/Derby only” time following the 8:30 renovation break, then conferred with owner John Greathouse of Glencrest Farm about
her status for either/or both the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. In
the end, it appears the multiple-stakes winning daughter of Malibu Moon
will become the first filly to run in the Derby since the ill-fated Eight Belles in 2008.
“Mr. Greathouse has indicated that his preference
is to enter and run her in the Kentucky Derby,” Pletcher said. “It is
likely – though not 100% sure -- we’ll enter her in the Derby only.
That’s what he wants to do; he’s aware of other people and their
wanting to run in the Oaks. I think I would have entered her in both
races (which is allowed under the rules) and considered our options,
but he wants her put in the Derby only.
“She’s an exceptional filly and we’ve thought all
along that she’d be especially well-suited by a distance of ground. The
fact that she’ll get that 5-pound sex allowance (fillies carry 121
pounds, male horses 126) doesn’t hurt, either.
“And I think the thing that put it over the top was the availability of John Velazquez for her for the race. That was probably the deciding factor.”
Velazquez had originally been earmarked for a ride aboard the Kentucky Derby favorite Eskendereya.
But when that colt was withdrawn from the race, Velazquez came open for
the Run for the Roses and Devil May Care had found a partner.
Also on the “maybe yes, maybe no” list for the barn this morning was Wertheimer and Frere’s Interactif, a Broken Vow colt with $307,950 in graded stakes earnings, but no wins in three starts this year.
Pletcher had said that he wanted to put the bay
through one last work to see where he thought he stood and had Barry
pilot him in the drill during the “Oaks/Derby only” time following the
renovation break with exercise rider Kevin Willey and the 3-year-old filly Collect The Fee
alongside as a workmate. The pair went through the half-mile drill with
Interactif starting out a length behind and finishing a length in front
in a final time of :47.60. The opening split for the colt was :23.80
and his “out” time – as in gallop out – was 1:01.80.
Rider Barry was properly impressed with the work.
“He surprised me,” she said back at Barn 38
afterward. “He really worked well. I was getting on him last winter,
but I haven’t been on him in a while and I was surprised by how well he
did. This was a good work for him this morning.”
Pletcher, too, liked the colt’s drill – he called
it “a very good work” – but still wasn’t sure that it was good enough
to put the horse in the field for the Derby.
“I’ll talk with the owners and we’ll make a decision tomorrow,” he said.
In the case of Pletcher’s three other Kentucky Derby candidates – Twin Creek Racing Stables’ Mission Impazible, WinStar Farm’s Super Saver and E. Paul Robsham Stables’ Discreetly Mine – it would appear all is a go where they are concerned following their Monday morning schedules.
Mission Impazible, an Unbridled’s Song colt who
won the Louisiana Derby (GII) in his last start, went out early under
exercise rider Willey and jogged a mile. Super Saver, a close second in
the Arkansas Derby (GI) in his latest effort, galloped a mile and one
quarter at 7:30, also for Willey. And Discreetly Mine, who has two
seconds and three thirds in eight starts – including a tally in the
Risen Star Stakes (GII) at Fair Grounds in February – only walked the
Entries for the Kentucky Oaks will be drawn
Tuesday. Kentucky Derby entries will be taken Wednesday at noon in a
blind draw starting shortly after 12 noon in Churchill Downs’