Kentucky Derby 2020: King Guillermo impresses at Churchill

Kentucky Derby 2020: King Guillermo impresses at Churchill
Photo: Coady Photography

The action beneath the Twin Spires for the Kentucky Derby ramped up Saturday morning as Victoria’s Ranch’s King Guillermo posted a bullet five-furlong move in :59.40 – the fastest of 46 horses at the distance.

King Guillermo, trained by Juan Avila and owned by former Major League Baseball five-time All-Star Victor Martinez, worked at 7:30 a.m. (all times EDT) with jockey Miguel Mena aboard through splits of :24.40, :36.80, and :48 prior to galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.

The workout did not necessarily go as scripted with several horses completing their works in front of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby runner-up. As he neared the wire, Mena had to navigate King Guillermo through a trio of slowing horses and directed the colt from the rail to the far outside and continued galloping out around the clubhouse turn.

“He was working really fast at the wire and he wanted to continue going around the turn,” Mena said. “He went super easy over the ground and it was fun breezing him. He’s a naturally fast horse.”

Avila’s Churchill Downs-based team watched from the backstretch and couldn’t be more pleased following the move.

“He really likes it in Kentucky,” Avila’s exercise rider Edgar Medina said. “Since we got here, he keeps doing better and better. Who knows what the future can hold for him?”

Avila is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs next week and Florida-based jockey Samy Camacho is slated to ride King Guillermo in the Kentucky Derby.

King Guillermo wasn’t the only horse preparing on Saturday morning for Kentucky Derby Week. Trainer Brad Cox breezed his Kentucky Oaks hope Shedaresthedevil five furlongs in 1:00.20. Cox had a new workmate at Churchill Downs for the Indiana Oaks (G3) winner in 2018 champion filly and Kentucky Oaks winner Monomoy Girl.

The duo, with Shedaresthedevil on the inside, worked through fractions of :23.80 and :47.40 and continued to gallop out together to the backstretch. Monomoy Girl is a likely entrant to the $500,000 La Troienne (G1) on the undercard of the Kentucky Oaks.

“Both of these horses worked really well this morning,” Cox said. “I thought it was a great workout pairing and Shedaresthedevil did well against Monomoy.”

The Cox barn flooded the Saturday work tab with graded stakes winners, including Arklow and Mr. Misunderstood (four furlongs, :48); Break Even (four furlongs, :49.20); Factor This (four furlongs :49.20); Juliet Foxtrot (four furlongs, :48.80) and Warrior’s Charge (five furlongs, 1:00.40).

Also Saturday morning, George Hall and SportBLX Thoroughbred’s Travers Stakes (G1) third-place finisher Max Player made his second appearance at Churchill Downs for a routine gallop under the care of new trainer Steve Asmussen. The colt, who previously ran for the barn of New York-based trainer Linda Rice, was transferred following the Travers and shipped to Asmussen’s Churchill string soon thereafter. Asmussen’s local assistant Ronnie Werner is helping to oversee the colt.

Kentucky Derby Field Rundown – There is one race remaining on the Road to the Kentucky Derby: Saturday’s $150,000 Pegasus at Monmouth Park. The race will award the top four finishers points on a 20-8-4-2 scale.

The following is the current preference list for the maximum 20-horse Kentucky Derby (with jockey): Tiz the Law (Manny Franco); Art Collector (Brian Hernandez Jr.); Honor A.P. (Mike Smith); Ny Traffic (TBD); King Guillermo (Samy Camacho); Thousand Words (Florent Geroux); Dr Post (TBD); Max Player (TBD); Caracaro (TBD); Enforceable (TBD); Swiss Skydiver (TBD); Rushie (TBD); Major Fed (James Graham); Storm the Court (TBD): Attachment Rate (Joe Talamo); Sole Volante (Luca Panici); Finnick the Fierce (TBD); Pneumatic (TBD); and Winning Impression (Joe Rocco Jr.).

Currently outside the Top 20: Necker Island (Mitchell Murrill); As Seen On TV (TBD); Jesus’ Team (TBD); Kiss Today Goodbye (TBD); Big City Bob (TBD); Shirl’s Speight (Rafael Hernandez); Super John (TBD); Happy Saver (TBD); Money Moves (TBD); Skyscanner (TBD); Arkaan (TBD); and Wartime Hero (TBD).

Derby Week Stakes Noms Due Saturday – Nominations for all Kentucky Derby Week stakes races and the late closing to the Kentucky Oaks and $1 million Turf Classic (G1) are due Saturday.

This year’s Kentucky Derby Week, which will span Sept. 1-5, will include 18 stakes events worth $9.85 million. The spectacular week of racing will include 14 graded stakes events, including five Grade 1 races that will be headlined by the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, Sept. 5 and Kentucky Oaks on Friday, Sept. 4.

Late nominations to the Kentucky Oaks and Turf Classic cost $500. The Kentucky Oaks had 120 nominations as of the first closing Feb. 15 while the Turf Classic had 57 nominations.

Nominations can be made by calling the Churchill Downs racing office at 502-638-3825 or online: https://www.churchilldowns.com/horsemen/stakes/nomination-forms/.

Down the Stretch – John Oxley’s Blue Grass Stakes (G2) fourth-place finisher Enforceable is scheduled to work from the starting gate Monday at 7:30 a.m., according to trainer Mark Casse’s assistant David Carroll. … Other Kentucky Derby horses based at Churchill Downs include Ellis Park Derby runner-up Attachment Rate, Indiana Derby (G3) runner-up Major Fed, Arkansas Derby third-place finisher Winning Impression and former $100,000 claim Necker Island. All four horses are expected to have two works prior to the first Saturday in September. … Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz the Law is currently scheduled to arrive in Louisville from New York on Aug. 31. … California-based Kentucky Derby contenders are expected to arrive Aug. 25 or Sept. 1. Among those contenders would be Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Honor A. P., and trainer Bob Baffert’s duo of Haskell (G1) winner Authentic and Shared Belief Stakes hero Thousand Words. … The first day of the exclusive training period for Kentucky Derby and Oaks horses at Churchill Downs will be Saturday, Aug. 22 from 7:30-7:45 a.m.

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