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Odysseus, Aikenite settle in at Keeneland in advance of Blue Grass
From Keeneland's notes:
Tampa Bay Derby (G3) winner ODYSSEUS (Malibu Moon) and multiple Grade 1-placed AIKENITE (Yes It's True) arrived at Keeneland Sunday afternoon, six days ahead of their clash in Saturday's Blue Grass S. (G1). Both had wintered at Palm Meadows in South Florida.
Padua Stables' Odysseus wasted little time Monday morning getting acquainted with the Keeneland racing surface. With assistant trainer Dan Blacker up, Odysseus went to the track around 7:30 a.m. (EDT). He jogged a mile and then stood near the paddock runway for a few minutes taking in all the morning's activities before a leisurely 1 1/2-mile gallop.
Looking on was jockey Rajiv Maragh, who has been aboard Odysseus in all four of his starts that include victories in his past three starts. Odysseus is trained by Tom Albertrani, who is expected to arrive in Lexington, Kentucky, on Wednesday.
"I got on him the first day he arrived at Saratoga," said Blacker, who has been with Odysseus since the chestnut arrived in the barn last summer. "He's got a lot of class about him and a great feel. The owners are very high on him."
Odysseus ran second in his first start last October at Aqueduct and then broke his maiden on January 14 at Gulfstream Park. He exploded onto the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail with a 15-length victory in allowance/optional claiming company at Tampa Bay Downs on February 17 in his first start around two turns, and followed that with a narrow victory in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 13.
Odysseus has had two works since the Tampa Bay Derby victory, the final one coming last Wednesday when he turned in a five-furlong move in 1:01 2/5 at Palm Meadows. Blacker said that Odysseus would have a paddock schooling session this week as he prepares for his racing debut on an all-weather surface.
"He trained and breezed on the all-weather last spring at the sale in Ocala," Blacker said.
Dogwood Stable's Aikenite shipped to Keeneland with five other horses trained by Todd Pletcher. On Monday morning, he galloped about a mile on the main track with exercise rider Melvin Hernandez aboard. Aikenite had already turned in his final work for the Blue Grass at Palm Meadows on Saturday, covering five furlongs in 1:02 1/5.
Aikenite, who ran second to Noble's Promise (Cuvee) in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) here last October, enters the Blue Grass off a third-place finish to stablemate Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway) in the February 20 Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
"It made sense from the very beginning," Dogwood's Cot Campbell said about racing Aikenite in the Blue Grass. "The distance (1 1/8 miles) was right. He'd been on this racetrack and run well on it, so there was no doubt about what we were going to do. So here we are."
Aikenite's connections already have victories in the Blue Grass. Dogwood won the race in 1990 with Summer Squall, who went on to finish second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and later captured the Preakness S. (G1). Pletcher won the race in 2005 with Bandini and in 2008 with Monba. Jockey Garrett Gomez won the race in 2006 with Sinister Minister.
Pletcher was expected at Keeneland on Monday for the April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale. His Keeneland assistant is Ginny DePasquale, who returned to the United States on April 1 from accompanying multiple Grade 1 winner Take the Points (Even the Score) to Dubai, where he finished fifth in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-G1) on March 27.
In other Blue Grass news:
Palm Beach S. (G3) hero PADDY O'PRADO (El Prado [Ire]) jogged two miles under Mary Doser at 6:30 on Monday morning.
Florida Derby (G1) runner-up PLEASANT PRINCE (Indy King) jogged a mile under Brian Pena at 9:45, one day after working five furlongs in a bullet :58 2/5.
Grade 3-placed CODOY (Bernstein) jogged twice around the Keeneland Training Track with exercise rider Mimi Davis aboard.
Multiple Grade 1-placed MAKE MUSIC FOR ME (Bernstein), who drilled six furlongs in a bullet 1:13 on Sunday morning at Hollywood Park, is scheduled to arrive at Keeneland on Tuesday. The Alexis Barba trainee came home fourth in the Breeders' Futurity last fall, and most recently broke his maiden in the Pasadena S. on Santa Anita's turf.