The countdown is on to the 136th edition of the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 1, and trainer Todd Pletcher had three colts from his all-star team working a half-mile Sunday morning at Palm Meadows.
Last-out Louisiana Derby (G2) hero MISSION IMPAZIBLE (Unbridled's Song) traveled a half-mile in :49 1/5, while Risen Star S. (G2) victor DISCREETLY MINE (Mineshaft) covered four furlongs in :51. Multiple Grade 3 scorer RULE (Roman Ruler), most recently third in the Florida Derby (G1), breezed a half in :49 4/5.
All three have solid credentials and appear assured of a berth in the Derby with sufficient graded stakes earnings, but Pletcher also trains the likely favorite in Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway), brilliant winner of the Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park on February 20 and Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct on April 3.
Eskendereya has won all three of his starts this year, scoring in a one-mile allowance at Gulfstream on January 7 before the Fountain of Youth, with regular rider John Velazquez aboard for all three. The chestnut was returned to Palm Meadows after the Wood and tentative plans call for him to work next Sunday before shipping to Kentucky on April 20.
While the three Pletcher-trained colts had relatively easy breezes Sunday morning it was Grade 1 queen DEVIL MAY CARE (Malibu Moon) who earned the bullet for a half-mile in :47 2/5 as the trainer keeps her on edge for her date in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill on April 30. The bay filly added the Bonnie Miss S. (G2) to her resume last out.
Pletcher had three other Derby hopefuls who raced Saturday with mixed results. Grade 2 winner SUPER SAVER (Maria's Mon) ran a big race to finish second by a neck in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park, but dual Grade 3 victor INTERACTIF (Broken Vow) and multiple Grade 1-placed AIKENITE (Yes It's True) checked in fourth and eighth, respectively, in the $750,000 Blue Grass S. (G1) at Keeneland.