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Louisiana Derby contenders turn in works
Todd Pletcher sent his candidates for Saturday's Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, Revolutionary and Palace Malice, out for works at his Palm Meadows base on Sunday morning.
Revolutionary, last seen landing the Grade 3 Withers in his stakes debut February 2, sped a half-mile in :48 1/5 on the fast main track. The War Pass colt worked in company with multiple Grade 2 scorer Overanalyze, who also clocked :48 1/5.
"I thought he went super -- he was well in hand," Pletcher said of Revolutionary. "He's coming up to the race in good order."
Palace Malice, beaten just a half-length in third in the Grade 2 Risen Star on February 23, drilled five furlongs in 1:00 4/5. He went in tandem with champion Shanghai Bobby, who recorded the same time ahead of his tilt at Saturday's Grade 1 Florida Derby.
"I thought Palace Malice worked super, finished up great and galloped out strong," Pletcher said. "It seems like he's been doing really well since the Risen Star. I'd say he's improving, but he's always trained really well and we've had really high hopes for him and he has performed."
At Santa Anita, Risen Star runner-up Code West worked five-eighths for Bob Baffert in company with stablemate Del Mar Sunset. Code West completed his move on the fast main track in 1:00 1/5, while Del Mar Sunset was clocked in 1:00 2/5 with jockey Erick Lopez up .
Departing and Mylute tuned up at Fair Grounds, six days in advance of their clash in the Louisiana Derby at their home track.
Unbeaten Departing breezed four furlongs outside of a workmate in a bullet :47 1/5, finishing one length ahead of his stablemate, and Fair Grounds clocker Mike Diliberto caught Departing galloping out five-eighths in 1:00 1/5.
"Departing was well in hand," Diliberto said of the Al Stall Jr. pupil, who tied for the fastest of 65 works at the half-mile distance.
Three for three so far, Departing comes off a 2 3/4-length victory in the March 2 Texas Heritage at Sam Houston in his stakes bow.
The more experienced Mylute, fifth in last September's Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity and third in November's Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot before finishing seventh in the Risen Star, breezed the half in :50 for Tom Amoss.
"Mylute's move was just an easy maintenance work," Diliberto said. "They weren't asking him for anything."
Trainer Mike Stidham was in California Sunday to celebrate his daughter's birthday, but took time over the phone to assess Ground Transport's chances in the Louisiana Derby.
"I think the Louisiana Derby is coming up as one of the toughest of all the (Kentucky) Derby preps," said Stidham, who breezed Ground Transport six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 Saturday morning with his assistant Hilary Pridham in the irons before leaving for the West Coast.
"I hope (Ground Transport) is going to fit well in there," Stidham said. "We'll find out Saturday. His numbers will have to get a little better than they have been, but we hope he's far enough along in his training to keep moving forward.
"In his last race (jockey) Mark Guidry made him wait a little longer before he made his move. Guidry was schooling him a little bit in that race. Now we just hope he keeps improving.
"(Co-owner) Marette Farrell played a big part in our finding this horse," said Stidham of the Irish-born bloodstock advisor who was also a principle force in the purchase of All In Stable's Willcox Inn, a contestant in Saturday's Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap.
Farrell grew up on her father's farm in Ireland, where he bred the English Group 1-winning sprinter Fayr Jag. Her brother pinhooked Paco Boy as a two-year-old in training and that horse went on to be the 2009 winner of the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes during the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting.
While still in school, Marette was a national high jumping champion and later played hockey for Ireland's National Field Hockey Team. However, her first love remained horses and following a stint with trainer John Hammond's yard in France she eventually came to the United States.