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Pletcher Works Quartet Toward Oaks, Rose to Gold Breezes and Black Onyx Has Strong Gallop
It was a busy Saturday morning at the Todd Pletcher barn at Churchill Downs as Dreaming of Julia (ranked No. 4 on the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” Leaderboard), Unlimited Budget (No. 3), Silsita (No. 10) and Princess of Sylmar (No. 7) all worked for the two-time Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) winning trainer.
In her second work since arriving at Churchill Downs on April 8, Dreaming of Julia, 21 ¾-length winner of the Gulfstream Oaks (GII), breezed four furlongs in :48.80 under Humberto Zamora and recorded fractions of :12.40, :24 and :36.60 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01, three-quarters in 1:13 and seven furlongs in 1:26.60. She pulled up clocking one mile in 1:44.
“I thought she had another very good work today,” Pletcher said. “We were looking for a solid work with a good gallop out and I thought she did that very well. After a monstrous effort, we were anxious to see how she bounced out of it. Her appetite, energy level and enthusiasm have all been terrific since that race. If (the Gulfstream Oaks) did take something out of her, she hasn’t shown it.”
Unlimited Budget, undefeated winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII), worked on the inside of Silsita, winner of the Bourbonette Oaks (GIII). The duo breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 and recorded fractions of :12, :23.80 and :48.40. Unlimited Budget galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 and Silsita galloped out in 1:13.80.
“We switched positions with them and put Unlimited Budget on the inside this time,” Pletcher said. “It seemed like it was maybe a touch deeper on the inside. I thought (Unlimited Budget) worked well. I thought both fillies worked well, but Silsita was a little bit stronger on the gallop out today. Last week, Unlimited Budget was on the outside and she was a little bit stronger, so I don’t know if there’s anything to that or not.”
Unlimited Budget worked under Patti Krotenko and Silsita worked under Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens.
“There’s a good chance Gary will have the mount (in the Kentucky Oaks),” Pletcher said. “I’m going to talk to (co-owner) Aron Wellman later, but I’d say Gary is the leading candidate at this point.”
Gazelle (GII) runner-up Princess of Sylmar, under Jake Nelson, worked on the outside of Eight Belles Presented by Xerox (GIII) contender Fusaichiswonderful, who was guided by Nick Bush.
The duo breezed four furlongs in in :48.60 and recorded fractions of :12.40, :24.40 and :36.80. Princess of Sylmar galloped out five furlongs in 1:02 while Fusaichiswonderful galloped out in 1:01.
“I thought Princess of Sylmar’s work was OK this morning,” Pletcher said. “It looked like she was struggling with the racetrack a little bit down the lane. I would say I need to see her work next week before making a decision on whether she’ll run in the Oaks or not.”
All of Pletcher’s fillies breezed after the renovation break at 8:30 a.m. (all times Eastern) during the 15-minute period when the track is reserved for Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Kentucky Oaks contenders. Dreaming of Julia’s half-mile time was the eighth fastest of 62 at the distance, Unlimited Budget and Silsita’s five-eighths work ranked fourth of 50 at the distance and Princess of Sylmar and Fusaichiswonderful recorded the sixth fastest half-mile work.
Pletcher added that the four fillies will have their final works in advance of the Kentucky Oaks next Saturday on April 27. Also, two of Pletcher’s Kentucky Derby contenders, Verrazano (ranked No. 2 on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com” Leaderboard) and Revolutionary (No. 6), are scheduled to breeze Sunday following the morning renovation break at approximately 8:30 a.m.
‘CINDERELLA STORY’ ROSE TO GOLD BREEZES – Also working toward a Kentucky Oaks start on Saturday morning was Rose to Gold (No. 2), who completed the Honeybee (GIII)–Fantasy (GIII) double at Oaklawn Park. Working under jockey Calvin Borel, Rose to Gold breezed four furlongs in :48.20 and recorded fractions of :12.20, :24.20 and :36 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.40.
“I’m told she worked really well,” trainer Sal Santoro said from his barn at Calder. “The plan right now is to breeze her one more time before the race. We’re trying to keep on the same schedule we’ve used since day one. In the end, though, it’s all up to her. She’ll tell me what she wants and what she needs.”
Rose to Gold was purchased as a yearling for $1,400 and has earned $717,889 while under the care of Santoro, who said he was flying to Kentucky on Monday and would be at Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning.
“You’re not going to find a perfect one out there,” Santoro said. “But if a horse has symmetry and everything looks like it’s where it should be, then I don’t think price really makes a difference. The great thing about horses is they don’t know who their parents are and they don’t care. Rose is a Cinderella story, except she doesn’t have glass slippers; she’s got glue-on shoes.
“It’s very exciting to even be on the same racetrack with the likes of Bill Mott and Todd Pletcher and Dale Romans and all of these guys. I consider it an honor to be able to compete against them. To be able to compete at Churchill Downs in one of their signature races is very exciting and very humbling.”
BLACK ONYX HAS STRONG GALLOP – In Kentucky Derby news, Spiral (GIII) winner Black Onyx (No. 12) had a strong gallop under exercise rider Juan Bernardini on Saturday morning. Churchill Downs’ clockers caught him in 1:25 for six furlongs.
“He really looked good,” trainer Kelly Breen said. “I wasn’t looking to go too fast and we kept him off the rail so he didn’t get too eager. His last quarter (of a mile) was his best quarter and that’s what we wanted. Weather permitting, he’ll have a blowout next Saturday.”
In other Kentucky Derby news, in addition to Verrazano and Revolutionary, Mylute (No. 16), Will Take Charge (No. 9) and Normandy Invasion (No. 14) are scheduled to work at Churchill Downs on Sunday. Mylute will breeze a half-mile by himself under jockey Rosie Napravnik at 6 a.m. and Will Take Charge and Normandy Invasion will work after the break at 8:30 a.m. Agent Steve Krajcir said Jon Court will be aboard Will Take Charge for the work.
Scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs early Sunday morning is Gotham (GIII) winner Vyjack (No. 8). Most recently third in the Wood Memorial (GI), Vyjack will van to Louisville overnight from Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. and is expected to pass through the Churchill Downs stable gate at approximately 4 a.m., according to Stall Manager, Steve Hargrave. He will be stabled in Dale Romans’ Barn 4 for trainer Rudy Rodriguez.
KENTUCKY DERBY POSSIBLE FIELD AS OF SATURDAY, APRIL 20 (listed in order preference): Orb (trained by Shug McGaughey, ridden by Joel Rosario, 150 points, $840,000 in non-restricted stakes earnings), Verrazano (Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 150, $810,000), Goldencents (Doug O’Neill, Kevin Krigger, 129, $1,208,000), Java’s War (Ken McPeek, Julien Leparoux, 122, $651,772), Overanalyze (Pletcher, Rafael Bejarano, 110, $908,381), Revolutionary (Pletcher, Calvin Borel, 110, $720,000), Lines of Battle (Aidan O’Brien, TBA, 100, $1,261,089 ), Vyjack (Rudy Rodriguez, Garrett Gomez, 70, $505,000), Will Take Charge (D. Wayne Lukas, Jon Court, 60, $512,971), Itsmyluckyday (Eddie Plesa Jr., Elvis Trujillo, 50, $593,600), Govenor Charlie (Bob Baffert, Martin Garcia, 50, $400,000), Black Onyx (Kelly Breen, Joe Bravo, 50, $317,130), Palace Malice (Pletcher, Mike Smith, 50, $200,000), Normandy Invasion (Chad Brown, Javier Castellano, 44, $258,000), Frac Daddy (McPeek, TBA, 44, $240,596), Mylute (Tom Amoss, Rosie Napravnik, 42, $363,365), Oxbow (Lukas, Gary Stevens, 36, $346,000), Super Ninety Nine (Baffert, TBA, 30, $308,000), Falling Sky (John Terranova, TBA, 30, $207,500) and Charming Kitten (Pletcher, TBA, 20, $206,000).
KENTUCKY OAKS POSSIBLE FIELD AS OF SATURDAY, APRIL 20 (listed in order of preference): Beholder (trained by Richard Mandella, ridden by Garrett Gomez, 164, $1,500,000), Rose to Gold (Sal Santoro, Calvin Borel, 164, $717,889), Unlimited Budget (Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano, 160, $570,000), Dreaming of Julia (Pletcher, John Velazquez, 132, $719,000), Close Hatches (Mott, Joel Rosario, 100, $150,000), Flashy Gray (Mott, TBA, 60, $130,000), Princess of Sylmar (Pletcher, TBA, 50, $170,000), Fiftyshadesofhay (Baffert, TBA, 50, $146,250), Midnight Lucky (Baffert, Rafael Bejarano, 50, $120,000), Silsita (Pletcher, TBA, 50, $57,660), Seaneen Girl (Bernie Flint, TBA, 34, $193,621), Pure Fun (Ken McPeek, TBA, 20, $269,800) and Broken Spell (D. Wayne Lukas, TBA, 11, $119,226).
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