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California Chrome leads Derby worktab
Santa Anita Derby winner California Chrome took another step closer to the Kentucky Derby on May 3 when he worked four furlongs at his Los Alamitos headquarters Saturday morning in :47 4/5 under regular rider Victor Espinoza.
"Victor said he went great," trainer Art Sherman said after the 8 a.m. (PDT) drill, which unfolded on California Chrome's "own, private little race track," to paraphrase Trevor Denman.
In the aftermath of a traffic incident caused by other horses on the track in a recent gallop, Los Alamitos had the track free of other horses for California Chrome.
"The track was immaculate," Sherman said. "He'll have his final workout next Saturday and ship early Monday morning (April 28) for Kentucky. There were some 30 people here today to see him work. He galloped out (five furlongs) in 1:01. Everything went great."
California Chrome, the points leader and early Derby favorite, will be accompanied in transit by Blue Grass winner Dance With Fate.
The respective second and third behind California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby, Hoppertunity and Candy Boy, also recorded works over Easter weekend.
The Bob Baffert-trained Hoppertunity went out Friday at Santa Anita and covered five-eighths in company in 1:00 1/5 on the fast main track. Martin Garcia was aboard for the work, but Hall of Famer Mike Smith will retain the mount in the Kentucky Derby.
On Saturday at Santa Anita, Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Candy Boy drilled five furlongs in :59 4/5 under Hall of Famer Gary Stevens. The John Sadler pupil will ship to Churchill Downs on Monday along with Hoppertunity.
Louisiana Derby winner Vicar's in Trouble posted a five-furlong breeze in 1:00 2/5 on Saturday morning at Trackside Louisville, the training facility located approximately five miles from Churchill Downs.
"He worked very well and was well in hand," trainer Mike Maker said. "He had a nice gallop-out, which is what we were looking for, and everything was perfect.
Maker (5-0-0-0 in the Derby since 2010) indicated that the Louisiana-bred colt would likely breeze again next Saturday but it would come over the Churchill Downs oval.
Florida Derby runner-up General a Rod is slated for breeze at Churchill Downs "either Tuesday or Wednesday," according to Maker.
Maker, a five-time training champion at Churchill Downs, could have a third Derby starter in Spiral Stakes runner-up Harry's Holiday if there are further defections among the current Top 20. After Cairo Prince (left front ankle) was withdrawn from Derby consideration on Saturday, Harry's Holiday now stands at No. 21 on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com" preference list with 20 points and $152,622 in non-restricted stakes earnings.
"We'll see if he gets in," Maker said. "I'll have to talk to the connections and go from there but I'm sure they'll want to run if they can get in. If that's the case then he'll work Saturday at Churchill, too."
Saturday was the first day of exclusive training for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders from 8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. (EDT) at Churchill. Gallopers during that window included Chitu, Danza, Medal Count and Ride on Curlin.
Trainer Todd Pletcher was particularly fond of 41-1 Arkansas Derby surprise Danza.
"I loved the way he trained this morning," Pletcher said. "He looked dynamite out there today. So hopefully the next couple of weeks go as well as the last one did.
"I think he got lost in the shuffle a little bit and most people that went back and looked at his PPs (past performances) after he won the Arkansas Derby were like 'This horse really hadn't done anything wrong.' Trying to get to that two-turn race (into him), we felt the best way was to start back in a seven-furlong allowance.
"I think it set him up well for (the Arkansas Derby), but I was still pleasantly surprised at how well he handled the mile-and-an-eighth. He finished up really strongly and had his legs up underneath him at the end and galloped out strongly. That's encouraging stuff for here."
Pletcher's other two confirmed Derby runners -- Intense Holiday and We Miss Artie -- will travel on a Tuesday flight originating from Palm Beach, Florida. Wildcat Red, from the Jose Garoffalo barn, will hop on the same plane.
A New York flight on April 28 will include Wicked Strong, Samraat and Uncle Sigh.