- Road to the Kentucky Derby
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Barn Notes,May 1 - Joyful Victory Dazzles
ARIENZA – Robert and Lawana Low’s Arienza is no longer under consideration for Friday’s $1 million Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) and will most likely run in Friday’s$100,000 Eight Belles (GIII) Presented by ACS, trainer Danny Peitz said Sunday morning , before adding, “unless (Todd) Pletcher’s filly (R Heat Lightning) and (Larry) Jones’ filly (Joyful Victory) and the rest of them get sick or hurt before Tuesday.”
Peitz believes that at this moment Arienza is best suited for shorter distances, based on how keen she was in the early stages of her two-turn races.
“I just think that right now I’m doing the best thing for the horse,” Peitz said.
BOUQUET BOOTH – Right Time Racing’s Bouquet Booth returned to the track early Sunday morning to jog under Loren Diego, assistant to trainer Steve Margolis.
Winner of the Delta Princess (GIII) last fall and the Silverbulletday in January at Fair Grounds, Bouquet Booth had worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 on Friday for her final serious move before the Kentucky Oaks.
Margolis said Bouquet Booth would return to galloping Monday and follow that routine up to the Oaks. Robby Albarado, who rode Bouquet Booth for the first time in the Central Bank Ashland (GI) last month at Keeneland, has the Oaks mount.
DAISY DEVINE – James M. Miller’s Daisy Devine galloped one mile with Larry Melancon aboard after getting some time standing in the starting gate.
It’s a routine thing I do with every horse that I run,” trainer Andrew McKeever said. “I just figured today was a quiet day and over the next week it’s going to get crazy.”
Daisy Devine is coming off a win in the richest Kentucky Oaks prep race, the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (GII). That race was more than five weeks ago, but a sizable gap between starts has proven successful for the Kafwain filly, who has matured noticeably during those stretches.
“I think she’s progressed as much as she did from the Silverbulletday to the (Fair Grounds) Oaks,” McKeever said. “She improved a lot between those two races and I think she’s doing the same thing again. But she has to – it’s a different story this time.
“It’s mostly mental. She’s switched on, really happy. She enjoys all the atmosphere and she seems to be really taking it in, showing a lot of class. It’s a big-time difference from when she showed up as a 2-year-old.”
Daisy Devine will work three-eighths with Melancon on Monday, breaking off from the quarter pole.
“She’s just going to skip through the lane, basically,” McKeever said.
HER SMILE/R HEAT LIGHTNING – Celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s newest equine acquisition was put through a four-furlong team drill Sunday morning following the renovation break at Churchill Downs and registered a :50.40 clocking for her efforts.
The move was accomplished over a “sloppy” oval following some heavy rains earlier Sunday morning when a storm cell bringing thunder and lightning with it moved through the Louisville area.
Her Smile worked in company with the 4-year-old stakes colt Ibboyee, a winner of six races and more than $600,000, and stayed even with her male counterpart throughout the exercise with splits of :13.20, :25.40 and :37.80 along the way, followed by gallop-out times of 1:03.40 and 1:17.40. She was handled by Eclipse Award-winning riderGarrett Gomez, who is scheduled to handle the filly should she run in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks.
“She skipped right over it (the wet track),” Gomez said back at trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn. “It didn’t seem to bother her at all. I think it (the work) was just what they were after.”
Pletcher had indicated earlier that he still was not sure he was going to enter the Virginia-bred daughter of Include in the $1 million Oaks, noting he’d have to discuss that possibility with his owner, who purchased the filly privately after her runner-up finish in the Comely Stakes (GIII) at Aqueduct on April 9.
Sunday morning Pletcher still held out that option.
“I’m going to talk to Bobby today and we’ll see,” he said.
E. Paul Robsham Stable’s R Heat Lightning walked the shedrow a day after working a half-mile in :48.20.
HOLY HEAVENS – Drs. K.K. and Vilasini Jayaraman’s Holy Heavens “two-minute licked” a mile during the Oaks-Derby training session.
“Her energy is good,” said jockey Kent Desormeaux, who was aboard for today’s exercise. “She’s wide-eyed, looks happy. A happy horse is a fast horse.”
Trainer Benard Chatters also has noticed that Holy Heavens seems more content in Louisville.
“We’re real happy with her progress,” Chatters said. “She’s put on probably 40 pounds since we’ve been here and we’ve been here two weeks.”
The trainer’s plan for Holy Heavens the remainder of this week is simply to “take it easy and make her feel good.”
JOYFUL VICTORY – Fox Hill Farms’ Joyful Victory skipped over the wet track Sunday morning, turning in a bullet five-work in :59.20. It was the fastest work at the distance by a full second.
Working in company with 5-year-old stablemate Payton d’Oro, the gray Tapit filly turned in split times of :11, :22, :34.20, :46.40 and :59.20 under jockey Gabriel Saez. Her gallop-out time for six furlongs was 1:13.80. Joyful Victory finished up about seven lengths in front of her stablemate.
“She really did well,” trainer Larry Jones said. “We put the other horse out there to kind of make sure that she knew someone was around because she’ll get to loafing a little bit coming down the lane. She just kind of galloped away from the other horse and the other horse is a nice horse, she won the Black-Eyed Susan two years ago. The other horse can run. She made it look like she’s about ready.”
Joyful Victory comes into the Oaks following victories in the Honeybee (GIII) and the Fantasy (GII) at Oaklawn Park. Jones said she seems to enjoy be on wet tracks.
“She’s done very well on this,” he said. “Everybody knows that saying that you can’t bet against a gray in the mud. If it was to rain Friday -- we’re not going out of our way and praying for rain -- but if it rains we’re not going to be afraid to go out there.”
Jones said the work was ideal.
“This filly just did it easy,” he said. “He never asked her for anything. It was a good work. It’s what we wanted. We set out to go in :59, knowing that the track could play a little different. When he got her in :59 1/5, that’s as good as we could hope out of Gabriel and it was all well.”
The typically upbeat trainer was beaming as his staff gave Joyful Victory a bath.
“We just wanted a good work in her because the work last week was on the same kind of a track,” he said. “We knew that she had done enough in the Fantasy; we should be ready. So the last work was just more or less a leg-stretcher and to let her kind of get accustomed to the surface here. We were kind of hoping for a dry track today, but we’re also seeing rain in the forecast for Friday, so we’re not afraid to go out and let her do something over it, and she handled it really well.”
KATHMANBLU – Five D. Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables’ Kathmanbluwalked the shedrow at trainer Ken McPeek’s barn Sunday morning, a day afterworking five furlongs in 1:01.80 under jockey Julien Leparoux.
“She’s fine this morning,” said Philip Bauer, assistant to McPeek. “Looks like there is rain in the forecast for Oaks Day, but she has proved herself on all surfaces.”
Third in the Central Bank Ashland (GI) in her most recent start over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface, Kathmanblu has won on yielding and firm turf as well as a score in the Golden Rod (GII) here last fall on a fast track.
LILACS AND LACE – James Covello and partners’ Lilacs and Lace was given a morning off from going to the track Sunday after breezing five furlongs in 1:02.60 Saturday in preparation for a start in the Kentucky Oaks.
“She breezed yesterday, so she walked today. She came back 100 percent,” saidReynaldo Abreu, assistant to trainer John Terranova. “We’re happy how she came out of it. We were pleased with her work. That’s what we were looking for, a nice easy breeze.”
Lilacs and Lace, who captured the Central Bank Ashland (G1) at Keeneland in her most recent start, will be ridden by Javier Castellano in Friday’s Oaks.
PLUM PRETTY – Peachtree Stable’s Plum Pretty galloped a mile and a half during the period reserved for Oaks and Derby horses.
Trainer Bob Baffert joked about sending his Oaks and Derby candidates out to train two or three times during the day Sunday, but it was routine morning for the Medaglia d’Oro filly.
Baffert said Plum Pretty will breeze at 8:30 Monday morning following the renovation break.
Martin Garcia will ride the filly in the Kentucky Oaks.
ST. JOHN’S RIVER – Dede McGehee’s St. John’s River galloped 1 ½ miles with exercise rider Robert Wright aboard during the Oaks-Derby training session.
“We’ll gallop her right on up to the race from here on out,” trainer Andy Leggio Jr.said. “I think we’re coming up to the race in good form and she’ll run her race. If it’s good enough to win, we’ll see, but she’ll run her race.”
Leggio hopes the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Oaks – a sixteenth farther than St. John’s River has previously raced – will work to her benefit.
“When she won the mile-and-70 (yard) race at Fair Grounds in January, she did it very impressively and I was very pleased with the time and she looked like she wanted to go a little farther, so that’s when we started thinking about Oaks and all that kind of crazy stuff,” Leggio said. “But it’s worked out well and we’re right on schedule.
“She was pretty good in that last race in New Orleans (finishing second in the Grade II, $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks). She was on top of her game at that time and she’s still at that level right now. If that particular race and time are good enough to win this one, then we can win it.”
SUAVE VOIR FAIRE – Fleur de Lis Racing LLC’s Suave Voir Faire jogged “about a mile and a half” at the HighPointe Training Center in La Grange, Ky., trainer Speedy Smithwick reported.
"She was bucking and kicking so we thought it might help settle her down,” he said. “She came out of the work (of :59.80 on Friday) good."
Suave Voir Faire will gallop at HighPointe on Monday and van to Churchill Downs on Tuesday, with an estimated arrival time of 10 a.m. Smithwick hopes to school the Suave filly in the paddock that afternoon.
SUMMER SOIREE – Team Valor International’s Summer Soiree came out her half-mile work of :48.80 on Saturday in good shape trainer Graham Motion said.
“I had planned to take Summer Soiree out for a jog but because the weather was so bad I didn’t bother,” Motion said. “She went under tack in the shedrow and she did actually jog for a couple of minutes.”
ZAZU – Trainer John Sadler reported that “all is well” with Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss’Kentucky Oaks candidate Zazu Sunday morning at Hollywood Park in Southern California one day after her seven-furlong drill in 1:24.40 under her rider for Friday’s $1 million headliner, Joel Rosario.
“We’re all good here,” Sadler said. “She came out of it fine and we’re getting ready to ship. We’ll do a little something with her on the track tomorrow, then she’s on a flight early Tuesday morning.”
Zazu, first or second in six of her seven starts, including a tally in the Las Virgenes (GI) at Santa Anita in February, will be sent eastward aboard a Tex Sutton flight scheduled to leave Los Angeles at 4 a.m. carrying several California-based horses with designs on several Churchill Downs stakes this week, including the Oaks and the Kentucky Derby.