Eclipse Award winner Classic Empire started the activity at 6 o’clock Friday morning but things really got hopping during the 8:30-8:45 training window at Churchill Downs for Kentucky Derby and Oaks horses when a dozen hopefuls for the two races put in their final works for next weekend’s races.
Classic Empire worked a half-mile in :49.20 for trainer Mark Casse.
After the track reopened following the renovation break Always Dreaming led off the armada of workers with a best-of-35 five furlongs in :59.60. Following in order were Wicked Lick (Oaks, :49.60 for four furlongs), Salty (Oaks, :48.40, four furlongs), Patch and Tapwrit in company (Derby, 1:00.20 five furlongs), Practical Joke (Derby, 1:01.60, five furlongs), Gunnevera (Derby, 1:03.60, five furlongs), State of Honor (Derby, :48.80, four furlongs), Jordan’s Henny (Oaks, 1:02.40, five furlongs), Vexatious (Oaks, 1:14.60, six furlongs), Battalion Runner (Derby, :48.40, four furlongs) and Tequilita (Oaks, :48, four furlongs).
KENTUCKY DERBY NOTES
ALWAYS DREAMING/BATTALION RUNNER/MALAGACY/PATCH/TAPWRIT – Florida Derby (GI) winner Always Dreaming turned in the work of the morning Friday with a five-furlong drill in :59.60 with jockey John Velazquez aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher.
The first horse to work after the renovation break, Always Dreaming produced fractions of :13, :24.40, :35.80, :47.60 and :59.60 with gallop-outs of 1:12.60 for six furlongs, 1:25.60 for seven and 1:40 for a mile.
“I thought it was a powerful work; exceptional,” Pletcher said. “He’s full of himself. It was a good work with a great gallop out. He galloped out past the (track) kitchen (at the half-mile pole).”
Working next in company for Pletcher were Patch, with Isabelle Bourez up, and Tapwrit with jockey Jose Ortiz aboard.
The two were timed in 1:00.20 with fractions of :12.20, :24, :36 and out six furlongs in 1:12.80. The five-eighths move was the third best of 35 at the distance.
“That was a good work for Tapwrit,” Pletcher said. “He handled the track better than he did at Keeneland (where he was fifth in the Blue Grass Stakes-GII and had one work). I was very pleased with it. It was a typical work for Patch. He tends to idle a bit when he works but he was better this morning.”
Battalion Runner, working in company with two-time graded-stakes winner Made You Look, clocked a half-mile in :48.40 with Nick Bush up. Splits for the move were :12.60, :24.40, :36.60 and out five furlongs in 1:01.60. The half-mile was the 22nd fastest of 82 at the distance.
“He seemed to wrestle with the track,” Pletcher said. “I thought the work was OK; it was not a bad work. A lot of times, the track you get a week before the Derby is not the same one you run on Derby Day. We will watch him the next week and see how he does.”
Malagacy galloped before the break under Bourez.
“He just galloped this morning because we have not committed to run,” Pletcher said. “I will talk with the owner (Oussama Aboughazale) and tweet (the decision). If he is on for the Derby, he will breeze Saturday and if not we will look at Friday to prepare for the Preakness (GI).
Velazquez and Ortiz are confirmed to ride Always Dreaming and Tapwrit, respectively. Pletcher has not named riders for any of his other horses.
CLASSIC EMPIRE/STATE OF HONOR – John Oxley’s 2-year-old champion Classic Empire and Conrad Farm’s Florida Derby (GI) runner-up State of Honor breezed Friday morning at Churchill Downs for trainer Mark Casse.
Classic Empire, the unanimous Eclipse Award-winning colt, breezed a half-mile in :49.20 at 6 a.m. with regular exercise rider Martin Rivera aboard in company with Perfect Performer (E.J. Bowler, :49.20) in an opening-quarter mile split of :24.40, before galloping out five furlongs in 1:03.
“His work gave me chills,” Casse said. “Now it’s a waiting game. It’s all about timing. I said a couple months ago when everyone was giving us a tough time, this is like a baseball game. It doesn’t matter how many runs you score, it just matters if you’re ahead in the last inning. I feel like we have the bases loaded.”
The 3-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile had several training hiccups over the winter that forced him to be sent to the Winding Oaks Training Center in Ocala, Florida.
“With the average horse you couldn’t do what we have done,” Casse said. “You need so many things to go right and the good news with this horse is he’s so talented he can overcome a lot.”
Casse’s other Derby hope, State of Honor, breezed a half-mile in :48.80 during the Derby and Oaks exclusive training period at 8:30 with Bowler aboard through splits of :25.20 and :36.80, before galloping out five furlongs in 1:02.
“He worked spectacular this morning,” Casse said. “He tries really hard. I thought his last race when he got caught up on the rail, Julien (Leparoux) had all kinds of horse and by the time he got out, Always Dreaming had already left. It’s not easy to run him down.”
FAST AND ACCURATE – Kendall Hansen, Skychai Racing and Bode Miller’s Fast and Accurate galloped 1 1/8 miles at
Trackside Louisville Friday morning at 6 o’clock for trainer Mike Maker.
The Spiral (GIII) winner is expected to van from Trackside to Churchill Downs Sunday and breeze at 8:30 a.m. under regular exercise rider Joel Cano.
GUNNEVERA – Peacock Racing Stables’ Gunnevera completed his major preparation for Kentucky Derby 143 by working five furlongs in 1:03.60 under exercise rider Victor O’Farrel.
Fractions for the move were :14, :26.20, :39, :51.80 and out six furlongs in 1:18.20.
“I liked it,” trainer Antonio Sano said of the Dialed In colt’s third work since finishing third in the April 1 Florida Derby. “It is all maintenance now. He galloped out well. All is good here.”
Sano, who will saddling his first Kentucky Derby starter, said Gunnevera would return to the track Sunday.
HENCE/LOCAL HERO/LOOKIN AT LEE/UNTRAPPED – Trainer Steve Asmussen’s contingent of horses galloped Friday morning at Churchill Downs.
Hence, with Angel Garcia up, and Untrapped, with exercise rider Juan Vargas aboard, trained during the Derby and Oaks exclusive training period at 8:30.
Lookin At Lee galloped at 7:15 while Local Hero galloped at 7:30. Both horses were ridden by Garcia.
Lookin At Lee would be the next horse into the Derby field with any additional defections. Local Hero is No. 24 on the preference list.
J BOYS ECHO – Albaugh Family Stable’s J Boys Echo galloped 1 ½ miles Friday morning at 8:30 for trainer Dale Romans.
Regular rider Tammy Fox was aboard and the colt may breeze Saturday at 8:30.
McCRAKEN – Whitham Thoroughbreds’ McCraken galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Yoni Orantes after the renovation break.
McCraken was on the track the same time as several of his likely rivals in next Saturday’s Kentucky Derby were working. So, was trainer Ian Wilkes doing any scouting?
“Not really. I am only concerned with one horse,” Wilkes said. “I will watch them, but they are all good horses and they will work well.”
PRACTICAL JOKE – Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence’s Practical Joke breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 under jockey Joel Rosario, his final timed drill in advance of the Kentucky Derby. The Into Mischief colt was equipped with blinkers and worked to the outside of stablemate Bobby On Fleek, a recent New York-bred allowance winner at Aqueduct through splits of :13.40, :25.40, :37.40 and :49.60, galloping out three-quarters of a mile in 1:14.60.
“He worked well with the blinkers,” trainer Chad Brown said. “He wasn’t too aggressive but he seemed a little more focused through the lane. He got away from his workmate in the gallop out, willingly, which we wanted to see. I was really pleased.”
The move seemed likely to result in an official equipment change for the Derby, as Practical Joke never has raced in blinkers.
“We wanted to explore the small-cup blinker with him,” Brown said. “I’ll think about it a little more but I’m leaning toward running him with them.”
SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – Likely starters in the 143rd running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) to be run for 3-year-olds at 1 ¼ miles on Saturday, May 6: Always Dreaming (John Velazquez), Battalion Runner (TBA), Battle of Midway (Flavien Prat), Classic Empire (Julien Leparoux), Fast and Accurate (TBA), Girvin (Mike Smith), Gormley (Victor Espinoza), Gunnevera (Javier Castellano), Hence (Florent Geroux), Irap (Mario Gutierrez), Irish War Cry (Rajiv Maragh), J Boys Echo (Luis Saez), McCraken (Brian Hernandez Jr.), Patch (TBA), Practical Joke (Joel Rosario), State of Honor (Jose Lezcano), Tapwrit (Jose Ortiz), Thunder Snow (Ire) (Christophe Soumillon) and Untrapped (TBA).
Possible starters within the Top 20 on the preference list: Malagacy (TBA).
Next up in order of preference: Lookin At Lee (TBA), Sonneteer (Kent Desormeaux), Royal Mo (Gary Stevens), Local Hero (TBA), Master Plan (TBA) and Petrov (TBA).
KENTUCKY OAKS NOTES
EVER SO CLEVER – Fantasy (GIII) winner Ever So Clever galloped at 7:45 for trainer Steve Asmussen Friday morning with Angel Garcia aboard.
FARRELL – Coffeepot Stables’ Farrell jogged a mile under jockey Channing Hill at 7 o’clock Friday morning for trainer Wayne Catalano.
Farrell is scheduled to go to the starting gate Saturday morning during training hours.
JORDAN’S HENNY – Erv Woolsey and Ralph Kinder’s Jordan’s Henny worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 with jockey Joe Rocco Jr. aboard for trainer Mike Tomlinson.
Working on her own, Jordan’s Henny produced fractions of :13.20, :37.80 and out six furlongs in 1:16. The five-eighths move was the 27th fastest of 35 at the distance.
“That was absolutely fine and she galloped out nice,” Tomlinson said of the filly who has a record of 9-1-3-3. “She’s a seasoned veteran and she has been stabled here and raced here. All is good.”
LOCKDOWN – The Juddmonte Farms homebred Lockdown, a distant second in the Gazelle (GII) last time out, had an easy gallop during the Oaks and Derby training session.
“She’s doing well here,” Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said. “Whether she’s good enough or not is what we don’t know for sure.”
MISS SKY WARRIOR – Arlene’s Sun Star Stable’s Miss Sky Warrior walked the shedrow Friday morning, a day after working a half-mile in :49.20.
Trained by Kelly Breen, Miss Sky Warrior is expected to return to the track Saturday.
SALTY – Gary Barber, Baccari Racing Stable LLC and Chester Prince’s Salty breezed four furlongs in :48.40 in company with Summer Luck for trainer Mark Casse.
The Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) victor breezed with Janelle Castonguay up on the outside of Summer Luck (Froylan Garcia, :48.40) with 1/8-mile splits of :12.20, and :24.20, before galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.40.
“She’s been doing great,” Casse said. “We’ve always been very high on her. Who knows how good she could really be.”
TEQUILITA – Dorothy Matz’s Tequilita worked a half-mile in :48 under exercise rider Jo Saville after the renovation break.
Fractions on the move that was the 14th fastest of 82 at the half-mile distance were :11.60, :23, :35.40 and out five furlongs in 1:01.80 and six furlongs in 1:16.
Tequilita was the last of 12 Oaks and Derby horses to work after the break, a move that was by design according to trainer Michael Matz.
“I got her on the gallop out in 1:01 and 1, but then I couldn’t quite see the pole from where I was in the grandstand,” Matz said. “The track was a little different than Keeneland (where Tequilita had two works). Her gallop out was great.”
VEXATIOUS – Calumet Farm’s regally bred Vexatious breezed six furlongs in 1:14.60 under Brian Hernandez Jr. following the renovation break. Clockers caught her half-mile split in :49.60 and trainer Neil Drysdale timed the one-mile gallop-out in 1:43.
“We wanted a maintenance work,” Drysdale said. “Brian did exactly what we wanted – went off smoothly, galloped out nicely. She’s already run twice this month so that’s all she’ll need. She handles this track well and looks good.”
The Giant’s Causeway filly out of Grade 1 winner Dream of Summer is a full sister to Grade 1 winner Creative Cause and last year’s Belmont Stakes runner-up Destin.
WICKED LICK – With trainer Brendan Walsh aboard, Lee Mauberret’s Wickled Lick breezed a half-mile in :49.60, the 53rd fastest of 82 at the distance.
Working in company with Stormy Louise, a 3-year-old maiden, Wickled Lick posted fractions of :12.20, :24.20, :37 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:04.80.
“I thought it went great,” Walsh said. “It was nice and smooth. She is fit and ready to go. She may jog in the morning and then walk Sunday.”
SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY OAKS – Likely starters in the 143rd running of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) to be run for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on Friday, May 5: Abel Tasman (Mike Smith), Daddys Lil Darling (Julien Leparoux), Ever So Clever (Luis Contreras), Farrell (Channing Hill), Jordan’s Henny (Joe Rocco), Miss Sky Warrior (Paco Lopez), Paradise Woods (Flavien Prat), Sailor’s Valentine (Corey Lanerie), Salty (Joel Rosario), Tequilita (Luis Saez), Vexatious (Kent Desormeaux), Wicked Lick (Brian Hernandez Jr.).
Possible starters within the Top 14 on the preference list: Lockdown (Jose Ortiz), Someday Soon (TBA).
Next up in order of preference: Mopotism (TBA), Torrent (TBA), Summer Luck (TBA).
DOWN THE STRETCH
Reddam Racing’s Blue Grass Stakes (GII) winner Irap completed his major Derby preparations Friday morning at Keeneland by working a mile in 1:44.20 under Julien Leparoux. Trained by Doug O’Neill, Irap produced fractions of :28, :40.60, :52.40, 1:05.20, 1:17.20, 1:30 and 1:44.20 over a fast track. Irap is scheduled to leave Keeneland at 11 a.m. Saturday to van to Churchill Downs. … Normandy Farm’s Daddys Lil Darling worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 at Keeneland in company with Wholehearted, a 3-year-old maiden filly. Kenny McPeek trains Daddys Lil Darling, winner of last fall’s Pocahontas (GII) at Churchill Downs.
KNOWN WORKOUT SCHEDULES
SATURDAY – J Boys Echo (Dale Romans, Barn 4, 8:30 a.m.)
SUNDAY – Fast and Accurate (Mike Maker, Trackside Barn K, 8:30 a.m.)
KNOWN ARRIVAL SCHEDULES
SATURDAY (BY PLANE FROM CALIFORNIA) – Abel Tasman (Bob Baffert, Barn 33); Battle of Midway (Jerry Hollendorfer, Barn 42); Sonneteer (Keith Desormeaux, Barn 25); Why Two (Mike Machowsky, 39).
SATURDAY (BY VAN FROM KEENELAND) – Daddys Lil Darling (Kenny McPeek, Barn 7); Irap (Doug O’Neill, Barn 41)
SUNDAY (BY PLANE FROM DUBAI TO CINCINNATI, VAN TO LOUISVILLE) – Tentative: Thunder Snow (Ire) (Saeed bin Suroor, Barn 17)
SUNDAY OR MONDAY (BY VAN FROM MARYLAND) – Irish War Cry (Graham Motion, Barn 41)
MONDAY (BY PLANE FROM CALIFORNIA) – Masochistic (Ron Ellis, Barn 39); Bal A Bali (Richard Mandella, Barn 42); Paradise Woods (Richard Mandella, Barn 42); Conquest Farenheit (Peter Miller, Barn 43); Richards Boy (Peter Miller, Barn 43); Solid Wager (Peter Miller, Barn 43); Storm the Hill (Peter Miller, Barn 43); Denmans Call (Doug O’Neill, Barn 41); Mopotism (Doug O’Neill, Barn 41); What What What (Doug O’Neill, Barn 41); Gormley (John Shirreffs, Barn 42); Royal Mo (John Shirreffs, Barn 42).
WEDNESDAY (BY PLANE FROM CALIFORNIA) – Finest City (Ian Kruljac, Barn 24); Ritzy A.P. (Dan Blacker, 9); Union Strike (Mick Ruis, Barn 24).
PROSPECTIVE FIELDS FOR UPCOMING STAKES
$100,000 KENTUCKY JUVENILE (Entries taken Saturday, race Thursday, May 4) – Probable: Amberspatriot, Go Chiva Go, Gritter Man, Happy Like a Fool, Mcerin, Mugrosito, Trickizar, Two Grand, Waki Patriot
$400,000 ALYSHEBA (GII) (Entries taken Tuesday, May 2, race Friday, May 5) – Probable: American Freedom, Behesht, Bird Song, Breaking Lucky, December Seven, El Huerfano, Honorable Duty, International Star, Noble Bird
$300,000 LA TROIENNE (GI) (Entries taken Tuesday, May 2, race Friday, May 5) – Probable: Big World, Eskenformoney, Impasse, Paid Up Subscriber, Streamline, Walkabout
$200,000 EIGHT BELLES (GII) (Entries taken Tuesday, May 2, race Friday, May 5) – Probable: Benner Island, Cajun Delta Dawn, China Grove, Florida Fabulous, Ghalia, I’mluckysgirl, Let It Ride Mom, Lovely Bernadette, Mopotism, Phone Chick, Pretty City Dancer, Summer Luck, Union Strike, What What What
$150,000 EDGEWOOD (GIII) (Entries taken Tuesday, May 2, race Friday, May 5) – Probable: Bernadiva, Dream Dancing, Emphatically, India Mantuana, My Sweet Stella, Purely A Dream, Stallion Heiress, Storm the Hill, Sweeping Paddy, You Missed It
$150,000 TWIN SPIRES TURF SPRINT (GIII) (Entries taken Tuesday, May 2, race Friday, May 5) – Probable: Black Bear, Derek’s Smile, Green Mask, Holding Gold, Partly Mocha, Power Alert, Pure Sensation, Tell All You Know, Why Two
$500,000 WOODFORD RESERVE TURF CLASSIC (GI) (Entries taken Wednesday, May 3, race Saturday, May 6) – Probable: Bal A Bali, Ballagh Rocks, Beach Patrol, Can’thelpbelieving, Conquest Panthera, Divisidero, Enterprising, Flatlined, Kaigun, Kasaqui, Oscar Nominated
$300,000 HUMANA DISTAFF (GI) (Entries taken Wednesday, May 3, race Saturday, May 6) – Probable: Carina Mia, Finest City, Paulassilverlining
$500,000 CHURCHILL DOWNS (GII) (Entries taken Wednesday, May 3, race Saturday, May 6) – Probable: Awesome Slew, Clearly Now, Denman’s Call, Limousine Liberal, Masochistic, Solid Wager, Tarpy’s Zapper, Tom’s Ready
$300,000 CHURCHILL DISTAFF TURF MILE (GII) (Entries taken Wednesday, May 3, race Saturday, May 6) – Probable: Believe In Bertie, Harmonize, Linda, Miss Temple City, Mississippi Delta, Roca Rojo
$300,000 AMERICAN TURF (GII) (Entries taken Wednesday, May 3, race Saturday, May 6) – Probable: Big Score, Conquest Farenheit, Holiday Stone, Kitten’s Cat, La Coronel, Made You Look, Oscar Performance, Parlor, Ritzy A.P.
$250,000 PAT DAY MILE (GIII) (Entries taken Wednesday, May 3, race Saturday, May 6) – Probable: Bitumen, Bobby On Fleek, Chief Know It All, Colonelsdarktemper, Excitations, Guest Suite, Impressive Edge, No Dozing, Rapid Dial, Rockin Rudy, Sonic Mule, Uncontested, Warrior’s Club, Wild Shot, You’re To Blame
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …
DERBYGIVES.COM 50/50 RAFFLE – The Churchill Downs Incorporated Foundation will host a trio of nationwide online 50/50 charitable raffle drawings on Thurby (May 4), Kentucky Oaks Day (May 5) and Kentucky Derby Day (May 6) to help raise money for its charitable initiatives, including Thoroughbred aftercare; arts and educational opportunities for stable area employees; and breast and ovarian cancer research and prevention. Raffle tickets are on sale now at www.DerbyGives.com for $5 in jurisdictions where online wagering is permitted. The winner will receive half of each day’s sale and the other half will go toward the charitable initiative. The Churchill Downs Incorporated Foundation has donated more than $2.2 million and thousands of volunteer hours to charitable partners, including more than $740,000 for education and prevention of breast cancer and more than $140,000 to Thoroughbred retirement aftercare.
ENHANCED APP FOR ON-TRACK GUESTS – Churchill Downs Racetrack has launched a new version of its on-track mobile app to provide guests with additional features and information to enhance their experience at the racetrack and The Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands. The new features offer fans easy access to equine, racing and wagering information, as well as up-to-date information about each day’s events and news. Additionally, guests can wager from their mobile device; find parking and get directions to seating locations; skip food and beverage lines in seats where Express Pickup or In-Seat Delivery is offered; and buy, manage and scan mobile admission tickets. The updated app is available at iTunes at https://appsto.re/us/USS6bb.i and the Google Play Store at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.venuenext.churchilldowns&hl=en.
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Brinset.com Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Past Performances
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