Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) contenders Creator and Gun Runner’s Monday morning breezes were “ideal” according to trainer Steve Asmussen, who sent both horses out for serious workouts during Churchill Downs’ special 8:30-8:45 a.m. training window, which is exclusive to possible starters in the Kentucky Derby and Longines Kentucky Oaks.
Gun Runner, a 4 ½-length winner of the March 26 Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds last time out, worked six furlongs in 1:12.20 with regular rider Florent Geroux in the irons. Working in company with stablemate Gold Hawk, the son of Candy Ride produced fractions of :12.40, :24.60, :36.40, :48.20, and :59.80 before galloping out seven furlongs in 1:25 and one mile in 1:39.
Creator, who put in his first serious workout since a 1 ¼-length triumph in the April 16 Arkansas Derby (GI) at Oaklawn Park, went five furlongs in 1:02.40 with jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. up. Churchill Downs clockers caught the son of Tapit in eighth-mile splits of :12.60, :25, :37.60 and :49.60 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.20 and seven furlongs in 1:28.80.
“Their works were ideal for what we think that they need,” Asmussen said. “I’m extremely proud of the shape that both of these horses are in going into the Derby. I think that our team has done wonderful with them; I’m very proud of the guys to get them in this position.”
Asmussen was looking for “more of a blow” with Gun Runner’s work Monday morning, which was his fourth breeze since his Louisiana Derby victory..
“We worked Gun Runner last Monday and me, [assistant trainer] Scott [Blasi] and Florent [Geroux] thought that he needed a little bit more,” Asmussen said. “Saturday they started the Derby break training; I think that the racetrack is not as tight, just freshly harrowed. We thought that we would get a blow out of him today and that’s exactly what we got out of the work.”
Three starts ago, Creator broke his maiden on the sixth attempt. Asmussen believes that the horse is beginning to develop nicely.
“Creator is coming around at the right time,” Asmussen said. “I really like his focus and how professional he’s been the last two to three weeks. We’re just trying to keep him in the rhythm that he was in between the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby. I was extremely pleased for him to maintain his focus as well as he did today with as much as there is to look at here the couple of weeks leading up to the Derby. I definitely think that he is turning into an excellent racehorse.
“I think pedigree wise he is getting good at the right time. He’s always been talented. He did lack some focus and Mr. [Kenny] Trout and Elliott [Walden] had all the patience in the world of letting him come around. Elliott always had the vision of him getting good when it mattered. The first couple of turf starts were his lack of speed early. I felt that talking with Elliott, we thought that it would not deter him from future racing, to just leave there and get covered up with dirt and not really know what happened. He said that they went the same path with Drosselmeyer. His first couple of races were on turf, hopefully it works out as well.
Asmussen discussed how different his Derby duo is in terms on training and running styles.
“They are definitely a compliment to each other,” Asmussen said. “Just speaking with Elliott after [Creator’s] work. As handy as Creator is in the morning and the way he goes to the pole and breaks out, it’s kind of surprising with his lack of speed coming from the gate, but it is very effective for him. We’re comfortable with that. That being said Gun Runner is a quick horse, extremely athletic and capable of being very close to any pace. The key with him is how he gets under the wire the first time. I think over half of the field is eliminated in the first quarter of a mile in the Derby.”
Overall, Asmussen is soaking in the Derby experience.
“Right now it’s a very proud time,” Asmussen said. “I’m watching the fillies and the colts train in their colored towels and looking at the physical shape that they’re in and how they’re travelling I’m extremely proud of the horses and the team that has got them in this condition.”
BRODY’S CAUSE/CHERRY WINE – The Albaugh Family Stable’s Brody’s Cause, winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) in his most recent start, jogged two miles after the morning renovation break under exercise rider Miguel Garcia for trainer Dale Romans.
Fifth on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, Brody’s Cause returned to the track for the first time since working five furlongs in 1:01.80 on Saturday.
Also jogging the
same distance for Romans was William Pacella, Frank Jones Jr. and Frank Shoop’s
Cherry Wine. Faustino Aguilar was aboard Cherry Wine, 25th on
the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
DAZZLING GEM – Steve Landers Racing’s Dazzling Gem, 24th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, galloped after the renovation break under exercise rider Fernando Espinoza for trainer Brad Cox.
DESTIN/OUTWORK – Twin Creeks Racing Stable’s Destin, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (GII) in his most recent start, was expected to arrive at Churchill Downs Monday afternoon from Palm Beach Downs, according to Jack Heissenbuttel, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher.
Destin is eighth on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
Another Pletcher Derby hopeful, Repole Stable’s Outwork, arrived at Churchill Downs early Monday morning from Belmont Park. Outwork is fourth on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
DISCREETNESS – Xpress Thoroughbreds’ Discreetness, 26th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, galloped after the break with jockey Jon Court aboard.
“He will work this weekend, but he will probably wind up in the ($250,000) Pat Day Mile (GIII, on May 7),” trainer Jinks Fires said. “We are going to need a lot of defections (to get in the Derby).”
FELLOWSHIP – Jacks or Better Farm’s Fellowship, 21st on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, jogged in trainer Mark Casse’s first set Monday morning under exercise rider Brian O’Leary.
"He'll gallop tomorrow and work Friday or Saturday, depending on the weather,” said Norman Casse, assistant to his father.
Fellowship had worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 on Saturday.
LANI – Koji Maeda’s UAE Derby (GII) winner Lani jogged a half-mile and then galloped two miles under exercise rider Eishu Maruuchi after the renovation break.
Keita Tanaka, agent for the owner, said that Lani would work Wednesday morning and that jockey Yutaka Take would be in for the work.
Take rode in the 1995 Derby, finishing 14th on Ski Captain.
MAJESTO – Grupo 7C Racing Stable’s Majesto galloped after the renovation break with exercise rider J.J. Delgado aboard.
Trained by Gustavo Delgado (no relation), Majesto arrived at Churchill Downs on Friday after working a mile in 1:44.40 at Gulfstream Park West on Thursday.
Gustavo Delgado said Majesto would work Friday. No rider has been confirmed for the Derby on Majesto, who is 18th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
MOHAYMEN – Shadwell Stable’s Mohaymen galloped after the renovation break with exercise rider Miguel Jaime aboard.
Ninth on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, Mohaymen worked a half-mile in :46.80 last Wednesday with his next work slated for Friday, weather permitting, according to Neal McLaughlin, assistant to his brother, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
MOR SPIRIT – Michael Petersen’s Mor Spirit, never worse than second in seven career starts, galloped after the renovation break with exercise rider George Alvarez aboard.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Mor Spirit arrived at Churchill Downs last Friday, a day after working five furlongs in 1:01.60 at Santa Anita. Mor Spirit, eighth on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, jogged here Saturday and galloped Sunday.
Assistant Jimmy Barnes is overseeing the Baffert string that numbers 10 and will grow by five in the days ahead.
Jockey Gary Stevens stopped by the barn to look in on his Derby mount. Stevens has won the Derby three times, first with Winning Colors in 1988, then Thunder Gulch in 1995 and Silver Charm in 1997.
Silver Charm represented the first of Baffert’s four Derby victories with others coming in 1998 with Real Quiet, 2002 with War Emblem and last year with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Baffert is the most recent trainer to win back-to-back Derbys with the 1997-98 sweep.
MO TOM – G M B Racing’s Mo Tom galloped after the renovation break under exercise rider Mario Garcia for trainer Tom Amoss.
Mo Tom, 20th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, is scheduled to work Wednesday or Thursday, depending on weather, according to Amoss. Amoss said the Uncle Mo colt would work at 7 o’clock on the chosen day.
Corey Lanerie has the Derby mount.
MY MAN SAM/SHAGAF – Trainer Chad Brown’s two Kentucky Derby hopefuls, My Man Sam and Shagaf, walked the shedrow Monday morning, a day after posting half-mile works.
Shadwell Stable’s Shagaf, 14th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, covered his half-mile in :48.40 and will be ridden in the Derby by Joel Rosario.
Sheep Pond Partners, Newport Stables and Jay Bligh’s My Man Sam, 17th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, worked his half-mile in :50.60 and will be ridden in the Derby by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Brown plans to remain in Louisville through the Derby.
“I will probably stay,” said Brown, whose main string has shipped north to Belmont Park. “I have 10 horses here now and more coming in.”
OSCAR NOMINATED – Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Oscar Nominated, 13th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, jogged 1 ½ miles at the nearby Trackside Training Center under exercise rider Joel Cano.
Trainer Mike Maker plans to bring the son of Kitten’s Joy to Churchill Downs Friday and work Saturday. Oscar Nominated worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 at Trackside this past Saturday.
Trainer Donnie Von Hemel said Suddenbreakingnews, 12th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, would work this coming weekend with weather holding the key to the day
Luis Quinonez, who has been aboard Suddenbreakingnews in all eight of his starts, has the Derby mount.
TOM’S READY – G M B Racing’s Tom’s Ready jogged shortly after the track opened under exercise rider Emerson Chavez.
Trained by Dallas Stewart, Tom’s Ready had worked five furlongs in 1:01 on Saturday and Monday’s exercise was his first on the track since the breeze.
WHITMORE – Robert LaPenta, Harry Rosenblum and Southern Springs Stable’s Whitmore had a regularly scheduled walk day at trainer Ron Moquett’s barn.
Whitmore will be ridden in Derby 142 by Victor Espinoza. Espinoza will be attempting to become the first jockey to win three consecutive runnings of the race. Espinoza won in 2014 on California Chrome and last year with American Pharoah.
YOUTUBE LINK TO CHURCHILL DOWNS WORKOUT VIDEOS: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLl40UP8fX1C5CELhqkouYIGbftC230-oh