TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (Grade II) runner-up Lone Sailor returned to the work tab Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs with a half-mile breeze in :47.60, his first major tune-up in preparation for the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I).
With jockey James Graham aboard, Lone Sailor breezed through splits of :12 and :24, before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.60.
“He’s just doing things nice and easy,” said trainer Tom Amoss as Lone Sailor hit the top of the stretch. “The track is pretty fast this morning but he’s doing things in hand.”Owned by Gayle Benson’s G M B Racing, Lone Sailor carries the city of New Orleans on his shoulders into the first Saturday in May. Benson and her late husband Tom are the longtime owners of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans. Tom passed away nine days before the Louisiana Derby.
"Mr. Benson is a New Orleanian,” Amoss said. “He speaks like us, he thinks like us, and has given New Orleans so much with the Saints. Everyone feels a connection to him in town. By us giving him a second place finish in the Louisiana Derby, I really feel that there is an opportunity, in a very small way, to give something back to Gayle and the Saints’ family.”
Amoss confirmed that Graham will have the call on Lone Sailor in the Kentucky Derby.
’m really looking forward to the Derby,” Graham said. “Tom is a great trainer to ride for. I’m really excited. (Lone Sailor) worked really well this morning by himself and galloped out strong. He’s doing really well.”
In addition to Lone Sailor (Barn 29), there are four other likely Kentucky Derby starters stabled on the Churchill Downs backstretch: Bravazo (trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Barn 44); Flameaway (Mark Casse, Barn 36); Free Drop Billy (Dale Romans, Barn 4); and Promises Fulfilled (Romans, Barn 4).
Training hours at Churchill Downs are 5:30-10 a.m. with two renovation breaks at 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Derby and Oaks horses will have an exclusive training window beginning Saturday, April 21 through Thursday, May 3 from 7:30-7:45 a.m.
FAIR GROUNDS OAKS WINNER CHOCOLATE MARTINI WORKS BULLET HALF FOR OAKS – Double Doors Racing LLC’s Chocolate Martini began serious preparation for the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs with a half-mile breeze in :47.40, the fastest of 30 recorded moves at the distance.
With jockey James Graham aboard, Chocolate Martini clipped through opening eighth-mile splits of :11.80 and :23.40, before galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.40.
“It was designed to be an easy half-mile but the track was very fast this morning,” trainer Tom Amoss said. “So, the work times were quick but she was in hand throughout. She hit the ground well and is enjoying what she is doing.”
A former $25,000 claim in early January, Chocolate Martini has rewarded Amoss and Double Doors Racing with consecutive victories against allowance company and the Fair Grounds Oaks, respectively.
“Everyone has asked me what we have done differently since claiming her,” Amoss said. “I hate to disappoint but the answer is not much, if anything at all. She came to us in great shape. She was developing in her racing and we picked up where the other stable has left off.”
Amoss has not confirmed a rider for the Oaks.
Chocolate Martini (Barn 29) is joined by fellow Oaks probable starters stabled at Churchill Downs: Classy Act (trainer Bret Calhoun, Barn 23); Coach Rocks (Dale Romans, Barn 4); Monomoy Girl (Brad Cox, Barn 22); and Patrona Margarita (Calhoun, Barn 23).
DOWN THE STRETCH – Derby Week stakes nominations, as well as late nominations to the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) and Old Forester Turf Classic (GI), close Saturday. To nominate: https://www.churchilldowns.com/horsemen/stakes/nomination-forms/.