While Easter Sunday will be a quiet day for many people across the commonwealth of Kentucky, several owners and trainers will be on edge as numerous Kentucky Derby prospects are scheduled to complete their penultimate workouts for the 1 ¼-mile race on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.
Saturday began the exclusive 7:30-7:45 a.m. EDT training session for horses preparing for the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) and $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI), but Mother Nature played a role with nearly two inches of rain that fell overnight in Louisville.
Several trainers opted to move their scheduled workouts to Sunday, including Bret Calhoun’s Louisiana Derby winner By My Standards and Bill Mott’s Wood Memorial victor Tacitus.
Nevertheless, several prospects were on the track for light training including Arkansas Derby (GI) runner-up Improbable for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
BY MY STANDARDS – Chester Thomas’ Allied Racing Stable’s Louisiana Derby (Grade II) winner By My Standards galloped about 1 ½ miles at 6:30 a.m. EDT Saturday for locally-based trainer Bret Calhoun.
“(Trainers) sort of turn into meteorologists when it comes to important works for horses,” Calhoun said. “I’m going to plan on working him (Sunday) depending on the track conditions.”
The colt, by Goldencents, is tentatively scheduled to breeze at 9 a.m. with regular jockey Gabriel Saez aboard.
CODE OF HONOR – Florida Derby third-place finisher Code of Honor breezed five furlongs in 1:01 Saturday at Keeneland and is tentatively scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Wednesday via van, according to Senior Director of the Stable Area Steve Hargrave.
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey III, John Velazquez is confirmed to ride in the Kentucky Derby.
COUNTRY HOUSE/TACITUS – Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s duo of Arkansas Derby third-place finisher Country House and Wood Memorial winner Tacitus both trained over the sloppy Churchill Downs surface Saturday.
Country House had a light gallop around 6 a.m. with exercise rider Maryanne Scherer aboard while Tacitus galloped during the exclusive training period for Derby and Oaks horses at 7:30 a.m. with Juan Quintero up.
“Both horses are doing well,” assistant trainer Kenny McCarthy said. “We may try to breeze Tacitus (Sunday) depending on the track conditions.”
Both horses are stabled in Barn 19.
IMPROBABLE – Improbable, who races under the colors of WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and Starlight Racing came out onto the sealed Churchill Downs track Saturday, but the Arkansas Derby (GI) runner-up didn’t put in a strenuous workout.
“When you have this kind of weather, and the track is sealed, you want to go out there and take a little jaunt, and not try to do too much,” said Jimmy Barnes, assistant to five-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert, who is supervising the colt’s activities at Churchill Downs. Baffert’s other two possible Derby starters, Game Winner and Roadster, haven’t arrived yet from California.
“He’s basically a lightly-raced horse, so he’s running him into shape. He raced at Los Alamitos in December, and went from there to the Rebel, so it’ll take him a few races just to get racing fit.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him, and he came out of Arkansas with two second-place finishes. But he could have won the first race easily if he’d had a better trip, and in the second one we were beaten by Omaha Beach, but that’s a very nice horse. I see him improving with each start.”
LONG RANGE TODDY – Rebel (GII) winner Long Range Toddy had a light 1 ½-mile gallop Saturday at 7:30 a.m. for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
“All good except the weather,” said assistant trainer Scott Blasi, as he accompanied Long Range Toddy aboard the stable pony.
Long Range Toddy is stabled in Barn 38.
OMAHA BEACH – The likely favorite for the Kentucky Derby, Omaha Beach, avoided the inclement weather and had an easy walk day Saturday in Barn 28 at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, Omaha Beach is likely to train Sunday at 7:30 a.m.
Mandella is expected to be at Churchill Downs on Sunday.
PLUS QUE PARFAIT – UAE Derby (GII) winner Plus Que Parfait was the first horse on the track during the exclusive training window for Derby and Oaks horses at 7:30 a.m. for locally-based conditioner Brendan Walsh.
Plus Que Parfait, ridden by Walsh’s assistant Tom Molloy, jogged in the chute area at Churchill Downs before completing about a one-mile gallop.
“He bounced out of the (UAE Derby) much better than expected,” Walsh said. “He’s been doing really well since he’s gotten to Churchill Downs. We are just so proud of his effort in the UAE Derby to jump up and win like that. I think it just showed all along that he didn’t really care for the surface at Fair Grounds over the winter.”
Plus Que Parfait is tentatively scheduled to breeze Sunday at 5:30 a.m., according to Walsh. Ricardo Santana Jr. is signed on to ride in the Derby.
ALSO ELIGIBLES – Currently on the outside looking in at No. 22 on the Kentucky Derby preference list, Signalman breezed five furlongs in :59.60 in company with Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) contender Restless Rider (five furlongs in :59.80). Signalman, who has not missed the board at Churchill Downs (3-1-1-1), clipped through opening fractions :12.20, :23.80, :35.60 and :47.60 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 and completing a seven-furlong gallop out in 1:26.20, according to clocker John Nichols. Signalman is based in Barn 6. … Peter Redekop’s Anothertwistafate, also on the Kentucky Derby bubble at No. 23 on the points leaderboard, shipped to Churchill Downs earlier this week from Keeneland. With six career starts, he’s been first or second in all but one, including his runner-up finish to Owendale in the Lexington (GIII) at Keeneland on April 13. Prior to the Lexington, Anothertwistafate earned graded-stakes placing in the Sunland Derby (GIII), where he just lost by a neck to Cutting Humor in track-record time. … Silverton Hill’s Derby hopeful Sueno, which translates from Spanish as “dream” is on the bubble, ranking No. 24 on the leaderboard. In four graded stakes starts this year, the Keith Desormeaux trainee has a pair of seconds and a pair of thirds, most recently finishing behind Owendale and Anothertwistafate in the Lexington. For that team’s Derby dream to become a reality, four 3-year-olds ahead of him on the leaderboard will have to drop out of the picture in order for him to be among the 20 entering the starting gate on May 4. He’s at stabled at Churchill Downs in Barn 24 and getting in his preparations for a possible Derby start.
SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – Likely starters in the 145th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) to be run for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles on Saturday, May 4: By My Standards (jockey Gabriel Saez), Code of Honor (John Velazquez), Country House (undecided), Cutting Humor (undecided), Game Winner (Joel Rosario), Gray Magician (undecided), Haikal (Rajiv Maragh), Improbable (Irad Ortiz Jr.), Long Range Toddy (Jon Court), Master Fencer (JPN) (Julien Leparoux), Maximum Security (Luis Saez), Omaha Beach (Mike Smith), Plus Que Parfait (Ricardo Santana Jr.), Roadster (Florent Geroux), Spinoff (Manny Franco), Tacitus (Jose Ortiz), Tax (Junior Alvarado), Vekoma (Javier Castellano), War of Will (Tyler Gaffalione), Win Win Win (Julien Pimentel).
Next up in order of preference: Bodexpress (undecided), Signalman (Brian Hernandez Jr.), Anothertwistafate (undecided) and Sueno (undecided).
KENTUCKY OAKS UPDATE
CHAMPANGE ANYONE – Six Column Stables and Randy Bloch’s Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) winner Champagne Anyone galloped early Saturday morning at Churchill Downs for trainer Ian Wilkes.
The 3-year-old filly by Street Sense is likely to breeze Monday, according to Wilkes.
“She’s really progressing nicely in her career,” Wilkes said. “I think the blinkers really helped get her into a better rhythm last time and she’s maturing mentally, too.”
LADY APPLE – Phoenix Thoroughbred III and KatieRich Stables’ Fantasy Stakes (GIII) winner Lady Apple galloped about 1 ½ miles Saturday at 7:30 a.m. for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
The daughter of the former Asmussen-trained Curlin, Lady Apple vaulted into the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) picture with a narrow victory over Motion Emotion in the Fantasy.
Ricardo Santana Jr. is likely to ride in the Oaks.
LIORA – The smile was hard to wipe off the face of “Cat Man”, otherwise known as trainer Wayne Catalano, when he described his Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) runner-up Liora.
“She proved she belonged in the Fair Grounds Oaks,” Catalano said. “She’s got a real shot in this year’s Oaks. I think we can make a run at it and that’s all you can ask of a horse when you enter any type of race.”
Liora had a light day of training Saturday and is based in Barn 30 at Churchill Downs.
OUT FOR A SPIN – Commonwealth Stable’s lightly-raced filly Out for a Spin, who jumped into the Oaks picture after winning the Ashland (GI) at Keeneland on April 6 at odds of 52-1, is training toward the race at Dallas Stewart’s Barn 37 at Churchill Downs.
With Paco Lopez, who rode the Hard Spun filly to the stunning upset in her first stakes start, sitting out for a 60-day suspension, Out for a Spin will have a different rider in her next start. Stewart confirmed this week that Irad Ortiz Jr. will get the mount in the Oaks.
RESTLESS RIDER – Ashland (GI) runner-up Restless Rider was vanned to Churchill Downs from Keeneland late Friday afternoon and breezed a strong five furlongs in :59.80 in company with stablemate Signalman (five furlongs in :59.60) at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
Restless Rider worked head-in-head with Signalman through splits of :12.20, :23.80, :35.60 and :47.60 before she finished about one length behind at the wire and completed her work following a six-furlong gallop out of 1:14.20, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.
SERENGETI EMPRESS – Joel Politi’s filly Serengeti Empress is training toward a possible start in the Kentucky Oaks (GI), but trainer Tom Amoss said a final decision on whether she’ll be in the starting gate on May 3 has not been made.
The odds-on favorite in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) on March 23, with jockey James Graham up, bled for the first time and was vanned off. Amoss had her on the sealed Churchill track just past 5 a.m. Saturday, and she’s expected to breeze Tuesday.
“I’m not going to take her to the track for training hours for the Derby and Oaks horses until I’m convinced that she’s going to run in the Oaks, and right now that’s up in the air,” Amoss said. “She’s going to breeze on Tuesday, that’s the tentative plan, and if it goes well, and she doesn’t bleed, then we’re going to plan on running, and she’ll start wearing the Oaks towel.
“She’s been training well, and training well here. We’re trying to be as transparent as we can be, so we’ve been putting everything on Twitter (@TomAmossRacing), because what we don’t want is to run a horse who’s not at her best. We want the world to see what we’re doing, and to know that we’re putting the horse first. It’s the Kentucky Oaks, and we’d love to be a part of it, but we’re not going to put it ahead of the horse’s health.”
STREET BAND – Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) upset-winner Street Band galloped about 1 ½ miles at 5:30 a.m. Saturday at Churchill Downs for trainer Larry Jones.
The filly by Istan is likely to work Monday at 7:30 a.m., according to assistant trainer Corey York. Jones is expected to arrive in Louisville next weekend.
SHAPING UP: THE LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS – Likely starters in the 145th running of the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) to be run for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on Friday, May 3: Bellafina (jockey Flavien Prat), Champagne Anyone (Chris Landeros), Chocolate Kisses (undecided), Flor de la Mar (undecided), Jaywalk (undecided), Jeltrin (Luis Saez), Lady Apple (Ricardo Santana Jr.), Liora (Channing Hill), Motion Emotion (undecided), Out for a Spin (Irad Ortiz Jr.), Positive Spirit (undecided), Restless Rider (Brian Hernandez Jr.), Serengeti Empress (undecided), Street Band (Sophie Doyle).
Next up in order of preference: Cookie Dough (Jeffrey Sanchez) and Dunbar Road (undecided).
EARLY LOOK AT POSSIBLE FIELDS
FOR KENTUCKY DERBY WEEK STAKES
$125,000 WILLIAM WALKER (Entries taken Wednesday, race Saturday, April 27) – Probable: Bulletin (trainer Todd Pletcher), Jo Jo Air (Wesley Ward), Legends of War (Doug O’Neill), Moonlight Romance (Wesley Ward), Sovereign Impact (Bill Denzik Jr.) and Uncapped (Brendan Walsh)
$115,000 CHAMPIONS DAY MARATHON (Entries taken Thursday, race Tuesday, April 30) – Probable: Krewe Chief (Mike Maker) and Pinson (Randy Morse). Possible: Monongahela (Jason Servis).
$125,000 KENTUCKY JUVENILE (Entries taken Friday, race Wednesday, May 1) – Probable: Alcools (Wayne Rice), Alec and Arthur (John Hancock), Biddy Duke (John Ennis), Marva (Wesley Ward) and Two Dot (Hancock).
$115,000 OPENING VERSE OVERNIGHT STAKES (Entries taken Saturday, April 27, race Thursday May 2) – Probable: All Right (John Ortiz), Ballagh Rocks (Bill Mott), Bond Street (IRE) (Conor Murphy), First Premio (Mark Casse), Parlor (Eddie Kenneally) and Real Story (Ignacio Correas IV).
$125,000 UNBRIDLED SIDNEY (Entries taken Saturday, April 27, race Thursday May 2) – Probable: Luvin Bullies (Mac Robertson), Nootka Sound (Wesley Ward) and Pretty Greeley (John Ortiz).
$400,000 ALYSHEBA (GII) (Entries taken Monday, April 29, race Friday, May 3) – Probable: Bandua (Jack Sisterson), Bourbon Resolution (Ian Wilkes), Exclamation Point (Brad Cox), Instilled Regard (Chad Brown), McKinzie (Bob Baffert), Pavel (Doug O’Neill), Prime Attraction (Jim Cassidy), Silver Dust (Bret Calhoun) and Tom’s d’Etat (Al Stall Jr.).
$500,000 LA TROIENNE (GI) (Entries taken Monday, April 29, race Friday, May 3) – Probable: Blue Prize (ARG) (Ignacio Correas IV), Divine Miss Grey (Danny Gargan), Heavenhasmynikki (Bob Hess Jr.), Mopotism (Doug O’Neill), Secret Spice (Richard Baltas) and She’s a Julie (Steve Asmussen).
$250,000 EDGEWOOD (GIII) (Entries taken Monday, April 29, race Friday, May 3) – Probable: Cambier Parc (Chad Brown), Concrete Rose (Rusty Arnold II), Newspaperofrecord (IRE) (Chad Brown) and Winter Sunset (Wayne Catalano).
$250,000 EIGHT BELLES (GII) (Entries taken Monday, April 29, race Friday, May 3) – Probable: Bell’s the One (Neil Pessin), Im Evin Im Leavin (Greg Tracy), Mother Mother (Bob Baffert), Queen of Beas (Jorge Abreu) and Take Charge Angel (Ben Colebrook).
$250,000 TWIN SPIRES TURF SPRINT (GII) (Entries taken Monday, April 29, race Friday, May 3) – Probable: Angaston (Lon Wiggins), Bound for Nowhere (Wesley Ward), Eddie Haskell (Mark Glatt), Extravagant Kid (Brendan Walsh), Mr. Crow (Ben Colebrook), Will Call (Brad Cox) and World of Trouble (Jason Servis).
$1 MILLION OLD FORESTER TURF CLASSIC (GI) (Entries taken Tuesday, April 30, race Saturday, May 4) – Probable: Arklow (Brad Cox), Bricks and Mortar (Chad Brown), Divisidero (Kelly Rubley), March to the Arch (Mark Casse), Markitoff (Mike Maker), Multiplier (Bill Mott), Raging Bull (FR) (Brown) and Ticonderoga (Brown).
$500,000 CHURCHILL DOWNS (GI) (Entries taken Tuesday, April 30, race Saturday, May 4) – Probable: Bobby’s Wicked One (Al Stall Jr.), Do Share (Mike Maker), Limousine Liberal (Ben Colebrook), Promises Fulfilled (Dale Romans), Recruiting Ready (Stan Hough) and Warrior’s Club (D. Wayne Lukas).
$500,000 HUMANA DISTAFF (GI) (Entries taken Tuesday, April 30, race Saturday, May 4) – Probable: Amy’s Challenge (Mac Robertson), Dream Tree (Bob Baffert), Marley’s Freedom (Bob Baffert), Shamrock Rose (Mark Casse) and Talk Veuve to Me (Rodolphe Brisset).
$400,000 AMERICAN TURF (GII) (Entries taken Tuesday, April 30, race Saturday, May 4) – Probable: A Thread of Blue (Kiaran McLaughlin), Casa Creed (Bill Mott), Digital Age (IRE) (Chad Brown), Forever Kid (Antonio Sano), Henley’s Joy (Mike Maker), Louder Than Bombs (David Fawkes), Marquee Prince (Brad Cox), Seismic Value (Mott) and Weekly Call (Vickie Foley).
$400,000 LONGINES DISTAFF TURF MILE (GII) (Entries taken Tuesday, April 30, race Saturday, May 4) – Probable: Beau Recall (IRE) (Brad Cox), Capla Temptress (IRE) (Bill Mott), Daddy is a Legend (George Weaver), Environs (GB) (Chad Brown), Got Stormy (Mark Casse), Precieuse (IRE) (Brown), Raven’s Lady (GB) (James Cassidy), Take These Chains (Matt Hogan) and Valedictorian (Kelly Breen).
$400,000 PAT DAY MILE (GIII) (Entries taken Tuesday, April 30, race Saturday, May 4) – Probable: Dream Maker (Mark Casse), Frolic More (Dallas Stewart), Global Campaign (Stan Hough), Great Success (Gustavo Delgado), High Crime (Darrin Miller), Hog Creek Hustle (Vickie Foley), Lexitonian (Jack Sisterson), Manny Wah (Wayne Catalano) and Mr. Money (Bret Calhoun).
Churchill Downs Racing Communications
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(303) 981-5629 (mobile) | Gary.Yunt@KyDerby.com|