LOOKIN AT LUCKY, CONVEYANCE WORK FOR BAFFERT – Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert wasted no time in getting some serious work at Churchill Downs for Lookin At Lucky and Conveyance, his duo of contenders for the Kentucky Derby Preseneted by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on Saturday, May 1.
The colts arrived at the historic track from southern California late Tuesday afternoon, galloped on Wednesday and surprised onlookers with workouts on Thursday.
Lookin At Lucky was first out of the barn and was the first horse to hit the track following the mid-session break for track maintenance. He breezed an easy five furlongs under exercise rider Dana Barnes in 1:01.20. After Lookin At Lucky returned to the shedrow, Barnes climbed into the saddle aboard Conveyance and guided the Southwest (GIII) winner and Sunland Derby (GIII) runner-up through five furlongs in 1:00.60.
Lookin At Lucky -- Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman’s reigning 2-year-old champion and Rebel Stakes (GII) winner – covered the distance in fractional times of :12.60, :25.20, ::37.40 and :49.6 over a fast track. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60.
Zabeel Racing International’s Conveyance turned in fractional times of :13.60, :37.40 an :49 in his five-furlong move and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.60.
“I just wanted to get over the track and see where they stand – just get a little easy 5 /8ths into both of them,” Baffert said. “It seemed like they went over it nice.”
Baffert said each of his Derby contenders would have two additional works over the one-mile dirt surface before the “Run for the Roses.”
“I just want to see how they handle it when they work,” he said. “They’re coming from synthetic, so I just want to get them that extra stroll through there to get used to it because, you know, it’s different. It’s totally different from what they’re used to. I think we’ll sharpen them up for the next work.”
Baffert said there he would make an equipment change for Lookin At Lucky in the Kentucky Derby. He will remove the blinkers the colt has worn in his last two starts, including a troubled third-place finish behind Sidney’s Candy in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) in his final Derby prep.
"You learn more from your losses than your wins, so I’m taking the blinkers off him,” Baffert said. “He doesn’t need blinkers. The thought was he needed a target, because he’d make the lead. But he’s going to have plenty of targets in the Derby with all those horses in there. I think it’ll settle him a little bit. He was getting a little antsy at Oaklawn with me (in the Rebel) with the blinkers on going to the gate, and he’s usually a pretty cool customer. So he doesn’t need ‘em.”
Lookin At Lucky’s effort was a solo work that Baffert said was “the first time Lucky’s ever worked by himself.”
Baffert said he plans to let the speedy Conveyance take full advantage of his best weapon -- natural speed – in the Kentucky Derby. The trainer second-guessed himself on the strategy employed in his runner-up finish to Endorsement in the Sunland Derby.“He’s a good horse,” Baffert said. “I liked the way he went today. He’s fast. We’re going to let him run. Last time we kind of grabbed him and took a hold of him a little bit. He’s a free-running horse and I guess we need to let him get out there and go do his thing.
Baffert said both horses would work again around the middle of next week while Baffert watches to see how the anticipated 20-horse field for the Derby shakes out.
“Eskendereya, he looks like a complete standout right now,” Baffert said. “But the California horses seem to be holding their form pretty well when they leave town, so that’s a big plus. But we still have three weeks to go and a lot can happen. You’re not safe until you put that saddle on.”
JACKSON BEND SHARP FOR ZITO – Jacks or Better Farm and Robert LaPenta’s Jackson Bend, runner-up to Kentucky Derby favorite Eskendereya in both the Fountain of Youth (GI) and Wood Memorial (GI), displayed a fondness for the traditional dirt at Churchill Downs as the Nick Zito trainee worked a fast four furlongs Thursday in :47.40.
The work over fast footing under exercise rider Carlos Correa ranked third among 30 at the distance. The diminutive bay son of Hear No Evil worked in company with stablemate Thomas Got Even and covered the half-mile in fractions of :11.60, :23.60,:35.40 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.20. Thomas Got Even covered the distance in an identical time.
“I love it,” said Zito of the move, the first by Jackson Bend since his arrival at Churchill Downs. “If he could actually do that next week, maybe Thursday or Friday, I’d be happy. Obviously he’s not a big horse and, more importantly, he’s just as good as can be and we’re happy about all that.”
Jackson Bend has never run worse than second in nine career races, of which five have been victories. He has earned $707,820.
“He’s an amazing horse,” said Zito. “I guess when they say ‘Good things come in small packages,’ I guess they know what mean. He’s that kind of horse – he’s just a tryer. He always tries, day and night, and he doesn’t give up. And that’s the kind of horse you need. He’s consistent – and consistent makes you good. If somebody makes a mistake and he runs his normal race, we’re in good shape.”
The other Kentucky Derby hopeful for Zito and LaPenta, Florida Derby (GI) winner Ice Box, galloped Thursday morning and is scheduled to breeze on Friday just after the break for track maintenance. Zito said the physical makeup of the chestnut son of Pulpit reminds him of his 1991 Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold, the first of two Derby winners for the native New Yorker.
“These horses have kept their fitness – they’ve run all winter,” said Zito. “Ice Box has had three mile and an eighth races in a row – including the Florida Derby. So, I’ve just got to be careful. You can’t under-train them, but you certainly can’t over-train them.”
NOBLE’S PROMISE ARRIVES AT CHURCHILL DOWNS, REMAINS “ON THE FENCE” FOR KENTUCKY DERBY 136 – Following an eventful and disappointing run in the Kentucky Derby, Chasing Dreams Racing 2008 LLC’s Noble’s Promise arrived at Churchill Downs Thursday morning following a van ride from trainer Ken McPeek’s Magdelena Farm.
The 3-year-old son of Cuvee jogged a mile and galloped a mile in his first trip over the historic one-mile oval and McPeek proclaimed the runner-up to Lookin At Lucky in the Rebel (GI) and CashCall Fururity (GI) to be “on the fence” for a run in the 136th Kentucky Derby on May 1.
Noble’s Promise finished fifth as the favorite in last Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (GI) after enduring a rough start in which the colt sustained cuts on each of his front legs. After the race, he was found to be suffering from a lung infection.
“We’ve just got some problems to solve,” said McPeek. “It’s never a straight line. It’s never easy.”
The Arkansas Derby effort behind the victorious Line of David came in just the second start of the year for Noble’s Promise, who has a record of 3-3-1 in eight races that includes a win in the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) at Keeneland. He has earned $823,500.
“We need to get a good week in him,” said McPeek. “I plan on working him on the 20th or the 21st. It’s going to depend on how he scopes out of that and how he’s acting. We’ve got some blood work to check and things like that.”
Meanwhile, McPeek said Peter J. Callahan’s Kentucky Oaks (GI) hopeful Beautician was doing very well following a sharp work on Tuesday, April 13 at Churchill Downs. The daughter of Dehere breezed four furlongs in :47, the fastest move of the day, in her first serious training move since she finished last to Evening Jewel in the Ashland Stakes (GI) at Keeneland.
McPeek said Beautician is bound for the Kentucky Oaks and Alex Solis has been confirmed as her rider.
SPECIAL DAILY TRAINING SESSION AVAILABLE TO KENTUCKY DERBY, OAKS HORSES STARTING SATURDAY, APRIL 17 – Churchill Downs has announced that it has carved out a special daily 15-minute training session from its regular training scheduled that will be devoted exclusively to Kentucky Derby and Oaks 136 contenders beginning Saturday, April 17.
On that day, overall training hours will start at 5:45 a.m. – 15 minutes earlier than usual – and conclude at 10 a.m. The training session for Derby and Oaks horses will begin immediately after the mid-session break for track maintenance at approximately 8:30 a.m.
Official Kentucky Derby and Oaks saddle towels will be required for access to the track during that 15 minute period, although workmates will be allowed to wear regular stable saddle towels.
Kentucky Derby and Oaks trainers may train their horses any time they wish and are not required to send their horses during that daily period. But the daily 15-minute training segment for Derby and Oaks horses will allow them to train with both significantly fewer horses on the track and fewer potential distractions.
The Derby-Oaks training sessions will continue through Thursday, April 29.
DERBY AND OAKS NOTES – The next couple of days should include a flurry of workouts by Derby and Oaks 136 contenders. Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) winner Quiet Temper is scheduled to work on Friday in preparation for the Kentucky Oaks … Jody Slew, winner of the Silverbulletday, is scheduled to work Friday for trainer Bret Calhoun, but the time for the move has yet to be determined … Seeking the Title and Sheer Beauty, the dead-heat third-place fnishers in the Fair Grounds Oaks, will each work over the next two days. Trainer Dallas Stewart said Seeking the Title would breeze Friday morning at 6:20 a.m.,(all times EDT) while veteran trainer Bernie Flint said Sheer Beauty would work Saturday at 7 a.m. …Two Kentucky Derby hopefuls from New York are scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs Friday morning following overnight van rides. Awesome Act, winner of the Gotham (GIII) and third in the Wood Memorial, is set to arrive at 7 a.m. for trainer Jeremy Noseda. Bay Shore (GII) winner Eightyfiveinafifty is scheduled to arrive Friday for a run in next Saturday’s $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII) at a mile and, if all goes well, a possible run in the Kentucky Derby the following week …Robert B. Lewis (GII) winner Caracortado is schedule to arrive from California on Monday, April 19 for a run in The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial and a possible run back in the Kentucky Derby … Tuesday, April 20 will see the arrival from Florida of Derby favorite Eskendereya and other Todd Pletcher-trained contenders, and trainer Rick Dutrow’s Kentucky Derby hopeful Homeboykris and Kentucky Oaks contender Amen Hallelujah will also be on that Florida-to-Kentucky flight.
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Wow Wow Wow – a candidate for The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial – breezed four furlongs in :47.20, the second fastest move of 30 at the distance …Country Day, who could run in the Churchill Downs on Derby Day, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 for trainer Steve Margolis.