SANTA ANITA DERBY WINNER SIDNEY’S CANDY HAS FIRST WORK OVER DERBY COURSE, OAKS HOPE CRISP BREEZES – The Sid and Jenny Craig Trust’s Sidney’s Candy, whose romp in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) was the most recent of three straight graded stakes victories, turned heads Saturday morning at Churchill Downs with a strong five furlong work – the colt’s first serious training move since he arrived at the historic home of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) on Tuesday.
Trainer John Sadler’s homebred son of Candy Ride covered the distance in company with stablemate Via Verde in :59.80, the second-fastest move of 18 at the distance. Exercise rider Lupillo Alferez was aboard as Sidney’s Candy started the work about 2 ½-lengths back of his workmate and well in front of his partner in splits of :12.60, :24.80; :36.20 and :48. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.80 and 7/8ths in 1:27.40. Via Verde completed the distance in 1:00.80.
Sidney’s Candy worked in the first special training session at Churchill Downs for Derby and Oaks contenders. A 15-minute period is being dedicated exclusively to those horses immediately after the mid-session break for track maintenance.
The Southern California-based Sadler was not at Churchill Downs for the work, but assistant Larry Benavidez looked on from the Clubhouse and had good news to report to his boss.
“It gave me some goose bumps this morning,” said Benavidez. “I had [Bob] Baffert up there with me at the finish line and I could tell that he was interested. That work was phenomenal.”
Although Sidney’s Candy has scored front-running wins in all three of this year’s s takes victories, but Benavidez said Saturday’s move provided a glimpse of the versatility he believes the speedy colt possesses.
"When he broke his maiden in his first race, he was off the pace,” Benavidez said. “He’s not really a speed horse. He can rate; he shuts it down pretty easily. He’s a smart horse and actually kind of acts like an older horse. Today was helpful in that being prepared for the Derby he can lay second or third. He passed with flying colors today.”
A short time later, Alferez was in the saddle aboard Sadler’s Santa Anita Oaks (GI) winner and Kentucky Oaks candidate Crisp as the daughter of El Corredor worked six furlongs in 1:15.20. Michael Talla’s filly covered the distance in fractional times of :12 40, :24.60, :37, :50, and 1:02.40. Crisp galloped out seven furlongs in 1:28.60.
"I drilled her hard at Hollywood Park last Friday in 1:12 and change so I wasn’t looking for a real fast work, just a stamina-building work,” Benavidez said. “She worked really nice today. Lupillo said he really couldn’t pull her up. She’s steady. She wants to go long, go long and go long. She’ll work next Friday and run the following Friday.”
MAKER MATCHES DEAN’S KITTEN, AGE OF HUMOR IN RARE DERBY-OAKS TEAM WORK – Trainer Mike Maker was looking for strong works on Saturday at Trackside Louisville training center for his Kentucky Derby hope Dean’s Kitten, winner of the $500,000 Lane’s End at Turfway Park, and Twin Creeks Farm’s Age of Humor, his runner-up in the Bourbonette (GIII) at Turfway and a filly that Maker hopes to run in the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI).
So Maker decided to work them at five furlongs in company – one of the rare instances in recent Kentucky Derby history in which a stable’s Derby and Oaks candidates have teamed up for an important work so close to their respective races.
The result of the head-to-head effort left Maker smiling as Dean’s Kitten, working on the outside, and Age of Humor finished together in :59.80. The moves over the fast six-furlong dirt surface tied for the fastest of 10 works at the distance at Trackside.
"They’re a pretty good match,” said Maker. “Today was supposed to be Age of Humor’s good work and Dean’s Kitten, he’s not that great of a work horse. He needed to do a little something today, so that’s why we did it.”
And the results were as good, or perhaps a bit better, than Maker had hoped.
“Everything was great,” he said. “That was better than the norm for Dean’s Kitten and Age of Humor, we tried a little something different on her blinkers today because she’s usually a little laid-back, too – but she looked very keen to go on. So we are very excited about her.”
Workout pairings of Oaks and Derby contenders have been rare in recent history. The most memorable recent move was trainer Charlie Whittingham’s work that matched Derby contender Ferdinand with Oaks hopeful Hidden Light in 1986. Ferdinand got the strong pre-Derby work that Whittingham thought he needed and the colt went on to give the Hall of Fame trainer the first of his two Kentucky Derby victories, while Hidden Light finished off the board in the Kentucky Oaks.
Dean’s Kitten and Age of Humor will have one more work next Saturday before their respective races.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Dean’s Kitten is guaranteed a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 1. But Age of Humor has to have some luck to run in the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks as she is on the outside looking in when it comes to the graded stakes earnings on which participation in the race is determined. Her near-miss in the Bourbonette pushed that earnings total to $39,400, which is only good enough at this point for 20th place on a listed of 24 fillies considered “likely” to run in the race. The Oaks is limited to 14 starters, with preference to fillies with the highest earnings in graded stakes.
“Getting her in is the biggest question,” said Maker. “She’s a little light on seasoning, but I’ll tell you what – I’m anxious to run her a mile and an eighth – very anxious.”
Dean’s Kitten is one of two Kentucky Derby hopefuls in Maker’s care. The other is Thomas and Jack Conway’s Stately Victory, the 40-1 upset winner of last week’s $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland. Stately Victor galloped early Saturday at Trackside and is scheduled to work next Saturday.
OAKS CANDIDATE SHEER BEAUTY WORKS AS FLINT EYES EARNINGS LIST – At the moment she is a filly that her connections hope will find a way into the 14-horse starting gate for the 136th Kentucky Oaks, but Sheer Beauty continues to train like a filly who could make some noise if she should find a way to run in America’s premiere race for 3-year-old fillies on Friday, April 30.
L.T.B. Inc. and Miles Childers’ gray daughter of Mizzen Mast breezed four furlongs Saturday over a “good” track in :48.40 just after 7 a.m., a training move that ranked 14th of 54 at the distance. Jockey James Graham was aboard for the work as Sheer Beauty covered the distance in fractional times of :12 .20, :24 40, :36.60 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.80.
Trainer and co-owner Bernie Flint beamed over the work by Sheer Beauty, who is coming off a dead-heat third-place finish with fellow Oaks hopeful Seeking the Title in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII), but was more subdued when he talked of the filly’s position on the list of graded earnings for Oaks contenders. She current is tied for 21st for a race that is limited to 14 fillies with preference given to fillies with highest total earnings in graded stakes races.
“Graham jumped off and said, ‘Good to go’,” said Flint. “He really liked the way she went. We [jogged] a mile before we breezed her and she galloped out in a minute-one and a couple. He didn’t really ask her to run – he said he moved his hands a little bit.”
Flint said he would continue to train Sheer Beauty as if she would make the 14-filly Oaks field. He said the Eight Belles (GIII) at 7 ½-furlongs on Kentucky Derby Day would be a fallback position – but not one he is anxious to pursue. He believes Sheer Beauty would thrive at the Oaks distance of 1 1/8-miles.
"I really don’t want to go back to a sprinting mile, and that’s little short of a sprinting mile,” said Flint. “I want to go around two turns. If I don’t get in and it works out that way, it just works out that way. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
SUNLAND DERBY WINNER ENDORSEMENT TRAVELS TO CHURCHILL DOWNS ON SUNDAY – WinStar Farm’s Endorsement, the winner of the $800,000 Sunland Park Derby (GIII) last time out, will travel by van to Churchill Downs on Sunday , April 18 for his final two weeks of preparation for Kentucky Derby 136.
The son of Distorted Humor worked Saturday over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland for trainer Shannon Ritter, who has worked for years as an exercise rider at Churchill Downs and now has her first Kentucky Derby horse as a trainer.
Ritter was aboard Endosement as the colt worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 in the company of a workmate. Endorsement started five lengths back of the workmate, but finished comfortably in front as he covered the distance in splits of :13 60 :26 60, :38 40, and :49.40 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 and seven-eighths in 1:27 40.
Endorsement will ship to Barn 19, the home of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s Churchill Downs stable, on Sunday.
KENTUCKY DERBY AND KENTUCKY OAKS 136 NOTES – Also working for the Kentucky Oaks on Saturday was Fair Grounds Oaks runner-up Champagne d’Oro, who breezed six furlongs in 1:14 under jockey Miguel Mena … New York shippers Awesome Act and Eightyfiveinafifty jogged over the Churchill Downs track on the morning after their Friday arrivals at the track. …
The $200,000 Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII), the final prep race for the Kentucky Derby and the last chance for Derby hopefuls to collect graded stakes earnings to qualify them for the 20-horse Derby field, picked up two new potential starters on Friday in Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Florida Derby (GI) runner-up Pleasant Prince and WinStar Farm’s Drosselmeyer, a troubled fourth in the Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds.
The one-mile race set for Saturday, April 24 at Churchill Downs has been revitalized by a record purse of $200,000 in the first year of a Derby Trial sponsorship by owner-breeder Robert LaPenta, who owned Grade I stakes winner and current stallion The Cliff’s Edge, who ran fifth to Smarty Jones in the 2004 Kentucky Derby. Ken Ramsey told Blood-Horse that the Wesley Ward-trained Pleasant Prince would run in the Kentucky Derby if Pleasant Prince picks up sufficient graded stakes earnings in the Trial, which has a first-place prize of $120,000. Pleasant Prince finished seventh in last week’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes over synthetic Polytrack at Keeneland following his near-miss on traditional dirt at Gulfstream Park in the Florida Derby. …
Drosselmeyer, who is trained by Mott, tuned up for the Trial with a five-furlong work over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface in 1:02.40 on Saturday. He covered the distance in splits of :13.40, :25.80,:37:40 and :49.50 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.40. …
Other horses considered likely for The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial include Bay Shore (GII) winner Eightyfiveinafifty; Bay Shore runner-up Hurricane Ike; Aikenite, third in the Fountain of Youth (GII), Miner’s Reserve; Soaring Empire; Tiz Chrome, Wow Wow Wow; Crider; Game On Dude, Hear Ye Hear Ye and Silver Craft. Trainer Dale Romans has said First Dude, third in the Toyota Blue Grass, was possible for the race. …
LaPenta’s Miner’s Reserve turned in a blistering half-move on Saturday at Churchill Downs in preparation for the Derby Trial as he covered the distance for trainer Nick Zito in :46 – the swiftest clocking of 54 at the distance.
WORK TAB: (GOOD prior to the break, FAST afterward) – Alysheba (GIII) hopeful Bold Start breezed four furlongs over a “good” track in :47.60 … Flying Pegasus breezed five furlongs in :58.60, the fastest of 18 over a “good” track … Cool Bullet prepped for the Matt Winn with a four-furlong move over a “fast” track in :47.60.