American Lion Gets First Taste of Churchill Dirt ... Wet Forecast Alters Training Plans

AMERICAN LION – WinStar Farm’s American Lion paid his first visit to the track at Churchill Downs for trainer Eoin Harty on an overcast Thursday morning, galloping a mile under exercise rider Paul Turner.
“I liked what I saw out there,” Harty said. “He will work on Monday.”

American Lion vanned to Churchill Downs on Wednesday from Keeneland where he had been stabled since April 4, the day after he won the Illinois Derby (GIII) at Hawthorne. The colt worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 over Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack surface on Tuesday.
David Flores has the Derby mount.

AWESOME ACT – Mrs. Susan Roy and Vinery Stables’ Awesome Act walked the shedrow at Barn 36. Winner of the Gotham (GIII) and third in the Wood Memorial (GI), the Jeremy Noseda-trained son of Awesome Again had worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 on Tuesday under Derby rider Julien Leparoux.

“He will go back to the track in the morning,” said assistant trainer Wayne Tanner. “He will gallop Saturday, Sunday and Monday and work on Tuesday.”

BACKTALK – Gold Mark Farm’s Backtalk galloped a mile and a half before the morning renovation break under exercise rider Maurice Sanchez.

Miguel Mena, who has ridden Backtalk to all four of his victories, will have the mount in the Kentucky Derby if the Tom Amoss trainee makes the field.

CONVEYANCE / LOOKIN AT LUCKY – Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert said both of his Derby 136 contenders – Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman’s Lookin At Lucky and Zabeel Racing International’s Conveyance – were doing well on the morning after each turned in “bullet” moves in their next-to-last works for the Kentucky Derby.

Lookin At Lucky breezed six furlongs in 1:12 on Wednesday under exercise rider Dana Barnes, while two-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel was in the saddle that morning as Conveyance zipped five furlongs in :58.60.  Each work was a “bullet”: the fastest move of the day at their respective distance.

Both Lookin At Lucky and Conveyance walked under Baffert’s Barn 33 shedrow on Thursday.  Baffert said he now plans for both Lookin At Lucky and Conveyance to turn in their final pre-Derby works on Monday, April 26.

“The thing is they get in here and they start blossoming,” Baffert said.  “There’s a big change from the first days they were here.  Lookin at Lucky has changed a lot – he just gets better every day.  He’s a late foal, so he’s still developing there.”

Baffert said the son of Smart Strike was a late May foal, so there is plenty of potential for further improvement and added maturity.

Having won three Kentucky Derbies with Silver Charm (1997), Pegram’s Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002), Baffert has felt good about his chances coming into earlier renewals of the “Run for the Roses.”  But his hopes regarding Lookin At Lucky, the reigning American 2-year-old champion, soared with Wednesday’s work.

“After watching the work yesterday, I feel really good about it,” Baffert said.  “You can tell when you work ‘em here if you have a chance.”

Regarding Conveyance, Baffert said the gray son of 1998 Kentucky Derby third-place Indian Charlie has plenty of speed – and will let it roll on Derby Day.

"He’s a fast horse,” Baffert said.

DEAN’S KITTEN/STATELY VICTOR – Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Dean’s Kitten and Jack and Tom Conway’s Stately Victor both galloped Thursday morning at the nearby Trackside Training Center under exercise rider Marvin Jiminez.

Trainer Mike Maker said both colts are now scheduled for five-furlong works on Friday following the maintenance break at Trackside.  Dean's Kitten will work alongside Kentucky Oaks (GI) Age of Humor, just as he did last Saturday. The works were originally set for Saturday.

According to the National Weather Service, rain is expected to begin in the Louisville area late Thursday night and continuing through most of the morning Friday. More rain is forecast Friday night with showers and thunderstorms likely Saturday.

Allan Garcia has the call to ride Stately Victor in the Kentucky Derby, but Maker has not confirmed a rider for Dean’s Kitten.

DISCREETLY MINE/ESKENDEREYA/MISSION IMPAZIBLE/RULE/SUPER SAVER – Trainer Todd Pletcher expressed satisfaction with the morning activity of the powerful hand he holds coming into Kentucky Derby 136.

"For most of them, it was their second day out there and they were a little more focused than yesterday,” Pletcher said. “They all galloped a mile and quarter looked to be getting over the track well.”

Pletcher plans to work all of his Derby hopefuls this weekend, but is keeping a wary eye on a dicey weather forecast that is heavy on the rain.

"Hopefully we will be able to get most of them in Saturday morning,” he said.

WinStar Farm’s Super Saver, winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) here last fall, went out for his gallop before the renovation break under Kevin Willey.

He seems to really like this surface,” Pletcher said of Super Saver, who will be ridden in the Kentucky Derby by Calvin Borel.

Super Saver has had more time here than the quartet of Pletcher runners that arrived Tuesday afternoon from Palm Meadows. Super Saver came to Churchill Downs the day after his runner-up finish in the Arkansas Derby (GI).

Going on the track after the renovation break were Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Mission Impazible, Zayat Stables’ Eskendereya, E. Paul Robsham Stables’ Discreetly Mine and WinStar Farm’s Rule.

Eskendereya, who comes into the Kentucky Derby off daylight victories in the Florida Derby (GI) and Wood Memorial (GI), was partnered by Carlos Cano and will be ridden in the Derby by John Velazquez.

Eskendereya returned to Palm Meadows in Florida immediately after his Wood Memorial victory at Aqueduct.

"He had trained well there and liked it there,” Pletcher said. “Plus, I had a whole lot of horses there instead of spread out at Keeneland and New York and it just made it easier to keep an eye on things.”
Willey also was aboard Mission Impazible, the Louisiana Derby (GII) winner who will be ridden in the Kentucky Derby by Rajiv Maragh.

Obed Perez was on Discreetly Mine and Patti Barry was on Rule as both colts also made trips to the starting gate. Javier Castellano has the Derby riding assignment on Discreetly Mine and Ramon Dominguez will ride Rule.

Pletcher has not totally ruled out a Kentucky Derby bid for Wertheimer and Frere’s Interactif, who with $307,950 in graded stakes earnings has enough in his bankroll to be among the top 20 earners considering the Derby.

He is not going to run here unless it is in the Derby,” Pletcher said of Interactif, who has had the bulk of his success on turf and all-weather surfaces. “He is going to work this weekend and if he works lights out, we will talk about it.”

DUBLIN – Robert Baker and William Mack’s Dublin galloped after the renovation break under exercise rider Arielle Witkowski.

Trained by four-time Kentucky Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas, Dublin will be ridden by Terry Thompson.

EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY – Lerner, Moirano Team Stallion Racing Corp, Contessa, Cohen, et al’s Eightyfiveinafifty galloped after the renovation break under Nick Santagata.

Eightyfiveinafifty is the 8-5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII) that his connections hope will be a springboard into the Kentucky Derby. Ramon Dominguez has the mount in the Derby Trial.

ENDORSEMENT – WinStar Farm’s Endorsement galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break under trainer Shannon Ritter.

Endorsement, who is scheduled to work Sunday morning, will be ridden in the Derby by Robby Albarado.

HOMEBOYKRIS – Lazzinnaro, Bulger, Mandato, Diamond Pride, Tabraue Sallusto and Teel’s Homeboykris was scheduled to return to Churchill Downs this afternoon.

Homeboykris worked six furlongs in 1:14.80 on Wednesday morning and that afternoon went to the Rood & Riddle Clinic in Lexington.

"I was just having him checked out,” trainer Rick Dutrow said. “I send a lot of my horses to Dr. (Larry) Bramlage for that and he checked out fine and we are picking him up this afternoon. He will go to the track in the morning.”

ICE BOX/JACKSON BEND – Jacks or Better Farm and Robert LaPenta’s Jackson Bend worked a strong five furlongs in preparation for the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby – but the Nick Zito-trained colt remains in limbo regarding his Derby status because of continued changes on the list of graded stakes earnings by horses that could be entered in America’s race.

The other hope for the two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer – LaPenta’s Florida Derby (GI) winner Ice Box – galloped in preparation for a workout planned for Friday morning.

Jackson Bend, a runner-up to Derby favorite Eskendereya in both the Fountain of Youth (GI) at Gulfstream Park and the Wood Memorial (GI) at New York’s Aqueduct, zipped through the distance in the company of stablemate Thomas Got Even in 1:00 over a “fast” track.  The work under exercise rider Carlos Correa was the fasted of 19 at the distance on an overcast, cool morning at Churchill Downs.  Thomas Got Even was credited with a four-furlong move in :47.80, which ranked as the sixth-fastest of 41 at that distance.

Jackson Bend was recorded I fractional times of :11.80, :23.40, :35 and :47.20 and galloped our six furlongs in 1:14.20.

“He went very, very well – we were happy with home,” said Zito.  “Carlos did a good job with him.  He looked pretty good to me.”

"ow Zito must wait to see what develops in the coming days as Jackson Bend – who has a record of 5-4-0 in nine races – regarding the Derby’s earnings list.  The race is limited to the 20 entrants with the highest totals of earnings in graded stakes races.  News  received this week that trainer Todd Pletcher has increased is group of potential Derby starters to seven with the addition of the filly Devil May Care and San Felipe (GII) runner-up Interactif.  Also, Saturday’s $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII) – the year’s final Derby prep which carries a record purse of $200,000-added because of LaPenta’s sponsorship of the race – could introduce a couple of starters to the big race that will be run seven days later.

Jackson Bend currently ranks 22nd on the list of graded earnings with $230,000.

“We’ll see if he gets in,” said Zito.  “If not, we’ll just have to go on to the Preakness.  But I would think he’s got a pretty good shot to get in.

“The only saving grace is that the same owner owns the horse.  If it was a different owner, I would feel awful.  But being it’s the same owner, at least he gets to run one of his horses.  But I would be devastated if it was another owner.”

LINE OF DAVID/SIDNEY’S CANDY – Ike and Dawn Thrash’s Line of David jogged and Sid and Jenny Craig Trust’s Sidney’s Candy galloped under exercise rider Lupillo Alferez for trainer John Sadler.

Sadler has a Saturday work planned for Sidney’s Candy and is concerned about a rainy weather forecast.
“I’m pretty much set for Saturday, but if the weather gets real bad and the work changes, it would be the other way to Sunday and not a day ahead on Friday,” Sadler said.

Line of David is scheduled for his final Kentucky Derby work on Monday. Rafael Bejarano has the mount on Line of David and Joe Talamo the call on Sidney’s Candy.

MAKE MUSIC FOR ME – Ellen and Peter Johnson’s Make Music for Me galloped a mile and a quarter under exercise rider Andy Durnin after the renovation break.

NOBLE’S PROMISE -- Chasing Dreams Racing 2008’s Noble’s Promise returned to the track on Thursday after a day of walking under trainer Ken McPeek’s shedrow following his “bullet” five-furlong work of :59.80 on Tuesday.

The son of Cuvee jogged a mile and galloped a mile on Thursday under exercise rider Walter Blum, Jr.

PADDY O’PRADO – Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado, runner-up in the Toyota Blue Grass (GI) over the synthetic Polytrack and winner of the Palm Beach (GIII) on turf at Gulfstream Park, is now scheduled to work on Friday, April 23 and stormy weather looms for the Churchill Downs area over the weekend.

Trainer Dale Romans had planned to breeze the son of El Prado on Saturday, but has moved that schedule up a day.  Paddy O’Prado prepared for that work with a routine gallop on Wednesday exercise rider Faustino Aquilar.