AGE OF HUMOR – Trainer Mike Maker reported that Twin Creek Farm’s Age of Humor, stabled at the Trackside Training Center in Louisville, jogged 1 3/8 miles Monday during the 6 o’clock hour with exercise rider Marvin Jiminez in the saddle.
AILALEA – Starlight Partners’ Ailalea had exercise rider Carlos Cano in the tack as she galloped a mile Monday morning on a “muddy” main track following the 8:30 renovation break that this year has become “Derby/Oaks horses only” time.
The Todd Pletcher-trained daughter of Pulpit will run in the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (GI) Friday and may have the saddle services of John Velazquez. The top rider based out of New York could be available for the mount if stablemate Devil May Care runs in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby instead. Velazquez would ride Devil May Care against the boys and jockey Garrett Gomez would pilot Ailalea if Devil May Care goes in the Oaks.
AMEN HALLELUJAH – IEAH Stables and Whizway Farms’ Amen Hallelujah jogged a mile over the muddy Churchill Downs track Monday morning under exercise rider Joe Deegan.
The daughter of Montbrook had captured the Santa Ynez (GII) and the Davona Dale (GII) before finishing second to Devil May Care in the Bonnie Miss (GII) at Gulfstream Park in her most recent start.
“Our filly ran big. The only excuse we had was the Devil May Care was in the race,” trainer Rick Dutrow said. “We just got outrun by Devil May Care.”
News that Devil May Care may run in the Kentucky Derby instead of the Kentucky Oaks didn’t upset Dutrow.
“That’s OK by me,’’ he said.
Julien Leparoux has the mount aboard Amen Hallelujah.
BEAUTICIAN – A busy morning at the Ken McPeek barn featured workouts by both his Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders. The filly Beautician worked a half-mile in company in :49.20 with jockey Alex Solis in the saddle, but emerged a bit scathed from the exercise.
Beautician’s work featured splits of :12.20 and :24.60, with a gallop-out to five furlongs in 1:03 flat. Afterward, she returned to the barn with bleeding in her back left leg.
“She’s had a history of what I call ‘scalping,’ but I thought we had her past all that,” McPeek said. “I think the off track contributed. It shouldn’t be anything major.”
McPeek decided to work Beautician in company for her final Oaks tune-up, following a lighter morning regimen leading up to her lackluster loss in the Central Bank Ashland (G1). In hindsight, the trainer surmised, “I think I babied her a little going into the Ashland.”
With Devil May Care possibly headed to Kentucky Derby 136, the complexion of the Oaks field may have taken a change at the top.
“We’ve beaten most of them, but we need her to run back to her career-best form, which was as a 2-year-old,” McPeek said. “We’ve beaten Blind Luck, we’re familiar with her. A lot of these fillies are familiar with each other.”
The McPeek barn was overflowing with “fillies” on Monday morning as a group of more than a dozen female students from Cal Poly visited the barn.
BELLA DIAMANTE – Lone Star Stables’ Bella Diamante exercised over the Churchill Downs surface for the first time Monday, jogging one mile under Eddie Milligan Jr., brother of trainer Allen Milligan.
“I just jogged her once around,” Eddie Milligan Jr. said. “She felt great, hit the ground good. Everything went really well. The track was a little sloppy but she handled it well jogging and everything was fine.”
Bella Diamante got her jog in early, not long after the track opened for training at 5:45 a.m., instead of taking advantage of the 15-minute window after the renovation break when the track is open only to Derby and Oaks horses.
“I hadn’t been here since I was 18 and I just wanted to get out there and test-drive her without a lot of people watching,” Eddie Milligan Jr. said.
The Lost Soldier filly arrived Sunday following a 14-hour van ride from Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.
“Everything seems to be fine,” Eddie Milligan Jr. said. “She shipped in well and rested most of the afternoon yesterday.”
Eddie Milligan Jr. confirmed that Bella Diamante would only be entered in the Kentucky Oaks and that the $100,000 Eight Belles (GIII) at 7 ½ furlongs on Derby Day is no longer under consideration. Bella Diamante is seeking her first win beyond six furlongs and has yet to hit the board in a race longer than one mile.
BLIND LUCK – With the filly Devil May Care possibly headed to the Kentucky Derby, the Oaks focus may fall squarely on Blind Luck. Churchill Downs morning line maker Mike Battaglia said a defection of one-half of the Oaks’ “big two” fillies would have a dramatic impact on the toteboard.
“You have to think Blind Luck would be the odds-on favorite now in the Oaks,” Battaglia said. “Just like Devil May Care had in the Bonnie Miss (GII), Blind Luck had an absolute break-out race in the Fantasy (GII), numbers-wise, earning a 104 (Beyer Speed Figure).”
Blind Luck galloped 1 ½ miles Monday under the lights predawn with regular exercise rider Archie Cross in from California’s Hollywood Park to partner.
“It was a bit damp out there this morning and it took about a half-mile to get her bearings,” Cross said. “You could tell she was testing it out and seeing what it was like.”
With trainer Jerry Hollendorfer due in Louisville later Monday, assistant trainer Galen May liked what he saw Monday. He’s overseeing Blind Luck and stablemate Chocolate Candy, the 2009 Kentucky Derby fifth-place finisher who is in town for a date in Friday’s Alysheba Stakes (GIII).
“She looked very good and I was very impressed with her today,” May said. “This filly, she’s just a pro.”
CHAMPAGNE D’ORO – Southern Equine’s Champagne d’Oro made two laps around the Churchill Downs oval under exercise rider Froylan Garcia as soon as the track opened at 5:45 a.m.
“The filly jogged two miles,” trainer Eric Guillot said. “She went out there and looked great. She’s doing good and everything’s wonderful. She’ll go one and one (jog one mile and gallop one mile) all the way to the day of the race and she’ll school in the paddock Wednesday.”
Champagne d’Oro is on the bubble, so to speak, for the Oaks, sitting at 15th on the graded earnings list with one day to go before entries are drawn.
Guillot joked Monday about his reputation as a good interview who speaks his mind and doesn’t hold anything back.
“There’s no lame in my game and no sag in my flag,” Guillot said. “I got more moves than U-Haul and more game than Xbox.”
CRISP – Trainer John Sadler had Michael Talla’s Crisp out for a mile and one-half jog early Monday morning with exercise rider Lupillo Alferez doing the steering. The daughter of El Corredor is putting in her final preparations for Friday’s run for the Lillies, where she’ll get the saddle services of one of California’s top riders, Joel Rosario.
Crisp won the Santa Anita Oaks (GI) in her most recent outing on March 6 and has had six works since, with the last two coming at Churchill Downs. She has three wins in five starts and earnings of $252,120.
DEVIL MAY CARE (See Kentucky Derby notes)
EVENING JEWEL – Under the watchful eye of trainer Jim Cassidy, Evening Jewel galloped 1 3/4 miles at Santa Anita this morning just before 8 a.m. (PDT) in what figures to be a long couple of days for the Oaks contender.
“They’re going to come here and pick her up by van at about 2:30 in the morning and then she’ll fly out of Ontario about 4 or 4:30 a.m. our time,” Cassidy said. “She’ll be in Kentucky tomorrow. I’ll arrive later today so that I am in Louisville when she gets there.”
Evening Jewel has been first or second in seven straight races dating back to last fall’s Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting. She exits a wire-to-wire victory in Keeneland’s Central Bank Ashland Stakes (GI) in her only previous try outside of California.
Evening Jewel will be housed in Barn 41, Stall 20 when she arrives at Churchill Downs.
IT’S TEA TIME – Alex Campbell Jr.’s It’s Tea Time galloped 1 1/8 miles after the renovation break under exercise rider Ronan Quinn.
Trained by Rusty Arnold, It’s Tea Time arrived from Keeneland on Sunday morning and schooled in the paddock Sunday afternoon.
“She had a busy day yesterday with the shipping and schooling, so she had a light day today,” Arnold said. “Tomorrow she will gallop a mile and a half.”
It’s Tea Time entered Kentucky Oaks consideration with a fast-closing, runner-up effort in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes (GI) at Keeneland on April 3. Prior to that race over the all-weather Polytrack surface at Keeneland, It’s Tea Time had raced twice on the turf at Gulfstream Park.
“She trained on the dirt here last fall and this winter at Palm Meadows,” Arnold said. “I trained her second dam, Rootentootenwooten and she won the Grade I Demoiselle on dirt.”
Monday’s activity was accomplished over a track labeled “muddy” and more rain is in the forecast for later in the week, which could impact the Oaks on Friday.
“It would be my guess that she would love the mud,” Arnold said. “My only concern is inexperience.”
Arnold plans to give It’s Tea Time another paddock session this week as well as a trip to the starting gate on Wednesday morning.
“It was a little quiet over there yesterday,” Arnold said of the paddock session during the fifth race. “Hopefully it will be a nice, sunny day on Wednesday.
JOANIE’S CATCH – Rose Family Stable’s Joanie’s Catch walked the shedrow at Calder Race Course Monday morning before boarding a van bound for Churchill Downs.
The daughter of First Tour has finished first, second or third in 16 of 18 races.
“The two times she ran out were in a two-furlong race in her first start last year at Gulfstream and a race in which she had problems in the gate. We had some gate problems with her for three races,” said trainer Barry Rose while packing his car for the ride to Louisville.
Joanie’s Catch finished third behind Devil May Care and Amen Hallelujah in the Bonnie Miss Stakes (GII) at Gulfstream on March 20. Although Devil May Care may run in the Derby instead of the Oaks, Rose knows that Amen Hallelujah will be a formidable foe for Joanie’s Catch in the Oaks.
“Before the Bonnie Miss, I wasn’t concerned about Devil May Care as much as Amen Hallelujah, who just beat us in the Davona Dale,” Rose said.
Paco Lopez will be aboard Joanie’s Catch in the Oaks.
Joanie’s Catch is scheduled to arrive Tuesday morning and will be housed in Barn 43, Stall 12.
JODY SLEW – Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan’s Jody Slew jogged during the Derby and Oaks training session and is “doing good,” according to Dennis “Peaches” Geier, assistant to trainer Bret Calhoun.
Calhoun has been out of town the past several days but is expected back by Wednesday.
QUIET TEMPER/SASSY IMAGE – Trainer Dale Romans opted Monday not to enter last year’s Pocahontas (GIII) and Golden Rod (GII) winner Sassy Image in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (G1). But the barn still has a very live bullet in Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) winner Quiet Temper.
Quiet Temper galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Javier Tapia. Meanwhile, her regular jockey, Robby Albarado, watched as an interested onlooker from the clocker’s stand just beyond the half-mile pole.
“I like her chances in the Oaks,” Albarado said. “She’s gotten better every time I’ve been on her this year.”
Quiet Temper was returning to the track for the first time since Friday’s final Oaks workout.
“Quiet Temper is doing good and I’m happy with her,” Romans said. “The other filly, Sassy Image, we just ran out of time with.”
SEEKING THE TITLE – Charles Fipke’s Seeking the Title galloped 1 3/8 miles under exercise rider Pedro Velez during Monday’s Derby and Oaks training session.
“It was a good gallop,” trainer Dallas Stewart said. “It’s a waiting game now, dude.”
Seeking the Title is tied for 17th on the graded earnings list with $21,000. Even if there were three defections from the anticipated field, Seeking the Title would also need to win a shake with Sheer Beauty (who has the same amount of graded earnings after the two fillies dead-heated for third in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks) to claim the final spot.
In the event of a shake for a spot in the Oaks field, the names of both horses would be included in the lot with all the entries for a standard post position draw and the first of the tied fillies to be drawn would get into the race.
SHEER BEAUTY – Fair Grounds Oaks (GIII) third-place finisher Sheer Beauty jogged Monday morning under exercise rider Georgia Jackson as trainer Bernie Flint waited to see if a spot in the Kentucky Oaks field will open for his filly.
“We missed a work with her because of the weather and I’ve been sitting on the fence for so long, I’m just used to sitting there now,” Flint mused. “I guess I’ll sit another day, entries are tomorrow.”
A daughter of Mizzen Mast, Sheer Beauty will need several defections from the Oaks field in order to make it into the 14-horse gate.
TIDAL POOL – Westrock Stables’ Tidal Pool blew out two furlongs in the stretch Monday morning after the renovation break for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Exercise rider Leeanne Bates was aboard during Tidal Pool’s trip to the track.
Lukas said that the Fantasy Stakes (GII) runner-up would not breeze the week of the Kentucky Oaks, but that he would do a little blowout type of move a few days before the race. Tidal Pool’s last breeze for the race was April 20 when she worked six furlongs in 1:12.60.