AGE OF HUMOR – Twin Creek Farm’s Age of Humor arrived at Churchill Downs just before 10 a.m. following a 15-minute van ride from trainer Mike Maker’s Trackside Training Center base.
Maker was enthusiastic about the progress of Age of Humor, who will race Friday in a more drastic style of blinkers instead of the French cup (3/4 cups) she was previously outfitted with.
“The filly’s doing excellent,” Maker said. “I’m glad we got in because I think she’s going to improve as the distances increase and she’s really come around.
“The changes to the blinkers are really going to help her. She didn’t want to pull away from that horse (winner Orchestrator) in the Bourbonette (GIII). She looked like she had that horse anytime she wanted and even in her works she always wanted to stay with other horses and not draw away. With these different blinkers we put on she’s been drawing away so we’re happy.
“It’s more of a full cup,” Maker explained. “She had some French cups that she ran in that blocked out some but not all of it. Now she’s a lot more focused, and she’s filled out.
And she’s another one (like his Derby contender Dean’s Kitten) that if the track came up sloppy it wouldn’t hurt her.
“She’s come into her own and this is a great spot to find out where you sit.”
AILALEA – Starlight Partners’ Ailalea went trackside under Patti Barry Wednesday morning during the post-renovation break “Derby/Oaks horses only” period, galloping a mile and five-sixteenths in anticipation of her Friday date.
The Todd Pletcher-trained daughter of Pulpit will have the saddle services of top rider John Velazquez in the nine-furlong Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Ailalea, a double winner who counts Aqueduct’s Tempted Stakes (GIII) among her tallies, will break from post 12. She is listed at 15-1 in the Oaks morning line.
AMEN HALLELUJAH – IEAH Stables and Whizway Farms’ Amen Hallelujah galloped a mile and a half at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning under exercise rider Michelle Nevin.
The daughter of Montbrook has turned in two bullet workouts since finishing second behind Derby entrant Devil May Care in the Bonnie Miss (GII), both at Gulfstream Park.
“The Gulfstream Park track was getting hard the last three weeks. I don’t think she likes a real hard track like that was,” trainer Rick Dutrow said.
Amen Hallelujah will be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
BEAUTICIAN – Beautician, runner-up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI), jogged a mile Wednesday morning and then galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Marvin Abrego. Trainer Ken McPeek said she has shown no ill effects from suffering a minor cut in her final workout Monday morning.
“That’s a detail thing, changing her shoes, way more than a medical thing,” McPeek said. “It’s all in the details, switching up the angles of the shoes and such. Beautician had a really good day today and is doing quite well.”
Beautician drew post six in the 14-horse Oaks field and will be ridden by jockey Alex Solis. As for the draw, McPeek had no worries.
“There’s way too much being a trainer to worry about than things we can’t control,” he said. “You run where they draw you and take it in stride.”
BELLA DIAMANTE – Lone Star Stables’ Bella Diamante galloped 1 ½ miles during the Derby and Oaks training session with Eddie Milligan Jr., brother of trainer Allen Milligan, aboard.
“She was a lot brighter today,” Eddie Milligan Jr. said. “She seems to like it here. She is going to run the best race she can and that’s about all you can ask.”
Allen Milligan will arrive in town Thursday.
BLIND LUCK – The 6-5 morning line favorite for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, Blind Luck visited the paddock Wednesday morning before galloping 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Archie Cross. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said he will send Blind Luck to the paddock for schooling the next two days, appearing for the second race Wednesday and Thursday.
“She’s very happy to be here, which is a key, and very relaxed,” Hollendorfer said. “She’s never been a problem horse in that area anyway.”
Blind Luck drew post five in the Oaks’ 14-horse field and will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano.
“I like the draw a lot and we’ve got a rider who has been on this horse and knows her very well,” Hollendorfer said. “Bejarano is something else. He works harder than just about anybody getting to know a horse. You should see him; he’s on the computer watching videos, studying the charts, everything. Not many riders do that like he does.”
CHAMPAGNE D’ORO – Southern Equine’s Champagne d’Oro came onto the track the minute it opened at 5:45 a.m. to jog one mile and gallop one mile.
“We went out in the dark,” trainer Eric Guillot said. “I train in the dark so nobody learns anything. I can’t give away my trade secrets.”
Guillot said he did not know the name of the exercise rider but that whoever it was did a fine job.
“She’s training good,” he said. “I was a little afraid she was going to run off.”
Guillot also raved about the clarity in his filly’s eyes, which the trainer said is an indicator of her overall health.
“You know a horse is doing good when you can look in their eyeball and see what the guys in the barn across the way are doing,” he said. “I know more about what’s going on in that barn over there than the trainer does, just by looking in her eye. Clarity in the eyes is key. Just like a person.”
Champagne d’Oro will school in the paddock during Wednesday’s fifth race.
CRISP – Trainer John Sadler had Michael Talla’s Crisp out early on a chilly Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs for a mile and one-half gallop on the big oval under exercise rider Lupillo Alferez..
“She went well,” the California-based conditioner said at his Barn 42. “She’ll go out early tomorrow, too. All my horses will. I think this track is better first thing in the morning.”
Crisp, winner of the Santa Anita Oaks (GI) in her most recent start, drew post seven for Friday’s $584,300 Kentucky Oaks (GI), where she’ll be handled by one of California’s top riders, Joel Rosario. She is listed as 8-1 in the morning line for the 14-horse field.
EVENING JEWEL – Jet lag? Not so much. On her first morning at Churchill Downs since arriving by plane from California on Tuesday, Evening Jewel was absolutely full of herself on the track and grazing behind Barn 41. Trainer Jim Cassidy looked on as his Central Bank Ashland Stakes (GI) winner nearly ran off with exercise rider Lindsey Molina during Wednesday morning’s training session.
“The plan was to just jog her a little bit because I thought she’d be awfully keen,” Cassidy said afterward. “And she was all that and more. She scared poor Lindsey to death. She came off the plane feeling pretty good obviously.”
The flight was not the first for Evening Jewel, who traveled from California to Kentucky earlier this month.
“She was quite content and her old self at Keeneland,” Cassidy said. “This was different this morning. But I had her out grazing and couldn’t be happier. She’s just feeling really good.”
Cassidy said Evening Jewel would school in the paddock Thursday with the horses for the second race.
IT’S TEA TIME – Alex Campbell Jr.’s It’s Tea Time galloped to the starting gate, where she stood for a while and then galloped back around to the five-eighths pole under exercise rider Ronin Quinn.
“She did about a mile and a half and was excellent at the gate,” said trainer Rusty Arnold of It’s Tea Time, who drew the one hole for Friday’s Oaks. “She’ll gallop a mile and a half tomorrow and probably walk Friday morning.”
Arnold was not happy with his filly’s draw.
“I jinxed myself yesterday saying I wanted anything but the one and then it plunks out,” Arnold said. “She may have to stand in there a bit longer, but sometimes these things have a way of working out for the best.”
Alan Garcia has the riding assignment on It’s Tea Time, who was scheduled to school in the paddock with horses in the fifth race on Wednesday.
JOANIE’S CATCH – Rose Family Stable’s Joanie’s Catch, who arrived by van from Calder Race Course on Tuesday, was introduced to the Churchill Downs surface while galloping a mile and a half Wednesday morning.
“She had a nice gallop,” trainer Barry Rose said of his homebred filly.
Joanie’s Catch, who’ll be ridden by Paco Lopez, will break from the far-outside No. 14 post position.
“It shouldn’t have any real effect. She’s not going to be bursting out of there to get the lead,” Rose said. “It might keep her out of trouble, if something goes on in the middle of the track with some of these 3-year-olds.”
JODY SLEW – Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan’s Jody Slew galloped 1 ½ miles during the Derby and Oaks training session with Eddie Corerra in the saddle.
“She backed up to the gate, stood in the gate, and then galloped a mile and a half,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “I love the way she’s been training. She’s back to her old self. She’s full of energy and really happy. She’s ready to go and we’ve just got to get a good trip and be the best horse that day.”
Jody Slew finished seventh in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) won by Quiet Temper. About 10 days before that race, the Slew City Slew filly was cast in her stall and suffered bruising high up on the inside of her hind legs that forced her to miss a scheduled work.
“She was compromised significantly,” Calhoun said. “That was a throw-out race. Prior to her getting cast we felt really good about our chances of winning the Fair Grounds Oaks. Then after she got cast in her stall it was more about getting to the Kentucky Oaks instead of winning the Fair Grounds Oaks and using that as a prep race.
“We felt it was a race that she needed in order to get to the Kentucky Oaks, but it wasn’t a race we were very confident we’d do a lot of good in. Her injuries were not such that we thought we would risk any setback by running her there but we did think it was a situation where she’d improve from it and I think that’s what’s happened. She’s gotten over all the issues she had from being cast and she’s really moved forward up here.
“If we had gone eight weeks and tried to go a mile-and-an-eighth it would have been more of a training challenge getting her here, but I think that race under her belt helped and we didn’t have to do as much getting her here as we would have if she hadn’t run that day.”
Jody Slew drew post position No. 2 for the Kentucky Oaks.
“I didn’t matter,” Calhoun said. “She’s going to drop back. The only negative is she’ll be standing there longer during the load. I’d rather be there than the outside because she’s already saving ground and won’t use any energy dropping over.”
QUIET TEMPER – Trainer Dale Romans’ first Kentucky Oaks starter in 11 years, Quiet Temper, galloped 1 ½ miles Wednesday morning and made her way to the starting gate for a schooling session. The winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) mirrored the morning activities of her stablemate Paddy O’Prado, who is finalizing his preparations for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby 136.
“Everything is on course from here,” Romans said. “I’ve only run one filly in the Oaks. Ran one, finished third in Silverbulletday’s year (1999) with Sweeping Story. The neat thing is that we are running Sweeping Story’s baby (C.S. Royce) on Saturday in a maiden race, too.”
Jockey Robby Albarado has the mount on Quiet Temper in Friday’s Oaks. Both trainer and rider will be search of their first victory in the “Run for the Lillies.”
TIDAL POOL – Westrock Stables’ Tidal Pool trained by D. Wayne Lukas jogged a mile and half Wednesday morning.
She drew post eight in the field of 14, is 8-1 on the morning line and will be ridden by Calvin Borel, who won the race last year with Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra.
Tidal Pool is a bay filly by Yankee Gentlemen out of the Deputy Minister mare Sea Rhythm. Westrock, owned by Joe Ford, his son Scott, and John McKay, was purchased for $220,000 in February 2009 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sale. She has hit the board in her three starts this year, all at Oaklawn Park, and was second to Oaks favorite Blind Luck in the Fantasy (GII).
Westrock was formed in 2008 and sends some of their horses to Lukas. He handled Be Fair, who finished fourth in the Oaks and won the Lake George (GIII) at Saratoga Race Course last year. Westrock has been active in the sales as it builds its roster of runners.
“You can get used to that name; they’re going to be here for a while,” Lukas said. “They’re pretty strong and they want to play in the main arena, too. They do not just want to be a part of racing, they want to be a force in racing, and they will be. There are different facets of owners and different levels in Thoroughbred racing, and anybody can play, but there are people with the wealth or the bottom line that they can step up and try to get at least to this level, though there is no guarantee. Those people want to play. They don’t want to be in the third race on Wednesday, they want to be there at 5:30 on Saturday. They’ll be around.”
Lukas said that McKay picked out Tidal Pool.
“He’s never been around race horses, but he’s got any excellent eye and is an outstanding horseman,” Lukas said. “He trains roping horses, quarter horses and stuff. He picked this filly out and she was sent to me.
“She’s gotten better. At 2, she wasn’t quite as strong as she is now. She’s really on an upward spiral. She was second in the Fantasy, but she’ll be better on Friday. Much better. Blind Luck ran by us in the Fantasy; we were second, but we’ll make it more interesting next time.”