The 137th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) looks increasingly likely to have international flavor, as the status of the Aidan O'Brien-trained MASTER OF HOUNDS (Kingmambo) was firmed up Monday.
A spokesman for the well-bred colt's Coolmore ownership told the Blood-Horse and Daily Racing Form that plans currently call for Master of Hounds to ship in from Ireland for the May 7 Run for the Roses. Pending his final workouts at Ballydoyle, O'Brien is expected to give the green light.
Last week, a declaration of intent could have been read in the fact that the four-year-olds Jan Vermeer (Montjeu [Ire]) and Cape Blanco (Galileo [Ire]) were both made late nominees to the May 7 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1), perhaps signaling that a traveling companion might be on hand with Master of Hounds. The Blood-Horse report Monday indicated that Jan Vermeer was the likelier of those two, but was still only possible for the 1 1/8-mile turf affair.
Master of Hounds is no stranger to international travel, including to Churchill Downs. Sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) after a problematic trip, the bay opened his three-year-old campaign with an excellent second in the March 26 U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) at Meydan, where he was just nailed on the line by the race-fir filly Khawlah (Cape Cross [Ire]).
Before venturing aboard, Master of Hounds had performed well in Europe. In his second start, he lost a photo to subsequent multiple Group 3 winner Dunboyne Express (Shamardal) at Leopardstown. Next time, Master of Hounds failed to catch his loose-on-the-lead stablemate Roderic O'Connor (Galileo [Ire]) at the Curragh. Roderic O'Connor went on to finish second to the all-conquering Frankel (Galileo [Ire]) in the Dewhurst S. (Eng-G1), and followed up with a score in the Criterium International (Fr-G1).
Master of Hounds then broke his maiden impressively at Tipperary, and returned from a three-month holiday with an encouraging third in the Racing Post Trophy (Eng-G1). On that occasion, he made a solid move to reach contention, only to have his lack of fitness tell in the end, but still defeated the hitherto unbeaten Native Khan (Azamour [Ire]) and Dunboyne Express. Both of those colts have advertised their classic credentials this season, with Dunboyne Express rolling in the March 27 Leopardstown Two Thousand Guineas Trial (Ire-G3) and Native Khan capturing last Thursday's Craven S. (Eng-G3).