George Bolton and Fog City’s Stable’s The Factor, who loomed as a possible favorite for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) until his seventh-place finish in last week’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (GI), got a feel for the Churchill Downs racing surface on Wednesday when he jogged a mile on his first day at the historic Louisville track.
The Bob Baffert-trained winner of Santa Anita’s San Vicente (GII) arrived at the home of the Kentucky Derby Monday afternoon following a plane flight from Hot Springs, Ark. to Lexington and a subsequent van ride to Churchill Downs.
“He felt good,” said Baffert assistant Peter Hutton, who was in the saddle aboard The Factor.
The Factor will be joined in Barn 33 on Thursday by Arnold Zetcher’s homebred Midnight Interlude, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby (GI) and a contender for Kentucky Derby 137. The son of War Chant will be joined by Plum Pretty, a 25-length winner of the Sunland Oaks and a contender for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI), on a flight from Southern California that will carry several Baffert trainees to Louisville.
Missing from the flight manifest is Zayat Stables’ Jaycito, the runner-up in the San Felipe (GII) who was knocked out of the Santa Anita Derby by a foot abscess. Baffert had looked at running Jaycito in Keeneland’s Coolmore Lexington (GII) on Saturday, but his name was not among the half dozen 3-year-olds entered in the race.
But Baffert said by telephone on Wednesday that Jaycito’s absence from Wednesday’s flight should not be interpreted as an indication that the colt is out of consideration for Kentucky Derby 137.
“He’s just not ready and I didn’t want to bring him into bad weather,” Baffert said. “I’m still working on the foot, so we’ll keep him here where it’s dry.”
The Sutton Forwarding Company flight carrying Baffert’s horses from California is scheduled to land at 12:45 p.m. at Louisville International Airport. The horses should arrive at Barn 33 about 30 minutes later.
ARCHARCHARCH, JOYFUL VICTORY SETTLE IN – Robert and Loval Yagos’ Archarcharch, winner of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (GI), had an easy morning of walking under trainer William “Jinks” Fires’ shedrow at Churchill Downs on Wednesday.
It was the colt’s first full day back in familiar surroundings at Churchill Downs, where he trained last summer and fall and made his career debut in a runner-up finish in a November maiden race. He arrived at Churchill Downs following a van ride from Oaklawn Park at approximately 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Also taking it easy on Wednesday was Fox Hill Farm’s Joyful Victory, the winner of the Fantasy (GII) at Oaklawn Park (GII) and a contender for the Kentucky Oaks. The J. Larry Jones-trained daughter of Tapit walked under the shedrow during her first morning at Churchill Downs.
Two Kentucky Derby contenders – Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team Racing Stable’s Mucho Macho Man and Just for Fun Stable’s Decisive Moment – galloped over a track left sloppy by a round of severe storms that rolled through the Louisville area overnight. Trainer Juan Arias, who jogs and gallops Decisive Moment, was in the saddle aboard the Vinery Racing Spiral (GIII runner-up.
Mucho Macho Man and Decisive Moment, both housed in Barn 41, walked off the track together.
OAKS HOPE KATHMANBLU RETURNS, DAISY DEVINE DUE THURSDAY– Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stable’s Kentucky Oaks contender Kathmanblu, third in Keeneland’s Central Bank Ashland Stakes (GI), returned to Churchill Downs Wednesday afternoon.
The Ken McPeek-trained daughter of Bluegrass Cat arrived at the Louisville track shortly before 3 p.m. following van ride from Central Kentucky. She won Churchill Downs’ Golden Rod (GII) in November.
Scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Thursday to continue preparations for the Kentucky Oaks is James Miller’s Daisy Devine, winner of the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (GII).
Daisy Devine, who is trained by Churchill Downs regular Andrew McKeever, will try to continue a strong run of success by winners of the Fair Grounds Oaks in the Kentucky Oaks. Four of the last six winners of the Fair Grounds Oaks went on to take the Kentucky Oaks. That group includes Ashado (2004), Summerly (2005), Proud Spell (2008) and Rachel Alexandra (2009).
SPECIAL TRAINING HOURS FOR DERBY AND OAKS CONTENDERS BEGIN ON SATURDAY – A special segment of Churchill Downs training hours devoted exclusively to horses being prepared for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks will begin on Saturday, April 23. The special training session for those horses was introduced last year.
The first 15 minutes of training following the mid-morning track maintenance break will be set aside for Derby and Oaks hopefuls. It is not required that the Derby and Oaks hopes train during the period that will last from approximately 8:15-8:30 a.m. through Thursday, May 5. But that period it will be available to them if they wish to exercise their Derby and Oaks horses during exclusive training period when traffic on the track is considerably lighter than that they could encounter during open training.