ARCHARCHARCH – Robert Yagos’ Arkansas Derby (GI) winner Archarcharch walked the shedrow at Barn 40 under tack on a rainy Sunday morning.
Archarcharch, who made his racing debut here last fall with a troubled second-place finish going seven furlongs, is trained by Jinks Fires and will be ridden in Kentucky Derby 137 by regular pilot Jon Court. It will mark the first Kentucky Derby start for Fires and Court.
DECISIVE MOMENT – Just for Fun Stable’s Decisive Moment galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break with trainer Juan Arias in the saddle.
Arias plans to work the colt on Thursday
MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE/THE FACTOR – Arnold Zetcher’s Midnight Interlude, winner of the Santa Anita Derby (GI) in his most recent start, galloped after the renovation break under exercise rider Dana Barnes.
Jim Barnes, assistant to three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert, said Midnight Interlude would most likely work on Tuesday, depending on weather.
Victor Espinoza, who won the 2002 Kentucky Derby on War Emblem for Baffert, has the mount on Midnight Interlude.
Fog City Stable and George Bolton’s The Factor, seventh as the favorite in the Arkansas Derby (GI) in his most recent start, jogged under Dana Barnes before the renovation break.
MUCHO MACHO MAN – Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing Stable’s Mucho Macho Man got his first serious taste of Churchill Downs on Sunday morning, working seven furlongs in 1:29.20 over a sloppy track under jockey Rajiv Maragh.
Working by himself after the renovation break at the outset of the special training period for Kentucky Derby and Oaks hopefuls, Mucho Macho Man clicked off fractions of :13.60, :26.40, :39, :51.60, 1:04, 1:16.60 and galloped out a mile in 1:43.80.
"He worked good and I was very happy with it and Rajiv also seemed to be,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said.
A steady rain fell most of the morning but then picked up with much enthusiasm shortly before Mucho Macho Man’s work. Ritvo went on with the work as planned.
"I think it is supposed to rain the next few days, so I decided to go,” said Ritvo, who never has started a horse at Churchill Downs. “I wanted to keep as close to our schedule as possible. He will come back and work again Saturday or Sunday.”
Mucho Macho Man would represent the second Derby mount for Maragh, who rode Mission Impazible to a ninth-place finish last year.
NEHRO – Zayat Stables’ runner-up in the Louisiana Derby (GII) and Arkansas Derby (GII) galloped on Sunday for trainer Steve Asmussen and is scheduled to work at Churchill Downs on Monday.
Assistant Scott Blasi, like every other Derby trainer on the grounds, is keeping an eye on the weather and said the son of Mineshaft could work during the Derby/Oaks training period at 8:30 a.m., but could also go out as early as the barn’s second set at 6 a.m., depending on weather conditions. Training hours open at 5:45 a.m.
"A lot depends on how good a seal he gets on the racetrack,” Blasi said. “I loved how it looked this morning. The track was good this morning. That track was really good.”
PANTS ON FIRE – George and Lori Hall’s Pants On Fire, winner of the Louisiana Derby (GII) in his most recent start, arrived at Churchill Downs from Palm Meadows in South Florida at 11:30 a.m. (EDT) Sunday.
Trained by Kelly Breen, Pants On Fire is stabled in Barn 27. Rosie Napravnik has the Kentucky Derby riding assignment.
SANTIVA – Tom Walters’ Santiva, winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) here last fall, galloped after the renovation break under Brendan Walsh, assistant to trainer Eddie Kenneally.
Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode Santiva to victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club, will have the Derby Day riding assignment. It will be the fifth Derby mount for Bridgmohan.
STAY THIRSTY/UNCLE MO – Repole Stable’s Stay Thirsty, one of two contenders for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) trained by Todd Pletcher, worked a strong five furlongs in a steady rain on Sunday at Churchill Downs.
The 3-year-old son of 2006 Preakness (GI) winner Bernardini worked in company with older workmate Bridgetown and covered the distance over sloppy going in 1:00. Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel was in the saddle aboard Stay Thirsty for the move. Pletcher and Borel teamed to win last year’s Run for the Roses with WinStar Farm’s homebred Super Saver, which was the first Kentucky Derby win by Pletcher.
Stay Thirsty will attempt to rebound in the Kentucky Derby from a disappointing seventh-place finish in the $1 million Florida Derby (GI) on April 3 won by Dialed In. He opened his 3-year-old campaign prior to that with a win in the Gotham (GIII) at Aqueduct.
The persistent rain of the past few days had tapered off to a few sprinkles during morning training at the historic track, but the skies opened again only minutes before Stay Thirsty stepped on the track just after the maintenance break. The first 15 minutes of training after the break are devoted to training moves contenders for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks (GI) through Thursday, May 5.
Stay Thirsty and Borel worked along the rail with Bridgetown, a 4-year-old sprinter expected to run in the $100,000-added Twin Spires Turf Sprint Presented by GE – Appliances & Lighting (GIII) on Kentucky Derby Day, was poised to the outside as the pair zipped over the sloppy going in fractional splits of :11.60, :23, :35.20 and :47.60. Stay Thirsty stuck his neck in front near the finish line and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.
“I thought he breezed really well,” Pletcher said. “The time was solid and he got over the off going well. He finished up with a good last quarter and galloped out strongly. So overall I was really pleased.”
“We leaned on him a little bit this morning. I told Calvin we wanted a good, solid work and I think we got that. So we’ll see how he responds to that this week, and we might have a similar a similar-type work next week.”
“He worked good,” Borel said. “I was doing Todd a favor – I’m not on the horse. … That’s what he wanted, so that’s what I gave him.”
There was ample water on the track surface thanks to the steady rain that fell during the work, but Borel said the wet surface was not an issue for him or Stay Thirsty.
“I’m not much of a fan of the lightning, but other than that I thought the track was good,” he said. “This track gets better when it rains. I love it when it rains here – it tightens it up and gets it good. You can’t fault the track.”
Pletcher was pressed after the work as to whether Borel’s presence in the saddle for Sunday’s move might have been a dress rehearsal for a ride aboard Repole’s colt in the Kentucky Derby. Ramon Dominguez was aboard Stay Thirsty for his win in the Gotham and his disappointing run in the Florida Derby, and Borel does not yet have a firm mount for Derby 137 despite his unprecedented run of success over the past four years.
“We haven’t really talked about it,” Pletcher said. “We asked him if he was available to work the horse and he said yes, he’d love to. I haven’t had a chance to really talk with Mike Repole about it that much. But I’d say it’s a possibility, but we haven’t done anything yet.”
Borel maintained his was simply doing a favor for Pletcher and expressed confidence that he’ll find a way to stay occupied on Derby Day at Churchill Downs.
“I’ll ride something,” said Borel. “This is how it goes – that’s horse racing. We’ll find one.”
Repole and Pletcher’s other Kentucky Derby hope – once-beaten 2-year-old champion Uncle Mo, galloped early on the rainy Sunday morning at Churchill Downs. The son of Indian Charlie was a heavy favorite for Derby 137 until his third-place finish to Toby’s Corner in the $1 million Wood Memorial (GI) at Aqueduct.
Uncle Mo was found to be suffering from a gastrointestinal infection after the race and has been treated with antibiotics since that discovery. Repole’s colt is scheduled to work on Tuesday – his first major training move since his return to Churchill Downs last week.
“I think he’s really responding well to treatment – his last 48 hours in particular,” Pletcher said. “His appetite is the best it’s been since the Wood, and I’m feeling really good about the direction we’re heading. Like I said when we got here, we need to have a really good 19 days and, so far, we’ve had a really good five here. We need to have 13 more, but we’re really, really pleased with the progress we’re making at the moment.”
Jockey John Velazquez will fly to Louisville on Monday and will be in the saddle for Uncle Mo’s work, which is scheduled at approximately 8:30 a.m. in the training period for Derby and Oaks hopefuls. Pletcher said Uncle Mo would work five furlongs in company with his Repole-owned stablemate Calibrachoa, the 4-year-old winner of the Tom Fool (GIII) at Aqueduct on March 5. The son of Southern Image is scheduled to run in the $300,000-added Churchill Downs Presented by Navistar (GII) at seven furlongs on Kentucky Derby Day.
“We’re looking for a good solid work,” Pletcher said. “We’ll be looking for a similar work to what we got from Stay Thirsty today.
“One of the good things about what he has is that we haven’t had to miss those daily gallops. Normally, I maybe would have worked him today, but I decided to give him a couple of more days just to continue to let the medication kick in. With the results we’re seeing, it’s working, so we’ll go on Tuesday and hopefully build off that. We haven’t had to adjust his training much at all.”
Pletcher’s annual spring visit to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby is different this year as the five-time Eclipse Award winner as America’s top trainer has arrived as the defending winner of America’s greatest race. It was pointed out by a reporter that he no longer has to answer the question about when he would grab that elusive Kentucky Derby victory, a query that elicited a broad smile from Pletcher.
“Winning the Derby is awesome – it’s great,” Pletcher said. “It doesn’t change your life in a lot of ways. The feed man still wants to get paid, your wife still thinks you work too much and if you get beat in the Wood Memorial everybody wants to know why. I don’t have to answer that specific question, but a lot of the other ones are still there.”
TWICE THE APPEAL/SWAY AWAY – Edward Brown Jr., Victor Flores and Henry Hernandez’s Sunland Derby (GIII) winner Twice the Appeal walked the shedrow at Barn 42. The Successful Appeal colt had worked six furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.20 here on Friday.
Miguel Carranza, assistant to trainer Jeff Bonde, said Bonde is expected to return to Louisville on Friday.
Bonde’s other Kentucky Derby hopeful, Batman Stable, Philip Lebherz, Cindy Olsen, Janet Sharp and Glen Wallace et al’s Sway Away, jogged under exercise rider Nate Quinonez.
Fourth in the Arkansas Derby (GI) in his most recent start, Sway Away has $111,500 in graded stakes earnings and would need several defections from horses under consideration for the Kentucky Derby to make the race that is reserved for the top 20 Triple Crown-nominated graded stakes earners that pass the entry box on May 4.