Arkansas Derby (G1) winner ARCHARCHARCH (Arch), training in company with stablemate Supreme Ruler (Don't Get Mad), was given a half-mile work in :52 over a sloppy track on a cold and rainy Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs under jockey Jon Court.
"It was not really a work," trainer Jinks Fires said. "They were just doing a two-minute lick around there to make them competitive, but they went a little faster than I wanted to. Archarcharch will go by himself tomorrow."
Owners Robert and Val Yagos were on hand for the morning activity after driving to Louisville on Monday from Jacksonville, Arkansas. The couple has had horses with Fires for nearly 20 years.
Archarcharch was a $60,000 sales purchase as a yearling at Keeneland.
"When we bought him we thought: 'Wouldn't it be fun to buy a horse for $60,000 and go to the Kentucky Derby (G1) with him,' " Val Yagos said.
The couple turned down offers to sell the colt in which Val became a part owner for $10.
"After we decided not to sell, we decided it would be better to have two of us making the decisions," Bob Yagos said. "We thought about selling, but we didn't buy him with the intent to sell."
Yagos has run an auto salvage business for 28 years, but Fires had to question the owner's business acumen regarding Archarcharch.
"I told Bob that I didn't think he was a very good businessman," Fires said with a laugh.
Although some of his help thought DIALED IN (Mineshaft) should have stayed under the shedrow, trainer Nick Zito 'had a feeling' that it would be better if the Florida Derby (G1) winner went to the track.
Exercise rider Carlos Correa, whom Zito said voted against taking Dialed In to the track, was aboard for a twice-around gallop over the sloppy track at 7 a.m. (EDT). The morning exercise turn out to be of benefit if the track should be wet for Saturday's Kentucky Derby, considering the colt has had such limited experience on wet tracks.
"He's never trained on it until (Monday). It was the first time he trained on it. In Florida, it was dry and if it rained at Palm Meadows, for some reason it rained at night or the morning after we trained. I think the track was sloppy one day, but he was out already," Zito said.
Dialed In had the opportunity to make his second lifetime start and first race around two turns in the slop, but Zito scratched his colt from an allowance race at Gulfstream Park on January 21.
"It was a mile and an eighth and it was a monsoon that day," said Zito, whose colt made his second lifetime start in the Holy Bull S. (G3) at Gulfstream on January 30, when he closed from last to win by 1 1/2 lengths. "That's why we're here probably -- that scratch."
Dialed In gave his trainer no indication that he wouldn't handle a sloppy track in the Derby, but the Hall of Famer admitted that the prospect of rain on Saturday is a concern.
"He looked good. Yesterday, he looked good twice around. I'd rather not see it sloppy, but once again, you can't tell God, 'Don't let it rain,' and you can't put a dome on the track. Who knows? We'll see what happens -- that's the way fate is," Zito said.
"Carlos Correa, who gets on him and has been with me a long, long time, said, 'Nick, he can handle it.' I hope Carlos is right. (Mineshaft's trainer) Neil Howard told me Mineshaft liked it, so I was happy about that."
Repole Stable's Derby duo had a quiet morning at Barn 34, avoiding the day's rain, chill and soggy racetrack to merely walk the shedrow four days out from their double-barreled attack on the glory of the Run for the Roses.
UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie), the two-year-old champion colt of 2010, and STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini), the hero of this year's Gotham S. (G3), will be separate betting interests in Kentucky Derby 137 with regular rider John Velazquez assigned once again to the former and Ramon Dominguez set to handle the latter.
Trainer Todd Pletcher rolled with the weather punches Tuesday morning during a week that many of the veteran Derby observers at Churchill Downs are calling as nasty weather-wise as can be remembered.
"It's OK," Pletcher said. "They needed a walk day anyway. We'll go back to the track and train tomorrow. We'll gallop and stand in the gate then; the usual stuff."
The trainer provided shelter for a wet and chilly crew of media types in his barn office and answered questions concerning his Derby pair. One of them centered on the possibility that Uncle Mo might not be up to running the distance of the 10-furlong Derby.
"I don't agree with that," the conditioner said. "I think he'll handle it. Watching him train all along; watching him run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile ([G1] which he won by more than four lengths); watching Johnny (Velazquez) have to reach up and grab him that day at the six-furlong (pole) following the race in order to get him to stop -- all those things tell me he's going to be OK with the distance. I still believe he's the best horse. I have always believed that."
Louisiana Derby (G2) winner PANTS ON FIRE (Jump Start) took one clockwise lap around the Churchill Downs oval during the Derby-Oaks training session with regular exercise rider Juan Pizarro up in his first visit back to the track following Sunday's half-mile breeze in :47 4/5.
"We took it easy with him today," trainer Kelly Breen said. "Just went the wrong way with him, let him be happy, gallop a little bit, jog a little bit. Not a whole lot of training today, but we're going to start cranking him up, build his blood pressure up a little bit and get him wound up.
"He has to be, for me, on the pace, and I'm going to start cranking him up, start tightening the screws, start getting him a little wild.
"He seemed to come out of the work great, he's acting great. His head's in the feed tub and he looks good."
Asked how he would go about tightening those screws, Breen explained that each day's training regimen would be adjusted on the fly, per the colt's needs.
"I'll put my own twist on it," he said. "It varies from day to day depending on what I see in him. If he's going out to the track and he's a little bit too laid back, I'll do one thing; if he's pumped up, I don't want him to get too pumped up. There's nothing that I can tell you I'll be doing Thursday when it's only Tuesday or what I'm going to do Friday or on race day."
A major factor in everyone's preparations this week has been the weather. Although there is a good chance the constant rain will subside for the next few days, the prospect of precipitation jumps again on Saturday. If Derby Day turns out to be rainy, there is at least one guy who won't mind.
"He moves up on an off track," Breen said. "He broke his maiden by seven on an off track at Delaware Park. He breezed in it two days ago and breezed well. He's gotten over the sloppy track at all different tracks and he likes it."
Breen has been to the Derby before -- he saddled two starters in 2009, Westside Bernie (ninth) and Atomic Rain (16th) -- and is happy to be going through it all again.
"Once you've been there all you want to do is get back," he said. "The walk over is like a highlight of my career. To be able to say you were in the Kentucky Derby is one thing, but the walk over -- to have this building, six stories high and people are watching you from every balcony -- it's the pinnacle of horse racing. If you don't get excited when you're walking your horse over for the Kentucky Derby there's something wrong with you."