ANIMAL KINGDOM/TOBY’S CORNER – Team Valor International’s Animal Kingdom returned to the track Monday morning and jogged a mile over a sloppy course.
Dan Rock, assistant to trainer Graham Motion, sent the colt out a little after 7 a.m. during a short break in the rain.
The Leroidesanimaux colt worked six furlongs Saturday morning in 1:13. Rock said the colt has come out of the work in good order.
Dianne D. Cotter’s Wood Memorial (GI) winner Toby’s Corner jogged at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.
The Bellamy Road colt worked six furlongs in 1:15 on the Tapeta surface at Fair Hill Sunday morning. He is scheduled to van to Churchill Downs on Tuesday.
ARCHARCHARCH – Robert and Val Yagos’ Arkansas Derby (GI) winner Archarcharch galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break over a sloppy track with jockey Jon Court aboard.
The owners are driving to Louisville from Jacksonville, Ark., today and expected to be on hand during training hours in the morning when more rain is expected.
The long-range forecast for Derby Day calls for a 30 percent chance of rain and Court was asked if he had any concerns about Archarcharch handling a wet track.
“I would prefer a dry track, but they all have to run on it,” said Court, who will be riding in his first Kentucky Derby. “It doesn’t show (on his past performances), but he has had experience on an off track. I am confident in his ability and skill to think that he could handle it.”
Archarcharch’s only off-the-board finish in six starts came on a track listed as “good” in a fourth-place finish in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 17.
“That day,” Court said, “that track was muddy, sticky and tiring.”
BRILLIANT SPEED – Live Oak Plantation’s Toyota Blue Grass (GI) winner Brilliant Speed breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Monday morning over the wet surface. It was the third-fastest of seven works at the distance.
Under assistant trainer Dan Blacker, the Dynaformer colt turned in fractions of :12.60, :24.80, :36.40 and :48:40. His six-furlong gallop-out time was 1:15.
“I thought he went well. The work was good and he galloped out nicely,” said trainer Tom Albertrani, who watched it from the backstretch clockers’ stand. “I thought it was a nice work, what we were looking for.”
Brilliant Speed shipped over from Keeneland on Friday and galloped on the surface on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Two days of rain forced Albertrani to breeze the homebred colt on the muddy surface.
“I just wanted to see how he handled the track,” Albertrani said. “Today wasn’t the best day with the rain that we’ve been having. Ideally, I would have preferred a fast track, but there is no guarantee what the track might be like on Saturday, either. Today was just kind of a maintenance move and I thought he worked well.”
COMMA TO THE TOP – Trainer Peter Miller reported that his Kentucky Derby charge Comma to the Top looked “super” Monday morning at Hollywood Park following his five-furlong drill Sunday that he accomplished in 1:00.40.
“He’s doing great,” Miller said. “We just walked him today and he’s got his plane at 4 tomorrow morning.”
Miller indicated that he’d be flying this afternoon from Los Angeles and planned to be on board at Churchill when Comma to the Top makes the scene, probably early Tuesday afternoon.
California-based Patrick Valenzuela – one of four of this year’s Derby riders who has won the race previously – has the call on the son of Bwana Charlie.
DECISIVE MOMENT – Trainer Juan Arias was aboard Decisive Moment for a morning gallop Monday following the renovation break at Churchill Downs, where another man by the name of Juan Arias visited the winner’s circle with 1971 Kentucky Derby winner Canonero II.
Decisive Moment’s trainer is quick to point out that he is no relation to the trainer of the Venezuelan invader who pulled off the shocking victory 40 years ago.
“People want to make me Juan Arias II, but I don’t want to be second. I want to be first,” Arias quipped.
Arias, though, admitted that he wouldn’t mind if Decisive Moment followed in Canonero II’s footsteps and pulled off an upset in the Derby.
The South Florida-based trainer reported that the Just For Fun Stable’s homebred colt galloped well over the sloppy track Monday.
“He loved it. I wish on race day it would be the same way,” he said. “He’s been here a month and tried every condition this track can have, and he adjusts perfectly on all of them. No surprises for him.”
Kerwin Clark will ride Decisive Moment in the Derby.
DIALED IN – Exercise rider Carlos Correa took Robert LaPenta’s Dialed In to the track at 7.a.m. Monday for a long gallop over the sloppy surface at Churchill Downs.
“He galloped a pretty long way, went around twice there,” trainer Nick Zito said during a break in the morning rains. “It was just like this when he went out, but then God said, ‘Nah, I want him to get wet like the other horses.’ But he liked it. I can’t remember, believe it or not, since I got him galloping on a track like that. I think that was the first time – this morning – that he galloped on a wet track. It looked like he did all right.”
The ever-superstitious Zito, who has saddled Strike the Gold (1991) and Go for Gin (1994) for victories in the Kentucky Derby, has been outwardly and comfortably confident in Dialed In this spring, although he did make an effort to knock on wood outside Barn 36 when he talked about his positive feelings about the son of Mineshaft.
“I’m just confident with a horse like this. To me, he’s a special horse. He always tries so hard, it’s nice to have a horse like that. You know he’s going to put in his run,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “I’m always confident when I have a horse like this – confident, but not overconfident.”
Dialed In, who won the Holy Bull Stakes (GIII) and the Florida Derby (GI) at Gulfstream Park, has returned to the Churchill Downs, a more mature-looking colt than the one who broke his maiden here last November.
“He was a little bit of a butterball. He was a little chunky. Obviously, he streamlined. He’s not a very big horse, but he streamlined down beautifully,” Zito said. “He’s a gorgeous horse. I think his development has been terrific.”
MASTER OF HOUNDS – Mrs. John Magnier’s Master of Hounds is scheduled to arrive in Louisville between 8 and 8:30 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday and van to Churchill Downs with an arrival time at the quarantine section of Barn 45 between 9 and 9:30 a.m.
The Irish-based son of Kingmambo, trained by Aidan O’Brien, finished second in Dubai’s $2 million UAE Derby (GII) on March 26, in his only start of 2011. Master of Hounds visited Churchill Downs last fall for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, where he finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GII).
Master of Hounds will be ridden by Garrett Gomez.
MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE – Arnold Zetcher’s Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Midnight Interlude worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.80 over a sloppy track.
Working in company with his 5-year-old stablemate Mythical Power, the War Chant colt delivered fractions of :12.40, :24.40, :36.40 and :48.20 under jockey Martin Garcia. Inside the sixteenth pole Midnight Interlude pulled ahead of Mythical Power, who was second-fastest at the distance in 1:01. Also, during the Oak/Derby training period, Baffert’s Oaks filly, Plum Pretty, worked four furlongs in :48.80.
"The track was in pretty good shape today. We got enough rain,” Baffert said. “The last time I worked these horses it didn’t rain enough and the track was sort of drying out heavy and mucky. I was really happy with the way they worked today because they went over it well.”
The Derby will be Midnight Interlude’s fifth career start, all of them this year. He made his debut on Jan. 29 at Santa Anita, broke his maiden on March 20 in his third try and won the Santa Anita Derby by a head over Comma to the Top on April 9.
“Midnight Interlude has been improving every day since I’ve been here,” Baffert said. “He’s still green. He’s learning how to run. I worked him with his workmate and once he got in front of the workmate he wants to shut it down a little bit. He’s figuring it out, though. He’s doing a little catch-up.”
Baffert said that even though Midnight Interlude had the fast time and pulled away from his workmate near the wire he showed his inexperience.
“(The riders) had radios on them and I didn’t want (Mythical Power) to do too much with him because he’s running Friday,” Baffert said. “He just went five-eighths and the other horse kept going. That’s why it made it look like that. But when he got in front of him, he wanted to shut it down. The workmate could have kept him going a little bit farther. He’s a horse that needs a target. He’s going to be running in the last part of it, but he does need a target but he sort of gets lost out there.
“In the Santa Anita Derby, when Comma to the Top just took off from him, he was completely lost for a few jumps and Victor (Espinoza) had to really get into him. Then all of a sudden he realized I’ve got to catch that horse. He’s learning, but he only has four or five days to learn. But, believe me, he will have plenty of targets.”
Baffert nodded and shrugged his shoulders at a question about Midnight Interlude going into the Derby without a work over a dry, fast track at Churchill Downs.
“I can’t do anything about it, so I just have to deal with it,” he said. “If it rains, at least he’s been over a wet track. I know that one day when it was dry he galloped over it and he looked really good on the track. He’s a horse that is coming along. He’s learning as we go along, and we’re learning more about him.
“He was happy. He handled it very well. So far, so good.”
MUCHO MACHO MAN – Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team Racing’s Mucho Macho Man galloped two miles at Churchill Downs Monday morning after the renovation break under regular exercise rider Mike Herra.
The son of Mucho Macho Man, who breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 Saturday morning, returned to the track after walking the shedrow on Sunday. Trainer Kathy Ritvo expressed complete satisfaction in her colt’s preparation at Churchill for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
“He’s pretty laid back and he’s gotten used to everything. I’m sure there’s nothing that compares to Derby Day, but we’re going to try until we get there,” she said. “I’m honored to be here. I’m excited to be here. Everything’s going good with the horse, so it couldn’t be any better.”
Mucho Macho Man, who captured the Risen Star Stakes (GII) at Fair Grounds before losing a shoe during a close third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (GII), hasn’t caused his trainer one anxious moment since arriving at Churchill Downs on April 18.
“I’m just blessed and fortunate that he’s doing so well here. We haven’t had anything to deal with. He loves the mud; he loves the track,” the South Florida-based trainer said. “He’s been great around here. The weather has been for him. For me, I don’t like the rain.”
NEHRO – Zayat Stables LLC’s Nehro breezed four furlongs in :51.20 over the sloppy Churchill Downs track with regular exercise rider Carlos Rosas in the saddle. The work came at 6:10 a.m. as part of trainer Steve Asmussen’s second set of horses for the morning.
Nehro and Rosas were accompanied to the track via the Lukas gap by assistant trainer Scott Blasi aboard his pony, who stayed with Nehro as they backtracked into the stretch.
Nehro was headstrong galloping around the clubhouse turn and down the backstretch before Rosas let him go approaching the half-mile pole. The Mineshaft colt settled into the work and ticked off fractions of :13, :25.60 and :38 before finishing the final quarter in :13.20.
“It went nice and smooth,” Asmussen said. “Didn’t do a lot with him at all; Saturday will be three races in six weeks and we just hope he continues to progress. Obviously it’s a big assignment, but the mile-and-a-quarter suits him.”
Rosas did not push Nehro after the wire, galloping out five-eighths in 1:05.40.
“I think we’re just letting him be happy,” Asmussen said. “The horse hasn’t always been a big work horse; I think the progression’s been pretty slow. He took a big step from his maiden race to the Louisiana Derby (GII). I think Mr. Zayat showed a lot of confidence in him with that move. From the way he trained I was definitely wanting validation of the maiden race and, if anything, he’s definitely backed that up.”
Nehro’s move may have lacked sizzle but he never has been known to tip his hand in the mornings, which helped him remain largely under the radar this spring prior to a breakthrough second in the Louisiana Derby.
“The horse has got a great mind,” Asmussen said. “He’s stayed very consistent with his appetite and his attitude but he’s not one to impress you with his works.”
Instead, Nehro impresses when it counts in the afternoons, as evidenced by his close finishes in the Louisiana Derby and the Arkansas Derby (GI). Both of those races carried million-dollar purses, meaning Nehro was two necks from an additional $800,000 in earnings.
With Nehro about to make his third start in what would be considered a short amount of time by today’s standards – and perhaps more to follow soon after if Nehro follows through with the other two-thirds of the Triple Crown – Asmussen’s focus right now appears to be simply keeping his horse content.
“The biggest concern is the same as always – health, well-being, how they’re doing,” he said. “I think everyone is in the same boat in that they’ve got to be moving forward at the right time and run the race of their life to have success.”
Which is precisely what many bettors appear to be counting on from Nehro, as evidenced by the number of public handicappers that have picked him on top in Kentucky Derby 137. Asmussen was asked if he liked training a contender that is a favorite of the pundits.
"No, you know me, I don’t want any ‘mooshers’ on board,” he said in reference to the nebulous group of prognosticators often invoked this time of year by the more common moniker ‘wise guys,’ before adding, “I think he can carry us but I don’t know if he can carry their bad luck.”
PANTS ON FIRE – George and Lori Hall’s Pants On Fire did not visit the track one day after breezing a half-mile in :47.80. However, trainer Kelly Breen relayed that the Louisiana Derby (GII) winner came out of his work in good order.
“He looks good, he’s eating good, and when I showed up this morning he was resting well,” Breen said. “He’s up and around now and doing well.”
Pants On Fire will return to galloping during the Derby-Oaks training session Tuesday.
SANTIVA – One can’t beat Mother Nature, but trainer Eddie Kenneally did his best to keep pace with her by having his Kentucky Derby 137 hopeful Santiva on the track at 5:45 a.m. Monday for his final major prerace workout. Working in company with stablemate Commonwealth Rush, Santiva drilled a half mile in :50.20 under his Derby jockey Shaun Bridgmohan.
“He came home in :24 flat from the quarter pole to the wire, so I’m very happy with that,” Kenneally said. “I tried to get out there early today when the track was as even as it could be. We worked over the best surface possible given the weather.”
Official workout splits for Santiva were :13.60, :26.20 and :38.20, while he galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.80 and six furlongs in 1:17.20.
They finished up together and came home well, just like Eddie wanted,” Bridgmohan said. “We’re less than a week out from the race so it’s more maintenance and you’re not looking for anything special. I thought he went very well.”
Santiva exits a ninth-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland, an un-ideal prep for a horse who won last year’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GII) here at Churchill Downs.
“He had just a terrible trip with no running room at Keeneland in the Blue Grass,” Kenneally said. “He didn’t get everything out of the race like we would have liked. But he was fit going into the race, so we’ll be fine. He’s plenty fit.”
SHACKLEFORD – Florida Derby (GI) runner-up Shackleford got back to work Monday morning with a two-mile jog at Churchill Downs with trainer Dale Romans watching. Co-owned by Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge, Shackleford has posted two fast workouts in recent weeks, including a bullet five furlongs Saturday in :58.80.
“I thought both of his workouts were just perfect,” Romans said. “They were fast, sure, but they were in hand. That’s what you want to see, a fast horse working without being asked hard.”
Romans trained horses who placed in all three legs of the 2010 Triple Crown, including a third on Kentucky Derby Day with Paddy O’Prado, a second in the Preakness with First Dude, and a third in the Belmont, also with First Dude.
"This horse, Shackleford, reminds me a lot of Paddy O’Prado last year, who peaked at the right time,” Romans said. “He couldn’t be doing any better.”
Shackleford will school at the starting gate Tuesday and Thursday, while Romans said he would likely school in the paddock during the races sometime this week as well.
Jesus Castanon will have his first Kentucky Derby mount aboard Shackleford.
SOLDAT – Harvey Clark and partners’ Soldat galloped a mile and a quarter this morning under exercise rider Danny Wright. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said on a fast track he would gallop a bit longer, but cut things short by plan because of the sloppy track conditions.
Sloppy track or not, McLaughlin said Soldat already has appreciated the change in climate.
“It was 90 degrees on Florida Derby Day and they all got pretty hot that day,” he said. “And the last 10 days he was at Palm Meadows, it got pretty hot and muggy down there. But with the wet weather in Kentucky, I’m glad we kept him down in Florida even with the heat.
“He really picked his head up since coming to this cooler weather. Going from hot to cool for a horse is like a vitamin shot.”
But McLaughlin won’t shed any tears if the track turns up sloppy on Saturday for the Derby.
“We won’t mind the slop, look at what he did on that sloppy track at Gulfstream,” he said, referring to a 10 ¾-length allowance win in January. “That won’t bother me on race day, but I’d prefer to train on a fast track any day.”
Alan Garcia rides Soldat in Derby 137.
STAY THIRSTY/UNCLE MO – Repole Stable’s two colts jogged a mile with trainer Todd Pletcher’s first set Monday shortly after the track opened for training at 5:45 a.m.
The duo just got some easy exercise the day following their tandem five-furlong drill in which last year’s 2-year-old champion Uncle Mo covered the distance in 1:01.60 and his stablemate and Gotham Stakes (GIII) winner Stay Thirsty record a time of 1:01.80.
“Both seemed very well (this morning),” Pletcher said later at his Barn 34 headquarters. “We took them out for a light jog today. They both ate up last night and appear to be doing well. Knock on wood, we’re good.”
Uncle Mo is scheduled to be ridden by Hall of Fame nominee John Velazquez, while Stay Thirsty has Ramon Dominguez named on board for their runs in Saturday’s 137th Kentucky Derby..
Correction from Sunday’s notes: Velazquez was aboard for Uncle Mo’s work, not Hector Ramos as previous reported.
TWICE THE APPEAL/SWAY AWAY – The two colts trained by Jeff Bonde walked the shedrow for a second day following six-furlong works on Sunday.
Twice the Appeal, a son of Successful Appeal who earned his way into the 137th Kentucky Derby with a tally in the Sunland Derby (GIII) in March, covered the distance in 1:15.60, while Sway Away, who is by Afleet Alex and is not yet guaranteed a spot in Saturday’s starting gate, went the six panels in 1:14.
Bonde’s assistant trainer, Miguel Carranza, confirmed that the double walk days were standard procedure in their barn.
“That’s the way he (Bonde) likes to do it,” Carranza said at Barn 42 Monday morning. “We’ll take them back to the track tomorrow.”
Sway Away is No. 23 on the list of eligibles for the prestigious race that only allows for 20 runners. Entries for the Run for the Roses will be taken Wednesday.
Calvin Borel has the call on Twice the Appeal, while Martin Garcia would be aboard Sway Away if he gets to enter.
TWINSPIRED/DERBY KITTEN – Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) runner-up Twinspired returned to the track at the Trackside Training Center this morning for the first time since his final major Derby workout on Saturday. The Mike Maker trainee galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Derrick Smith.
Twinspired will van across town to Churchill Downs on Tuesday after training hours and complete his Derby Week preparations beneath the Twin Spires, for which he is named. He’s owned by Alpha Stables, Skychai Racing and Sand Dollar Stable.
“He came out of the Blue Grass fine and the horse doesn’t think he lost, that’s the good part,” said Maker, who came within a nose of back-to-back wins in Keeneland’s signature prep race after winning last year with Stately Victor. “I don’t think there are a lot of similarities between Twinspired and Stately Victor other than people saying both had to prove themselves on the dirt. But they’re different horses.”
Maker remains hopeful Derby Kitten can draw into the Derby 137 lineup. Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Derby Kitten ranks No. 21 on the current graded stakes earnings list that determines the starting lineup. Maker said a rider for Derby Kitten remains in limbo.
“If Derby Kitten draws into the race, it’s because someone unfortunately had to come out,” Maker said. “So we’d obviously look at the rider that became available if something were to happen as one consideration.”
Derby Kitten also galloped a mile and one half on Monday at Trackside Training Center.
WATCH ME GO – Trainer Kathleen O’Connell arrived at Barn 41 at 4 a.m. Monday hoping to get a final workout into Watch Me Go before the forecast rains arrived at Churchill Downs.
"When I got here this morning it was nice and the birds were singing, and I said, ‘Ah, we’re going to make it.’ It wasn’t 15 minutes after that that it just poured,” O’Connell said.
After walking the sealed racing surface, O’Connell decided to go ahead with a scheduled five-furlong workout that she had postponed on Sunday because of sloppy track conditions.
“It didn’t seem too bad. It was sealed and was better than it was on Sunday. I figured the best time to go was early,” she said.
The Tampa Bay Derby (GII) winner was one of the first horses on the track and worked five furlongs from the half-mile pole in 1:02 under Freddie Lenclud, turning in splits of :13, :24.80, :37 and :49.20.
“I like a long warm-up. I wasn’t looking for speed. Freddie was perfect. He had worked this horse before, so I had faith in him. My most important thing was the gallop out,” said O’Connell, whose colt galloped out three-quarters in 1:15 and seven-eighths in 1:29.20.
The workout was particularly impressive for a horse that doesn’t handle wet tracks well.
“He was on the bridle. It seems like if you’re supporting him, he’s good. But in a race when you’re riding him, his head gets kind of thrown away,” O’Connell said. “I just don’t think he’s as comfortable on an ‘off’ surface. Like I say, it was sealed and it was good this morning.”
O’Connell has named Rafael Bejarano to ride Watch Me Go on Saturday.