ANIMAL KINGDOM/TOBY’S CORNER – Dianne D. Cotter’s Wood Memorial (G1) winner Toby’s Corner has an injury to his left hind leg that will prevent him from running in the Kentucky Derby.
The injury was discovered Monday morning after the colt walked at trainer Graham Motion’s barn at the Fair Hills Training Center in Elkton, Md. He was promptly sent to the nearby New Bolton Center in West Chester, Pa. He underwent a bone scan and was examined by Dr. Dean Richardson, but nothing could be found that was causing the lameness in the hind leg. When he had not shown improvement by early Tuesday morning, Motion decided not to send him on the van that was bringing stablemates Icabad Crane, Aruna, Deal Making and Smart Bid to Churchill Downs for races this weekend.
"We spent a couple of hours trying to figure out how to handle it and what we were dealing with. We were within a 24-hour window of making a decision of whether he would to ship today or not," Motion said by telephone. "Obviously, time was of the essence to rule out whether we were dealing with a minor foot abscess or a significant injury.
"When we really couldn’t get to the bottom of what it was because there was nothing clinical or nothing obvious, at that point I spoke with Dean, who was actually in surgery, I asked if he would be able have a look at him and/or get him into a bone scan because I couldn’t see how else we were going to get to the bottom of what we were dealing with.”
“We spent a couple of hours trying to figure out how to handle it and what we were dealing with. We were within a 24-hour window of making a decision of whether he would to ship today or not. Obviously, time was of the essence to rule out whether we were dealing with a minor foot abscess or a significant injury.
"When we really couldn’t get to the bottom of what it was because there was nothing clinical or nothing obvious, at that point I spoke with Dean, who was actually in surgery, I asked if he would be able have a look at him and/or get him into a bone scan because I couldn’t see how else we were going to get to the bottom of what we were dealing with."
Motion said there was little improvement Tuesday morning.
“Adrian went and met with Dean the first thing this morning, at 6 o’clock, to see if there was any improvement, to see if there is any change. Adrian and I spoke and we spoke with Dean at about 6:30 and felt that he was exactly the same as he had been the previous afternoon. At that point, I called Mrs. (Dianne) Cotter and told her that we were in trouble, basically.
Motion said he had brief Ms. Cotter on the situation Monday afternoon.
“I’ve tried to think what to compare it to and I don’t really know how to compare it. It completely takes the wind out of your sails. It’s like getting a kick in the stomach. Everyone for weeks has been saying, ‘Are you excited? You’ll be excited. You’ve got to enjoy it.’ But it’s so hard to enjoy it because you just know that things like this are around the corner.
“I think as trainer you become somewhat of a pessimist because you half expect something like this to happen. That’s why it’s hard to get too up for these events until you’re there.”
“Dean is spending more time with him this afternoon. I’ll speak with him later on. Once he has a look at him, we’ll get him back over to Fair Hill.”
So Motion will focus on Animal Kingdom and will run Team Valor’s Summer Soiree in the Kentucky Oaks.
“I feel fortunate that at least I do have another contender. For the Cotters this is such a blow. They’re already on their way and they have a lot of family coming. The amazing thing about them is that they are horse people and that makes it so much easier because they understand. But that was a tough phone call to make.
“Everybody hopes that they’re not that person that you read about Derby Week that has a horse that goes the wrong way. It’s tough to be in that spot.”
Team Valor International’s Animal Kingdom was out in the rain and the mud Tuesday morning to visit the starting gate and gallop a mile over the sloppy track.
ARCHARCHARCH – Robert and Val Yagos’ Arkansas Derby (GI) winner Archarcharch, training in company with stablemate Supreme Ruler, 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.”
The owners were on hand for the morning activity after driving to Louisville on Monday from Jacksonville, Ark. 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 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.
BRILLIANT SPEED – Live Oak Plantation’s Toyota Blue Grass (GI) winner Brilliant Speed walked the shedrow Tuesday morning, a day after he breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20.
The homebred son of Dynaformer has a 2-2-2 record from eight starts and has hit the board in six consecutive races since leaving sprint races on dirt.
"He’s a pretty straightforward horse; there’s nothing unusual about him,” trainer Tom Albertrani said. “He enjoys his training and right now he looks happy. I’m pretty satisfied with the way he’s coming into the race.
The Derby will be Brilliant Speed’s first start on dirt since he finished seventh in a maiden special weight race on Aug. 21 at Saratoga. Albertrani moved the colt to turf in September and he ran five times on grass before winning the Blue Grass on the Polytrack at Keeneland at odds of 19-1.
“We ran him twice in Florida at Gulfstream, in the Dania Beach and he ran back in the Hallandale Beach,” Albertrani said. “They were kind of close together and I thought he was a bit unlucky not to win them both. He ran against my other horse, King Congie, who ran a huge race in the Hallandale Beach, but he bumped Brilliant Speed late in the stretch and it might have cost him the race.”
Brilliant Speed was second by a nose in the Dania Beach and was moved up to second in the Hallandale Beach when King Congie was DQ’d.
“We gave him a little break,” Albertrani said. “We weren’t really thinking about Derby at the time because he was doing so well on turf, but with nowhere else to go, the Blue Grass was always in the back of our minds. We thought that we really don’t know if he’s truly a turf horse, so let’s try the Poly and see where that leads us. We felt that if he runs well in the Blue Grass we definitely would be considering coming. It kind of worked out that way.”
COMMA TO THE TOP – The Southern California-based gelding Comma to the Top was airborne Tuesday morning, jetting across the country after boarding a Tex Sutton flight from Ontario Airport just east of Los Angeles around 4 a.m. that arrived in Louisville just before noon. With him on the flight were several other California stakes runners, including Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss’ Zazu, who has a date in Friday’s $1 million Kentucky Oaks.
Comma to the Top arrived at Churchill Downs at 1 p.m. and is housed in Barn 42, Stall 16. Trainer Peter Miller, who’ll be saddling his first Kentucky Derby starter, has veteran Patrick Valenzuela named aboard his Florida-bred son of Bwana Charlie. Miller was in Kentucky Tuesday and likely to join his horse at the track later in the day.
When Comma to the Top breaks from the gate Saturday, it will be the 14th start of his career, the most by any horse in Derby 137. The quick bay, who is quite likely to be among the forward elements in the expected 20-horse field, is the fourth-leading graded stakes money winner in the Derby lineup with $671,000 already in the bank.
DECISIVE MOMENT – Just For Fun Stable’s Decisive Moment walked under tack at Barn 41 at Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning with trainer Juan Arias up.
“It was the weather and racetrack, both. I was waiting to go out and when I saw that the weather didn’t break by 8:30 I decided to keep him in. He walked for 45 minutes under tack and now he’s walking half an hour by hand,” said Arias, while watching his Derby hopeful walk the shedrow.
Arias, who galloped Decisive Moment over a sloppy track Monday, said he just wanted to keep his colt dry on a rainy, raw morning.
“The weather being so inconsistent, the chances are they can get sick easy when they get wet,” Arias said.
DERBY KITTEN/TWINSPIRED – “Derby headquarters here!” exclaimed Ken Ramsey as he answered the phone minutes after finding out his Coolmore Lexington Stakes (GIII) winner Derby Kitten secured a spot in the Kentucky Derby 137 starting gate. Derby Kitten moved from No. 21 to No. 20 on the all-important graded stakes earnings list with the defection of Wood Memorial (GI) winner Toby’s Corner.
The gregarious Kentucky owner could not contain his enthusiasm for making it back to his home state’s signature event for the second year in a row.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic and I can’t sit down,” he said. “To have two sons of Kitten’s Joy in the Kentucky Derby two years in a row after Dean’s Kitten last year, that’s just fantastic. That’s enormous for my stallion Kitten’s Joy, who stands on my farm.”
For Derby Kitten, the name says it all for Ramsey.
“I’ve got hundreds of horses with kitten in their name,” he said. “Former Gov. Brereton Jones told me that if you’re going to breed horses to your own stallion, use the stallion’s name so people remember who he is. Kitten’s Joy is making quite a name for himself.
“I’ll tell you this much, of all the trainers in this year’s Kentucky Derby, Mike Maker has the two most appropriately named horses of them all, Twinspired and Derby Kitten,” Ramsey said. “Are you kidding me? It doesn’t get better than that. All you need is something with ‘rose’ in it and then you’ve got it all.”
Derby Kitten is a full-brother to William’s Kitten, a promising 2-year-old of 2009 who was sidetracked by injury en route to last year’s Kentucky Derby. Ramsey said Derby Kitten got his name because they thought he could follow in William’s Kitten’s footsteps as a big-time prospect.
Ramsey is widely known as a big bettor in Kentucky and is not shy about going to the windows. He joked about a recent story he read surrounding the owner of Uncle Mo.
“I heard Mike Repole was going to bet enough to make Uncle Mo the Derby favorite,” Ramsey said. “That’s good news for us; for every million he puts on Uncle Mo, that makes Derby Kitten 40-1 instead of 30-1. And I’m doing a rain dance. My horse loves the soup and slop.”
When asked if Ramsey had planned to wage a personal wagering war to make Derby Kitten the favorite, he laughed and said, “I read somewhere in the paper that Mike Repole sold Vitamin Water for $3.2 billion. I’ll just say that for every million I’ve got, he’s got a billion. That being said I’ll let him have the honor of being the Derby favorite this time!”
Both Twinspired and Derby Kitten galloped a mile and a quarter over the sloppy track at Trackside Training Center this morning. The duo then vanned across town at approximately 11 a.m. to bed down at Barn 41, where they will complete their Derby preparations. Neither horse has previously been stabled at Churchill Downs, Maker said.
A jockey decision is expected to come this afternoon on Derby Kitten, Ramsey indicated, noting that their first choice, Julien Leparoux, is booked to ride one of the Derby 137 favorites, Dialed In.
DIALED IN – Although some of his help thought Dialed In should have stayed under the shedrow on a raw and rainy Tuesday morning, trainer Nick Zito “had a feeling” that it would be better if Robert LaPenta’s Florida Derby (GI) 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. The morning exercise turn out to be of benefit if the track should be wet for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, considering that the son of Mineshaft 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 Jan. 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 Stakes (GIII) at Gulfstream on Jan. 30, when he closed from last to win by 1 ½ 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.”
MASTER OF HOUNDS – Mrs. John Magnier’s Master of Hounds traveled from Ireland on Tuesday and completed his journey at 9:35 a.m. when the Sallee Van arrived outside the quarantine section of Barn 45 at Churchill Downs.
T.J. Comerford, traveling head lad for trainer Aidan O’Brien, supervised the shipping of the Kingmambo colt. O’Brien is scheduled to travel Friday and will be at Churchill Downs to saddle the colt for the Kentucky Derby.
Comerford said the trip was perfect.
“It couldn’t have been any better,” he said.
The journey began with a 90-minute drive from O’Brien’s Ballydoyle training center to Shannon International Airport. The colt was loaded on a freight plane for a direct flight to Chicago. Master of Hounds and his traveling party changed planes for a direct flight to Louisville International Airport. He was the only horse on either flight.
“It was very quick, the quickest that we’ve traveled over here,” Comerford said.
“He traveled great, 100 percent.”
Master of Hounds finished second in Dubai’s $2 million UAE Derby (GII) on March 26 in his only start of 2011. Last fall he visited Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, where he finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GII).
The colt cannot go to the track until he clears the quarantine period. Comerford said that O’Brien will give him instructions on what do with Master of Hounds when he goes to the track on Thursday and Friday. Exercise rider Pat Lillis will be aboard.
“He did his last piece of work before he came here,” Comerford said. “Now he will do some very light canters here before he runs.
“All his work is done. He’s run in Dubai and will improve from the run that he had. He’s coming here with a good chance. We think he has, anyway.”
MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE – Arnold Zetcher’s Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Midnight Interlude walked the shedrow Tuesday morning, a day after working a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.80 over a sloppy track.
“All is well,” trainer Bob Baffert said.
MUCHO MACHO MAN – Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team Racing’s Mucho Macho Man never has run over a wet track, but the son of Macho Uno certainly seemed to relish the sloppy going at Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning.
"Yeah, it doesn’t bother him,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said. “He’s a cool horse. He does everything so easily.”
Mucho Macho Man jogged a mile, stood quietly under exercise rider Mike Herra, and galloped a mile with long, confident strides. However, Mucho Macho Man was not rewarded with the customary morning bath on the grassy area behind Barn 41.
“Not today. We’re trying to keep him as dry as possible. We just rubbed the dirt off him with warm water,” Ritvo said.
The Risen Star Stakes (GII) winner will have the opportunity Saturday to put Ritvo into the history books with a victory. No woman has saddled a Kentucky Derby winner.
“The way I grew up, I just feel like I’m a trainer, not a woman trainer. If it helps some of the girls who are looking into being a trainer and it gives them confidence, it’s a great thing. They can do it,” said Ritvo, who began her training career at Suffolk Downs at age 18.
“I definitely think about that. I think this horse is really consistent and he’s training really well. He has a bunch of really good things going for him – his size; he’s been training good; I think he likes the mud, if the forecast for rain on Derby Day holds up; he like a fast track; I think he likes the long stretch and the distance; I could talk forever,” she said.
NEHRO – The morning after working four furlongs in :51.20, Zayat Stables LLC’s Nehro walked the shedrow of trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn, assistant trainer Scott Blasi confirmed.
The Mineshaft colt came from the back of the field to miss by a neck in the Arkansas Derby (GI) but raced much closer to the pace in his prior start, the Louisiana Derby (GII), never farther back than fourth at any point of call in the 12-horse field. As a result, handicappers should not necessarily assume that Nehro will make one big run from the back as he did at Oaklawn Park.
“Thinking about that scenario, you know, how long he stood in the gate in Arkansas, how long it took to load that day, I think that had a little something to do with it,” Asmussen said. “We were very pleased with how handy he was in Louisiana but he still made a good run in Arkansas with that pace scenario. I think the post position draw will have so much to do with where he’s at when they go under the wire the first time.
“Probably 10 through 14 is where I would hope to land with him.”
If jockey Corey Nakatani feels he should be closer to the pace, as Michael Baze did in the Louisiana Derby, that race proved it a viable option. Nehro sat in third, leading the second flight of horses, most of the way around the oval going 1 1/8 miles.
“We’re going to do our best,” Asmussen said. “You realize with 20 runners how fortunate a horse that comes from the back would have to be. The changes in the race have so much to do with the pace and how it will set up and the post position draw, we’ll be very anxious for that.”
PANTS ON FIRE – George and Lori Hall’s Pants On Fire 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 :47.80.
“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.”
SANTIVA – It was a quiet morning at the Eddie Kenneally barn for last year’s Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) winner. Santiva walked the shedrow Tuesday as part of his post-workout routine in which he breezed a half-mile in :50.20 on Monday in his final major move before Derby 137. Santiva will return to the race track Wednesday and gallop up to Saturday’s race.
“He came back super from the work,” Kenneally said, and then joked: “He’s eating well and I’m eating well, so we’re both happy.”
The timing for limited activity could not have come at a better time for Santiva, who stayed inside on a blustery, cold and wet Louisville morning.
“It’s miserable out there today, so it worked out well that he was just scheduled to walk anyway,” Kenneally said.
Shaun Bridgmohan will reunite with Santiva on Saturday and was aboard for Monday’s final workout. The duo paired to win the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill last fall in their only collaboration.
“Shaun rode him great last year in the stakes win,” Kenneally said. “I can’t think of a better situation.”
SHACKLEFORD – “He gets better and better every day,” trainer Dale Romans proudly told those in the clockers’ stand after his Kentucky Derby 137 hopeful Shackleford completed his morning routine.
With co-owners Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge looking on, Shackleford galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Faustino Ramos and then went to stand in the starting gate for the first of two schooling sessions this week.
Romans indicated that Shackleford would school in the gate again Thursday, and likely also would school in the paddock during Wednesday afternoon’s races, scrapping a plan to school this afternoon in the paddock because of weather.
Romans is hoping to change a little personal Derby history with Shackleford. In 2006, he brought the narrow Florida Derby (GI) runner-up (behind Barbaro) to Louisville in the speedy Sharp Humor, who set the pace and faded badly to beat only one horse home.
“Those two are completely different kinds of horses just with similar resumes,” Romans said. “This horse, Shackleford, has much more stamina. We were kind of up against it with Sharp Humor trying to stretch a sprinter out to a mile and a quarter.”
When asked if he expected a better result with this Florida Derby runner-up vs. the last, Romans smiled and said, “I‘d sure think so.”
SOLDAT – Second verse same as the first for Soldat, who once again galloped a mile and a quarter Tuesday morning under exercise rider Danny Wright. Other than the cold and rain, there are no complaints around the Kiaran McLaughlin camp.
“I wish we would have stayed a few more days at Palm Meadows now,” McLaughlin said, questioning his own sanity for leaving the warmth of South Florida for foul weather in Louisville. “We moved him a few stalls down the shedrow to avoid a cold breeze that was blowing in. But he was fine out there on the track. We have no problem with a wet track as you know. He did everything the same today as yesterday.”
McLaughlin said Soldat’s program would be simple leading up to the Derby, with little more than gallops.
“We’re not big schoolers,” McLaughlin said. “He was here and in the paddock before (on Breeders’ Cup Day), so why risk anything?”
Alan Garcia, the same pilot who teamed with the son of War Front to win the Fountain of Youth (GII) and With Anticipation Stakes, will ride Soldat in Saturday’s main event.
STAY THIRSTY/UNCLE MO – 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, the 2-year-old champion of 2010, and Stay Thirsty, the hero of this year’s Gotham Stakes (GIII), 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 Chuchill 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 (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.”
TWICE THE APPEAL/SWAY AWAY – Trainer Jeff Bonde’s two Kentucky Derby candidates went trackside early on a wet and chilly Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs.
With assistant trainer Miguel Carranza overseeing the leg-stretching and exercise rider Nate Quinonez doing the driving, Twice the Appeal went out first at approximately 6:30 followed 15 minutes later by Sway Away. Both colts simply jogged a mile on the wet strip and returned quickly to the shelter of Barn 42.
Twice the Appeal, who’ll have the saddle services of Calvin Borel, on Saturday, is assured a spot in the 20-horse gathering by virtue of his victory in the Sunland Derby (GIII) on March 27. Sway Away, with only $111,500 in graded earnings, is still on the outside looking in for Derby 137, though his situation improved in that regard Tuesday morning when Wood Memorial winner Toby’s Corner was withdrawn from the race moving Sway Away up to No. 21 on the list for the race.
“We’d love to run,” Bonde said after being appraised of Toby’s Corner’s withdrawal. “He belongs with this bunch. I hope he gets his shot.”
Bonde has lined up California rider Martin Garcia to handle Sway Away, if he gets to run.
WATCH ME GO – Gil Campbell’s Watch Me Go walked the shedrow at Barn 41 Tuesday morning after breezing five furlongs in 1:02 over a sloppy Churchill Downs racing surface on Monday.
The final workout for Kentucky Derby, which included a strong gallop-out, was visually impressive, but his trainer, Kathleen O’Connell, is no more encouraged that the son of West Acre would perform well on Saturday if the track came up wet.
“He’s got a lot of presence about him and I think he’s a very moving horse. I was happy with his work the other day and he did it all in hand,” O’Connell said. “I still don’t think my horse likes that type of track, and there’s been a lot of West Acres that did. My other West Acre, Ivanavinalot, she relished the slop and had no problem with it. But each horse is different.”
Watch Me Go finished fifth in a Florida-bred stakes over a sloppy Calder track in his second start last August. Although it was officially his only wet-track start, O’Connell attributes to her Tampa Bay Derby (GII) winner’s subpar showing in the Illinois Derby (GIII) on the moisture in the Hawthorne track that was officially listed as fast.
“I got there Wednesday night and it was pouring down rain. It rained all day Thursday; it rained Thursday night; it rained Friday; it rained Friday night; and it rained right up until Saturday morning. Even though the track was rated good or fast, I walked over with the horse and I don’t think it was good or fast. It was more of a drying-out track, a kind of heavy track that he didn’t care for at all,” O’Connell said.