The 137th Kentucky Derby (G1) had been run less than 24 hours ago, but already many of the participants in the classic contest were making their way back home on Sunday.
MASTER OF HOUNDS (Kingmambo), who just arrived in the United States from Ireland early last week, had the longest trip back to his home base. The Aidan O'Brien pupil was making his second trip to Churchill Downs following a sixth-place run in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G2), and added a fifth in the Kentucky Derby to his resume.
The dark bay was described as "bright as a button" on Sunday by traveling head lad T.J. Comerford as he oversaw the loading of Master of Hounds on to a van at Barn 45 just before 8 a.m. (EDT) for a trip to Louisville International Airport and a flight Sunday evening back to Ireland. The sophomore colt was going to have to stand a five-hour quarantine prior to being allowed to board the flight.
"We were quite pleased with his effort," Comerford stated. "The rider (Garrett Gomez) said at first he wasn't liking all the kickback. First time he's ever encountered that, so that was understandable. But by the time they got to the backstretch he'd gotten into it (the race). He closed well and gave a very good account of himself. His effort was first rate.
"There was no pace in the race. We were hoping for more of that, but it didn't happen. That wasn't to our advantage. But all in all, a very good effort."
Master of Hounds was beaten a little more than five lengths for the top prize and "finished with good energy," according to the official Equibase chart of the race. He earned $60,000 for his run.
Comerford was noncommittal about Master of Hounds returning in the fall to Churchill for the Breeders' Cup.
"We'll see," he said.
BRILLIANT SPEED (Dynaformer) left his temporary home in Barn 42 around 9 a.m. Sunday morning to board a van for flight to New York and home base of trainer Tom Albertrani. The Blue Grass S. (G1) winner is not expected to run back in the Preakness S. (G1) on May 21
"He came out of the race fine and he is good this morning," assistant trainer Dan Blacker said as he led the Derby seventh from the barn.
"I was really happy with his race," Albertrani commented. "The pace was a little slow, but he closed a lot of ground and only got beat by 5 1/2 lengths."
SOLDAT (War Front) is scheduled to fly to New York on Monday to rejoin the bulk of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's stable following his 11th-place finish in the Derby.
"He had no excuses," said Neal McLaughlin, assistant to and brother of Kiaran McLaughlin. "He had a perfect trip, but just wasn't good enough yesterday. He came back fine and scoped clean last night."
A return to the turf where Soldat broke his maiden in the With Anticipation (G3) last summer and posted runner-up finishes in the Pilgrim (G3) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf is possible according to Neal McLaughlin.
"We will go back to New York and regroup, but chances are he would go back to the turf," he said. "We will discuss it with the owners and come to a consensus and go from there."
Trainer Mike Maker's two Derby starters, DERBY KITTEN (Kitten's Joy) (13th) and TWINSPIRED (Harlan's Holiday) (17th), left Churchill Downs shortly after 6 a.m. for the short ride back to the Trackside Training Center.
"They made it back over about 6:30," Maker said. "They both came out of the race fine and at the moment there are no plans for what is next for them."
In other Derby news:
SANTIVA (Giant's Causeway) came out of his Derby sixth-place run in good shape according to trainer Eddie Kenneally.
"He came out of the race fine. I thought he got a good trip and ran well," Kenneally said, before adding that no decision had been made on the next start for Santiva.
TWICE THE APPEAL (Successful Appeal), who finished 10th in Derby 137 under Calvin Borel, was doing just fine back at his Barn 42 headquarters Sunday morning.
"Oh, he ate up; he ate everything," assistant trainer Miguel Carranza said. "You don't worry about this horse. He does fine all the time."
Trainer Jeff Bonde indicated that Twice the Appeal wasn't a likely Preakness candidate prior to the Derby and one of his three owners, Victor Flores, confirmed that thought Sunday.
"He's headed back to California, to Hollywood Park," Flores said. "We might be able to get him on a flight today. If not, then tomorrow.
"We'll give him a week or so to relax, then get back into it with an eye toward the (June 11) Belmont (G1) in New York. This horse could be suited by the Belmont and we'll see how he trains toward it."
Like several others in their postrace comments, the owner lamented the lack of a quicker pace in the 10-furlong Derby.
"Those kinds of fractions weren't what we needed for him," Flores said. "He was just too far back on a slow pace and never really got to run his race. But that's horse racing. Sometimes those things work out, sometimes not."
STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini) pulled up none the worse for wear following his 12th-place run in Saturday's Derby. The Repole Stable colorbearer was "very good" Sunday morning at Barn 34 trainer Todd Pletcher reported and would be headed up to his headquarters at Belmont Park in New York on Monday.
"We won't consider the Preakness for him," Pletcher said. "But we'll see how that race comes out, as well as the Peter Pan (G2) at Belmont and think about the Belmont Stakes for him."
He also said that his other Repole Stable colt, last year's juvenile champion Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie), whom he had been forced to scratch from a planned appearance in the Kentucky Derby because of a stomach ailment, would stay on in Kentucky and undergo more testing, including one that was to take place later Sunday.
Reflecting philosophically on his stable's fortunes, the trainer offered, "Overall, we've been blessed. We've had a lot of good weekends over the years, but this wasn't one of our best. But that's the game. You've got to accept it and go on. You've got to keep looking forward."
DECISIVE MOMENT (With Distinction) exited a 14th-place finish in the Derby in fine order, trainer Juan Arias said Sunday morning.
"He's a free-running horse, he wants to be in the clear. He wasn't comfortable," Arias said. "We'll sit down with the connections to see what we want to do next."
Arias, who plans to ship Decisive Moment to the Calder Race Course base on Tuesday, was impressed with the atmosphere at Churchill Downs.
"It was awesome. That's a unique experience, seeing the full grandstand and hearing the roar when they break from the gate. I watched the race from the sixteenth pole," Arias said.
Assistant trainer Jim Barnes said MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE (War Chant) was well and that "we're all good" the day after the colt pulled in 16th in the 19-horse Derby field after an outing that failed to see him make a major impact.
"We'll just have to wait until next weekend and see how he's doing," trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday morning. "We'll see how he does when he goes back to the track. I'm going back to California, but when I come back on the weekend we'll make a call about him. If he's doing OK, training all right, we'll definitely look at the Preakness for him. But we have to wait and see.
"Last year, if you'd have asked me about Lookin at Lucky the day after the Derby, I probably would have told you we weren't going to the Preakness. But we waited and he told us he was OK and we went."
In 2010, Lookin at Lucky, the eventual three-year-old champion, was favored in the Kentucky Derby but suffered through a terrible trip in which he got slammed into the fence among other indignities to wind up sixth on a sloppy race track. When the colt bounced back the following week in his exercises at Churchill, Baffert made the decision to go forward and run him in the Preakness, which he won with an electrifying late finish by three-quarters of a length.
Trainer Kathleen O'Connell reported that WATCH ME GO (West Acre) was physically well following an 18th-place Kentucky Derby finish in which he raced wide throughout.
"He's feeling very good, better than me," O'Connell said. "You can't go that wide in a race that long."
Although disappointed with the fate of her Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner, O'Connell was able to put things into perspective Saturday night.
"My only consolation was: I felt so bad, so depressed leaving here, and then I drove by Mr. Jinks' barn and thought 'I should be ashamed the way I was feeling the way I did,'" said O'Connell, referring to Jinks Fires, whose Derby starter, Archarcharch (Arch), suffered a leg injury. "Here his horse was coming back in an ambulance, that's about as devastating as you can get."
O'Connell said Watch Me Go would likely be shipped to Ocala for a week to freshen up before resuming training.
"He's got a lot of turf pedigree, and the (July 16) Virginia Derby ([G2] at Colonial Downs) isn't a bad race," O'Connell said. "If we're based in Virginia we're closer to more things than if I took him back south to Florida."