Team Valor International and Mark Ford's Went the Day Well continued his preparation for a scheduled start in the 138th Kentucky Derby by working six furlongs in 1:14 2/5 over the Polytrack at Keeneland Saturday morning.
Under jockey John Velazquez, Went the Day Well came on to the track shortly after 8:30 a.m. (EST) with steady rain falling and the infield toteboard showing 45 degrees.
Working in company with Crimson China, a four-year-old stakes-winning son of Giant's Causeway who finished fifth in last year's Grade 1 Blue Grass, Went the Day Well started off a half-length behind his workmate, drew even on the far turn and finished about a half-length in front. David Nava was on Crimson China.
Fractions for the move were :13, :25 1/5, :37 1/5, :49 and 1:01 1/5. The Graham Motion trainee galloped out seven furlongs in 1:28.
"It was a very good work, he went really well," said Velazquez, who won last year's Kentucky Derby on Animal Kingdom for Team Valor and Motion. "Graham wanted something between 1:14 and 1:15; he didn't want to overdo it this morning."
It was the first time Velazquez had worked Went the Day Well, who he rode for the first time in the Proud Citizen colt's victory in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on March 24.
"I asked him to do a little more at the wire because he was content to stay with the other horse," Velazquez explained. "He worked well and very easy and I know the mile and a quarter (of the Kentucky Derby) won't hurt him at all."
Motion was happy with the work, the second for Went the Day Well at Keeneland since his victory at Turfway. Went the Day Well had worked five furlongs in 1:02 in company last Saturday.
Motion has put Went the Day Well on the same schedule he used last year with Animal Kingdom, right down to the cold, rainy morning for the second work. The only difference is Nava was aboard Animal Kingdom for his final Keeneland work.
"(Went the Day Well) is not a flashy work horse; Animal Kingdom is," Motion said. "This horse has a great attitude and he is still a little green as he was looking around some today."
Motion plans to ship Went the Day Well to Churchill Downs on Wednesday, train on Thursday and give the colt his final work on Saturday, weather permitting, with Velazquez up.
Unlike Animal Kingdom, who made his first start on dirt in the Kentucky Derby, Went the Day Well has won on dirt.
"I don't know if he is not better on dirt. He's a nice horse, an improving horse," Motion said of Went the Day Well. "He has won on dirt, which Animal Kingdom didn't. To be able to step up in three weeks and win the Spiral is a big step. I know he will be a longshot, but I feel good about running him in the Derby."
In other Derby news:
At Hollywood Park, Grade 1-placed stakes winner Rousing Sermon worked seven furlongs in 1:27 1/5 on the Cushion Track. The deep closer was most recently third in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Chadds Ford Stable's Union Rags came out of his :47 2/5 half-mile work on Friday at Keeneland in good order, according to assistant trainer Peter Brette, who was aboard for the move.
"He is super this morning," Brette said Saturday. "I am very glad we went yesterday."
Union Rags worked under sunny skies with 60-degree temperatures on Friday, a stark contrast to the damp, cold Saturday morning that the colt spent walking the shedrow at Barn 11.
Brette said that the Grade 1-winning son of Dixie Union would ship to Churchill Downs on Wednesday or Thursday depending on weather. Trainer Michael Matz was at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland on Saturday and is expected to return to Keeneland Tuesday.
Zayat Stables LLC's Bodemeister, a leading contender for the Derby, will continue his preparations for the first weekend in May by breezing at Churchill Downs on Tuesday.
The son of Empire Maker will breeze during the 15-minute period after the renovation break set aside for training by Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders, according to Jim Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert. Barnes said Baffert is due to arrive in Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday evening.
A few Baffert trainees, including Arnold Zetcher LLC's Derby contender Liaison and Zayat Stables LLC's Paynter, who will be pointed to the Grade 3, $200,000 Derby Trial, will also arrive from California on Monday.
Liaison is looking to return to the form that saw him capture the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity last year. The Indian Charlie colt has been unplaced in all three starts thus far this year.
"Right now I see no reason not to run him," Baffert said.
Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby winner I'll Have Another has the characteristics of a Kentucky Derby winner, according to Dennis O'Neill, brother of the colt's trainer Doug O'Neill.
Dennis, who picked the colt out for just $35,000 at the OBS Sale last April, believes that he'll carve out the right kind of trip.
"The thing I like best about him is he has tactical speed," he said. "He makes his own trip. He's not a horse that's going to sit back and have to weave his way through. He's not a horse that has to be on the lead.
"He just needs to break and settle right in behind. He really is a classic type of Derby horse in the sense that he's going to make his own trip and if he's good enough, he's going to win."
Dennis added that this year's Derby is up for grabs.
"I looked at the Ragozin Sheets on Thursday and it looks like the most wide open Derby I've seen in years," Dennis said. "They go 10 or 12 deep with horses that have a realistic chance.
"Even Bodemeister, as well as he ran (winning the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby by 9 1/2 lengths), didn't have that fast of a Sheets number. I just think winning the Derby is going to boil down to some horse getting lucky, because nine times out of 10 something happens at the start of the race and somebody gets that dream trip and wins the Derby. Why not us?"
Dennis is en route to the OBS sales again next week in hopes of finding another bargain bonanza.
"We bought some really nice horses there last year so I'm excited about getting back there again," he said. "For $35,000, I think I'll Have Another has worked out pretty well.