Grade 3 Illinois Derby winner Done Talking worked five furlongs at Laurel Park Saturday morning in his final work before next Saturday's $2 million Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
The Hamilton Smith trainee stopped the clock in 1:01 and galloped out in 1:14 3/5 with regular rider Sheldon Russell aboard. It was the fastest of 17 works at the distance.
"I told Sheldon to go a minute and change and he hit it almost on the number," Smith said. "I wanted him to gallop out strong. He wasn't tired when he came back to the barn and we are ready to go."
Smith indicated the bay son of Broken Vow would leave Laurel for Louisville, Kentucky, early Sunday morning and will be stabled in Dale Romans barn at Churchill Downs. Romans will saddle Dullahan in the "Run for the Roses." Both Done Talking and Dullahan were broken by Smith's brother, Franklin Smith, at the Elloree Training Center in South Carolina.
"He had them from the time the first saddle was put on them until they came up to the races," Smith added. "He (his brother) called me once he got to breezing him (Done Talking) and said he had a nice colt that he'd like me to have. He hasn't missed a trick for us. He is a very smart horse and he does everything right."
Done Talking punched his ticket to the Derby with a driving off-the-pace score in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne three weeks ago. The colt has won three of seven starts with his only poor performance a 10th-place finish in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes in early March.
"I am looking forward to a great race out of him, I really am," Smith said. "If we get pace up front that should help us. Naturally you need to have a good trip with all those horses in there. With his running style you worry about getting shut off but if we can be midpack early, about eighth or ninth and relax, we might shock everybody."
Done Talking will be the first Triple Crown starter for Smith, a Maryland mainstay for more than 30 years. The 67-year-old has 1,645 career winners and conditioned runners such as Gin Talking, Case of the Blues and Blind Date, all multiple stakes winners.
The usually stoic Smith was uncharacteristically animated when his three-year-old rallied to win the Illinois Derby.
"I was expecting a high five from Ham," co-owner Willie White said. "But he grabs me and lifts me off the ground and says, "This is what I'm talking about!' It was fun."
"I usually don't show a lot of emotion," Smith admitted. "Those kind of races are exciting because he was coming from way back and had to weave his way through (the field). It is a little more exciting than winning on the front-end."
"We are particularly happy for Hammy, a guy who has worked so hard for so many years," co-owner Lou Rehak added. "To have this opportunity at this stage of his career is pretty awesome."
What also is awesome is the ownership group of White, Rehak and Bob Orndorff (Skedattle Associates) -- who are neighbors on Triadelphia Mill Road in Clarkesville, Maryland -- get their first taste of the Triple Crown experience.
"Bob and I have been friends since high school (Atholton in Howard County)," White explained. "He grew up across the street from my wife. His wife and my wife have been best friends their whole life. Lou and I have been friends and partners for 35 years. The three of us have been together the whole way. The families are all going to the Derby with us. They all grew up together as well and are having a ball with this thing.
"I don't think how much you realize how quick it takes over once you get on this trail. We are not even a hot shot on the trail but we are on it."
The Derby will be the second Triple Crown mount for the 24-year-old Russell, Maryland's top jockey, who rode Concealed Identity to a 10th-place finish in last year's Preakness Stakes. Russell's valet, James "Bo- Bo" Brigman, doubles as Smith's exercise rider.
"It is like a big team effort. Everyone is connected," Russell said. "Bo-Bo gets a chance to go to Kentucky and I am excited for him. He has been working for Hammy for years. This is a once in a lifetime chance for him."