It was beat-the-rain day at Churchill Downs Friday with six Kentucky Derby and six Kentucky Oaks hopefuls putting in works over a fast main track.
The work tab for the Derby included half-mile works the Todd Pletcher quartet of Itsaknockout, Materiality, Stanford and Madefromlucky; Danzig Moon for trainer Mark Casse and Far Right for trainer Ron Moquett.
Working toward the Oaks with half-mile breezes for Pletcher were Angela Renee and Eskenformoney. Working five furlongs were Forever Unbridled for trainer Dallas Stewart, Sarah Sis for Ingrid Mason, Oceanwave for Wayne Catalano and Condo Commando for Rudy Rodriguez.
Scheduled to work at Churchill Downs Saturday are International Star, Tencendur and Keen Ice; slated for a Keeneland work is Carpe Diem; Frosted and Upstart are scheduled to work at Palm Meadows and arrive here Tuesday; Mubtaahij (IRE) is scheduled to work at Arlington and arrive here Monday; El Kabeir is slated to work at Belmont, weather permitting, and arrive here Monday; and, the undefeated Dortmund is scheduled to work at Santa Anita and arrive here Sunday as is Firing Line.
Working at Keeneland Friday morning was Frammento, for two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito. Frammento, 22nd on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, covered a half-mile in :48 and would ship to Churchill Downs on Tuesday. The move was the fourth best of 57 on a fast track.
Working Friday at Santa Anita was Golden Pegasus Racing and Earle Mack’s Bolo for trainer Carla Gaines. With jockey Rafael Bejarano up, Bolo covered five furlongs in company on a fast track in :59.60.
OTHER KENTUCKY DERBY NOTES
AMERICAN PHAROAH – Arkansas Derby (GI) winner American Pharoah galloped 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez Friday morning at Churchill Downs after the morning renovation break. The Pioneerof the Nile colt owned by Zayat Stables is scheduled to work Sunday morning for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
BOLD CONQUEST – The Ackerley Brothers Farm’s Bold Conquest galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Abel Flores after the morning renovation break for trainer Steve Asmussen.
CARPE DIEM / ITSAKNOCKOUT / MADEFROMLUCKY/MATERIALITY / STANFORD – Not wanting to take a chance of working on an off track, trainer Todd Pletcher sent his four Churchill Downs-housed Kentucky Derby hopefuls to the track for half-mile works during the 8:30-8:45 window reserved for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks hopefuls.
Working first together were the 1-4 finishers from the Florida Derby (GI) Alto Racing’s Materiality and Starlight Racing’s Itsaknockout. The horses raced as a team through a half-mile in :48 with fractions of :12, :23.60, :35.60 and out five furlongs in 1:01 and six furlongs in 1:14.60. The moves were the seventh fastest of 76 at the distance. Javier Castellano was on Materiality and Ezequiel Perez on Itsaknockout.
Following right behind in company were Stonestreet Stables, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Stanford, with Isabelle Bourez up, and Cheyenne Stables and Mac Nichol’s Madefromlucky with John Velazquez aboard.
Stanford was clocked in :48.40, the 19th fastest of 76, with fractions of :12.40, :24.20 and out five furlongs in 1:01 and three-quarters in 1:13.80. Madefromlucky was timed in :48.60, the 28th fastest, with fractions of :12.40, :24.20, out five furlongs in 1:01.60 and three-quarters in 1:15.
“I was happy with all of the works,” Pletcher said. “Materiality and Itsaknockout worked very well and I thought they both got over the track very well. Stanford breezed really well today and I thought his gallop out was particularly good.”
Pletcher said he was leaning against running Madefromlucky in the Derby and that he would recommend a race like the May 9 Peter Pan Stakes (GII) at Belmont Park, but he needed to confer with the owners before an official decision was made.
“I am thinking that Belmont Park with its sweeping turns might be a good fit for him,” Pletcher said.
Pletcher’s other Derby hopeful WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stables’ Carpe Diem galloped late Friday morning at Keeneland under Patti Krotenko.
“We are still watching the weather closely and he will likely work very early there tomorrow and then come here Monday,” Pletcher said.
Velazquez has the mount on Carpe Diem. Javier Castellano will ride Materiality and Luis Saez will have the mount on Itsaknockout. Regarding Stanford, Pletcher said, “No decision has been made yet on running. Florent Geroux rode him the last time in the Louisiana Derby (GII) and he would be a possibility.”
DANZIG MOON – With jockey Julien Leparoux aboard, John Oxley’s Danzig Moon worked a half-mile in company in :48.80. Working with maiden winner Bollente, Danzig Moon posted fractions of :12.80, :25, :37 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.80.
“We just decided to get the work done and not worry about it,” assistant trainer Norman Casse said of moving the work up a day for Danzig Moon. “He always works in company and we just wanted a good, even work.”
Danzig Moon comes off a runner-up effort to Carpe Diem in the Blue Grass Stakes (GI).
“His preparation could not be any better and I feel he has moved up since the Blue Grass,” Casse said. “Other than the Tampa Bay Derby (GII), he has run well every time. There were two reasons for the Tampa Bay results; one, he didn’t handle the track at all and came back with cuts on his hind legs and two or three days after that he came down with a virus that may have affected the performance.”
Casse said Danzig Moon would walk tomorrow and return to the track Sunday. A paddock schooling session is scheduled for Wednesday.
FAR RIGHT – Harry Rosenblum and Robert LaPenta’s Far Right worked a half-mile in :49 under Greta Kuntzweiler for trainer Ron Moquett. Fractions on the work, which was the 38th fastest of 76, were :12.40, :24.20 and out five furlongs in 1:03.
“I was worried it would be too quick,” Moquett said of the work that came after the morning renovation break. “I wanted a Far Right work, not a :47, just a steady, grinding work.”
Moquett initially had planned to work Far Right on Saturday but moved the drill up because of the rainy forecast.
“I’m glad that we can put that behind us and now we can go on and worry about something else,” Moquett said.
INTERNATIONAL STAR – Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Louisiana Derby (GII) winner and Road to the Kentucky Derby points leader (171) International Star galloped 1 1/4 miles at the Trackside training center with exercise rider Joel Barrientos aboard – the same routine he has kept every day this week – according to trainer Mike Maker. The New York-bred colt by 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus is scheduled to work Saturday morning at Churchill Downs but those plans are subject to change.
“Mother Nature is going to dictate,” Maker said. “If the weather is good we’ll go at 8:30 [a.m.].”
If there are showers Saturday morning that muddy the track, as currently expected, then International Star’s breeze would “most likely” be pushed back to Sunday, the trainer said. Another possibility – less likely but also under consideration – would be to train Saturday at Trackside as soon as the track opens to beat the rain.
KEEN ICE – Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice, galloped 1 ½ miles after the morning renovation break with exercise rider Faustino Aguilar aboard for trainer Dale Romans. Keen Ice is scheduled to work Saturday.
MR. Z – Zayat Stables’ Mr. Z jogged under exercise rider Edvin Vargas after the morning renovation break for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. It was the colt’s first day back at the track following a five-furlong work in 1:01 on Wednesday.
MUBTAAHIJ – Mubtaahij cantered one lap Friday at Arlington under Lisa Moncrieff, a day in advance of another anticipated breeze. “They are popping at the moment, really ready to go,” said assistant Trevor Brown about the Derby prospect and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) hopeful Umgiyo. “We are ready to go today if we needed to. Their prep here has been superb, they are blossoming.”
OCHO OCHO OCHO – DP Racing LLC’s Delta Jackpot (GIII) winner Ocho Ocho Ocho left trainer Jim Cassidy’s barn at Santa Anita Park in Los Angeles at 4:15 a.m. PDT bound for Kentucky on a H.E. Tex Sutton charter flight. He was bedded down at Barn 41 at 2:40 p.m. EDT. The Street Sense colt tired to third in the Blue Grass (GI), his second start of the year. Though Cassidy was disappointed by that effort he remains positive based on what he has seen in back in California. Wednesday morning, Ocho Ocho Ocho breezed six furlongs, handily, from the gate in 1:13 3/5. “Everything’s gone right since the Blue Grass,” Cassidy said. “He worked really well the other day.” Ocho Ocho Ocho, named for his hip number, 888, at the 2014 Ocala Breeders’ Sales April juvenile sale, will test the Churchill Downs surface for the first time Saturday at 8:30 a.m. during the Oaks and Derby training session after the renovation break. Assistant trainer Matt Williams will supervise Ocho Ocho Ocho until Cassidy arrives Monday.
TENCENDUR – Phil Birsh’s homebred colt Tendendur galloped 1 3/8 miles under exercise rider Blair Golen Friday and is scheduled to work Saturday morning. Golen said that jockey Manny Franco will be in from New York to breeze the colt, who will work in company with stablemate Wake Up in Malibu. Trainer George Weaver typically sends Tencendur out with a workmate for his breezes. “We do that with him because he gets a little distracted out there by himself and it just keeps him focused,” Golen said. With rain in the forecast, Golen said Weaver has not decided what time he will have the colt do his five-furlong work. “We might go at 6 o’clock or we might go at 8:30 (the time reserved for Oaks and Derby candidates). We’re going to keep an eye on the weather. We’re all going to be here early and decide at 4:30 or 5 in the morning. Golen chuckled at a question about the chilly morning at Churchill Downs Friday. “We were in New York. He’s trained in 5-degree temperatures, so 37 is nothing for him,” she said. “He handled the winter very well and he’s a New York-bred who grew up at Phil’s farm near Saratoga. This weather is not a big deal to him.”
WAR STORY – Loooch Racing Stables, Glenn Ellis and Christopher Dunn’s War Story jogged after the morning renovation break for trainer Tom Amoss. It was the colt’s first day back at the track after working five furlongs in 1:02 on Wednesday.
KENTUCKY OAKS NOTES
ANGELA RENEE/ESKENFORMONEY – Trainer Todd Pletcher’s two Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) hopefuls got in their final major work before next Friday’s $1 million race by working a half-mile in company shortly after 6 o’clock Friday morning.
First up for Pletcher was Siena Farm’s Angela Renee with jockey John Velazquez aboard. Working in company with maiden winner Curlina, Angela Renee worked a half-mile in :47.80, the fourth fastest of 76 at the distance.
Fractions for the work were :12.40, :24.40 and out five furlongs in 1:00.20.
StarLadies Racing’s Eskenformoney, with jockey Javier Castellano aboard, worked a half-mile in :48.40, the 19th fastest of 76 at the distance. Working in company with the maiden Roberta Turner, Eskenformoney produced fractions of :11.60, :23.60, :36 and out five furlongs in 1:01.60.
“I was very happy; they both went well,” Pletcher said. “We will watch the weather and they may have easy jogs in the morning.”
BIRDATTHEWIRE – Forum Racing’s Birdatthewire galloped 1 ½ miles after the morning renovation break under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar for trainer Dale Romans. Birdatthewire is scheduled to work Saturday.
CONDO COMMANDO – Multiple graded-stakes winner Condo Commando worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 Friday morning under trainer Rudy Rodriguez. It was the second-fastest of 30 works at that distance.
The Churchill Downs clockers caught her splits of :12.40, :24.80, :37 and :48.60. The filly owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and The Elkstone Group galloped out six furlongs in 1:16.80.
“It was pretty much what we were looking for,” Rodriguez said. “She looked like she was very nice and comfortable so hopefully that will take us there. She looked like she did it pretty good.”
Rodriguez said that was a typical breeze for Condo Commando, whom he said was a willing workhorse.
“She looked like she got over the track pretty nice,” he said. “Now she’s got to do it the day of the race.”
Rodriguez said it is possible that he might give the filly another short breeze next week to put her on her toes for the Oaks. If he does, Rodriguez would be following a pattern often used by two trainers he worked for, Bobby Frankel and Rick Dutrow Jr.
“Maybe I’ll do it. Who knows? I’ve got to see how she comes back and I’ll let her tell me what she wants to do,” he said. “If I need to blow her out a little bit I’m going to do it. We’ve got a long way to go, so we’ll take it day by day.”
FOREVER UNBRIDLED – The first horse to work on a busy Friday morning at Churchill Downs was Charles Fipke’s Forever Unbridled for trainer Dallas Stewart.
Working on her own with exercise rider Emerson Chavez up, Forever Unbridled covered five furlongs in 1:01, the third fastest of 30 for the morning at the distance. Fractions were :12.20, :24.20, :36.20, :48.40 and out six furlongs in 1:15.80.
It was the third work here for Forever Unbridled since finishing third in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII).
“Beautiful. Now all we have to go is get in,” Stewart said of the daughter of 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever.
Forever Unbridled is 15th on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard and needs one defection by entry time Tuesday to gain a spot in the starting gate.
I’M A CHATTERBOX/LOVELY MARIA – The Larry Jones-trained tandem of serious Kentucky Oaks threats – Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) winner I’m a Chatterbox, owned by Grayson Farm, and Ashland (GI) winner Lovely Maria, owned by former Kentucky Gov. Brereton Jones – arrived at Churchill Downs Friday afternoon following a van ride from Keeneland. Two-time Kentucky Oaks-winning trainer J. Larry Jones reported that both fillies galloped 1 ½ miles at Keeneland this morning and will test the Churchill Downs surface Saturday during the Oaks and Derby training period following the renovation break. Jones plans to work both fillies here Sunday. I’m a Chatterbox will be ridden by Florent Geroux in the Oaks. Lovely Maria will be ridden by Kerwin Clark in the Oaks.
INCLUDE BETTY – Brereton Jones and Timothy Thornton’s Include Betty was out early Friday morning for a gallop under exercise rider Leo Garcia for trainer Tom Proctor.
LUMINANCE/MAYBELLENE – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Oaks candidates galloped 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez Friday morning before the renovation break. Luminance is owned by Kaleem Shah, who also owns Derby prospect Dortmund. Maybellene is owned by Baffert’s wife, Jill.
OCEANWAVE – With owners Gary and Mary West looking on from the backside, Fantasy Stakes (GIII) runner-up Oceanwave breezed five furlongs in 1:02 during the Oaks-Derby training session, finishing on even terms with workmate Purse Strings, a maiden 4-year-old filly. Churchill Downs clockers caught Oceanwave’s splits in :12.80, :24.40, :36 and 48.60, with a six-furlong gallop-out of 1:18.20. “We just wanted to get a little air in her,” trainer Wayne Catalano said. “She already worked last week so we didn’t need much. It was just a nice maintenance five-eighths. We were just getting her over this track. We didn’t let her work much so she still had some horse left.” Catalano originally scheduled the work for Saturday but moved it up because of the wet forecast. “I was maybe going to go tomorrow but it looks like it’ll be raining and I didn’t want to take a chance,” he said. The trainer declined to assess his chances until the draw but said that for now he is pleased with how his filly has done at Churchill Downs. “She’s eating good, doing good, and we’re happy with her,” Catalano said.
PUCA – Donegal Racing’s Puca galloped 1 ½ miles – or “more like 1 3/8” – after the renovation break, according to regular exercise rider Jo Lawson. Trainer Bill Mott plans to work the filly Saturday, but could push the work back to Sunday because of weather. “I talked to Bill this morning and the plan is to breeze tomorrow,” said Jerry Crawford, president of Donegal. “If not tomorrow, though, it’s no problem if we push it back to Sunday.” By Big Brown, the 2008 Kentucky Derby winner, Puca hasn’t won since breaking her maiden in October but proved she belonged in the Oaks by finishing a clear second last time out in the Gazelle Stakes (GII) at Aqueduct. “She could move forward off that race at the same 1 1/8-mile distance,” Crawford said.
SARAH SIS – Joe Ragsdale’s Sarah Sis worked five furlongs under Florent Geroux in 1:02.60 after the morning renovation break Friday. Working on her own, Sarah Sis produced fractions of :12.40, :24.80, :37 and out six furlongs in 1:16.80. The move was the 19th fastest of 30 at the distance. “She had a nice gallop yesterday and a relaxed work today,” trainer Ingrid Mason said of her first Kentucky Oaks starter. “I said I would never come to the Derby or the Oaks unless I had a horse to run in it, and now I’m here.” Mason moved the work up a day because of a gloomy weather forecast. “We kept looking at the weather and we didn’t want to take a chance of working on a sealed track, so we moved it up a day,” Mason said. Sarah Sis, who will be ridden in the Oaks by Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, enters the Oaks off a fifth-place finish in the Fantasy. That represents her only off-the-board finish in seven starts. “She had a rough trip,” Mason said. “The inside was dead that day and when the opportunity to move outside came, it quickly evaporated. It was not the rider’s fault. Sometimes things like that happen.” Mason said Sarah Sis would walk Saturday and return to the track Sunday and would have paddock and gate schooling next week leading up to the Oaks.
SHOOK UP – Regis Racing’s Shook Up galloped under exercise rider Mike Callaham shortly after the track opened Friday morning for trainer Steve Asmussen.
STELLAR WIND – Hronis Racing’s dominant Santa Anita Oaks (GI) winner Stellar Wind breezed six furlongs in 1:12.80 at Santa Anita with Victor Espinoza aboard. The move came in company with Scooter Bird, a stakes-placed filly also owned by Kostra Hronis. “It was designed with the workmate about a length in front just to give her a target,” trainer John Sadler said. “She settled there a length behind until about the quarter-pole and she was probably three or four lengths in front at the end. It was very similar to her final work before the Santa Anita Oaks. “She galloped out very well. I was very happy and Victor was very happy. We were both very happy.” Stellar Wind will depart for Kentucky early Sunday morning aboard an H.E. Tex Sutton charter flight. Sadler will arrive in Louisville on Monday and be on track Tuesday. “I’ve done it lots of different ways,” Sadler said of preparing for the Kentucky Oaks. “This year I just thought I would stay out here with the good weather for the final work. I’m very happy with the way things are going and with all of her preparations.”
UPCOMING UNDERCARD STAKES PROBABLES
The following is an early rundown of known possible starters in Derby Week stakes races, according to assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator Dan Bork:
$400,000 ALYSHEBA (GII) (Entries taken April 28; race May 1) – Call Me George, Honor Code, Noble Bird, Ride On Curlin. Possible: Den’s Legacy.
$300,000 LA TROIENNE (GI) (Entries taken April 28; race May 1) – America, Frivolous, Molly Morgan, My Miss Sophia, Pearl Turn, Sheer Drama, Stopchargingmaria, Wedding Toast. Possible: Interest Free, Tiz Windy.
$200,000 EIGHT BELLES (GIII) (Entries taken April 28; race May 1) – Ekati’s Phaeton, Fancy and Flashy, Lavender Chrissie, Mizz Money, Promise Me Silver, Streetheart, Super Saks, Taylor S.
$150,000 EDGEWOOD PRESENTED BY FORCHT BANK (GIII) (Entries taken April 28; race May 1) – Lady Zuzu, Pangburn, Quality Rocks. Possible: B Rockett, Sweet Opportunity, Whimsicality.
$150,000 TWIN SPIRES TURF SPRINT (GIII) (Entries taken April 28; race May 1) – Berlino Di Tiger (BRZ), Buster Rose, Channel Marker, Good Deed, Heitai, Positive Side, Power Alert (AUS), Something Extra, Undrafted.
$500,000 WOODFORD RESERVE TURF CLASSIC (GI) (Entries taken April 29; race May 2) – Chocolate Ride, Finnegans Wake, Seek Again, Umgiyo (AUS).
$500,000 CHURCHILL DOWNS (GII) (Entries taken April 29; race May 2) – Bayern, C. Zee, Pants On Fire, Private Zone. Possible: The Big Beast.
$300,000 CHURCHILL DOWNS DISTAFF TURF MILE PRESENTED BY LONGINES (GII) (Entries taken April 29; race May 2) – Coffee Clique, I’m Already Sexy, Lady Lara (IRE), Maid On a Mission, Personal Diary, Sandiva (IRE), Solid Appeal, Strike Charmer, Tepin.
$300,000 HUMANA DISTAFF (GI) (Entries taken April 29; race May 2) – Classic Point, Dame Dorothy, Judy the Beauty, Princess Violet, Sweet Reason, Sweet Whiskey, You Bought Her. Possible: Clearly Confused.
$250,000 AMERICAN TURF PRESENTED BY RAM TRUCKS (GII) (Entries taken April 29; race May 2) – A Lot, Conquest Typhoon, Firespike, Force the Pass, Indianaughty, Metaboss, Tuba, Wireless Future, World Approval. Possible: Royal Son.
$200,000 PAT DAY MILE PRESENTED BY LG&E AND KU (GIII) (Entries taken April 29; race May 2) – Competitive Edge, Conquest Bigluck E, Hillbilly Royalty, Pain and Misery, Toasting Master, Where’s the Moon.