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Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby at The Downey Profile®

McCraken Strong Keeneland Work


Move Deemed 'Maintenance'

By Dick Downey

Keeneland is the new home for McCraken, who arrived at the Lexington track on Thursday.

Today he worked five furlongs in 1:00.00 (1/7) with Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard. Keeneland clockers caught McCraken in fractions of 12.60, 26.20, 37.20 and 48.20 and 1:00, and galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.80. That shows the final three furlongs went in 33.80, but trainer Ian Wilkes downplayed the work.

“It was a maintenance work, just what we were looking for,” Wilkes said. “Everything’s good.”

McCraken, who has four wins in four starts, is being pointed to the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes on April 8. He won the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs in his 2017 debut, but a minor ankle strain kept the colt from his next scheduled start in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 11.

“Maybe missing that race was a blessing,” Wilkes said. “He’s a different horse. He’s filled out, stronger. Things happen for a reason. You may not agree at the time; you may not want it to happen. But things happen for a reason. I think he’s a bigger, stronger horse right now. Just in that short time, he changed on me. Maybe it was a good thing.”

Wilkes has 16 stalls at Keeneland. His horses were among the first to arrive when the main stable area opened on March 16.

“We decided to come up a bit early and get him a few works over the track here,” Wilkes said about McCraken’s schedule. “I wanted to get him up here to get him acclimated, a little cooler weather. The horses love it.”

Wilkes said McCraken likely would work again Sunday or Monday. “We’ll see how he does through the week,” he said.

It's Your Nickel

Battaglia Memorial winner It's Your Nickel was also on the Monday worktab at Keeneland. He went four furlongs in 47.40 (1/9), breezing.

The Ken McPeek trainee is also targeting the April 8 Blue Grass.

With content from Keeneland

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