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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Prado Flies in for Work; Wilkinson Tries to Stay Out of Trouble

Howard Says 'They Did A Big Favor for Me'


Edgar Prado flew from South Florida to New Orleans to work Machen for trainer Neil Howard yesterday morning in advance of Saturday’s $1 million Grade II Louisiana Derby.

The Peruvian-born Prado will be returning to Fair Grounds to ride Machen, 7-2 for this weekend’s Grade II Louisiana Derby.

“He’s a very nice horse,” said Prado, who was aboard Machen for the first time in Monday’s half-mile move that was clocked in :48.00. “He’s a very athletic horse, and he galloped out real nice for me (five furlongs in 1:02.20). It’s always good to get on a horse before you ride him in a race to learn any little thing you can about the horse, like if he tries to duck in or get out on you, but I had no problems with this horse.

“It’s always nice to come to New Orleans to ride in the Louisiana Derby because it’s the biggest race there is down here,” Prado said. “It’s been especially nice for me, because I was lucky to win it with Peace Rules in 2003. I’d love to win it again for Neil and Mr. Adam. I rode Adriano for Mr. Adam and won the Lane’s End at Turfway with that horse.”


Howard had Wilkinson breeze a half-mile Monday shortly after the track opened for training.

Wilkinson, who won the Grade III Lecomte Stakes here Jan. 22 as the first leg of Fair Grounds’ three-race series for sophomores, breezed the four furlongs in :48.20 and galloped out five in 1:01.20 with exercise rider Dane Noel aboard while working in company with Mine Train.

A son of 1999 Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid, Wilkinson, who broke his maiden at the track on Dec. 10 in his last start as a 2-year-old, is the 8-1 fourth choice in the morning line for the Grade II Louisiana Derby.

“I’m pleased with both (Wilkinson and Machen) and the way they are coming up to the race,” said Howard later in the morning. “They both went nice and both worked about the same. We didn’t want to ship them anywhere. It’s nice to be able to stay in your own backyard, and when they made this race a mile and an eighth last year, they did me a big favor.

“Machen is a nice, laid back kind of horse and nothing seems to bother him,” said  Howard, “but Wilkinson, I think he likes to lay awake at night thinking, ‘What can I do tomorrow to mess things up for myself?’

“You have to train these horses physically hard, but you also have to train them mentally to be prepared to get knocked around in a race,” Howard said, “so I’m glad Edgar Prado was able to be here to help us with Machen this morning. Believe me when I say these horses know when they have a jock on their back.

"Edgar seemed to be pleased, and I think Machen got a lot out of his last race (fourth in the Grade II Risen Star). He hadn’t really been battle-tested until that race, so I think he got the benefit of two or three races worth of experience all wrapped up into one.”

--Edited from track notes

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