Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®
Daily Derby Update for Tuesday, May 1
ALPHA – Godolphin Stable’s Alpha visited the track at Churchill Downs for the first time this year on Tuesday morning when he galloped approximately 1 3/8 mile under exercise rider Rob Massey.
The Wood Memorial runner-up trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, was one of the later arrivals for the 138th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. He stayed at McLaughlin’s home base at Belmont Park until Monday afternoon, when he was flown to Louisville. The colt arrived at Churchill Downs at 6:15 p.m.
This is Alpha’s second trip to Churchill Downs. After acting up badly in the gate of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5, he finished 11th, about 20 lengths behind Hansen.
“He shipped in well and all systems are go,” McLaughlin said. “He looked like he liked the track a little better today than on Breeders’ Cup day, so I was happy about that.”
Since the Breeders’ Cup, Alpha has raced three times at Aqueduct in New York, winning the Count Fleet and the Withers and finishing second by a neck to Gemologist in the Wood. McLaughlin said Alpha looks the same but is a different horse than the youngster that acted badly in the Breeders’ Cup.
“He’s been great at the gate ever since,” McLaughlin said. “We’ve schooled him often and he hasn’t done anything wrong in the gate in the morning or the afternoon. He’s matured some, but he’s still kind of a light-framed horse. He’s great mentally. Great pedigree. Wants the mile and a quarter.”
Alpha and jockey Ramon Dominguez had a troubled trip in the Wood and the colt sustained some cuts on his left foreleg that became infected and temporarily interrupted his training after the race. The bay breezed five furlongs in :59.40 Saturday at Belmont Park and McLaughlin said he is ready for the Derby.
“He’s certainly battle-tested,” McLaughlin said. “It was a very rough first turn for him. Ramon had to check him hard and that is why we had the cut on the shin, which set us back a day or two in New York.
“We walked him seven days instead of five days, but he’s been right on his schedule. We two-minute-licked him a mile on Sunday (April 22), instead of working him a half on Saturday and he was feeling great.
“I don’t think we’re behind. Then we came back with that great five-eighths work Saturday on the Belmont training track. He’s fit and he’s doing great.”
McLaughlin said that Alpha’s jockey would be named Wednesday when entries are taken. The Alpha team has held off with the announcement of a jockey to replace Dominguez, who opted to ride Hansen.
“Rajiv Maragh worked him and he’s the most likely rider, but we just wanted to make sure there weren’t any jockeys that came open today or tomorrow,” McLaughlin said.
Since Maragh is available and wasn’t likely to pick up another mount this week, McLaughlin said there no pressure to decide on a rider. He said that Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, will make the decision.
“There is no sense in naming a rider today or yesterday,” McLaughlin said. “We have to do it tomorrow, so we’ll do it tomorrow.”
McLaughlin said Alpha fits in this talented Derby field.
“It’s a deep group and a tough group,” he said. “Hopefully, it sets up well for a closer. It looks like an awful lot of pace early. We feel like he will get the distance and hopefully it sets up well for him. We need a good post and a clean trip.”
Yes, McLaughlin has a preferred post position in the 20-horse field. “Number 10 would be my favorite because he goes in last,” McLaughlin said.
BODEMEISTER/LIAISON – Bodemeister had his usual morning gallop of approximately 11/2 miel under exercise rider George Alvarez.
While the colt is named for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s 7-year-old son, Bode, Baffert said he didn’t expect that owner Ahmed Zayat would give the Empire Maker colt that distinctive name.
“I happened to be at the barn at Del Mar with Bode and his friends and (Zayat) told me he needed some papers and was going to change the name of that horse,” Baffert said. “I told him, ‘I’ll just call him Bodemeister until the name comes out.’ I didn’t think twice about it. A month and a half later, I saw the papers on the desk and my bookkeeper said, ‘Look at this name, Bodemeister.’ I said, ‘What did he do that for?’ Usually it’s a jinx if you name one for your kid. I said, ‘Well, forget that horse.’ So, here we are.”
Baffert said that at that point the young Bodemeister had not shown he might be special. "We didn’t know yet,” he said. “As a matter of fact, we thought that Paynter was the big horse. I would have named that one.”
Bodemeister didn’t start as a 2-year-old, but has two wins and two seconds in four starts as a 3-year-old, including a smashing victory in the Arkansas Derby (GI) that carried him to the Kentucky Derby.
Liaison walked the shedrow the morning after his five-furlong work. Baffert said the colt came out of the work well.
CREATIVE CAUSE – With trainer Mike Harrington and regular exercise rider John Cisneros looking on, Creative Cause walked the Barn 41 shedrow Tuesday morning following his sharp five-furlong work Monday.
Harrington said the colt came out of his work in fine fettle and continues to head strongly toward his Saturday date in the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby. The trainer continued to be upbeat about the horse’s training, saying there’s been no change in the colt’s routine, missing nary a beat since his 2-year-old season.
“I gave him 30 days off after the Breeders’ Cup,” Harrington said. “He just walked during that time and he hasn’t missed a beat in the time back from that.”
When asked by a member of the media about how he’s handling Kentucky Derby week, the tall man in the ever-present Stetson said, “This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve had good horses before.”
Of the good horses, he said, “This is my best one, but probably my favorite is still Swiss Yodeler, who got me my first Grade I.” Swiss Yodeler, owned by longtime client Heinz Steinmann, who also owns Creative Cause, has been a major stallion in California as well.
DADDY NOSE BEST/SABERCAT – Both of trainer Steve Asmussen’s hopefuls for Kentucky Derby 138 – Daddy Nose Best and Sabercat – came out of their Monday works “great,” according to assistant trainer Scott Blasi.
With major preparations behind them, Daddy Nose Best and Sabercat will gallop the rest of this week, while their connections contemplate Wednesday’s post position draw and the impact it will have on strategy.
“I think with both of their styles you would definitely want them toward the outside,” Asmussen said. “I think how much dirt in their faces you eliminate going into the first turn will help their position a bit. It’s a deep field from an ability standpoint and it’ll be very competitive to the first turn.
“The really fast horses away from the gate are going to be where they’re going to be regardless of which post they get. How fast they go early, how much the race sorts out, and how far back you get, post is going to have a lot to do with that.
“The complexion from five days out to when they leave the gate, the pace scenario can change so much. We were witness to that last year, with how much speed Uncle Mo had and then he doesn’t run. It just changed the complexion of the race so much. When they leave the gate, that’ll be when it matters.”
A big part of getting the trip, of course, is the rider, and Asmussen is pleased that he has enlisted jockeys with reputations as so-called money riders for their respective histories of delivering in the most important stakes.
Garrett Gomez, a two-time Eclipse Award winner with a Kentucky Oaks victory and 11 Breeders’ Cup wins, will ride Daddy Nose Best, while Corey Nakatani, a two-time Kentucky Oaks winner and nine-time Breeders’ Cup winner, will be aboard Sabercat.
“They’re as good as it gets, and the one thing that you like about both of them is that they can get a lifetime best out of one,” Asmussen said. “And it’ll be on the track as opposed to on paper.”
DONE TALKING – With trainer Hamilton Smith and jockey Sheldon Russell in from Maryland, the Laurel Park-based Illinois Derby winner galloped a mile and three-quarters under exercise rider James “Bobo” Brigmon. Smith is hoping his first shot at the big time can deliver on Saturday.
“This is the first horse I’ve had that warranted coming to the Derby,” Smith said. “It’s awfully expensive to take the risk unless you have a deserving horse, and I haven’t had the kind of owners where money doesn’t matter. This colt showed us last fall he was a serious horse, but we almost didn’t get to find out.”
Smith said Done Talking was stricken with colitis after his bid in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct, and the intestinal inflammation luckily was caught almost instantly.
“We caught it just as he developed it and took him to New Bolton within hours of noticing it,” Smith said. “Had we not noticed it and gotten him the proper care, he may not have made it overnight.”
Done Talking was out of training more than a month over the winter because of the sickness and Smith said the horse was “two or three works short” when returning in the Gotham. “I still thought I had him tight enough to do more than he did,” Smith said. “He didn’t run a step. Before and after the Gotham he was fine. I guess I just had to rush him a little bit to make the Gotham, and that’s why he ran so poorly.”
Done Talking’s no-show in the Gotham turned out to be a fortuitous twist of fate.
“Had we run any good at all in the Gotham, I was planning on going back to New York for the Wood,” Smith said. As it turns out, the dull Gotham run changed Smith’s mind to aim for the Illinois Derby instead, an easier spot, but one that forced them to win to accrue enough graded stakes earnings to make the Kentucky Derby field.
“I had the Illinois Derby as an option to fall back on since we nominated to it,” Smith said. “Funny how it worked out.”
Jockey Sheldon Russell, 24, also was on hand Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs. The Louisiana-born, English-raised rider used Monday afternoon to get a sense of Derby history.
“We went to the Museum yesterday, my agent and I, to see the history of the race,” Russell said. “We were watching the replays of the last 10 years or so and taking it all in. I was watching the race of Mine That Bird in the Derby and he reminds me of him. There’s hope that it can be done.”
Russell said he will accept a few mounts here at Churchill Downs this week -- and last rode here in a stakes three years ago. He also worked Aruna at Churchill Downs for Graham Motion last year before the Breeders’ Cup.
DULLAHAN – Toyota Blue Grass winner Dullahan galloped a mile and one-half Tuesday under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar. Among those watching nearby was Terry Bradshaw, who was visiting the Churchill Downs backstretch this morning.
“He’s perfect,” owner Jerry Crawford said. “I couldn’t be any happier. I love how he’s peaking for the race and I love the pace set-up. And the rumor is not true that we paid for Trinniberg’s entrance fee.”
Dullahan has some stable history to follow with Donegal and trainer Dale Romans. They teamed with 2010 Derby third-place finisher Paddy O’Prado.
“We didn’t know what to expect with Paddy,” Crawford said. “We have a higher level of confidence and expectation with this horse. He’s more tactical and doesn’t have to be from out of the clouds, though I expect he’ll be back in the field, but not 20th, but in the back half early on.
“The great thing about having a Hall of Fame rider and three-time Derby winner like Kent Desormeaux on your team is that I don’t have to worry about that. I have tremendous confidence in him once the race starts.”
Dullahan has 20 partners in his Donegal ownership syndicate, many of the same that invested in Paddy O’Prado. Crawford said more than half of the ownership group is from Iowa, where he is based.
EL PADRINO/GEMOLOGIST – El Padrino and Gemologist arrived by van at Churchill Downs in late morning Tuesday following a flight from South Florida.
Gemologist, who has been training along with his stablemate at Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida, will bring an undefeated record from five starts into Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
“What’s important is that not only is he undefeated but he’s two-for-two at Churchill. That’s significant as we’ve seen in the past,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Not all horses take to this surface. The fact the he’s won twice around two turns here I think is a big edge.”
Gemologist followed up a debut victory at Turfway Park on Sept. 24 with an entry-level allowance triumph and a stakes score in the Kentucky Jockey Club, both at 1 1/16 mile at Churchill. After winning a Gulfstream Park allowance in his 2012 debut, the son of Tiznow fought off a strong challenge by Alpha in deep stretch to capture the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct by neck on April 7.
“He’s a horse who’s had a tendency to idle a bit when he makes the lead. I think he did that a little bit in the Wood, but it was reminiscent of Tiznow in both Breeders’ Cup wins,” Pletcher said. “It looked like he was beat, and he found more.”
Javier Castellano has the return mount aboard Gemologist.
Pletcher doesn’t view the apparent abundance of early speed horses in the field as a problem for Gemologist or El Padrino.
“For Gemologist, it won’t bother him; he’s tractable enough to be in a stalking position. It could benefit a horse like El Padrino, who has been running in races not having the kind of pace you’d like to have. His last two races the fractions have been a little slow. It’s going to help those kinds of horses.”
El Padrino, who finished fourth in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream after winning the Risen Star at Fair Grounds, is scheduled to be ridden by Rafael Bejarano.
Although Pletcher didn’t get the kind of weather he could have expected at Palm Meadows last weekend, when rainy weather forced him alter the workout schedules of his Derby hopefuls last weekend, other factors were involved in his decision to ship later than usual to Churchill Downs for the Derby.
“We’ve had a very successful winter training at Palm Meadows. We won 40 percent of our races at Gulfstream,” Pletcher said. “Gemologist shipped from Palm Meadows to Gulfstream and won; he shipped from Palm Meadows to Aqueduct for the Wood and won.
"El Padrino shipped from Palm Meadows to the Fair Grounds and won. So we were in a good rhythm there. The horses were doing well and it made sense to stay there as long as possible.
HANSEN – Hansen galloped 1 3/8 mile at the Trackside Training Center Tuesday morning.
Trainer Mike Maker said the colt is doing well as he continues preparation the Kentucky Derby. Hansen will go out for his daily gallop at 6 a.m. Wednesday and will be shipped to Barn 42 at Churchill Downs in mid-morning.
Maker said he hopes Hansen will end up outside the speed horses when post positions are drawn Wednesday afternoon.
I’LL HAVE ANOTHER – Once again it was a brisk mile-and-a-half gallop for I’ll Have Another as the colt continued prepping for Saturday’s $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby.
With every passing day, the buzz grows around the Doug O’Neill-trained colt, and Tuesday morning drew a couple of celebrities – Terry Bradshaw and Rick Pitino.
One of the major players on Team O’Neill is the trainer’s older brother, Dennis, who picks most of the horses O’Neill clients get in 2-year-olds-in-training sales. He picked out I’ll Have Another for owner J. Paul Reddam at the Ocala Breeders Sale in 2011, but acknowledges he had no idea the $35,000 purchase would be prepping for this week’s Kentucky Derby.
“I told Paul when I bought the horse, I thought he would be a good horse in $40,000 races,” Dennis O’Neill said. “Paul would have none of that, and look where we are.”
O’Neill said he much prefers the 2-year-old sales, believing he can find a diamond in the rough and not have to pay a premium price for such a horse. He says he is not big on speed breezes at those sales, thinking that the runners putting up those numbers may have run their career fastest at that time. “Besides,” he says, “what’s so big about a horse that can run an eighth of a mile under 10 seconds?”
He says he prefers the OBS sale and the Mid-Atlantic Sale at Timonium to other 2-year-old sales, because of the big numbers of trainees for sale.
Dennis O’Neill, five years older than little brother Doug, says he has been enamored with horse racing since a youngster. “I was the sick one,” he said with a chuckle. “I used to grab Doug out of school and take him to the track with me.”
MARK VALESKI -- Brereton C. Jones’ homebred Mark Valeski has been withdrawn from consideration for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, opening the door for Bluegrass Hall LLC’s Optimizer to make the field, which is limited to 20 starters.
Trainer Larry Jones said that while Mark Valeski is in fine health, Monday’s five-furlong workout in 1:00.20 did not convince him the Louisiana Derby and Risen Star runner-up was ready to face this year’s especially talented Kentucky Derby field.
“We really were looking for a ‘wow’ work and we don’t think Mark gave us that feeling that Believe You Can did,” Jones said, referring to his Kentucky Oaks candidate. “When you go in you’ve got be ready to tackle the bears. This is the Derby.
“He’s not coming in the way Hard Spun did. He’s not telling me like Eight Belles did that, ‘Boy, this is going to be the best race of my career.’ We feel like it could have been his best race so far, but we feel like he’s going to have even better races coming up.”
In other years, Jones said, Mark Valeski could have been competitive, but the 2012 group is just too talented.
“This is a very deep field. We feel like we belong with them, but there’s going to be a horse that runs 15th that’s a very good horse. It’s not like you just go out there and hope that if Union Rags gets a bad trip then we win. What with Gemologist, Bodemeister, Alpha, Take Charge Indy, somebody’s going to get a good trip other than just, say, Mark Valeski.”
Brereton Jones has talked openly of his desire to win a Derby but Larry Jones said they’re willing to wait until they believe they’ve got the right horse at the right moment.
MY ADONIS – My Adonis moved up to 21st on the graded earnings list among those who have expressed interest in entering the Kentucky Derby with today’s defection of Mark Valeski. With that announcement, Monmouth Park-based trainer Kelly Breen was loading the Gotham Stakes runner-up onto a van as of noon and expected to have My Adonis at Churchill Downs by 7 a.m. Wednesday.
“We’ll see what happens,” Lori Hall said. “Apparently it’s easier to ship to Pimlico from Churchill anyway, so if we don’t get in we’ll van to Baltimore for the prep race there. We know we’re running somewhere Saturday.”
Pimlico’s $75,000 Canonero II for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles could be used as a springboard to either of the other Triple Crown races, the $1 million Preakness Stakes two weeks later or the $1 million Belmont Stakes five weeks later.
The Kentucky Derby has an “Also-Eligible” this year, allowing up to four horses to enter and perhaps make the field should any scratches be announced between entries and 9 a.m. Friday.
Regular jockey Elvis Trujillo will be named to ride in what would be his first Kentucky Derby.
Hall said My Adonis returned to the track this morning for light training, two days after a five-furlong work at Monmouth in 1:01.60.
OPTIMIZER – D. Wayne Lukas took his Derby 138 hopeful to the track earlier than usual this morning in order for the trainer to make a charity function. His Rebel Stakes runner-up jogged a mile this morning in his first day back to the track since Sunday’s final pre-Derby workout.
Jon Court will ride Optimizer on Saturday now that he has moved to No. 20 on the list of horses under consideration for the Derby with the declaration of Mark Valeski on Tuesday.
“We’re thrilled. We were hoping to get in and I felt confident last week,” Lukas said. “I want to run for a couple of reasons. My horse fits the race for style and it’s for a new client, who is doing a lot of nice things for the industry.”
PROSPECTIVE – Exercise rider Juan Bernardini had his hands full with a strong mile and one-half gallop this morning as the Tampa Bay Derby champ continues to train forwardly for Derby 138. Afterward, trainer Mark Casse remained cautiously optimistic about his chances.
“He went really well again today,” Casse said. “He had a handful and he keeps doing well. Now we just hold our breath for a few more days until Saturday. I like where we’re at.”
Casse said Prospective would school in the paddock with horses for Race 1 on today’s Churchill Downs card.
ROUSING SERMON – A jubilant Jerry Hollendorfer said of his colt’s five-furlong workout at Churchill Downs Tuesday, “I am very happy with the work. I told Jose (Lezcano) to give me something between a minute and 1:01 and he went 1 minute and two-fifths. He rode him perfectly, did a great job rating him.”
Hollendorfer said the Churchill Downs clockers gave him these splits: :12.60 for the first eighth-mile, :25 for the quarter, :36.60 for three eighths, :48.40 for the half mile on the way to final time. Rousing Sermon galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 flat.
Hollendorfer said the colt seemed to like the track surface, which was rated fast in spite of some rain Monday evening, shortly after Hollendorfer arrived on a flight from California.
Rousing Sermon, the trainer said “goes straight and true every day. He has stayed sound. He’s always very relaxed and laid back.”
Because of those things, and the fact the colt has been super consistent with only one finish off the board in nine lifetime starts. In his most recent start, the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit finished a closing third in the Louisiana Derby. “That’s why I’m here and that’s why the horse is here,” Hollendorfer said with a smile.
TAKE CHARGE INDY – Take Charge Indy was part of the contingent of horses that was flown from West Palm Beach, Fla. to Louisville early Tuesday. The flight landed at 10:23 a.m.
The Florida Derby winner trained by Pat Byrne will gallop at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning. In his only previous race at Churchill Downs, Take Charge Indy was fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Calvin Borel will ride the A.P. Indy colt in the Kentucky Derby.
TRINNIBERG – Shivananda Parbhoo’s Trinniberg jogged a mile and galloped a mile under exercise rider Sabastian Garcia Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs.
Parbhoo, who owns a trucking company based in South Florida and New York, is enjoying his first participation in the Kentucky Derby.
“It’s crazy,” the native of Trinidad and Tobago said. “This is unbelievable. This is the best race in the world. Every country has its best race, but I think the Kentucky Derby is the best race in the world.”
Parbhoo has very pleasant memories of the first Kentucky Derby that he watched in 1992 when he was living in Brooklyn.
“This first Derby I watched was Lil E. Tee and I bet $500 on him,” said Parbhoo, who wagered on the Derby simulcast at Belmont Park. “I just liked Pat Day, who rode him. I just played him.”
Trinniberg, who captured the Swale at Gulfstream Park and the Bay Shore at Aqueduct, will be ridden by Willie Martinez.
UNION RAGS – Union Rags jogged a mile and galloped a mile under exercise rider Peter Brette before the renovation break at Churchill Downs
Union Rags is in the same stall in Barn 42 that was occupied by Barbaro, whom trainer Michael Matz saddled for a dominating victory in the 2006 Kentucky Derby.
“I’ve had one great horse in Barbaro, and I think I might have a second one. It’s a great opportunity. It’s a great feeling,” Matz said. “It’s been six years since I came back where I think I have a chance, and that’s what we work for.”
Matz, who saddled Visionaire for a 12th-place finish in the 2008 Derby, is fully prepared to answer a lot of questions about Barbaro.
“He captured a lot of people’s hearts. He was an undefeated horse. Every time we ran him, he won, except the time he got hurt. In the racing community, I think he brought a lot of people together,” Matz said. “I even think when he did get hurt,
Union Rags is scheduled to be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
WENT THE DAY WELL – Went the Day Well galloped 1 1/8 mile under exercise rider Zeke Castro and under the supervision of assistant trainer David Rock Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Graham Motion, who saddled Team Valor’s Animal Kingdom for a victory in last year’s Kentucky Derby, was scheduled to arrive back in Louisville on Tuesday afternoon.
Bradley Weisbord, the chief operating officer of Barry Irwin’s ownership group, was on hand to observe Went the Day Well, who captured the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway in his most recent start.
“It’s hard to believe that a year later we’re back, not only with a horse but a horse that has a chance to win the race, the right horse. We’re not just bringing any horse just to be in the race. We think we’re bringing the right horse. He shouldn’t have any problem with the distance; he likes the surface; he’s bred to run all day,” Weisbord said. “It’s exciting. It’s almost impossible to think you could win this race twice in your life, let along twice in two years. Our whole team is very excited.”
John Velazquez, who won his first Derby aboard Animal Kingdom, has the mount on Went the Day Well.