Sunday, May 1, 2016
BRODY’S CAUSE/CHERRY WINE – Trainer Dale Romans reported that his two Kentucky Derby hopefuls, Brody’s Cause and Cherry Wine, exited their five-furlong breezes Saturday morning in good order. Both horses walked the shedrow Sunday morning and are scheduled to jog on the main track Monday.
CREATOR/GUN RUNNER – Creator and Gun Runner galloped a mile and half Sunday morning after the renovation break for trainer Steve Asmussen. Exercise rider Carlos Rosas was on Gun Runner, and exercise rider Abel Flores was on Creator. As is his routine before a Saturday race, Asmussen will work the colts Monday. "An easy half-mile,'' he said. “Same thing they've done the week of all year.”
DANZING CANDY – Trainer Cliff Sise Jr. reported that Danzing Candy exited his five-furlong work on Saturday at San Luis Rey Downs in good order and walked the shedrow Sunday morning. Danzing Candy is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday afternoon after catching an early morning flight out of Southern California. Sise, who will travel commercially, also is expected to arrive in Louisville on Monday afternoon. Danzing Candy will get acquainted with the Churchill surface Tuesday, Sise reported.
DAZZLING GEM – Trainer Brad Cox reported that Dazzling Gem came out of his five-furlong workout of 1:00.40 in good order and that he just walked Sunday morning. The Misremembered colt is 24th on the list of potential Kentucky Derby starters and would need several defections to make the field.
DESTIN/OUTWORK – There wasn’t much shaking on the schedule for trainer Todd Pletcher’s Derby duo of Destin and Outwork Sunday morning, other than an amble around the shedrow on Barn 40. Both colts worked Friday morning, then jogged Saturday and – in the conditioner’s usual pattern – this was their “off” day.
Destin accomplished his five-furlong drill in 1:01.20, while Outwork went in 1:01. Both appeared to be taking their steps toward Derby 142 in smooth and steady fashion.
“Touch wood,” Pletcher said. “I don’t think either of them will have any issues with the crowd come Saturday. They seem to have handled it all well so far and I’m expecting the same ahead. We’ll paddock them throughout the week and give them every chance to be comfortable.”
DISCREETNESS – Discreetness, 26th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, walked the shedrow at trainer Jinks Fires’ barn. Should Discreetness make the Derby field, he would be ridden by 55-year-old Jon Court, who looks much younger. Court started the Spring Meet in rousing fashion Saturday night, winning the first two races on the program. The two victories boosted Court’s Churchill Downs’ win total to 498 and his career total to 3,965.
EXAGGERATOR – It was a very quiet Sunday morning at the Keith Desormeaux barn, as almost all of them are. The trainer worked his Derby colt Exaggerator on Saturday (1:02.60) and walking was in order on a pretty morning in Louisville. The native of Louisiana Cajun country has established a Sunday routine at his stable that has been in place since he became the boss and hung out his own training shingle. Barring something extraordinary, it is always a day off, or a day of rest, for all concerned.
“He came out of his work fine,” the 49-year-old conditioner said, “and he’ll walk today. He’s used to that. When I first started doing this on my own, I said why does this have to be a seven-day-a-week job? I understand that it is a seven-day-a-week responsibility, that these animals have to be fed and cared for every day and, of course, we do that. But that doesn’t mean that they – or we – have to work seven days.
“My horses are given every Sunday off. So is my help. I like to go to church on Sunday and there’s time for that. Some of my help does, too. It is a routine now at the stable and it works well for all of us. We go by this creed: If you can’t get ‘em fit in six days, you probably shouldn’t be doing this.”
FELLOWSHIP – Fellowship, No. 21 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, was an early bird Sunday at Churchill Downs. The colt jogged on the main track in the first set at 5:45 a.m. with exercise rider Brian O’Leary aboard.
“It was just an easy day of jogging,” Norm Casse, son of trainer Mark Casse, said. “He will be back in the 8:30 set tomorrow and will gallop.”
Casse was asked if there was a “Plan B” for Fellowship: “I don’t think we really discussed that yet. I think he is training so well, maybe the Preakness is on the table. We will enter and wait to see how it goes.”
LANI – Lani paid a visit to the starting gate near the conclusion of his 35 minutes on the track Sunday morning. With exercise rider Eishu Maruuchi aboard, Lani came on the track shortly after 8:30. Lani made four circuits of the track, a combined walk and jog for the first lap, jogging the second, galloping a mile and a half and then walking to the starting gate for his schooling session. Lani’s extended time on the track is nothing new for him.
“He did pretty well at the gate. It was another good day,” said Keita Tanaka, agent for Maeda. “It is routine when we go to a new track to do gate practice. He will probably go one more time before the Derby. Back home in Japan, he usually will walk for 30 minutes before going to the track. We can’t do that here because it is so confined (in the area around the stakes barn).”
Trainer Mikio Matsunaga is scheduled to arrive in Louisville on Monday and jockey Yutaka Take on Friday. Take is building his frequent flier miles. He flew in from Japan to work Lani on Wednesday and returned to Japan the next day. Take got the week off to a good start early Sunday when he won the Group 1 Emperor’s Prize at Kyoto on Kitesan Black.
MAJESTO – Majesto jogged in the mile chute and then galloped a mile and a quarter under exercise rider J.J. Delgado before the morning renovation break. Runner-up in the Florida Derby in his most recent start, Majesto still is in need of a rider for the Derby. Javier Castellano rode Majesto in the Florida Derby but is committed to Destin in the Kentucky Derby.
“I wanted to get Castellano,” trainer Gustavo Delgaro said. “But I understand. Javier has won a hundred races for Todd and six for me.”
MO TOM – Mo Tom, with exercise rider Mario Garcia aboard, galloped over a mile-and-a-quarter Sunday after the renovation break. The colt also schooled at the starting gate.
Mo Tom, trained by Tom Amoss, will be racing for the first time since finishing fourth, with a troubled trip, in the Louisiana Derby. Amoss said he has no concerns about the six-week spacing between Mo Tom's final prep race and the Kentucky Derby. Since 1929, two Kentucky Derby winners – Animal Kingdom in 2011 and Needles in 1956 – were racing for the first time in six weeks.
"The placement of these prep races has a lot to do with when you're going to run next, and any trainer worth his salt can keep a horse fit, even for this extra distance, for eight to 10 weeks if he has to,'' Amoss said. "So it's a non-factor.''
Also, Amoss is confident that Derby Day hoopla, which has bothered many horses over the years, will be a non-factor for Mo Tom.
"He has a very laid-back personality, which is great,'' he said. "I don't think he's going to be a horse the crowd is going to bother in any way, shape or form. We're going to have 150,000 out here. I'm good with that.''
MOHAYMEN – Mohaymen had his second walk day following a half-mile work on Friday. Junior Alvarado, who has ridden Mohaymen in all six of his starts with five victories, has the Derby mount.
“Everything is good here,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “He will go back to the track tomorrow.”
MOR SPIRIT – Bob Baffert is also racking up frequent flier miles. He flew back to California following Mor Spirit's work on Tuesday and arrived back in Louisville late Saturday night. He was on hand to watch his charge gallop 1 1/2 mile under regular exercise rider George Alvarez. The Santa Anita Derby runner-up is expected to have his final workout Monday.
It has been 20 years since Baffert saddled his first Kentucky Derby runner and nearly pulled off the upset when Cavonnier finished second by a nose to Grindstone. He has won four Derbies, including last year with the heavily favored American Pharoah. He acknowledged that expectations aren't as high this year.
“We're just the opening act this year,” Baffert quipped to an assembly of media.
MY MAN SAM/SHAGAF – The Chad Brown-trained duo of My Man Sam and Shagaf each jogged one mile at 8:30 a.m., their first day back to the track after workouts Friday.
Brown acknowledges it is a Derby cliché, but the trainer insists he “wouldn’t trade these two for anyone else in the field” in light of how they’re coming up to the race. My Man Sam finished an impressive second in the Blue Grass Stakes breaking from the outside post 14 and having to circle the field eight-wide into the stretch. His previous efforts and his disposition give Brown reason to believe that Irad Ortiz Jr. will have the valuable option of leading My Man Sam wherever he finds daylight, whether it’s between horses or up the rail.
“He’s a hard tryer, a brave horse, a strong-willed little horse,” Brown said. “He’s not afraid of anything. You put him in any situation and he’s very willing.”
“Just being around him, he’ll chase you out of his space, or if he sees another horse walking around him in the shedrow he might challenge him. He doesn’t care if the other horse is bigger than him. I thought he’d be a nice horse but I never thought he’d be a Derby-caliber horse (at first),” Brown said. “He got a late start for mental reasons. He was very unfocused in the summer. Originally he was sent to me as a turf prospect. I breezed him on the turf at Saratoga, and I didn’t like the horse on the turf. So we just stuck to the dirt and gave him some time.
“It took him a long time to get his gate card and stuff like that. He just wasn’t all there. But he put it all together late in the fall and had some good workouts that led us to believe this horse was going to be OK. We weren’t thinking a mile-and-a-quarter dirt horse, by Trappe Shot and kind of small. But when we got him around two turns, he really exploded and opened our eyes up to what we had. Sometimes that happens with horses. They all develop at different stages.”
The emergence of My Man Sam as a serious 3-year-old stands in stark contrast to his stablemate, Shagaf, who inspired Derby dreams from his debut, a six-length win at Aqueduct.
“To get an 88 Beyer and run a ‘9’ Ragozin going a mile on the dirt the first time you ever run, in November of your 2-year-old year, I don’t know if any horse in America did that,” Brown said. “It’s a big number first time out in the fall. Since then he hasn’t really moved forward, numbers-wise, but he’s had some excuses along the way, and I’m willing to give him a pass because the horse looks really good right now.”
Chief among those excuses was a muddy track in New York for the Wood Memorial, which resulted in a lackluster fifth as the favorite. Shagaf uncharacteristically dropped back almost immediately and made only a minor move into contention without ever seriously threatening the winner, Outwork.
“He caught a muddy track he just didn’t like and he didn’t get away from the gate,” Brown said. “When he did get a little momentum going he had to stop. Nothing really worked out for him that day and we’re taking the approach of just drawing a line through that race.”
The effort was especially disappointing because Brown had seen improvement in Shagaf after his winning effort in the Gotham, a trend that he said has continued since arriving in Louisville.
“I’m not sure this horse liked Florida,” he said. “He just never was quite the same down there as he was in New York. After the Gotham we left him in New York, and the horse really started to pick up his weight again and he just started to train more consistently. He was really coming into the Wood in fine shape before it rained. Since the Wood there’s been more improvement, more consistency; he’s gaining weight, getting stronger. The horse breezes by himself now; he was always one that needed company. He’s had two fabulous works here at Churchill, by himself, effortlessly.
“You can debate his numbers and how fast he runs but, to me, the horse is really peaking right now.”
NYQUIST -- Nyquist got his first feel for Churchill Downs Sunday morning at 8:30 when he jogged once around the big oval under exercise rider Jonny Garcia. He appeared to handle it just the way he’s handled everything else in his brief career – with a winning style.
Trainer Doug O’Neill’s charge went trackside with a pony steered by assistant trainer Jack Sisterson, passing through the six-furlong gap and on about his business on a muddy strip as easy as can be. He made one lap in short order and headed right back to Barn 41, which will be his home through at least next Sunday.
“He jogged today and he’ll jog tomorrow,” said O’Neill.
The trainer also has nine others in his barn, including Land Over Sea for Friday’s Longines Kentucky Oaks. He has six additional stakes picked out this coming week for six of his other runners.
Owner Paul Reddam is expected in from California for the post position draw at 5:00 ET on Wednesday to be televised by NBC Sports Network.
OSCAR NOMINATED – Oscar Nominated, winner of the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, jogged 1 1/2 mile shortly after 6 a.m. at the Trackside Training Center.
Trainer Mike Maker said the Kitten’s Joy colt came out of his timed work Friday in good order and that he was pleased with how well his charge had taken to the Churchill Downs surface in advance of his first start on dirt. Oscar Nominated made his first six starts on turf, including a win in the $50,000 Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds, before taking the Spiral at 23-1 over Turfway’s synthetic Polytrack.
“If he doesn’t win I don’t think the surface will be an excuse, just the competition,” Maker said.
Maker and owners Ramsey have teamed up with two previous Derby starters by Kitten’s Joy – Dean’s Kitten (14th in 2010) and Derby Kitten (13th in 2011). Another Ramsey starter by their stallion Charming Kitten (ninth in 2013) was trained by Todd Pletcher.
SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS – Suddenbreakingnews had an easy first day on the track following his five-furlong workout Friday. Under exercise rider Ramiro Gorostieta, the Mineshaft gelding jogged a mile and visited the paddock after the renovation break.
Prior to starting his morning exercise, the Southwest Stakes winner stood patiently for several minutes and appeared nice and calm as he watched the other horses on the track. Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel thinks Suddenbreakingnews' mind will be one of his advantages as the crowds and excitement build each day leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
“He looks good,” Von Hemel said. “He came bouncing off the racetrack. He probably thought he needed to do more. He's a cool customer. That will definitely help him out. He's a gelding, so he doesn't have amore on his mind.”
TOM’S READY – Tom's Ready, exercise rider Emerson Chavez aboard, jogged a mile Sunday before the renovation break for trainer Dallas Stewart. The colt also schooled in the paddock. Tom's Ready, who finished second in the Louisiana Derby, will be racing Saturday for the first time in six weeks.
"It was a good situation where we worked him Friday, didn't have to train in the mud yesterday,'' Stewart said. "All he had to do was jog in the mud today, go to the paddock, relax a little bit. I don't see a problem with (the six weeks). We're really able to stick some solid, hard training in, and he handled that. We haven't backed up at all.''
Stewart will be participating in his fifth Kentucky Derby. He's finished second twice with longshots – Golden Soul in 2013 and Commanding Curve in 2014. Tom's Ready, who was a 30-1 shot in the Louisiana Derby, will be a longshot Saturday, but that doesn't matter to Stewart.
"We're going for the win.'' he said. "We're not here to participate. We're going for the money. This is the situation. I'm trying to win it, and if he's good enough, he'll win it, because he's ready. So forget all about this 'Let's just be in the damn race.' That's not what I'm all about. It's a horse race, and you need to be ready for it. That's why the works have been stiff. It's just been steady and strong the whole six weeks.''
TROJAN NATION – The Street Cry colt Trojan Nation, who will be known as “The Maiden” when he comes to Kentucky this week, galloped a mile and one half for trainer Paddy Gallagher at his Santa Anita headquarters Sunday morning.
In six career starts thus far, the bay has gotten close several times but has yet to have a picture taken. While more than a few non-winners have tried their luck over the years, only three who never have rung the bell beforehand have finished first – and the last time it happened was 83 years ago.
Trojan Nation will be flown from Los Angeles to Louisville Monday with exercise rider and right-hand man Andy Durnin following in transit. Gallagher has a flight lined up for himself on Tuesday.
WHITMORE – When asked to describe Whitmore Sunday morning, trainer Ron Moquett had just one word “happy.” The Arkansas Derby third-place finisher looked even happier after he jogged one mile and galloped one mile during the special 8:30 a.m. training time under Laura Moquett, wife of the trainer.
Moquett will be making his second consecutive Kentucky Derby start after saddling Far Right to a 15th place finish last year. When asked how things are different this time around, Moquett said, “It's easier this time. I know what to expect more. Last year was like going to a new place and having to figure out where everything is, like where's the bathroom.”
Edited Churchill Downs release with some additional content by Dick Downey