Trainers Hope Weather Cooperates Soon
By Dick Downey
Some Kentucky Derby prospects are scheduled to complete their penultimate workouts at Churchill Downs on Easter morning after Friday afternoon and overnight and showers rendered the main track sloppy early Saturday morning.
As a result, opening day of the exclusive 7:30-7:45 ET training session for horses preparing for the Derby and Kentucky Oaks was fairly quiet, with Tacitus, Improbable, Plus Que Parfait and Long Range Toddy galloping and Signalman breezing in company with Oaks candidate Restless Rider, a bullet-of-10 move in 59.60.
By My Standards
About an hour earlier, Louisiana Derby winner By My Standards galloped about 1 1/2 mile for locally-based trainer Bret Calhoun.
"We sort of turn into meteorologists when it comes to important works for horses,” Calhoun said. “I’m going to plan on working him tomorrow depending on the track conditions.”
The Goldencents colt may breeze at 9:00 with Gabriel Saez aboard.
Country House, Tacitus
Bill Mott has two horses with enough points to make the race. Country House, third in the Arkansas Derby, may breeze once before the Kentucky Derby. Wood Memorial winner Tacitus is set to breeze twice.
This morning, Country House galloped at about 6:00 with exercise rider Maryanne Scherer aboard.
“Both horses are doing well,” assistant trainer Kenny McCarthy said. “We may try to breeze Tacitus tomorrow, depending on the track conditions.”
Improbable, who finished second to Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby, wasn't asked for much today.
“When you have this kind of weather, and the track is sealed, you want to go out there and take a little jaunt, and not try to do too much,” said Bob Baffert's assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes. “He’s basically a lightly-raced horse, so he’s running him into shape. He raced at Los Alamitos in December, and went from there to the Rebel, so it’ll take him a few races just to get racing fit. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him, and he came out of Arkansas with two second-place finishes. But he could have won the first race easily if he’d had a better trip, and in the second one we were beaten by Omaha Beach, but that’s a very nice horse. I see him improving with each start.”
Long Range Toddy
Long Range Toddy's gallop went well and was uneventful.
“All good except the weather,” said assistant trainer Scott Blasi on a stable pony as he accompanied Long Range Toddy, who disappointed in the Arkansas Derby with a sixth-place finish.
Plus Que Parfait
According to Churchill Downs, UAE Derby winner Plus Que Parfait was the first horse on the track during the exclusive training window on Sunday for Louisville-based Brendan Walsh. Ridden by Walsh’s assistant Tom Molloy, he jogged in the chute area before a one-mile gallop.
“He bounced out of the much better than expected,” Walsh said. “He’s been doing really well since he’s gotten to Churchill Downs. We are just so proud of his effort in the UAE Derby to jump up and win like that. I think it just showed all along that he didn’t really care for the surface at Fair Grounds over the winter.”
Plus Que Parfait is tentatively scheduled to breeze Sunday at 5:30 a.m., according to Walsh.
Omaha Beach avoided the weather on Sunday and walked the shedrow in Barn 28. Trained by Richard Mandella, Omaha Beach is likely to train Sunday during the special reserved time. Mandella is expected to be at the track on Sunday.
Code of Honor
At Keeneland, Code of Honor breezed five furlongs in 1:01 and is tentatively scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Wednesday via van, according to stable area director Steve Hargrave.
Game Winner, Roadster
At Santa Anita this morning, each of them breezed: Game Winner five furlongs in 1.00:80 (2/47), and Roadster six furlongs in 1.13:60 (2/11) from the gate. Their arrival date at Churchill Downs was up in the air at last report but could be this coming week if the weather cooperates.
“I’m really happy with them,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “There’s always a lot of anxiety this time of year getting ready for the Derby, but so far, so good.”
Waiting in Line
Numbers 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 on the Derby points leaderboard are Bodexpress (40 points), Signalman (38), Anothertwistafate (38), Sueno (32) and Bourbon War (31).