By Dick Downey
On a sunny Monday morning at Churchill Downs, four Kentucky Derby contenders put in workouts during the 15-minute training time reserved for Derby and Oaks horses. The action went quickly after the track opened at 7:30 following a renovation break.
First up to the plate was Improbable, trained by Bob Baffert. The Arkansas Derby runner-up went four furlongs solo in 48.00, breezing. His initial fractions were 11.80, 23.40 and 35.60, and he galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.40.
Baffert was on hand for the move and held court for the press by barn 33 after things settled down. Baffert has won the Derby five times and captured two Triple Crowns with American Pharoah and Justify.
By My Standards, winner of the Louisiana Derby for trainer Bret Calhoun, followed Impobable. He also breezed alone, six furlongs in 1:12.80 starting out with fractions of 12.40, 24.40, 36.40, 48.60 and 1:00.20. He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:26.00. This is Calhoun's first Kentucky Derby horse.
Steve Asmussen's Long Range Toddy, who disappointed by finishing sixth in the Arkansas Derby after winning a division of the Rebel Stakes, worked five furlongs in 1:02.60, breezing alone. His early splits were 12.40, 25.00, 37.60, 50.20, and he galloped out six furlongs in 1:16.20. Asmussen has had numerous Derby starters but has never won the race.
Wood Memorial winner Tacitus, trained by Bill Mott, was the last Derby worker of the session, breezing four furlongs in 50.00 after opening fractions of 13.40, 25.80 and 38.40. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.80 and six in 1:15.80. Tacitus worked in company and distanced his workmate during the gallop-out. Mott is also seeking his first Derby winner. He also trains Country House, who finished third in the Arkansas Derby.
These four and others are expected to put in their final workouts for the Kentucky Derby next Sunday or Monday.
More about this later on Daily Derby Update here on the free site, and on Tuesday I will follow up on these works in more detail on the Kentucky Derby subscription page. In the meantime, here's a few words from Baffert about what it means to have a good Derby horse.