Edited by Dick Downey. Includes content from New York.
FRIDAY WORKOUTS -- Scheduled to work Friday at Churchill Downs, depending on the weather, are Omaha Beach for the Derby and Chocolate Kisses, Motion Emotion and Liora for the Oaks. These schedules can be fluid.
BY MY STANDARDS – Trainer Bret Calhoun returned from the sale in Ocala Wednesday and was at Churchill Downs Thursday to watch Louisiana Derby winner By My Standards gallop 1 1/2 mile over a muddy surface.
“I’m glad to be back in town,” Calhoun said. “We did well at the sale, so far, and now it’s time to get back to business for the Derby.”
By My Standards is expected to have his final breeze for the Kentucky Derby this weekend.
CODE OF HONOR – Code of Honor galloped an easy mile at 6:15, before the reserved training session, under exercise rider Brian Duggan for trainer Shug McGaughey. It was the first day on track for Code of Honor, who arrived at the track from Keeneland early Wednesday afternoon.
Code of Honor is housed in Barn 43 and in the same stall as McGaughey’s Kentucky Derby winner Orb in 2013.
“There are a lot of great memories there,” McGaughey said.
McGaughey said Code of Honor probably would work Sunday.
COUNTRY HOUSE/TACITUS – Trainer Bill Mott’s Derby duo of Country House and Tacitus visited the paddock and then galloped a mile and a half. He said both horses probably would work Sunday.
Juan Quintero was aboard Tacitus, the leading point-getter on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, who will be ridden by Jose Ortiz in the Derby.
Marianne Scherer was aboard Country House, and Flavien Prat has been named for the Derby.
“I have ridden him a couple of times,” Mott said of Prat. “He has done very well in California, and people I have talked to say he is a very good rider.”
Prat is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Wednesday night.
HAIKAL -- In New York, Haikal breezed five furlongs in 1:01.21 on Belmont Park's main track. He was in hand under exercise rider Luis Perlaya while travelling outside of unraced 3-year-old stablemate Taamer. The pair traveled together from the top of the lane with Haikal taking control at the wire and galloping out well in front.
"I loved what I saw this morning. He kept going out and finished strong. It was an excellent work," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "He went a little fast last week, but it was probably the track. This week was really nice. The way he galloped out and the way he worked, he looked really good. In hand. I really like this work better this week."
Haikal will ship by van to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on Sunday afternoon and arrive early Monday morning, with McLaughlin slated to arrive on Tuesday.
GAME WINNER/IMPROBABLE/ROADSTER – With the Churchill Downs surface sealed following overnight showers, Improbable was out for a brief training session under regular exercise rider Jose Contreras. Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride Improbable in the Derby.
“We galloped about a mile-and-a-half, took it easy,” said Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, who’s expected back in Louisville on Friday. “He’ll probably work on Sunday. I couldn’t be happier with the way he’s looking.”
Improbable’s Derby stablemates, Game Winner and Roadster, are expected to arrive from Southern California on Saturday, April 27.
LONG RANGE TODDY – Accompanied to the track by trainer Steve Asmussen’s longtime assistant Scott Blasi, Long Range Toddy galloped about 1 3/8 mile Thursday at Churchill Downs.
Veteran jockey Jon Court has been named officially to ride in the Derby. The 58-year-old journeyman will ride at Oaklawn Saturday and plans to be on the backstretch Tuesday morning, according to his agent Steve Krajcir. He would become the oldest jockey to ever ride in the Derby.
MASTER FENCER – Master Fencer (JPN) cleared quarantine in Chicago at 11 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive at Keeneland at approximately 6 p.m., according to Kentucky Derby Japan-based representative Kate Hunter.
OMAHA BEACH – Omaha Beach galloped a mile over a sealed track with exercise rider Taylor Cambra aboard for trainer Richard Mandella.
Omaha Beach is tentatively scheduled to work Friday, but that could change with rain forecast to begin Thursday afternoon and continuing in to Friday morning.
“I just want to keep him happy and healthy,” Mandella said. “I would prefer the track harrowed and not floated (like it was this morning). I will wait until I get the track I want, and it could be Saturday or Sunday.”
PLUS QUE PARFAIT – Plus Que Parfait galloped about 1 1/2 mile with exercise rider Tom Molloy aboard. Plus Que Parfait is scheduled to work this weekend.
TAX -- In New York, Tax worked a half-mile over the Belmont Park training track in 47.80 seconds (1/48) in company with assistant trainer Rolando Quevedo aboard.
"I thought he worked really tremendous," trainer Danny Gargan said. "We put a target in front of him because he likes to run at something, and 47 and change is fast today. I worked a few horses earlier today, and no one worked that fast. Divine Miss Grey went 48 and change, and she's a good work horse. The gallop out was impressive, and he's training really well. Obviously, he's bred to go longer, and we train our horses to gallop out big. When you're going a mile and a quarter, you want to have a fit horse."
Tax is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on Sunday.
"He has natural speed," Gargan said. "We'll see what the post is. In the Wood we used him a little bit to get him into the position we wanted. I didn't want him to get stuck in behind horses, so I told the jock to move a little bit early. Obviously in the Derby we won't be pumping him at the half-mile pole to make a move around the turn there," continued Gargan. "When Derby points are involved you have to be more aggressive. I don't think we'll send him as much as we did in the Wood. It all depends on how he comes out of the gate."
WAR OF WILL – War of Will galloped 1 1/2 mile Thursday with exercise rider Jose Vasquez in the saddle for trainer Mark Casse.
“This is the best time of the year,” assistant trainer Allen Hardy said. “I guess I’m the ‘New Norm (Casse)’ or ‘New Nick (Tomlinson)’ following them as assistant for the Churchill string. I’ve worked for Mark for about eight years now. I was actually the foreman with Norm for a while and had some of Mark’s other strings until this year. It’s a great time of the year to be at Churchill and I’m really excited to be part of the process.”
Casse is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs Friday, and War of Will is slated to breeze Saturday.
WIN WIN WIN – Win Win Win walked the shedrow at Barn 43 after arriving at Churchill Downs at 5:15 this morning following an overnight van ride from Maryland.
Trainer Michael Trombetta, scheduled to arrive in Louisville Saturday, said Win Win Win would train the next two mornings and work Sunday with jockey Julian Pimentel expected to be here for the breeze.
SIGNALMAN (No. 22) – Signalman didn’t appear to mind the overnight rain, which resulted in the track being sealed during the 7:30-7:45 a.m. training window for Kentucky Derby and Oaks horses.
“Everybody galloped fine this morning,” said Greg Geier, an assistant to trainer Kenny McPeek, as the colt got a bath following his trip to the track.
Regular exercise rider Danny Ramsey had both Signalman and the filly Restless Rider out. Signalman, who's on the Derby bubble on the points leaderboard, breezed five furlongs in :59.60 last Saturday.
“They’re on the right road, they’re doing everything they’re being asked to do, the rest is in the jock’s hands,” said Ramsey. “Both of my horses love an off track, Signalman and Restless Rider, so really it’s all in the jock’s hands.”
Ramsey says the Churchill racing surface is good, whether wet or dry. “I’ve been riding horses since 1960, and this track when it rains is fine. This track is beautiful to work on, and I’ve been on tracks in England, in Dubai, all over.”
SUENO (NO. 23) – Sueno, who will need three defections from among the probable Derby starters, had a walk day at trainer Keith Desormeaux’s barn.
“We are acting like we are going to get in,” said Julie Clark, assistant to Desormeaux.