Stuff Happens, Even at This Level
By Dick Downey
Updated 9:54 af ET to clarfiy Derby jockey for Improbable
On a cloudy, cool Sunday morning at Churchill Downs, all was quiet until 7:30 when, in a 15-minute burst of activity, six Kentucky Derby horses put in their final workouts for the race, three of them in a most unexpected fashion.
In a moment that could go down in the unrecorded history of workouts, and one that was not by design, two sets of horses that included three Derby contenders from two different stables worked in unison around the far turn, through the stretch and around the first turn.
Tacitius was teamed up with his stable mate Country House for a five-furlong breeze in company for trainer Bill Mott. Unxpectedly, they were joined near the half-mile pole by Win Win Win and his workmate Souper Courage from Mike Trombetta's barn. The accidental foursome found themselves breezing in more company than expected, with Country House on the inside, Tacitus in the middle and Win Win Win four wide. Win Win Win edged by the other two as they approached the wire. Part of the work is shown below.
In the midst of this, one of the onlookers at the clockers' stand on the fourth floor quipped, "That's more horses than we've seen in races at Santa Anita." The ensuing laughter was loud enough that lead Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols shushed the gathering so his team could hear each other.
Code of Honor, a last-out third in the Florida Derby for trainer Shug McGaughey, was first of the Kentucky Derby prospects to get down to business, putting in four furlongs solo under exercise rider Brian Duggan. Code of Honor was timed in a blazing 46.80 with initial splits of 11.80, 23.20 and 35.20. He galloped out six furlongs in 59.40 and six in 1:13.20.
Bob Baffert's Arkansas Derby runner-up Improbable was up next. He worked in company, which is unusual for him, and drew off from his workmate down the stretch with jockey Florent Geroux aboard. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride in the Derby. Improbable was equipped, as expected, without the blinkers used in the Arkansas Derby. He was timed for five furlongs in 1:00.60, and workmate Emboldened was timed in 1:01.20. Improbable's initial splits were 11.80, 23.60 and 36.40. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.00 and seven in 1:25.60.
With Wood Memorial winner Tacitus on the outside and Arkansas Derby third finisher Country House on the inside, they went five furlongs timed in 1:00.00. Initial fractions were 12.20, 24.20, 35.80 and 48.00. Both galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.80, seven in 1:26.00 and a mile in 1:39.80, which put them at the track kitchen when they stopped.
Toyota Blue Grass Stakes runner-up Win Win Win's joinder in those works was unplanned, and the professional clockers here bore down to get his time right. Win Win Win, who started to the outside of Souper Courage, was timed in 47.60 for four furlongs, with Souper Courage clocked in 48.20. Win Win Win's early fractions were 24.20 and 36.00, and he was out five furlongs in 1:00.20.
Louisiana Derby winner By My Standards, the first Kentucky Derby horse for trainer Bret Calhoun, was the last to work for the Derby today. He went four furlongs in 48.40, breezing, with initial fractions of 12.40, 24.00 and 36.00. By My Standards galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.60, six in 1:12.80 and seven in 1:26.60. Gabriel Saez handled the work.
As always, analysis of these workouts will follow later today on our Kentucky Derby subscription page.