Max Player completed major preparations for Saturday’s $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve.
Late Monday morning, a total of nine fillies, headed by Gamine and Swiss Skydiver were entered for Friday’s 146th running of the $1.25 Longines Kentucky Oaks.
Mr. Big News will target the Kentucky Derby instead of the $500,000 American Turf.
The flight from New York carrying Tiz the Law, Ny Traffic and Money Moves was delayed from today until tomorrow.
ART COLLECTOR – They made not be visible beneath their masks, but Bruce Lunsford’s homebred Art Collector continues to inspire a round of smiles around Churchill Downs’ Barn 3.
The son Bernardini had another solid, routine morning in advance of the Kentucky Derby as he jogged a mile, then galloped 1 1/8 mile during the special training period reserved for Derby and Oaks horses at 7:30.
“Today was his first day back galloping since his breeze (five furlongs on Aug. 28) and I thought he looked fantastic,” trainer Tommy Drury said. “Everything seems to be in good order. From here on out, we’re back in a normal gallop routine and just try to stay out of his way for a few more days.”
Drury added he would likely do some paddock and gate schooling with Art Collector on Wednesday or Thursday.
ATTACHMENT RATE – Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s Attachment Rate walked trainer Dale Romans’ shedrow Monday morning after breezing yesterday.
The Ellis Park Derby runner-up is expected to go back to the track Tuesday.
AUTHENTIC – Grade 1 winner Authentic was slated to arrive in Louisville along with his Bob Baffert-trained stablemates around 3:00 p.m. (all times ET). The son of Into Mischief turned in his final major breeze in preparation for the Kentucky Derby on Sunday, covering six furlongs at Del Mar in 1:12.40.
ENFORCEABLE – John Oxley’s Enforceable galloped about a mile and a half under assistant trainer David Carroll on Monday, two days after breezing a half-mile in his final serious move in preparation for the Kentucky Derby.
“He’s in great shape, this is the best he’s trained,” Carroll said.
High expectations literally run in the family where Enforceable is concerned as he is a full brother to graded stakes winner Mohaymen -- the fourth-place finisher in the 2016 Kentucky Derby -- and a half sibling to New Year’s Day, sire of champion Maximum Security, who is the disqualified winner of the 2019 Derby.
After finishing fifth in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on March 21, Enforceable was a horse who needed all the extra time he could get if he were to make his own presence felt in the Run for the Roses.
“Oh, if it had been in May, he wouldn’t have ran,” trainer Mark Casse. “He came out of the Louisiana Derby tired and beat up and there is no way that I would have ran him in the Derby. It took him a long time. We brought him home (to Ocala, Florida) and it took us about two months to get back to where I was happy training him.”
Enforceable returned to run fourth in the July 11 Blue Grass Stakes, a finish his Hall of Fame trainer feels is better than it looks given that the colt was basically on the farm for two months.
“I kind of feel like each day, he’s gotten bigger and better. And his race in the Blue Grass, I thought it was a good race,” Casse said. “Obviously speed is dangerous at Keeneland and there was no way that he could have been 100 percent ready for that given that he had two months off. I thought it was a good comeback race. He was probably 80-85 percent and I feel he’s 100 percent now. That’s why we’re trying it.”
FINNICK THE FIERCE – Arnaldo Monge and trainer Rey Hernandez’s Finnick the Fierce galloped at The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington on Monday morning and then vanned to Churchill Downs.
“Everything is good,” Hernandez said.
Martin Garcia has the Derby mount.
HONOR A. P. – C R K Stable’s Santa Anita Derby winner was en route from California Monday morning along with a large contingent of West Coast horses.
KING GUILLERMO – Victoria’s Ranch’s King Guillermo galloped 1 1/2 mile Monday under exercise rider Edgar Garcia. The colt trained under the watchful eye of trainer Juan Avila, owner Victor Martinez and jockey Samy Camacho, who arrived Sunday from Florida.
MAJOR FED – Lloyd Madison Farm’s Major Fed jogged about 1 5/8 mile and schooled in the new Kentucky Derby 20-horse starting gate.
Major Fed was accompanied to the track by 50-year-old exercise rider Margarito Fierro. The Mexico City-native Fierro has worked for Foley for more than 15 years and Major Fed is the first Derby contender he has ridden.
“Horses are my life,” Fierro said. “I grew up in Mexico and lived and breathed horses from a young age. I credit them with everything I’ve done in my life. A couple of years ago I was battling cancer and the horses were my therapy. When I’m around them, all the stress of life goes away.”
Major Fed is scheduled to return to the track at his normal training time of 5:15 a.m. on Tuesday.
MAX PLAYER – George Hall and SportBLX Thoroughbred Corp.’s Max Player was the last Derby horse to complete his final work Monday morning, breezing an easy half-mile in :49.80 at 5:50 a.m. with regular exercise rider Juan Vargas aboard.
The Honor Code colt put up splits of :12.40 and :24.40 before completing his work and galloping out in 1:02.80.
“He’s continuing to do well,” Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said. “I’m extremely excited about how he’s going to run in the Kentucky Derby. I love how he looks going over the racetrack. His attitude is really good. He came in with a really good attitude and was moving really well. That has stayed the same.”
Asmussen assumed the training of Max Player from Linda Rice shortly after the horse finished third to likely Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz the Law in the Travers Stakes on Aug. 8.
“The reason he is here is to give him time to acclimate to the track and the surroundings to hopefully make up the difference. He’s been third to Tiz the Law in his last two races. That horse is the deserving favorite and a tall task. You only have one chance to run in the Derby and we just wanted to do everything we could to give him his best chance.”
MONEY MOVES – Robert LaPenta and Bortolazzo Stable’s Money Moves galloped a mile and three-eighths Monday morning at Saratoga and is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs early Tuesday morning for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Money Moves will be housed in Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ barn.
MR. BIG NEWS – Allied Family Stables’ Oaklawn Stakes winner Mr. Big News will enter Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, according to owner Chester Thomas.
“I know we don’t have some of the numbers like Tiz the Law, Art Collector and Honor A. P. but this horse is improving,” Thomas said. “I think he is absolutely going to love the distance and will make a big run late.”
Trained by Bret Calhoun, Mr. Big News will be ridden by Gabriel Saez in the Derby.
NECKER ISLAND – Raymond Daniels, Wayne Scherr and Will Harbut Racing Stables’ Necker Island jogged once around under Hillary Hartman and then stood in the starting gate in the mile chute.
Necker Island was claimed by trainer Chris Hartman in June out of an optional claiming race for $100,000 in which he finished fourth behind Art Collector, who figures to be one of the top choices for Saturday’s Run for the Roses.
“The initial goal was we hoped to hold his previous form and not ugly it up,” Hartman said. “We knew we were getting a nice horse who was already proven and obviously we were hoping he would be a Derby horse.”
In two starts for Hartman, Necker Island has earned back $50,455 of his claiming price with third-place finishes in the Indiana Derby and Ellis Park Derby.
NY TRAFFIC – Haskell Invitational runner-up Ny Traffic continued his Kentucky Derby preparations with a 1 1/2-mile gallop at Saratoga Monday and will arrive in Kentucky early Tuesday, nearly 24 later than expected.
Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said via text that the horse “was doing well” and that he had “no concerns” about the travel delay.
SOLE VOLANTE – Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Andie Biancone’s Sole Volante got his first feel of the Churchill track Monday, one day after vanning from his base at Palm Meadows in South Florida. With his co-owner aboard, the Karakontie (JPN) gelding jogged one mile around the track.
Andie Biancone, also the daughter of trainer Patrick Biancone, said she’s seeing signs that her horse is ready for a top effort in the Kentucky Derby.
“Normally, he’s the quietest horse in the barn, so yesterday, when I took him off the van, I didn’t even use a lip chain and he dragged me off the van. This morning, he felt better than he ever has.”
Biancone said Sole Volante would gallop Tuesday and likely school in the paddock with herself or jockey Luca Panici on board.
STORM THE COURT – David Bernsen, Exline-Border Racing, Dan Hudock and Susanna Wilson’s Storm the Court is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs Monday afternoon from his Southern California base.
Trainer Peter Eurton is scheduled to arrive in Louisville at 10 Tuesday morning and plans to be at the post position draw scheduled at 11 o’clock.
THOUSAND WORDS – Albaugh Family Stables and Spendthrift Farm’s Thousand Words was slated to arrive in Louisville along with his Bob Baffert-trained stablemates around 3:00 p.m.
While the son of Pioneerof the Nile won his first three career starts, including two graded stakes, Thousand Words is among the Kentucky Derby contenders who likely would have had to sit this classic out had it not moved from its usual spot of the first Saturday in May. After starting his sophomore season with a victory in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes in February, Thousand Words went off form, finishing fourth in the San Felipe Stakes and 11th in the Oaklawn Stakes on April 11, prompting Baffert to give him a brief freshening.
The mid-spring hiatus served Thousand Woods well, as he has regained his top form since returning to the races in July. Following a runner-up effort in the Los Alamitos Derby, the bay colt defeated Santa Anita Derby winner Honor A. P. to capture the Aug. 1 Shared Belief Stakes.
“There has not been one positive thing from Covid that I can think of other than it allowed us to run in the Kentucky Derby, because we wouldn’t have deserved to be in the Kentucky Derby in May,” said Jason Loutsch, racing manager for Albaugh Family Stables. “We would have qualified probably with points but the horse just wasn’t doing well in May and after that Oaklawn race, Bob was really frustrated with him, we were frustrated and as a group, so we decided to just give him 30-45 days and get him happy, put some weight on. And we’re really happy with the way the horse has come around. The last race, we couldn’t be happier with. Obviously Honor A. P. was in there and to compete with those horses and fight and not give up down the lane, that gives us a lot of confidence going into this weekend.”
TIZ THE LAW – With trainer Barclay Tagg already en route to Kentucky, assistant trainer Robin Smullen was left in charge of the presumptive Kentucky Derby favorite’s morning training and was aboard as he galloped twice around the Saratoga track.
The flight bringing Tiz the Law from New York to Kentucky was delayed until Tuesday. Also, on the flight are fellow Kentucky Derby starters Ny Traffic and Money Moves.
WINNING IMPRESSION – West Point Thoroughbreds’ and Pearl Racing’s graded stakes placed Winning Impression galloped about 1 1/2 mile Monday under exercise rider Emerson Chavez.
LIKELY KENTUCKY DERBY FIELD – In points order: Tiz the Law (jockey Manny Franco); Authentic (John Velazquez); Art Collector (Brian Hernandez Jr.); Honor A. P. (Mike Smith); Ny Traffic (Paco Lopez); King Guillermo (Samy Camacho); Thousand Words (Florent Geroux); Max Player (Ricardo Santana Jr.); Enforceable (Adam Beschizza); Major Fed (James Graham); Storm the Court (Julien Leparoux); Attachment Rate (Joe Talamo); Sole Volante (Luca Panici); Finnick the Fierce (Martin Garcia); Winning Impression (Joe Rocco Jr.); Necker Island (Miguel Mena); Mr. Big News (Gabriel Saez); Money Moves (Javier Castellano).
KENTUCKY OAKS - FRIDAY, SEPT. 4, 2020 - $1,250,000 - Race 12
1 Swiss Skydiver, T Gaffalione, K McPeek 8-5
2 Tempers Rising, J Leparoux, D Stewart 50-1
3 Donna Veloce, R Santana Jr, S Callaghan 15-1
4 Speech, J Castellano, M McCarthy 5-1
5 Gamine, J Velazquez, B Baffert 1-1
6 Bayerness, R Bejarano, C DeVaux 50-1
7 Shedaresthedevil, F Geroux, B Cox 20-1
8 Hopeful Growth, M Franco, A Margotta Jr 30-1
9 Dream Marie, J Talamo, M Williams 50-1