Monday, May 2, 2016
BRODY’S CAUSE/CHERRY WINE – Brody’s Cause and Cherry Wine returned to the Churchill Downs track Monday morning for “wrong way” jogs.
Brody’s Cause, the Toyota Blue Grass winner, has secured a spot in the 20-horse field for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, while Blue Grass third-place finisher Cherry Wine would need some defections to draw into the field.
“They both jogged two miles, both of them looked like they were moving great,” trainer Dale Romans said. “They’ll gallop a mile and an eighth tomorrow.”
Brody’s Cause breezed five furlongs in 1:00.20 and Blue Grass third-place finisher Cherry Wine worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 at Churchill Downs Saturday, earning a day off Sunday.
Brody’s Cause is slated to make the third start of his sophomore campaign in the Derby after finishing a disappointing seventh in the Tampa Bay Derby and surging late to capture the Blue Grass. The son of Giant’s Causeway had a four-race juvenile campaign that included a maiden win at Churchill, a triumph in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and third-place finish behind Kentucky Derby favoriter Nyquist in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.
“He had 15 points banked and he had enough of a foundation as a 2-year-old, so we wanted the third race in his form cycle to be the Derby,” Romans said. “Everything’s gone perfect, except for the fact that he didn’t run that well in the Tampa Bay Derby. But in the big picture, it might have helped him.”
Brody’s Cause was bumped at the start of the Tampa Bay Derby, but Romans offered no excuses for the lackluster performance.
“It was a long four weeks between two races to make sure he was the horse we thought he was all along,” said Romans, whose trainee prevailed over 13 rivals in the Blue Grass after rallying from 11th under jockey Luis Saez.
CREATOR/GUN RUNNER – Trainer Steve Asmussen's Kentucky Derby duo – WinStar Farm's Creator and Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm's Gun Runner – posted half-mile workouts after the renovation break.
Creator, with exercise rider Abel Flores aboard, worked in :50.60, with eighth-mile splits of :12.60, :25.20 and :38. Gun Runner, with exercise rider Carlos Rosas aboard, worked in :50.40, with splits of :12.60, :25 and :37.80.
Asmussen expressed satisfaction with the workouts.
"I'm very happy with how they've been here at Churchill,'' he said. "Just an easy half-mile. The best news of the morning was the condition of the track. I'm very thankful to the Churchill grounds crew for what they did last night. We had a pretty good rain (Sunday) in the afternoon. Looking at the track, there was water standing on it about 6 o'clock last night.
"To come out this morning and see what kind of shape it was in was very pleasant. It definitely made the morning go well. Carlos and Abel, as always, were spot-on with the horses. They liked how they felt. I thought they were cooling out extremely well, and we're very excited for the Derby.''
Gun Runner, who spent the winter at Fair Grounds, won both of his Derby preps there – the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby. "Obviously, I'm very happy with the trajectory that he's shown to this point,'' Asmussen said. "But we also know we need to be better. We're in the process of it. The Louisiana Derby was a nice step in the right direction, and we're expecting another step forward.”
Creator broke his maiden in his sixth start, on Feb. 27 at Oaklawn Park, before moving to stakes company there, finishing third in the Rebel and winning the Arkansas Derby. Since their latest victories, both Gun Runner and Creator continued their training at Churchill Downs, where they had spent significant time as 2-year-olds. Familiarity with the track is a plus for both horses, Asmussen said.
“I feel very good about the time that they spent here last summer and last fall, very confident with the racetrack and the surroundings,'' he said. "The crew has done a wonderful job with them to put them in a position to do their best. ... It's one of the variables, and we can feel very comfortable that they're going to handle the surface and the surroundings for their preparation. And when you put 20 of them together in the draw, you're worried about other things, but I think we can check that off as far as not (being) an excuse and try to move forward.''
Asmussen said that improved focus has helped Creator find success. "He's always had a lot of talent,'' Asmussen said. "He's a great physical (specimen), a tremendous pedigree, and it's been in him. I think he just lacked focus in his races.
"It was a bit frustrating running him. You felt like he should have won several of the races you were watching. But he would take mental lapses and just not finish up with the effort you knew he was capable of.''
Ricardo Santana Jr., who will ride Creator, observed the workout. Santana said that when the colt broke his maiden, he appeared to be a changed horse. "He made a nice move at the three-eighths,'' Santana said. "The first time he won a race, he started doing better and better and better. ''
Santana, 22, from Panama, will be riding in his second Kentucky Derby. Asmussen gave Santana his first Derby mount, Tapiture, who finished 15th in 2014. "I'm happy with the barn,'' Santana said. "He has a lot of confidence in me. He gave me a lot of good shots.''
People connected to the ownership of Gun Runner and Creator also watched the workouts.
WinStar CEO Elliott Walden was among those focusing on Creator. "He's doing super,'' Walden said. "Couldn't be happier with how he's doing, and Steve's done a great job. That's all you can ask for, is to go over there with a good chance.''
Chris Baker, There Chimneys CEO, was pleased with what he saw from Gun Runner. "He's really developing at the right time,'' Baker said. "Look at his races, and see what he's done. It's almost like his physical developing has kind of mirrored that. So hopefully, he hasn't peaked yet.''
DANZING CANDY – Danzing Candy was en route to Kentucky on Monday morning, with an estimated arrival at Churchill Downs around 2 p.m. local time. Trainer Cliff Sise Jr. said by phone that the San Felipe winner departed Ontario Airport in Southern California about 5:30 a.m. PT.
“The plane was actually delayed 90 minutes because the pilots who were flying it were delayed coming [to California] because of weather,” Sise said. “Because of regulations, the pilots had to have more time out of the cockpit before they flew again.”
Sise is also scheduled to arrive in Kentucky this afternoon, and will be at the barn Tuesday morning to see Danzing Candy jog or gallop during the training session for Derby and Oaks contenders at 8:30 a.m. Danzing Candy will be housed in Barn 41.
DAZZLING GEM – Dazzling Gem returned to the track for a 1 ½-mile gallop Monday during the special 8:30 a.m. training time for the first time since a five-furlong workout Saturday. Trainer Brad Cox said the Misremembered colt continues to do well and they are just waiting to see if they can make it into the body of the field. Dazzling Gem is 24th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
DESTIN/OUTWORK – Trainer Todd Pletcher had his Derby duo of Destin and Outwork dressed out and ready to take advantage of the Churchill Downs special training period (8:30-8:45) for Derby and Oaks horses Monday morning. The colts came with their regular exercise riders attached – Ovel Merida on Destin and Hector Ramos aboard Outwork.
The two galloped smartly around the big oval, covering about a mile and a quarter in the process. Pletcher watched alertly, as he’s done before. This is the seven-time Eclipse Award winner’s 16th Derby and his 13th in a row. Is this Derby, he was asked, feeling any different to him?
“Not really,” the trainer said. “It has been awful quiet so far, but it’s early in the week.”
Pletcher trains one of the largest collections of racehorses in the world. He currently has approximately 160 runners under his control, a number that will head upward when racing across the country hits it peak in mid-summer. He has 14 of those runners at Churchill Downs, but also is now stabling at Keeneland (for a few more days), Palm Meadows training center in Florida (for a few more weeks), Saratoga and Belmont Park in New York. Shortly he’ll send a string to Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
Among his stable help he employs somewhere around 26 to 28 exercise riders, which obviously requires a fair bit of scheduling and adjusting. Part of that was being sure that Merida and Ramos stayed close to Destin and Outwork.
“Those two have been getting on my Derby colts since the winter, so when we came to Churchill for the Derby, we had to be sure they stayed with them,” Pletcher said. “The Derby colts get an edge when it comes to our scheduling of exercise riders.”
DISCREETNESS – Discreetness jogged a mile after the renovation break under Paul Griffith for trainer Jinks Fires. Discreetness is 26th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
EXAGGERATOR – Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator had another quiet morning, walking the shed, then later in the morning taking a tour of the paddock.
The son of Curlin had put in his final Derby drill Saturday morning at Churchill (five furlongs in 1:02.60) and had walked Sunday morning.
Monday at about 10:15 a.m. he joined 11 other horses who made their way from the Churchill backside to walk and stand in the track’s iconic paddock, where he’ll be one of 20 runners eagerly anticipating the 142nd edition of the Kentucky Derby (GI). Exaggerator had two handlers for his paddock tour and was watched closely by trainer Keith Desormeaux. The colt handled his business in good order. Previously, he had toured the paddock last Thursday. Desormeaux had indicated that he would do several paddock sessions with Exaggerator prior to his Derby run.
FELLOWSHIP – For Team Casse, it is business as usual when it comes to preparing Fellowship, No. 21 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, for his next race, wherever that may be.
After Jacks or Better Farm’s Fellowship galloped 1 1/2 miles over the Churchill oval, Norm Casse, assistant to his father, Mark, said: “We’re just training like he is going to run. We’re not wishing any bad luck to anybody; we’re just ready to run if someone comes out.”
Casse reported that Fellowship will be entered Wednesday with Jose Lezcano named to ride.
Fellowship will visit the starting gate Tuesday, as well as paddock school during the second race.
LANI – Lani spent another leisurely morning on the track at Churchill Downs combining walking, jogging and galloping for five circuits around the track with Eishu Maruuchi in the saddle.
Winner of the UAE Derby in his most recent start, Lani came on the track at the five-eighths gap and walked to the starting gate where he stood before resuming his morning activity.
“I was at the gate and I saw him go around at least four times,” said Keita Tanaka, agent for Maeda. “It is his temperament; if he wants to go, the rider lets him go.”
Lani has been at Churchill Downs since April 3. He had arrived in Dubai for the UAE Derby on March 16, spent two weeks there and then flew to Chicago where he quarantined before coming to Louisville.
Tanaka said the atmosphere surrounding the Derby is totally different than in Japan.
“At home, there is no public entry to the barn area, just some media,” Tanaka said. “He is at a training center that is totally apart from the track.”
However, with plenty of spectators watching from the backstretch this morning, Lani had no issues with the added attention.
“The crowds don’t bother him,” Tanaka said. “He likes people.”
Trainer Mikio Matsunaga is scheduled to arrive in Louisville today and be at the barn Tuesday morning.
MAJESTO – Majesto schooled in the starting gate and galloped a mile and a half Monday morning at Churchill Downs.
“Tomorrow, it’s open galloping,” trainer Gustavo Delgado said.
The son of Tiznow, who finished second behind Nyquist in the Florida Derby, his ownership group, his trainer and his jockey Emisael Jaramillo hail from Venezuela. Delgado, who dominated the trainer standings in his native country before venturing to Gulfsteam Park two years ago, said Majesto’s scheduled start in the Kentucky Derby has provided a bright topic of conversation for his countrymen at a difficult time in Venezuela.
“My country’s conditions are very bad now. The people only speak about the Kentucky Derby, they don’t speak of the bad conditions in Venezuela,” Delgado said. “They speak of the Kentucky Derby, the owners going to the Kentucky Derby, the trainer going to the Kentucky Derby and Jaramillo going to the Kentucky Derby. They don’t speak about the bad conditions.”
MOHAYMEN – Mohaymen celebrated his official third birthday Monday morning by galloping 1 3/8 miles at Churchill Downs in preparation for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt is scheduled for an attempt to rebound from a disappointing fourth-place finish in the April 2 Florida Derby in which he sustained his first loss after winning his first five starts.
Mohaymen’s birthday celebration would surely have been more well attended had he prevailed in his showdown with undefeated Kentucky Derby contender Nyquist in the Florida Derby.
“Had we won the press would have been lined up to the next barn, so maybe it was a blessing of some sort. But we were very disappointed, because we thought he couldn’t lose,” McLaughlin said.
Mohaymen was favored at 4-5 in the Florida Derby, but finished 8 ¼ lengths behind Nyquist after racing wide over a “good” Gulfstream surface.
“It was the only two bad minutes he’s had since he came into the barn. June 23 he came in and he worked two weeks later. Since then he’s never missed a day; he’s never had a bad moment, except that day for two minutes,” McLaughlin said.
MO TOM – Mo Tom, with exercise rider Mario Garcia aboard, galloped two miles Monday shortly after the track opened.
"Everything went well,'' trainer Tom Amoss said.
Concerning the mile-and-a-quarter of the Kentucky Derby, Amoss said he doesn't expect Mo Tom, a son of Uncle Mo, to have a problem with the distance.
"The pundits will debate whether Uncle Mo's can get the mile-and-a-quarter, and that will not only apply to my horse, but it will apply to the post-time favorite, Nyquist, as well as Outwork,'' Amoss said. "I can't speak to the other two horses. I don't know them. But in training Mo Tom, I have no doubt a mile-and-quarter is something he can do, and farther. I'm very comfortable with the distance.''
MOR SPIRIT -- Both trainer and jockey were feeling even more confident about their chances after the Eskenderaya ridgling, with Gary Stevens on board, completed his major preparation with a five-furlong breeze in :59.80 during the special 8:30-8:45 a.m. training time.
The clockers caught Mor Spirit in splits of :12.40, 23.60, 35.40 and 46.80. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.20.
“It was a cruising half mile,” Stevens said. “He gave me everything I wanted. Bob wanted an easy half mile in 49 and I let him gallop out an easy five-eighths. He wanted to do more than I let him. He's getting over the surface well. He's always been a good mover. No wasted action. He does seem to be handling this surface better than Santa Anita's.
“I thought he went in 1:01. I had no idea of his time until I was told. To hear that puts a smile on my face. If I'm two seconds off on a good horse that usually means good things for me.”
“In his last work, he broke off a little too fast, but today he went really nice,” Baffert said. “It looks like he was moving really well. Now, we just need a good draw and a good break. So many things can happen. The break can make you or destroy you. The last work is important and then the last stressful thing is the draw, waiting to see what number you get.”
When asked about the favorite Nyquist maybe not getting as much respect as his Triple Crown winner American Pharoah last year, Baffert responded, “I think we all have American Pharoah hangover. Nyquist is a nice horse. I remember it being the same way with California Chrome and after he won people were like 'he is a really good horse.' Nyquist is fast and he keeps himself out of trouble. He definitely deserves to be the favorite because he's the most accomplished in the field.”
MY MAN SAM/SHAGAF – My Man Sam and Shagaf had easy 1 1/4-mile gallops during the 8:30 a.m. training session. Daniel Bernardini was aboard My Man Sam, while Shagaf followed closely behind under Gian Cueva.
“Both of the colts continue to train really well,” trainer Chad Brown said. “From here until the race I’m looking for these horses to continue moving smooth over the track, like they are. And I want to see them maintain their weight. Right now I couldn’t ask for any more from either of them.”
Shagaf has turned the heads of fans and even rival trainers in recent days because of his striking appearance. The Gotham winner is by Bernardini, who himself was and is known as a superb physical specimen, and out of Muhaawara (by Unbridled’s Song), a two-turn stakes winner in New York for owner Shadwell Farm and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Second dam Habibti was a multiple Grade I winner at 2 for owner The Thoroughbred Corporation and trainer Bob Baffert.
“I don’t see any way that this horse isn’t made to go a mile-and-a-quarter or farther, between his pedigree and the way he looks and trains,” Brown said. “I’m confident he’ll get the distance and I love the way he’s training.”
NYQUIST – Nyquist stretched his legs Monday morning at Churchill Downs, jogging twice around five days in front of his date with destiny in the 142nd Kentucky Derby.
The Uncle Mo colt moved out from Barn 41 with regular exercise rider Jonny Garcia attached in time to take advantage of the special 8:30-8:45 training period reserved for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks horses. He went trackside with a pony handled by trainer Doug O’Neill assistant Jack Sisterson.
Among the stable crew on board to take in the activity was O’Neill’s chief assistant, Leandro Mora, who had flown in from the stable base in Southern California on Sunday.
“Love to be where the action is,” Mora said, “and this is the place.”
The O’Neill stable has horses in six stakes Friday and Saturday. On Friday they’ll run Jeremy’s Legacy in the $150,000 Edgewood (GIII), Guns Loaded in the $150,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII) and Land Over Sea in the $1,000,000 Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI). On Saturday they’ll go for the $250,000 Pat Day Mile (GIII) with Ralis, the $300,000 American Turf (GII) with Frank Conversation and, of course, the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) with Nyquist.
“I think we’ve got legitimate chances in every race we’re in,” O’Neill said. “That’s fun when you believe you’re live like this.”
O’Neill also indicated that Nyquist would return to galloping Tuesday, a routine he’ll likely follow right up to the Run for the Roses.
OSCAR NOMINATED – Oscar Nominated, winner of the Spiral Stakes (GIII) at Turfway Park in April, galloped 1 1/4 miles at the Trackside Training Center, according to a text from trainer Mike Maker.
While Maker and Ken Ramsey have both expressed confidence in the Kitten’s Joy colt’s ability to handle dirt under any circumstances, they wouldn’t mind if it were an off track, which is often more to the liking of horses with turf pedigrees.
“I think if the track comes up sloppy that would put him in the top five or at least put him in the money,” Ramsey said.
SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS – Suddenbreakingnews galloped 1 ½ miles after the renovation break under exercise rider Ramiro Gorostieta and schooled in the paddock later in the morning.
“We're just keeping him healthy and happy now,” trainer Donnie Von Hemel said.
Von Hemel has been a fish out of water so to speak the past few mornings at Churchill Downs without a stable pony, but his new one is expected to arrive today from Oklahoma.
TOM’S READY – Tom's Ready, exercise rider Emerson Chavez aboard, galloped a mile and a half Monday after the renovation break.
Tom's Ready is a son of More Than Ready, a sire generally not considered a stamina influence, but trainer Dallas Stewart that the colt should get distance blood from his dam, the Broad Brush mare Goodbye Stranger.
"(With) the Broad Brush mare, he should get the distance,'' Stewart said. "Get some help on that end, I'm hoping. The mama's dad ... he could run nine miles. There's not weakness in his pedigree.''
Stewart recalled that in 1994, when he was an assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Concern, a son of Broad Brush, won the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. Tabasco Cat, trained by Lukas, finished second.
"Jerry Bailey rode Concern,'' Stewart said. "Tabasco Cat was on the lead, looked like he couldn't lose. It was right here in the mud. He (Concern) ran him down. He came off the turn like a motorcycle.''
TROJAN NATION – The California-based maiden Trojan Nation who had ventured east to run second in New York’s Wood Memorial and earn himself entrance into Saturday’s Derby, was on another plane Monday en route to Louisville, confirmed trainer Paddy Gallagher.
Gallagher put the Street Cry colt on a van at 2 a.m. Los Angeles time and the four-legged traveler was scheduled to be joined by another California colt who is Derby bound – Danzing Candy – for their early afternoon arrival at Churchill Downs.
“All’s good,” Gallagher said from Santa Anita. “I’ll be on a plane to join him tomorrow.”
Trojan Nation will set up shop at Barn 41 along with Danzing Candy and another California-based colt, likely race favorite Nyquist.
WHITMORE – Whitmore met his new jockey for the first time when Victor Espinoza stopped by the barn and then watched the son of Pleasantly Perfect train. With Laura Moquett on board, Whitmore jogged a mile and galloped a mile.
“We all had a chance to tell Victor our thoughts on Whitmore,” co-owner Harry Rosenblum said. “He's a smart rider. He's won five of the last six Triple Crown races. We think we have a horse that just needs a good trip. Hopefully, he'll get that with Victor.”
Espinoza will be looking for his third straight Kentucky Derby victory and fourth overall when he climbs aboard Whitmore for the first time Saturday. He won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes with California Chrome in 2014 and then became the first rider to win the Triple Crown in 37 years last year when American Pharoah swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Espinoza also won the Kentucky Derby in 2002 with War Emblem.