Daily Derby Update: April 27

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3:53 pm EDT

Thursday, April 27, 2017

WORKOUTS - Churchill Downs says to expect 14 or more Derby and Oaks workouts on Friday. Dick Downey will be there to cover the action. Malagacy is slated to work before the 8:00 ET renovation break. Derby horses set to work at 8:30 ET are Always Dreaming, Battalion Runner, Gunnevera, Practical Joke, Patch, State of Honor and Tapwrit.

Oaks fillies planning to work during the 8:30-8:45 window are Tequilita and Jordan’s Henny. Wicked Lick is slated to work with the time to be determined. Vexatious may work.

Scheduled to work at Keeneland are Derby hopeful Irap and Oaks contender Daddys Lil Darling.

Santa Anita's press office reported this afternoon that Battle of Midway is expected to work at Santa Anita on Friday.

ALWAYS DREAMING / BATTALION RUNNER / MALAGACY / PATCH / TAPWRIT -- “I think we may have a window of opportunity tomorrow with the weather,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I am looking forward to breezing them and taking a little edge off.”

Today Malagacy galloped shortly after the track opened for training with Isabelle Bourez aboard. No decision has been made on his Kentucky Derby status.

Coming out at 8:30 was the quartet of Always Dreaming (Adele Bellinger up), Battalion Runner (Nick Bush up), Patch (Bourez up) and Tapwrit (Silvio Pioli up).

John Velazquez, jockey for Always Dreaming, is the only rider Pletcher has confirmed for Derby 143.

BATTLE OF MIDWAY - Expected to work at Santa Anita on Friday and to arrive in Louisville on Saturday.

CLASSIC EMPIRE / STATE OF HONOR - Arkansas Derby winner Classic Empire and Florida Derby runner-up State of Honor represent a dream to team Casse.

“Every night I dream of winning the Kentucky Derby, and it’s surreal to have the chance to walk over with this year’s possible favorite,” assistant trainer Norm Casse said. “We’ve had such a frustrating winter and, knock on wood, things are going very well with him.”

The colt’s trainer and Norm's father, Mark, is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Thursday evening.

Classic Empire, a unanimous 2-year-old champion, came back over the winter with several training issues that forced the colt to be sent to the Winding Oaks Training Center in Ocala, Florida.

“We went back to step one,” Casse said. “Martin Rivera, who first rode Classic Empire as a baby, got back on him to try and figure out his quirks. We brought Martin with us to Arkansas and, since that worked out, he’s here at Churchill.”

“I’ve worked for the Casses for almost 15 years now,” Rivera said. “We have had a great relationship over that time, and I’ve worked all of the babies Mark buys at the sale. We’ve been very happy with how well Classic Empire has been doing in his training. He seems like a happy horse here, and he gets over the surface great.”

Classic Empire would be the richest horse to start in the Kentucky Derby with $2,120,220 in earnings, surpassing Snow Chief’s record in 1986 with $1,719,040.

He galloped 1 1/2 mile Thursday morning with Rivera aboard and is expected to breeze sometime this weekend.

Casse’s second Derby hope, State of Honor, has been training steadily at Churchill Downs, including a 1 1/2-mile gallop Thursday with regular exercise rider Orlando Cross up. The Ontario-bred son of To Honor and Serve is scheduled to breeze Friday morning at 8:30.

FAST AND ACCURATE – Fast and Accurate galloped 1 1/8 mile at Trackside Louisville Thursday morning at 6:00 for trainer Mike Maker. The Spiral winner is expected to van from Trackside to Churchill Downs Sunday and breeze at 8:30 a.m. under regular exercise rider Joel Cano.

GIRVIN - There was no mention of Girvin in Keeneland's media notes today because he wasn't on the track there. Nicole Russo of Daily Racing Form tweeted, "Was at Keeneland before both main/training tracks opened and did not see Girvin emerge to train. Have reached out to Sharp seeking comment." Alicia Hughes of Blood-Horse tweeted, "Joe Sharp says Girvin is currently battling a quarter crack in right front." Byron King of DRF tweeted, "Spoke to (Joe Sharp) about 45 mins ago w/ news of Girvin having a quarter crack." King also wrote at DRF LIve that Girvin "swam and was treated in a hyperbaric chamber at Kesmarc Rehabilitation facility in Lexington, Ky. on Thursday...." Jeremy Balan of Blood-Horse is based out west and tweeted, "Ran into Mike Smith on the apron today and asked about Girvin. He shook his head and said, 'I don't know what's going on.'"

Trainer Joe Sharp disclosed to King a series of treatments and a training regimen designed to address Girvin's quarter-crack that Sharp apparently told King was discovered a couple days before a scheduled work that was scrapped last weekend, as reported by King in the DRF Live article. Sharp told King he's getting more confident by the day that Girvin can make the Kentucky Derby.

GUNNEVERA – Gunnevera galloped 1 1/2 mile under exercise rider Victor Farrel after the Thursday morning track renovation break that followed morning showers.

“He really liked the track this morning,” trainer Antonio Sano said of the damp condition.

Sano was going to work Gunnevera on Saturday, but with a less-than-favorable forecast for that morning has opted to plan a work Friday morning at 8:30 instead.

HENCE  /LOCAL HERO / LOOKIN AT LEE / UNTRAPPED – Trainer Steve Asmussen’s contingent of horses galloped Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.

Hence, with Angel Garcia up, and Untrapped, with exercise rider Juan Vargas aboard, trained during the Derby and Oaks exclusive training period at 8:30.

Lookin At Lee galloped at 7:15, and Local Hero galloped at 7:45. Both horses were ridden by Garcia.

Lookin At Lee would be the next horse into the Derby field with a defection. Local Hero is No. 24 on the preference list.

IRAP - Toyota Blue Grass winner Irap jogged about three times around Keeneland’s 5-furlong all-weather training track with exercise rider Antonio Romero aboard at about 9:00 a.m. He is scheduled to work Friday around 8:30 a.m. with Julien Leparoux up. Trainer Doug O’Neill said he will be at Keeneland for the work.
Irap is expected to ship to Churchill Downs following training hours on Saturday.

IRISH WAR CRY - Expected to breeze any day now at Fair Hill Training Center before being vanned to Louisville on Sunday or Monday.

J BOYS ECHO – J Boys Echo galloped 1 1/2 mile Wednesday morning at 8:30 with regular exercise rider Tammy Fox aboard for trainer Dale Romans. Jockey Luis Saez is confirmed to ride the colt in the Kentucky Derby in place of the injured Robby Albarado. J Boys Echo's schedule calls for a breeze Saturday morning at 8:30 with Fox aboard.

“Robby is going to talk with Luis before the race,” Romans said. “It’s been a tough couple of days, and Robby was the first one to tell me he’d talk with Luis about the horse.”

McCRAKEN – McCraken galloped 1 1/2 mile after the morning renovation break with exercise rider Yoni Orantes aboard for trainer Ian Wilkes.

McCraken has had two works here since finishing third in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 8, and he's scheduled to have his final pre-Derby breeze most likely on Sunday.

“Weather? What weather?” Wilkes said with a laugh before looking at McCraken's jockey and saying. “Brian, he’s been in the rain before, hasn’t he?”

PRACTICAL JOKE – Practical Joke galloped 1 1/2 mile after the renovation break with exercise rider Fernando Rivera aboard. Trained by Chad Brown, Practical Joke is scheduled to work in company at 8:30 Friday.

SONNETEER - Expected to arrive in Louisville from California on Saturday. He needs two defections to make the field and has the owner as Hence and Patch, Brad Kelley's Calumet Farm.

THUNDER SNOW - A Sunday arrival is still deemed "tentative" by Churchill Downs.

Sources: Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Twitter, Daily Racing Form