Daily Derby Update: April 29

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6:58 pm EDT

Saturday, April 29, 2017

ALWAYS DREAMING / BATTALION RUNNER / MALAGACY / PATCH / TAPWRIT – At first there were as many as six. Now there are three with the defections of Battalion Runner and Malagacy.

On Saturday morning, Malagacy who did not work with his stablemates Friday, again did not work at Churchill Downs. Pletcher said at the time, Malagacy is “99.9 percent likely not to run in the Derby.” Now it's 100 percent.

Also out is Battalion Runner, who walked the shedrow this morning after working four furlongs in :48.20 Friday. Pletcher’s other three Derby workers from Friday returned to gallop at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning just before 6:00.

“He wrestled with the track” in his Friday drill, Pletcher said.

Malagacy is being pointed to the Preakness, and Battalion Runner will get a freshening and be pointed to the Dwyer Stakes in July.

Galloping about a mile and a quarter today were Always Dreaming, with Adele Bellenger up; Patch, ridden by nIsabelle Bourez; and Tapwrit, under Silvio Pioli. The track was sealed at the time.

“I’m pleased with how they came out of their works yesterday,” Pletcher said. “Always Dreaming, especially so. He demolished his breakfast after that work, then ate up again last night. You love to see that when you put a good work into them.

“I liked the way he galloped this morning, too. He was more relaxed. We took some of the vinegar out of him with that work, which is what we wanted to do. I don’t have any problems with a good, stiff work eight days out from the race. It’s what he needed.”

It is unusual for a Pletcher horses to work in 59, but, he noted, not unheard of.

“I remember working Invisible Ink in :59 and change here back in 2001 ahead of the race, and he came running to finish second,” the trainer said.

Tapwrit, who worked with Patch on Friday, had his Jose Ortiz up for the exercise. Patch was handled by Bourez Friday and still doesn't have a rider named for the Derby.

“Gaffalione rode him well last time, and we’d have to give him serious consideration for the mount,” Pletcher said.

BATTLE OF MIDWAY – Santa Anita Derby runner-up Battle of Midway arrived at Churchill Downs this afternoon following a flight from Southern California with other Derby Week contenders.

The Smart Strike colt worked Friday at Santa Anita, where he was officially given a six-furlong time of 1:13.40. Using workmate Mangita as a target, Battle of Midway logged fractional times of 24.80, 37, 49.20 and 1:00.40, as reported by the Santa Anita press office, with a seven-furlong gallop out of 1:27.20.

“It was a very good work, nice and smooth,” Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. “When they hit the wire, he drew off from his workmate very well.”

CLASSIC EMPIRE / STATE OF HONOR – Two-year-old champion Classic Empire and Florida Derby runner-up State of Honor walked the shedrow Saturday morning for trainer Mark Casse following their breezes Friday. Both colts are expected to jog Sunday morning, according to Casse.

FAST AND ACCURATE – Spiral Stakes winner Fast and Accurate galloped 1 1/8 mile under exercise rider Joel Cano at 5:45 a.m. on Saturday at Trackside Louisville. “He went well today,” trainer Mike Maker said.

According to Maker, Fast and Accurate will be vanned over to Churchill Downs on Sunday morning and have his final pre-Kentucky Derby work at 8:30.

A jockey has yet to be confirmed for the son of Hansen. He was ridden in his past two races by Tyler Gaffalione and Julien Leparoux. Gaffalione was aboard in the Spiral. Leparoux has the mount on Classic Empire.

“Everything is still falling into place,” Maker said.

GIRVIN – The Joe Sharp-trained Louisiana Derby winner Girvin made his highly anticipated return to the worktab on Saturday morning on Keeneland’s main track for his final Kentucky Derby drill.

Ridden by retired jockey Rosie Napravnik, wife of and assistant to Sharp, the son of Tale of Ekati worked five furlongs in company in 59.60 after the break at 8:30 a.m.

Working inside, Girvin carved out fractions of  12.00, 24.00, 36.00 and 48.00 for the first four furlongs before coming home his final eighth in 11.60 and galloping out in 1:13.00 for six furlongs.

The work, which was twice postponed — from Saturday to Monday, then Monday to Saturday — comes after a quarter crack was discoverd in his right front hoof back on April 19. Utilizing a special bar shoe, hyperbaric chambers and swimming amenities at Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center in the interim, Girvin worked for the first time since posting a half-mile bullet of 30 in 47.80 at Trackside Louisville on April 15.

The dark bay 3-year-old colt’s Saturday workmate, ridden by Sharp, was the Brad Grady-owned Louisiana Derby rabbit Hotfoot.

“He worked extremely well and cooled out great,” Sharp said. “Every day the foot has been better and better, but typically this kind of issue does improve like that. It’s definitely been a huge team effort.”

Sharp, who is training his first Kentucky Derby starter, confirmed that Girvin would stay at Keeneland until shipping to Churchill on Wednesday morning.

“He will train here that day and then ship over. I know we have to be there 72 hours out.”

GORMLEY / ROYAL MO – Trainer John Shirreffs reported that his Santa Anita Derby winner Gormley worked seven furlongs Saturday morning at Santa Anita.

He accomplished the drill under regular exercise rider Francisco Alvarado and did it in company with the maiden Ziconic. Victor Espinoza was aboard the workmate. Santa Anita clockers registered a final time of 1:26.20 for Gormley, noting that he pulled well away from his workmate through the lane. Ziconic was timed in 1:27.40.

“It was a good work for him, just what we wanted to get him ready for the race,” the conditioner said.

Shortly afterward, Shirreffs sent out Alvarado again, this time aboard Royal Mo, and they went through a six-panel drill in company with a workmate ridden by Espinoza. Royal Mo proved best at the wire, and the clockers gave him a final time of 1:13.

Shirreffs, who won Derby 131 in 2005 with the 50-1 shot Giacomo, has his two colts booked on an early Monday morning flight to Louisville. He said he’d be headed to Kentucky on Sunday.

Gormley has the points to be assured a spot in the starting gate for Derby 143.  His barnmate will need a bit of help to run, as he currently sits at No. 21 on the list. Only 20 can run.

Gormley is scheduled to be ridden by Espinoza, who already has three Kentucky Derby victories notched in his belt. If Royal Mo goes, he gets the services of Gary Stevens, who also has three Derby tallies, the last one coming in 1998 aboard Silver Charm in 1997.

Both Shirreffs’ horses are owned by Jerry and Ann Moss.  They also were the owners of Giacomo, who flew late under Mike Smith to get up by half a length in his Derby surprise.

GUNNEVERA – Gunnevera walked the shedrow Saturday morning, a day after working five furlongs in 1:03.60.

“I am glad we got the work in yesterday,” trainer Antonio Sano said as dark clouds circled. “He is good this morning and he will go to the track tomorrow morning.”

Sano will be trying to give his native Venezuela a second Kentucky Derby success story to go with the magical ride of Canonero II in 1971.

“I watched Canonero’s race on TV with my dad,” Sano said. “I was 9 years old.”

The Canonero frenzy also swept up Solomon Del-Valle, the majority owner of Gunnevera.

“The first time I came to the United States, I was 20,” Del-Valle said. “I went to New York for Canonero’s Belmont. He finished fourth. Pass Catcher beat him.”

HENCE / LOOKIN AT LEE / UNTRAPPED – With trainer Steve Asmusssen accompanying Hence and assistant trainer Scott Blasi accompanying Untrapped, both Kentucky Derby hopefuls came to the track at 8:30 a.m.

They walked around the paddock and then galloped once around the track. Exercise rider Angel Garcia was aboard Hence and Juan Vargas was aboard Untrapped.

“I'm very pleased,” Asmussen said. “Knock on wood, they're both in great physical shape. I'm very proud of the job the whole team has done. I think everyone deserves a lot of credit for how well they've arrived here.

“Things have changed in the paddock with the (new) balcony, so I just wanted them to see it. They just walked around and we kept them moving. They'll school in the paddock during the races Wednesday and Thursday.”

Asmussen said both Hence and Untrapped would have their final work Monday morning.

Meanwhile, Arkansas Derby third-place finisher Lookin at Lee made the Derby field with the defections of Battalion Runner and Malagacy. Corey Lanerie was named this afternoon to ride Lookin at Lee.

Ricardo Santana, Jr. was named to ride Untrapped.

IRAP – The always ebuillent Doug O’Neill reported Saturday morning from California that his Derby charge Irap was “doing great” at Keeneland following his work at the Lexington track Friday morning when he drilled a mile in 1:44.20.

“He came out of the work in fine shape and will be headed to Churchill today,” the two-time Derby winning conditioner said. “I’m flying to Kentucky Monday night."

 Mario Gutierrez, also a two-time Derby winner, will handle Irap in this year’s “Run for the Roses.”

O’Neill and Gutierrez teamed up to win the Run for the Roses in 2012 with I’ll Have Another, then again last year with Nyquist.

IRISH WAR CRY – Irish War Cry was out at 9:30 a.m. for a 1 5/8-mile gallop at Fair Hill Training Center, according to trainer Graham Motion. Motion expects to work Irish War Cry six furlongs Sunday morning at Fair Hill with Derby jockey Rajiv Maragh aboard.

“I’ve been very happy with how he’s been doing,” Motion said. “We changed up the time he went out, but that was just because of the track. We went just after it had been harrowed.

“We won’t be looking for anything fancy (in his workout),” Motion said. “But he does need a proper work because he hasn’t had one since before the Wood. We’ve just been galloping him, but that’s how I do it with all my horses.”

J BOYS ECHO – J Boys Echo breezed five furlongs in 1:01.00 Saturday morning at Churchill Downs over a track labeled good.

The son of Mineshaft went with regular exercise rider Tammy Fox up in company with stablemate Little Irishdancer, who was credited with four furlongs in 48.20, through splits of 11.40, 23.20, 35.60 and 48.20, before galloping out three-quarters of a mile in 1:13.60 and seven furlongs in 1:28.60.

“That’s what we wanted,” Romans said. “The gallop-out was strong. He did that by himself. You couldn’t ask for much better.”

The 3 1/2-length victor in the March 4 Gotham at Aqueduct, J Boys Echo was most recently a troubled fourth-place finisher in the April 8 Blue Grass.

“He is a blue collar horse, he just gets out and does what he needs to,” Romans said. “The best scenario for us in the Derby is there is a lot of speed. We’ll settle back toward the middle of the pack, get a clean trip like Mine That Bird did a few years ago and hopefully come running at the end.”

McCRAKEN – McCraken is on track to breeze Sunday morning with Brian Hernandez Jr. scheduled to be aboard for trainer Ian Wilkes.

With exercise rider Yoni Orantes up Saturday morning, McCraken galloped a mile during the 8:30-8:45 special training window for Kentucky Derby and Oaks hopefuls.

“That’s what I wanted to see this morning,” Wilkes said. “He’s ready to breeze.”

PRACTICAL JOKE – Practical Joke walked the shedrow and is in good order the morning after his final timed workout of 1:01.60 for five furlongs, according to Baldo Hernandez, assistant to trainer Chad Brown.

SONNETEER – Sonneteer, who will be the only maiden in the Kentucky Derby field, is the third expected entry owned by Calumet Farm, joining Hence and Patch.

He was among a contingent of California runners arriving at Churchill Downs from California just before noon. Kent Desormeax is named to ride for his brother, trainer Keith Desormeaux.

THUNDER SNOW – Thunder Snow has been confirmed for the Kentucky Derby. Given the go-ahead by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and trainer Saeed bin Suroor to compete, the UAE Derby and UAE 2000 Guineas winner is slated to arrive at Churchill Downs on Sunday after flying from Dubai to Cincinnati and subsequently vanning to Louisville. He will take up residence in Barn 17 and is expected to clear quarantine late Monday or early Tuesday. If all holds to schedule, the winner of four of eight starts will train Tuesday morning.

A Group I winner on the grass at two, the son of top Australian sprinter-miler Helmet (AUS) stretched out to win the UAE Derby ast 1 3/16 mile on Meydan's dirt course last out. His back form also includes a respectable fourth-place finish in England's top juvenile event, the Dewhurst Stakes.

According to the Kentucky Derby Media Guide, Thunder Snow will be bin Suroor’s eighth runner in the Run for the Roses and is arguably his most accomplished. The veteran conditioner’s best finish was a sixth-place effort by China Visit in 2000. He last ran horses in the Derby in 2009, Regal Ransom and Desert Party.

"Sheikh Mohammed has made the decision to run Thunder Snow in the Kentucky Derby," bin Suroor said. "The horse is in good form. He is sound, healthy, working really well and I am so happy with him. It is great to see another horse from Godolphin travel to the Kentucky Derby, as it is one of the best races in the world. Thunder Snow prepared in Dubai. He will be in quarantine for two days, and then it will be back to his normal routine. Thunder Snow has improved a lot, and it would be brilliant to see him run well.”

Christophe Soumillon, whose lone Kentucky Derby mount was an eighth-place finish on Mubtaahij (IRE) in 2015, has the return call.

Sources: Blood-Horse, Daily Racing Form, Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Kentucky Derby Media Guide, Twitter