Final Daily Derby Update: May 7

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5/7/2017
2:13 pm EDT

Sunday, May 7, 2017

ALWAYS DREAMING / PATCH / TAPWRIT - Always Dreaming was full of himself Sunday moprning. His groom, Eliasin Beltran, had his hands full but was happy for it. The native of Mexico has worked for Pletcher for the past five years and knows how to handle a good horse. Among the stakes aces he has dealt with previously are Verrazano, Constitution and Stanford.

Todd Pletcher said he found it just a bit hard to sleep last night.

“It was quite a day and quite a race,” the 49-year-old conditioner said. “Always Dreaming came out of it in wonderful fashion; just excellent. He ate very well last night and he's really got some spring in his step this morning.”

Pletcher said the plan is to ship the son of Bodemeister to Pimlico Race Course on Tuesday.

He also said that his other two Derby starters – sixth-place finisher Tapwrit and Patch, both came out of their efforts none the worse for wear. That duo will head to New York in the next few days, as will most of his runners stabled at Churchill Downs.

Master Plan was sent out for a work Sunday and registered a bullet :48.20 on a fast strip.  The colt's next afternoon appearance is scheduled to be the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park this coming Saturday.

Pletcher planned to fly back to New York early today, but the Derby victory caused a change in those plans. He'll probably leave Monday. He was asked how he celebrated Saturday night.

“The way we always do,” he said. “We reserve the conference room at the Residence Inn (near Louisville International Airport) and have a nice dinner there. We had about 30 folks for it. It was a very good evening.”

He said he'd received hundreds and hundreds of texts following the victory and noted two he especially appreciated.

One was from Lute Olson, the retired Arizona basketball coach. Pletcher, an Arizona grad, continues to be a huge follower of the program.

Another was from Jason Garrett, the current head coach of his favorite pro football team – the Dallas Cowboys.

“Hearing from two fellows like that was special,” the trainer said.

Pletcher's Kentucky Derby record improved to two wins, two seconds and three thirds from a total of 48 starters in his 17th Kentucky Derby


LOOKIN AT LEE (2nd) / HENCE (11th) / UNTRAPPED (12th) – One day after finishing second in the Kentucky Derby with Lookin At Lee, it was business as usual for trainer Steve Asmussen, who took full advantage of the two-hour training window Sunday morning with his large Churchill string.

“Everybody's good,” Asmussen said following training hours. “I haven't had a chance to talk to anybody to make any decisions on what's next for any of them. The Preakness is definitely a possibility for Lee. But, we'll give this race the respect it deserves and wait and see how he does when he gets back to the track.

“He always tries,” Asmussen said. “Corey gave him a great ride. He fits this horse really well. They have qualities you like, they don't give up and always try. He got his dream run. He got his chance. He ran well to the wire. We're very fortunate to have him.”

When asked what might be next for Hence and Untrapped, Asmussen responded, “That will be pretty interesting. I didn't think Hence ran his race. Not that he didn't handle the track, but I think the slop and the kickback in the face was a bit overwhelming. He just jumped up and down the whole way. Untrapped, we'll just try to find him the right spots.”


BATTLE OF MIDWAY (3rd) – Battle of Midway came out of his third-place finish in good order and will fly back to Southern California on Tuesday, according to Jerry Hollendorfer's East Coast assistant Christina Jelm.

“He appears to have come back good,” Jelm said. “He ran beautifully. I think he really took to the track well. I wish I could say we won but it was nice to be in the money and hit the board.”

Hollendorfer indicated to Maryland Jockey Club officials that a Preakness run was highly unlikely.


CLASSIC EMPIRE (4th) / STATE OF HONOR (19th) – Classic Empire and State of Honor were doing well Sunday morning.

“We're so proud of Classic Empire,” assistant trainer Norm Casse said. “We don't want to give any excuses for the trip but he ran very well with everything that happened this winter. He came back happy and healthy to the barn last night. We aren't making any decisions on the Preakness yet; we'll see how the next couple of days go and make the final call then.”

The juvenile champion did return to the barn with several superficial cuts, likely from the intense bumping at the start, as well as a swollen right eye. Mark Casse reported that the recovery of Classic Empire's eye would be a large factor in determining a Preakness try.

State of Honor was 19th in Derby after setting the early pace and faltering late.

“Obviously it was disappointing,” Casse said. “We'll regroup and figure out a plan for the future.”

Both horses will remain stabled for now at Churchill Downs in Casse's Barn 36.


PRACTICAL JOKE (5th) – Practical Joke will aim for middle-distance races moving forward, said trainer Chad Brown. Breaking from post 19, jockey Joel Rosario managed a remarkable trip that allowed him to tuck in behind the early leaders, one path off the rail, before the field even passed the finish line for the first time.

“He really got a great trip from that post; Joel did an awesome job,” Brown said. “I thought he handled the conditions well. He just wasn't good enough, particularly at that distance. We've finally seen what his limitations are. He's a very fine racehorse; he just can't go that far.

“I was proud of him. He was fighting and trying. It just wasn't the right race for him. We'll probably take a step back now and let him catch his breath a bit, regroup, and shorten his races.”


GUNNEVERA (7th) – Gunnevera exited a seventh-place finish in Saturday's Kentucky Derby in good shape.

“Gunnevera came out of the race sound and healthy,” said Alessandro Sano, trainer Antonio Sano's son Sunday morning.

The son of Dialed In was “jammed and bumped” at the start, according to the Derby chart caller, before making a mild bid while racing extremely wide in the stretch under Javier Castellano.

No decision was made Sunday about Gunnevera's Preakness status.

“My father will be meeting with the owners to decide what race will be best for Gunnevera,” Alessandro Sano said.


McCRAKEN (8th) – Trainer Ian Wilkes said that McCraken came out of the Kentucky Derby with a puncture on his left hind leg, but otherwise was none the worse for wear Sunday morning.

“He just walked this morning,” said Wilkes, who normally jogs his horses a day after a race or work. “I didn't want to risk the chance of infection.”

McCraken, sent off as the fourth choice, moved to sixth at the top of the stretch with clear running, but never got any closer to Always Dreaming.

“He made a nice little run and I got a little excited, but then he flattened out the last little bit,” Wilkes said. “I don't like to make excuses. It was Always Dreaming's day and all of us had to run over the same track.”

Wilkes said the Preakness is not an option for McCraken, and the Belmont Stakes in five weeks is doubtful.


GORMLEY (9th) – Trainer John Shirreffs reported that Gormley, the ninth-place finisher in Saturday's Kentucky Derby, was fine”Sunday morning after his effort.

“He tried for us, but – of course – we wish he would have been able to do better,” Sherriffs said.

Gormley will head back to his Southern California base at Santa Anita, but not so with his stablemate Royal Mo, who was on the Kentucky Derby also-eligible list. Sunday morning at about 6:30 the trainer sent the son of Uncle Mo through an easy five-furlong drill with exercise rider Cisco Alvarado in the saddle. Churchill Downs' clockers caught the work in 1:05 and noted that he recorded splits along the way of :13.20, :23.60, :38 and :52.40.

“Royal Mo will ship to Baltimore Tuesday,” Shirreffs said. “Gary Stevens will ride him in the Preakness.”

Saturday night at around 10, Stevens, Victor Espinoza (who rode Gormley in the Derby) and Jerry Moss were on the owner's jet heading west from Louisville to Los Angeles. Shirreffs said he was going to catch a plane on Sunday.

Shirreffs already has started two horses in the Preakness. He ran 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown in which he finished third. Subsequently, he ran Mr. Commons in the 2011 Preakness and finished eighth.


IRISH WAR CRY (10th) – Irish War Cry was well Sunday on the morning after his 10th-place finish in Saturday's Kentucky Derby. The Graham Motion-trained colt stalked the pace under Rajiv Maragh before fading through the stretch.

“At the top of the stretch, I thought we were in with a really good chance. Rajiv felt like he had a lot of horse. My gut tells me that he didn't quite get the mile and a quarter. It seemed like he struggled the last part,” Motion said. “He did seem to come out of the race just fine.”

Motion said the New Jersey-bred son of Curlin is likely to skip the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown at Pimlico May 20.

“I don't see a lot of reason to go on to the Preakness at this point,” Motion said. “He's had a pretty good campaign this spring, so it's likely we'll skip that and make a plan to point for the Haskell.”


GIRVIN (13th) – Girvin survived a rough trip and exited well, according to trainer Joe Sharp. The son of Tale of Ekati was in tight at the start and then bumped shortly after the break. Just as he was commencing his far-turn rally, he was bumped badly and checked sharply around the five-sixteenths pole, while a rapidly retreating State of Honor impeded his path. No plans have been made for his next start, but the Preakness Stakes and/or Belmont Stakes have not been ruled out.


J BOYS ECHO (15th) – J Boys Echo settled back into trainer Dale Romans barn following Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

“He's doing just fine. We will give him a few days and make some plans after that,” Romans said.


SONNETEER (16th) – Sonneteer remained a maiden following his 16th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. He looked fine Sunday morning as he walked the shedrow of Barn 25.The Midnight Lute colt is scheduled to return Keith Desormeaux's California base Tuesday.

“He's good. He just did not like the surface,” said assistant Julie Clark.

When asked what might be next for him after the Derby, Desormeaux responded, “How about a maiden race?”


FAST AND ACCURATE (17th) – Fast and Accurate exited his 17th-place effort in the Kentucky Derby in good shape for trainer Mike Maker. Showing speed from post position three, he was forwardly placed during the early running before retreating under Channing Hill.

Trainer Mike Maker said that he hasn't spoken to ownership about future plans.


IRAP (18th) – The Tiznow colt Irap was doing well on Sunday morning. Saturday evening he was a mud-covered mess following his 18th-place finish. He was slammed soon after the break, steadied on the backside and generally had an unhappy experience over the mile and a quarter.

“He was caked in mud,” assistant trainer Leandro Mora said Sunday morning. “He didn't enjoy what happened at all. I don't think he could see for much of the race. It's hard to be running when you can't see where you're going.  I think he just said ‘the heck with it.'”

Mora said they cleared mud from the bay's eyes following the race, then gave him a long bath to get him back to feeling normal.

Irap will be sent back to his Southern California base Tuesday and will not be entered in the Preakness.


THUNDER SNOW (DNF) – Godolphin Racing representatives declined comment on Thunder Snow the morning after his truncated appearance in Kentucky Derby 143. The UAE Derby winner bucked several times a few strides out of the gate and was pulled up by Christophe Soumillon. State veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Kaak examined the colt in the paddock immediately after the race and found him to have no injuries.

Godolphin released an official statement Saturday night: “Thunder Snow walked back to the stables where he was checked by the vets on course and initial reports suggest that he appears to be sound. We will closely monitor him over the next 24 hours to ensure that he is OK. Our first priority is his welfare. He worked well all week and we were very happy with his progress. We want to thank everyone for their support this week. We gave it our best. The team was amazing but it just wasn't to be. Congratulations to the winning horse and the connections of Always Dreaming.”


Edited Churchill Downs release