Edited by Dick Downey, with additional content by Dick Downey
SATURDAY -- Kentucky Derby works set for Saturday at Churchill Downs include Omaha Beach, Plus Que Parfait and War of Will; along with also-eligibles Signalman and Sueno. Gray Magician is slated to work at San Luis Rey in California.
SUNDAY -- By My Standards, Code of Honor, Country House, Tacitus, Win Win Win at Churchill Downs.
BY MY STANDARDS – Owner Chester Thomas was on hand Friday morning at Churchill Downs to watch his TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby winner By My Standards gallop 1 1/2 mile.
Trained by Bret Calhoun, By My Standards has been dubbed the “buzz horse” by many media outlets and handicappers for this year’s “Run for the Roses.”
Calhoun is scheduled to join Darren Rogers and Kevin Kerstein Friday at 6:45 p.m. on “Inside Churchill Downs” to discuss By My Standards and the leadup to the Kentucky Derby. Fans can listen to the one-hour program beginning at 6 p.m. on ESPN 680 am or 105.7 FM in Louisville or online at www.espnlouisville.com.
By My Standards is slated to gallop 1 1/2 mile ON Saturday and visit the starting gate and, barring inclement weather, breeze Sunday morning at 7:45.
CODE OF HONOR – Code of Honor was on the track at 6:30, galloping a mile and a quarter under exercise rider Brian Duggan for trainer Shug McGaughey.
Code of Honor is scheduled to work Sunday with Duggan handling the work. In Code of Honor’s most recent work last Saturday at Keeneland (five furlongs in 1:01), John Velazquez was aboard.
Third in the Florida Derby in his most recent start, Code of Honor will have paddock and gate schooling next week according to McGaughey, who won the 2013 Kentucky Derby with Orb.
COUNTRY HOUSE/TACITUS -- Tacitus and Country House visited the paddock and then galloped 1 1/2 mile. Juan Quintero was aboard Tacitus, and Marianne Scherer won on Country House.
Trainer Bill Mott, who saddled his first Kentucky Derby starter in 1984, is looking for his first victory in the Run for the Roses. The Hall of Famer was asked if he thought there was a Derby trophy with his name on it lurking in the future.
“I hope to find out within the next 20 years,” Mott said with a smile. “If it takes that long, it will still be fine.”
CUTTING HUMOR/SPINOFF -- At Palm Beach Downs, Todd Pletcher’s duo of Cutting Humor and Spinoff worked on the fast track.
Cutting Humor breezed a half-mile solo in 48.00 with fractions of :13.00, :24.80 and out five furlongs in 1:00.80. Pletcher has not confirmed a rider for Cutting Humor.
Spinoff, working in company with Last Judgment, a 3-year-old allowance winner, covered five furlongs in 1:00.60 with splits of 13.00, 25.00, 37.00 and out six furlongs in 1:13.60 and seven in 1:27.00.
GAME WINNER/ROADSTER -- At Santa Anita, Santa Anita Derby winner Roadster worked six furlongs in 1:13.80 over a fast track for trainer Bob Baffert.
Later in the morning, last year's champion 2-year-old Game Winner worked seven furlongs in 1:27 for Baffert. Both colts are scheduled to fly to Louisville Saturday.
GRAY MAGICIAN -- Drayden Van Dyke will breeze UAE Derby runner-up Gray Magician on Saturday morning at San Luis Rey for trainer Peter Miller. A decision on Gray Magician's jockey may or may not be made soon after, per a report by Byron King at DRF Live.
Joel Rosario rode Gray Magician in Dubai but is booked on Game Winner, for whom he's been the regular rider, in the Kentucky Derby. Flavien Prat has ridden Gray Magician, but he took the Derby mount on Country House for trainer Bill Mott.
IMPROBABLE – Improbable put in a spirited 1 1/2 mile gallop under regular exercise rider Jose Contreras. The runner-up in the Arkansas Derby and Rebel Stakes visited the gate before the gallop.
“He’s looking good, he’s focused, going over the track well,” said Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert. “He’s doing very well in the gate. We’re running him fit basically because he had the whole winter off.”
Improbable captured the Los Alamitos Futurity last December to cap off a 3-for-3 juvenile campaign that also featured a victory in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs. After finishing second by a neck to Long Range Toddy in the first division of the Rebel Stakes on March 16, the chestnut colt was bested by Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby.
“Sometimes it takes horses three to four races to be fit,” Barnes said. “We’re heading in the right direction.
LONG RANGE TODDY – Rebel Stakes winner Long Range Toddy galloped about 1 1/2 mile for trainer Steve Asmussen. He was last seen finishing sixth in the Arkansas Derby.
MASTER FENCER (JPN) – Master Fencer (JPN) – who in eight days could become the first horse bred in Japan to race in the Kentucky Derby – arrived at Keeneland about 6 p.m. Thursday to continue preparations.
Master Fencer came to Keeneland, said shipping agent/manager Mitsuoki Numamoto, to give him a quiet atmosphere in the days following his first international trip.
The colt is to leave for Churchill on Monday, when the owners and trainer Koichi Tsunoda are scheduled to arrive in Louisville.
While at Keeneland, Master Fencer is expected to perform only light training.
“He’s surprisingly laid back given the fact he’s never traveled abroad before,” said Kate Hunter, Japan-based representative for Churchill Downs and the Triple Crown.
OMAHA BEACH – Trainer Richard Mandella opted to wait on working likely Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Omaha Beach this morning, instead sending the Arkansas Derby winner out for a trip to the starting gate and a 1 1/2-mile gallop over a track rated good.
Fox Hill Farm’s Omaha Beach visited the starting gate and galloped a mile and a half under Taylor Cambra.
Mike Smith won't travel to Louisville for the next workout for Omaha Beach. Instead, Julien Leparoux will take care of it.
“I think I will have a better chance tomorrow,” Mandella said. “I called Mike and told him not to come in. I have a rider lined up for whenever he works.”
PLUS QUE PARFAIT – UAE Derby winner Plus Que Parfait galloped about 1 1/2 mile with exercise rider Tom Molloy aboard Friday morning at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Brendan Walsh reported via text that Plus Que Parfait is scheduled to breeze Saturday at 7:30 a.m.
VEKOMA -- At Palm Beach Downs in Florida, Blue Grass winner Vekoma worked five furlongs in :59.80 with Javier Castellano up to the satisfaction of trainer George Weaver. Vekoma is scheduled to ship to Louisville Tuesday, the same day Weaver is to arrive.
WAR OF WILL – Trainer Mark Casse was on the scene Friday morning to observe Risen Star Stakes winner War of Will one day before his final breeze in advance of the first leg of the Triple Crown. With exercise rider Jose Vasquez in the saddle, War of Will went 1 1/2 mile.
Saturday’s planned half-mile work will be the fourth for the colt since finishing ninth in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, a race in which he gave his connections a scare when his hind end gave out shortly after the break.
“Someone asked me today when that happened in the race, what were your thoughts. I forgot about even winning, it didn’t really matter,” Casse said. “I was just hoping he was fine. To have that scare and to be where we are now I mean, it’s amazing.”
Casse said he is mulling whether to work War of Will in company or solo Saturday, adding that part of the issue is finding a workmate who can suitably push him.
“He’s a pretty good work horse. If we put a workmate with him we just let him run by him, just a little confidence builder,” Casse said. “But I haven’t really decided. It’s not easy finding horses to work with him. If we do put him in company, it will be one of Gary Barber’s horses just to give him some confidence.”
WIN WIN WIN – Live Oak Plantation’s Win Win Win, who arrived from his Maryland base Thursday morning, put in his first exercise over the Churchill Downs surface Friday morning by galloping a mile and a half under exercise rider Melanie Williams.
“The track was a little heavy after all the rain,” said Williams, who never had been to Churchill Downs until her arrival Thursday. “I like the special training time, and he handled himself well. He likes to show off; he is very athletic.”
Trainer Mike Trombetta is scheduled to be in Louisville Saturday. Win Win Win is scheduled to work Sunday with jockey Julian Pimentel aboard.
SIGNALMAN (No. 22) – Kentucky Jockey Club winner and Blue Grass third Signalman was out for a gallop with regular exercise rider Danny Ramsey. The colt is expected to work on Saturday morning.
“Everybody was fine after galloping this morning,” said Greg Geier, an assistant to trainer Kenny McPeek.
If Signalman rises to reach one of the 20 spots in the Derby starting gate, Brian Hernandez Jr. is expected to ride.
“He’s a nose away from being in the Derby,” Hernandez said Friday morning. “Every other year, 38 points would have been enough to get in, but not this year.”
Hernandez said he approaches the Derby “just like any other race. You go out there and give your horse the cleanest trip you can.”
SUENO (No. 23) – Silverton Hill’s Sueno galloped a mile and a half under Juan Diaz for trainer Keith Desormeaux. Sueno, who would need three defections from horses under consideration for the Derby to make the field, is scheduled to work Saturday.
SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – Likely starters in the 145th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) to be run for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles on Saturday, May 4: By My Standards (jockey Gabriel Saez), Code of Honor (John Velazquez), Country House (Flavien Prat), Cutting Humor (undecided), Game Winner (Joel Rosario), Gray Magician (undecided), Haikal (Rajiv Maragh), Improbable (Irad Ortiz Jr.), Long Range Toddy (Jon Court), Master Fencer (JPN) (Julien Leparoux), Maximum Security (Luis Saez), Omaha Beach (Mike Smith), Plus Que Parfait (Ricardo Santana Jr.), Roadster (Florent Geroux), Spinoff (Manny Franco), Tacitus (Jose Ortiz), Tax (Junior Alvarado), Vekoma (Javier Castellano), War of Will (Tyler Gaffalione), Win Win Win (Julian Pimentel).
Next up in order of preference: Bodexpress (undecided), Signalman (Brian Hernandez Jr.), Sueno (undecided) and Bourbon War (undecided).