Daily Derby Update: Sunday, April 28, 2019

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1:54 pm

Edited by Dick Downey


You might call it "teamwork" as a set with Win Win Win inadvertantly joined the set of Tacitus and Country House during workouts this morning.


• By My Standards, four furlongs in :48.40 (12th fastest of 76 at the distance). Fractions of :12.40, :24, :36.40, out five furlongs in 1:00.60, six furlongs in 1:12.80 and seven furlongs in 1:26.60.

• Code of Honor, four furlongs in :46.80 (Second fastest of 76). Fractions of :11.80, :23.20, :35.20, out five furlongs in :59.40, six furlongs in 1:13.20.

• Country House and Tacitus in company together, five furlongs in 1:00 (Fourth fastest of 25). Fractions of :12.20, :24.20, :35.80, :48, out six furlongs in 1:12.80, seven furlongs in 1:26 and a mile in 1:39.80.

• Improbable, five furlongs in company in 1:00.60 (Ninth fastest of 25). Fractions of :11.80, :23.60, :36.40, out six furlongs in 1:13 and seven furlongs in 1:25.60.

• Win Win Win, four furlongs in company in :47.60 (Fourth fastest of 76). Fractions of :24.20, :36, out five furlongs in 1:00.20.


Long Range Toddy (Monday), Master Fencer (maybe Wednesday) and Maximum Security (Monday in Florida). Bodexpress (number 21, Monday in Florida). Sueno (number 23, undetermined).

BY MY STANDARDS – Louisiana Derby winner By My Standards, who has been known as the "buzz horse" for the past 10 days, completed his major work prior to Saturday's Kentucky Derby with a half-mile move in :48.40 with Gabriel Saez aboard.

"Well, that couldn't have gone any better," trainer Bret Calhoun said. "It's just a blessing how well he's doing entering the Derby. He's doing everything we've asked him to do and just moves so effortlessly around the racetrack. He went in :48.40 this morning, but when Gabe got back to the barn he said he could've went around there again. It was like nothing to them."

, By My Standards worked through eighth-mile clips of :12.40, :24 and :36.40 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.60, six furlongs in 1:12.80 and seven furlongs in 1:26.60, according to Churchill Downs' Clocker John Nichols.

By My Standards is scheduled to have a walk day Monday.

CODE OF HONOR – Code of Honor completed his major work for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby by working a half-mile in :46.80 with exercise rider Brian Duggan aboard for trainer Shug McGaughey.

Working on his own, Code of Honor produced fractions of :11.80, :23.20, :35.20 and galloped out five furlongs in :59.40 and six furlongs in 1:13.20.

“I told (Brian) to go in :48, but the track was pretty good this morning,” McGaughey said. “I was pleased with the way he handled it and glad I got the kind of track we did today. He had two good works at Keeneland and the last one was on an off track, so we know he can handle an off track and what he was on today is probably what he will see Saturday.”

Code of Honor earned his spot on the Kentucky Derby trail with a victory in the Fountain of Youth on March 2 at Gulfatream Park.

“He had to run well in the Fountain of Youth, not necessarily win but run well, or we were going to back off,” McGaughey said. “He came out of the Florida Derby fine and had the two good works at Keeneland.”

John Velazquez, a two-time Derby winner, has the mount on Code of Honor.

COUNTRY HOUSE/TACITUS – The Bill Mott-trained duo of Country House and Tacitus had their final breezes for the Kentucky Derby, drilling five furlongs in tandem in 1:00 flat during the special Kentucky Derby/Oaks 7:30-745 training session.

What began as a routine workout -- the pair were meant to mirror each other throughout in a controlled fashion -- became a lot more interesting when they were spontaneously joined by another Derby worker, Win Win Win, and his workmate, maiden Souper Courage, to their outside on the far turn. The quartet ran four abreast turning for home, with Win Win Win closing to pass the Mott pair, who finished on even terms by design.

The furlong splits for the Mott workers were :12.20, :24.20, :35.80, :48 and out six furlongs in 1:12.80, seven furlongs in 1:26 and a mile in 1:39.80.

Garrett O’Rourke, general manager of Juddmonte’s U.S. operations, was pleased, despite the work going a bit off-script. Tacitus and has only raced four times, including a win in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

“I thought it went well,” O’Rourke said. “He handled Win Win Win coming up on the outside really professionally. He was under control and got a good blow. That’s all you can ask for, really.”

Mott added: “I thought it worked out very well. It was a good tightener, was what I expected from them and what I wanted. It should be enough, as far as conditioning, and the fact that we saw them work well gives you a good feeling that they’re coming into it the right way. So far, they have cooled out great and neither was exhausted. They had a little bit of a blow initially, then caught their air and they’re cooling out really well.

“We generally would see something like that happen occasionally when they don’t have a 15-minute break just for Derby and Oaks horses. I thought about that, because I knew there would be some other workers. You just can’t really anticipate it. My team was ready to break off, and they probably didn’t know we were going to work. All the riders did a really good job and I really have to commend all of them. It’s not going to hurt them, and they better get used to it if they’re not already or they’ll get a surprise on Derby Day. It’s pretty crowded out there.

“We have a week to go until the Derby, and we look like we’re in good shape. They finished up right together. They may have been a head apart. I told them if they could work together, that would help each other during the work. Both of my horses have pretty laid-back dispositions and they probably needed their company to encourage each other. For me, it worked out perfectly.

“I’ll just try to keep them out of trouble and get them over there on race day; nothing fancy going into it. We just hope they come out of this in good shape and stay healthy and sound.”

Mott reported that Country House and Tacitus may school Tuesday or Wednesday during the races.

CUTTING HUMOR/SPINOFF – Each of the runners put in works Friday, jogged Saturday and walked today, following trainer Pletcher's usual pattern.

The next step for the sophomores is to jog Monday morning at their Palm Beach Downs location, then make an early trip Tuesday morning to Churchill Downs by air with an expected arrival time of between 8 and 8:30 at the trainer’s Barn 40.

Rider Manny Franco has the call on Spinoff. Cutting Humor’s jockey is still to be decided.

GAME WINNER/IMPROBABLE/ROADSTER – As Elliott Walden pondered what he had just witnessed from Improbable during the colt’s final serious workout in advance of the Kentucky Derby, the CEO and President of WinStar Farm couldn’t help but get hit with a pretty ambitious case of déjà vu.

“He’s feeling good and I think Bob has him right where he wants him,” Walden said. “He reminds me of Super Saver when he came in here off Arkansas. The three weeks were a good three weeks.”

Super Saver gave the WinStar team its first Kentucky Derby triumph when he captured the Run for the Roses in 2010, three weeks after running second in the Arkansas Derby.

As Improbable headed onto the track during the special time slot reserved exclusively for Oaks and Derby runners, the chestnut bucked and played under jockey Florent Geroux – who is actually set to ride fellow Baffert trainee Roadster. His good-feeling mood continued to show itself as he broke off just a couple lengths behind workmate Emboldened, quickly catching up to that one and moving past his stable mate down the lane as he registered splits of :11.80, :23.60, and :36.40 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 and seven furlongs in 1:25.60.

“I don’t think he was rank. He was just maybe a little bit keen and feeling good,” Geroux said. “He’s very easy actually. Down the lane he was responding exactly to what I was asking him to. I could have gone faster if I wanted to. I could have gone a touch slower if I wanted to. He was just very cooperative.”

Improbable captured all three of his starts during his juvenile campaign, capping off his 2018 season with a victory in the Los Alamitos Futurity. He finished second in both the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby but has seemingly thrived during his time in Louisville.

“He loves this track. I just love the way he kept on galloping out today,” Baffert said. “That’s what we wanted to see. He gets over it well. He’s not really big, but he jumps a long way. Now I can relax. Now we have to wait for the draw. That’s the last of the anxiety is the draw.”

Improbable’s work Sunday was his second since arriving at Churchill following his loss to Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby. He previously posted a four-furlong work in :48 on April 22.

One day after arriving from California and joining stablemate Improbable in Churchill Downs’ Barn 33, reigning juvenile male champion Game Winner and Grade I winner Roadster went to the Churchill Downs track for the first time in their Kentucky Derby preparations.

Veteran exercise rider Humberto “Beto” Gomez was up on both runners, first taking Game Winner out at 6:30 a.m. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hero jogged one lap the wrong way with the pony two days after working seven furlongs in 1:27 at Santa Anita Park.

The routine was much the same for Roadster, who came out during the 7:30 a.m. time slot along with Improbable. The Santa Anita Derby winner also worked at Santa Anita on April 26, going six furlongs in 1:13.80.

“They just jogged. They’re not going to do much,” Baffert said of the duo.

Both Game Winner and Improbable have proven form over the Churchill Downs track with the former earning his Breeders’ Cup triumph beneath the Twin Spires and Improbable capturing the Street Sense Stakes on the Breeders’ Cup undercard. Roadster’s Breeders’ Cup chances went by the wayside last summer when he underwent throat surgery following his third-place finish in the Del Mar Futurity.

“All three have different styles. Game Winner he’s like the fullback, Roadster he’s real light and lean but he gets over the ground well. I’m just happy to be here with three really nice horses.”

GRAY MAGICIAN – Gray Magician pleased trainer Peter Miller one day after his final breeze for the Kentucky Derby. The son of GI winner Graydar and GII-placed stakes winner Burg Berg worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 on Saturday at San Luis Rey Training Center in Southern California.

“Looks great,” Miller said, confirming that all systems are “go” for the UAE Derby runner-up.

Per Miller, the colt is scheduled to ship to Kentucky on Monday.

HAIKAL – Haikal galloped 1 3/8 mile at Belmont Park on Sunday morning. Per trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, the consistent homebred is scheduled to ship to Kentucky via van following training.

The conditioner trained his sire, the Cigar Mile winner Daaher, as well as sprint star Takaful, a half-brother to Haikal who won the Vosburgh Stakes in 2017 beating older horses.

“I thought Takaful, being by Bernadini, would ultimately go long, but he was really keen and tough to train,” McLaughlin said. “This horse’s mind is different. He’s much more relaxed. He’s not as tough to train and I think he has the kind of mind you need in this kind of a race.

“It’s great to have this horse do so well; by a sire you trained and owned by a great man like Sheikh Hamdan,” he continued. “I’m really honored to get him into the starting gate.”

LONG RANGE TODDY – Rebel Stakes winner Long Range Toddy galloped 1 1/2 mile Sunday morning and is likely to breeze Monday, according to trainer Steve Asmussen's assistant Scott Blasi.

MASTER FENCER – Japan’s representative in this year’s Kentucky Derby, Koichi Tsunoda-trained Master Fencer, continues to train at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington.

At 6:30 a.m., the chestnut son of Just A Way jogged one lap on the all-weather training track and then another on the main dirt track under exercise rider Yosuke Kono. Adorning a hood that matches the pink silks he will carry on race day for owners Katsumi and Yasuyo Yoshizawa, he was led on both occasions by pony “Fox” and rider Mary Ellet.

Per connections, the mystery horse of the Kentucky Derby 145 is eating up his feed markedly well and thriving since arriving in the United States.

The stakes-placed colt is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on Monday evening.

MAXIMUM SECURITY – Maximum Security galloped Sunday morning at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida where he is scheduled to work Monday for trainer Jason Servis.

Maximum Security is scheduled to ship to Louisville Tuesday. Servis will drive from South Florida and is not expected to arrive in town until Tuesday night.

OMAHA BEACH – Trainer Richard Mandella swung by Barn 28 Sunday morning to do a little “easy” training. His likely Kentucky Derby favorite, Fox Hill Farm’s Omaha Beach, had done the heavy lifting the day before when he fired a :59 in a five-furlong drill that was the primary finishing touch on his preparations for Derby 145. Sunday all the Hall of Fame trainer had to do was oversee a 30-minute walk around the shedrow for his big colt – and that went just fine.

“To be honest, I didn’t sleep too well last night,” Mandella said. “Anytime you have an important work like we did yesterday, you’ve got to be concerned for the next morning and how they come out of it. But he’s fine; good as gold. It sure has me feeling better.”

The trainer and his wife, Randi, were off later in the day for a trip over to Spendthrift Farm to see one of their favorites, the multi-champion mare Beholder, who Mandella guided through four Eclipse Award seasons – 2012 (2-year-old filly), 2013 (3-year-old filly), 2015 and 2016 (older dirt female). Along the way she managed to win $6,156,000. The trainer noted that the mare already had a yearling colt by Uncle Mo and a weanling filly by Curlin, and that she had been bred back to War Front, the sire of Omaha Beach.

As for his Derby charge looking ahead to Monday, Mandella left all options open with tongue in cheek.

“We’ll either jog him, or gallop him, or ride him under the shed. That ought to about cover it.”   

PLUS QUE PARFAIT – UAE Derby winner Plus Que Parfait exited his Saturday Kentucky Derby breeze in top shape, according to his connections. The chestnut ridgling son of Point of Entry walked the shedrow and did a routine trot on the concrete to check soundness Sunday morning.

“He came out great,” trainer Brendan Walsh said. “We’re very happy with him. He’s a real solid horse.”

“I don’t think I’ve seen him come out of a work that (well),” added assistant trainer Tom Molloy. “He’s very happy right now. He’s a ‘people-horse’ and he barely pays attention to other horses. It’s funny how much he likes people.”

The Kentucky Jockey Club runner-up will school during the second race Thursday along with with multiple Grade II-winning stable star Proctor’s Ledge, who is slated to defend her title in the Longines Churchill Downs Turf Distaff on Derby Day.

TAX – According to trainer Danny Gargan, Wood Memorial runner-up Tax galloped one mile at Belmont Park on Sunday morning and is scheduled to ship to Kentucky later on during the day. The Withers-winning gelded son of Arch breezed a half-mile in 47.80 three days prior.

“He’s improved with each run,” Gargan said. “I think he ran an ‘8+’, then an ‘8-’ and then a ‘6’ in his last three starts on the sheets. He continues to do well.”

VEKOMA – Vekoma had a walk day at trainer George Weaver’s barn at Palm Beach Downs in Florida.

Winner of the Blue Grass Stakes in his most recent start, Vekoma is scheduled to ship to Louisville on Tuesday. Weaver expects to be at the post position draw Tuesday at 11 a.m.

WAR OF WILL – When asked how War of Will had come out of his bullet four-furlong work in 47.60 on Saturday, trainer Mark Casse found the nearest piece of wood by his office and playfully knocked his head up against it.

“They just walked today, so far so good,” said Casse, also referring to War of Will and his Oaks contender Chocolate Kisses, who also worked Saturday.

War of Will also got some new shoes put on in advance of his expected Kentucky Derby run.

WIN WIN WIN – Julian Pimentel likely will never forget his first trip to Churchill Downs.

In town to work Win Win Win for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, he wound up having more company than he bargained for as he piloted the colt through a half-mile in :47.60, the fourth fastest of 76 works at the distance.

As Win Win Win and his workmate, Souper Courage, were getting ready to break off at the half-mile pole, to their inside came the Bill Mott-trained Derby hopefuls Country House and Tacitus who were in to their five-furlong works.

“That was a little different, but it worked out well,” Pimentel said. “He went about his business, and he wanted to go get them.”

Trainer Mike Trombetta was watching from the fourth floor stakes room balcony and could see how things were going to unfold.

“I was on the radio with Mel (exercise rider Melanie Williams on Souper Courage) and told her there was company coming behind her,” Trombetta said. “They started their work at the 5/8ths and that is why they caught up to us so fast. Those things happen, but it is unusual that it happened here with limited traffic. Hey, they jump in and join the party and everybody gets around there OK and everybody is happy.”

At the end of the day, there were smiles all around.

“Julian was very happy with it,” Trombetta said of the rider who has been on board for all three of the colt’s victories including a track-record score in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Pimentel returned to Maryland after the work and is scheduled to return to Louisville on Friday.


BODEXPRESS – Bodexpress, No. 21 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard and needing one defection to make the main body of the race, is scheduled to work Monday at Gulfstream Park West and then ship to Louisville Tuesday.

SIGNALMAN – Kentucky Jockey Club winner and Blue Grass third Signalman spent his Sunday morning walking the shedrow following a five-furlong workout on Saturday, assistant Greg Geier said. The colt was not showing any ill effects from a slight, one-inch cut over his left eye, from bumping his head while in his stall.

Signalman still needs a couple of defections to make the Derby field. McPeek plans to take the colt to Pimlico for the Preakness on May 18, no matter what happens in Louisville.

SUENO – “Walking only” was the report on the colt Sueno from the Keith Desormeaux barn Sunday morning, the second day for that.