Training hours at Churchill Downs were inundated with rain until 8:00 a.m., just past the special time designated for only Derby and Oaks horses. The downpour lasted at least four hours.
Blue sky began to appear Thursday afternoon, and the weather forecast for Friday and Saturday calls for sun and clouds with highs around 80 degrees.
Tiz the Law jogged twice around the Churchill Downs main track before the rain ceased.
King Guillermo didn't leave his barn this morning. Trainer Juan Avila told Greg Hall the horse has a minor problem and that an announcement about his status would be made this afternoon.
ATTACHMENT RATE – Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s Ellis Park Derby runner-up Attachment Rate had a light 1 1/2-mile gallop in the slop Thursday morning. Attachment Rate will be trainer Dale Romans’ 11th starter in the Kentucky Derby.
“We’ve run really well for a span of three years when Paddy O’Prado (third, 2010), Shackleford (fourth, 2011) and Dullahan (third, 2012) almost won the whole thing,” Romans said. “It’s just an honor to be involved in the Derby, and this horse keeps showing he’s not reached his best yet.”
AUTHENTIC/THOUSAND WORDS – Stablemates Authentic and Thousand Words each put in maintenance gallops Thursday morning, with the latter also schooling in the new 20-horse starting gate.
“It’s hard to tell because they both haven’t had a chance to train on a dry track here,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “But they’re all doing well.”
Both colts are aiming to give their Hall of Fame conditioner what would be a record-tying sixth Kentucky Derby victory Saturday. In addition to potentially giving Baffert a new milestone, Authentic and Thousand Words also are each vying to provide the powerful Spendthrift Farm operation its first triumph in the 10-furlong classic.
Spendthrift Farm co-owns Thousand Words along with Albaugh Family Stables and acquired a majority interest in Authentic in June to join forces with Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, and My Racehorse.
Even before Spendthrift bought into Authentic, they were already rooting for the colt since they stand his sire, Into Mischief, who topped the general sire list in 2019.
“His last work was very impressive, great gallop out. We couldn’t be more excited about his chances and standing Into Mischief makes it double the fun if he were to pull this off,” said Ned Toffey, general manager of Spendthrift Farm.
Where Authentic was already an established runner when Spendthrift joined the team, B. Wayne Hughes’ operation got in on the ground floor with Thousand Words, having purchased the son of Pioneerof the Nile with the Albaugh family for $1 million out of the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling sale.
After going off form earlier this year, Thousand Words righted the ship when he captured the Shared Belief Stakes on Aug. 1.
“His win in the Shared Belief seems to have to turned him into a different horse,” Toffey said. “He’s a little bit more like we saw as a 2-year-old. He’s worked well, he’s much more aggressive in his works. Really excited about his chances.”
ENFORCEABLE – John Oxley’s Enforceable emerged from the Casse Racing shedrow early Thursday, taking to the track around 5:50 a.m. to jog and gallop under assistant trainer David Carroll as heavy rain hit the area.
Trainer Mark Casse is driving up from his home in Ocala, Fla. and is expected to arrive in Louisville Thursday afternoon.
FINNICK THE FIERCE – With co-owner and trainer Rey Hernandez in the saddle, Finnick the Fierce had a mild gallop over the slop during his gallop as rain drenched the Churchill Downs track for a second straight morning.
The gelded son of Dialed In had made three prior starts beneath the Twin Spires with his best outing being a runner-up effort in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last November where he finished ahead of Grade I winner and Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz the Law.
“He always showed a lot of talent, he was very smart,” said Hernandez who owns Finnick the Fierce along with Arnaldo Monge. “When we ran in the Kentucky Jockey Club, it was pretty much the eventual top 3-year-olds in that race. And when you run second over the same track you run the Derby, it gives you a good feeling.”
HONOR A. P. – C R K Stable’s Honor A. P. came out on the track at 7:30 a.m. during the special training time allotted to Oaks and Derby horses and galloped 1 1/2 miles with exercise rider Javier Hernandez. The Honor Code colt also visited the paddock as part of his morning training routine.
“Everything’s good,” trainer John Shirreffs said as he held a playful Honor A.P. for his morning bath.
KING GUILLERMO – Victoria’s Ranch’s King Guillermo had an unscheduled walk day Thursday and a decision on whether to run in the Kentucky Derby is expected late Thursday afternoon.
MAJOR FED – Lloyd Madison Farm’s Major Fed galloped a mile prior to schooling in the Kentucky Derby starting gate for trainer Greg Foley.
“Fred Schwartz, Jim Bakke and I have worked 24 years to watch one of our horses break from the Derby gate,” co-owner Tim Sweeney said. “The Foleys have worked three generations for this. To have one of our homebreds get us in the race is very satisfying. We are a longshot but we’ll take a shot.”
MAX PLAYER – George Hall and SportBLX Thoroughbred Corp.’s Max Player, had a strong 1 1/2-mile gallop over the sloppy track at 5:50 a.m. under regular exercise rider Juan Vargas.
“The horse is coming into the race in great shape,” said Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who is seeking his first Kentucky Derby victory after collecting two seconds and two thirds in 20 previous tries. “He goes over the racetrack very well. I think his energy level is great. Obviously, excited about Saturday.”
MONEY MOVES – The Todd Pletcher-trained Money Moves wore the D. Wayne Lukas saddle towel for a second straight morning as he galloped over the soggy Churchill Downs track during the special 7:30 a.m. training period for Oaks and Derby contenders.
Lukas is overseeing the preparations for Money Moves on behalf of his protégé and former assistant Pletcher, who will remain in Saratoga for the conclusion of that meet this weekend. Owned by Robert LaPenta and Bortolazzo Stable, Money Moves will be making just his fourth career start when he breaks from post seven in the Kentucky Derby field Saturday.
“I need to analyze it a little closer but always in the Derby, everyone is trying to get position going into the first turn. Even though they have a new starting gate, that won’t change,” Pletcher said. “He’s a horse who has some tactical speed so I think we’ll try and establish position going into the first turn and work out the best trip from there.”
MR. BIG NEWS – Allied Racing Stables’ Mr. Big News galloped about 1 1/2 mile under exercise rider Simon Camacho Thursday at 7:30 a.m.
“We’re taking a shot, but I’ve never won a race I haven’t entered,” owner Chester Thomas said.
NECKER ISLAND – With rain pouring down, Necker Island jogged two miles for the second day in a row under Hillary Hartman.
“With the rain and all, we decided to jog another day,” trainer Chris Hartman said. “He has done enough already.”
Necker Island, who will be ridden by Miguel Mena, is owned by the partnership of Raymond Daniels, Wayne Scheer and Will Harbut Racing.
NY TRAFFIC – On his second morning at Churchill Downs, John Fanelli, Cash is King, Paul Braverman and Team Hanley’s Ny Traffic jogged once around over a wet Churchill Downs track at 7:30 and trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. reported the horse was “doing well.”
The Cross Traffic colt has been steadily improving since adding blinkers following a third-place finish in the Risen Star Stakes Feb. 15. He has had three straight second-place finishes since that Fair Grounds race, including a narrow loss to Authentic in the Haskell Invitational July 18 in his most recent start.
“Blinkers seem to have really taken him to a new aspect,” Joseph said. “He’s more steady in his races, more focused. He’s been on the improve. All we need is one more improvement from him and he’s going to be a horse that is going to make a name for himself Saturday.”
SOLE VOLANTE – Because of the second morning of a wet track, Reeves Thoroughbreds and Andie Biancone’s Sole Volante continued his routine of jogging alongside the pony Thursday morning during the 7:30 a.m. special training time with his co-owner in the saddle. Andie Biancone, who also has been handling the training duties for her father Patrick Biancone, said the gelding continues to do well leading into Saturday’s race.
SOUTH BEND – Sporting his new Kentucky Derby saddle towel, South Bend took to the track and galloped about 1 ¼ miles during the special 7:30 a.m. training session for Oaks and Derby horses and also stood in the new 20-horse gate.
South Bend was deemed a 50-1 longshot on the morning line, but his Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott knows a thing or two about pulling a Kentucky Derby upset. The Mott-trained Country House was elevated to the victory in last year’s classic at odds of 65-1 after Maximum Security crossed the wire first but was disqualified.
South Bend is winless in eight starts this year and was most recently fourth in the Travers Stakes.
Kenny McCarthy, assistant to trainer Bill Mott, said, “This horse, he’s a very consistent horse if you look at all his races, and he tries hard every time. His Travers race was certainly not a bad race. He obviously needs to move forward off of that race, but he seems to like this track here. We’ve seen over the years that some horses look like a cinch coming in but they couldn’t get it done.”
STORM THE COURT – Exline-Border Racing, David Bernsen, Susanna Wilson and Dan Hudock’s Storm the Court galloped 1 1/4 mile under Thomas Dubaele, assistant to trainer Peter Eurton.
Following training, Storm the Court had a paddock schooling session that earned a thumbs up from Eurton.
In the Derby, Storm the Court will be ridden for the first time by Julien Leparoux. Flavien Prat, who has ridden Storm the Court in eight of his nine starts, including a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, opted not to travel to Churchill Downs where he rode Country House last year.
“When Flavein told us he wasn’t going, we knew Julien was one of the best riders around (who didn’t have a Derby mount) and we didn’t go any further,” Eurton said.
TIZ THE LAW – Sackatoga Stable’s morning line Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz the Law jogged two miles with Heather Smullen aboard with trainer Barclay Tagg accompanying the two on his pony.
“I wish I could have done more with him, but couldn’t because we’ve had two days of hard rain,” Tagg said. “He’ll gallop tomorrow and he’ll school in the paddock today during the fourth race.”
Tiz the Law’s only career defeat to date came in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last year at Churchill when he was third. When asked if he was a different horse this year, Tagg said: “He’s the same horse. He’s more experienced, of course. I don’t think it was a lack of experience that got him beat last year. It was an off track and he came out a bit slow. The pace cooked him. He’s been pretty nice ever since.”
Smullen, who has served as Tiz the Law’s regular work rider, said she was impressed with Tiz the Law from the get-go.
“It was his 2-year-old year and he did everything so easily,” Smullen said. “Other horses are working hard and he goes along at a nice easy pace.”
WINNING IMPRESSION – West Point Thoroughbreds and Pearl Racing’s Winning Impression jogged a mile Thursday at 5:30 a.m. for trainer Dallas Stewart.
“We’re all good,” Stewart said.
Notes edited by Dick Downey