Daily Derby Update: April 25

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5:45 pm EDT

AMERICAN PHAROAH/DORTMUND – Dortmund breezed six furlongs in a controlled 1:13.60 Saturday morning at Santa Anita Park. Bob Baffert did not want a repeat of last week’s quick five-furlong work and guided jockey Martin Garcia through the breeze by walkie talkie. The big colt responded and followed instructions. “Went well,” Baffert said. “He cruised today.”  

Shortly after Dortmund completed his work, Baffert caught a flight to Louisville. His other Derby contender, American Pharoah is scheduled to breeze Sunday morning at Churchill Downs, but the work could be moved to Monday if the track isn’t rated fast.
With rain in the Louisville forecast on Saturday morning, assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes called an audible and sent American Pharoah to the track at 5:45 rather than wait for the time reserved for Derby and Oaks horses at 8:30. The Arkansas Derby winner galloped 1 ½ mile for exercise rider Jorge Alvarez. “The track was perfect. The weather was good,” Barnes said. “I’d rather just get him out on a good race track and be done with it.”

BOLD CONQUEST – Bold Conquest galloped a mile and a half Saturday morning after the renovation break. Trainer Steve Asmussen, who was en route to Louisville, said the colt is scheduled to work Monday, probably in company.

BOLO – Bolo was doing quite well Saturday morning at Santa Anita, according to trainer Carla Gaines. The Kentucky-bred colt by the Dynaformer stallion Temple City had put in his final major drill for his impending date in the Kentucky Derby the previous day at the Southern California track. The Golden State’s top rider, Rafael Bejarano, was up for the exercise, which was accomplished in :59.60. The Peruvian reinsman will be aboard for the Derby 141 run.

Bolo will be part of a planeload of California horses headed to Louisville Sunday with an arrival time of 11:45 a.m. scheduled. Also headed to Kentucky Sunday are the colt’s groom, Daniel Marquez, and exercise rider, Tony Rubalcaba. Gaines will do her flying Monday.

CARPE DIEM / ITSAKNOCKOUT / MATERIALITY / STANFORD – Trainer Todd Pletcher started his Saturday very early and with two major goals in mind: take care of business at Keeneland, then do more of same at Churchill Downs. He accomplished both nicely with a car dash in between.

The morning’s heavy lifting began at 5:30 with his Giant’s Causeway colt Carpe Diem going through a four-furlong drill in :48.60 that the conditioner called “very pleasing.”

With Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez aboard, Carpe Diem opened up with splits of :13 and :25 en route to his official time, then galloped out nicely in 1:01.20, 1:14.80 and 1:29.40.

“Johnny was very happy with it,” Pletcher said upon return to his Churchill barn. “And I saw what I wanted to see. He’s really doing well. He likes Keeneland; likes the track and the routine we have him in over there. That’s a big part of why we’ve kept him there. We were concerned about the weather and their track handles the rain and drains so well. There’s some comfort in that.”

A major storm was predicted to soak both Louisville and Lexington Saturday morning, but for the most part the precipitation stayed clear of the two cities and their race tracks.

Velazquez, who will ride Carpe Diem for WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stable in Kentucky Derby 141 next Saturday, said at Keeneland that “We took it little by little in the first part of the work and then finished up really good.”

Pletcher indicated that he’d likely give the chestnut another day in Lexington, then ship him to Churchill Monday. The seven-time Eclipse Award winner currently has 16 runners at Churchill and twice that number at Keeneland.

Pletcher made the 75-mile trip from Lexington to Louisville – logging some phone calls and getting in some ESPN radio along the way – in time to see his three other Derby colts go through a jog during the 8:30 to 8:45 special training window Churchill has put in place for Derby and Kentucky Oaks horses.

The trio – Itsaknockout, Materiality and Stanford – had each worked the day prior, so they merely jogged a mile, backtracking all the way around the big Churchill oval. Itsaknockout had Ezequiel Perez in the tack, Materiality was handled by Carlos Cano and Stanford went for Isabelle Bourez.

Of the three, Florida Derby winner Materiality came off the track “on the muscle,” as racetrackers say of a horse who is full of himself and showing it.  “He’s normally a quiet colt, but sometimes he’ll tip you that he’s feeling good,” Pletcher said. “He’s telling us that he came out of that work yesterday very well.”

The lightly raced son of Afleet Alex will be making only the fourth start of his career next Saturday and he’ll have Javier Castellano aboard for the first time.

Itsaknockout, a Lemon Drop Kid colt, will have the Derby services of Luis Saez, while Stanford, a bay by the A.P. Indy stallion Malibu Moon, has not had a rider named to this point, though Florent Geroux rode him in his most recent start – a second-place finish in the Louisiana Derby – and may have the inside track on the mount next week.

Pletcher indicated that he’d wait to see what the track was like Sunday morning before making his next move with his three colts. If rains come and the track is on the “off,” he indicated that the trio might just walk the shedrow. But if the main surface is in good shape, they could return to galloping.

DANZIG MOON – Danzig Moon walked the shedrow a day after work a half-mile in :48.80 under Derby rider Julien Leparoux. Norman Casse, assistant to his father trainer Mark Casse, had opted to work Danzig Moon under clear skies Friday rather than take a chance on a dicey Saturday forecast.
“If we had waited, it would have been a monsoon,” Casse said with a laugh under a light drizzle that did not turn into a deluge until 9:30. “At least we got it out of the way.”  Casse said Danzig Moon would return to the track Sunday morning.

EL KABEIR – Trainer John Terranova said that El Kabeir handled the arrival of an unexpected workmate during his half-mile breeze in :46.80 under Simon Harris Saturday morning at Belmont Park. “Everything went great,” Terranova said. “He accidently hooked up with another horse. A filly broke off at the same time and ran up inside of him. It was fine. Simon just sat quiet.” The Zayat Stables colt turned in identical quarter mile splits of :23.60 in his final timed work for the 141st Kentucky Derby.
“He looked great,” Terranova said. “He did it very easily. He’s looks great. He’s very sharp. We’re ready.”

Terranova said that his goal was to have a good work with no surprises or problems. In the end, everything was fine. “The only unanticipated thing was the company that we hooked, but it was no problem,” Terranova said. “Simon knows him well and he did what he was supposed to do anyway regardless. He was well in hand and Simon had him there. As usual, when he feels some company he’s very competitive and on the bridle, but he’s like that if you work him solo or not. It was fine. No concerns as far as that goes. It was really nice.”

El Kabeir will ship by van from New York Sunday evening and is expected to at Churchill Downs Monday morning. Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel, a three-time Derby winner, will ride the colt.

FAR RIGHT – “Everything is good in the ‘hood,’” trainer Ron Moquett said Saturday morning, a day after his Kentucky Derby hopeful Far Right worked a half-mile in :49. Far Right is scheduled to return to the track Sunday morning. Mike Smith has the Derby mount.

FIRING LINE – Firing Line went through a designed “easy work” Saturday morning at Santa Anita, one that trainer Simon Callaghan termed “great.” The bay son of the young stallion Line of David went off at 6:30 with Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens – who’ll also ride him in the Kentucky Derby – in the saddle and skipped through five furlongs in 1:02.20.

“Just what we wanted for him,” the transplanted Englishman said by phone from his Santa Anita barn. “He’s shipping tomorrow – he’ll be on a plane at 1 a.m. – and we didn’t want to do too much with him. Gary liked the move very much. We just stretched his legs a little bit. He’s very fit; very ready to do what he has to do.”

Callaghan noted that the colt’s exercise rider, Humberto Gomez, and his assistant trainer, Carlos Santamaria, would be on a red-eye out of Los Angeles in order to meet Firing Line in Kentucky. The trainer planned to fly to Louisville on Tuesday.  Firing Line’s flight will have several other notable horses on board, including likely Kentucky Derby starters Dortmund and Bolo.

FRAMMENTO – Frammento walked the shedrow at Keeneland a day after working a half-mile in company with the 3-year-old maiden Heliodoro.

“He’s very good this morning; came out of the work well,” two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito said. “I am glad we worked yesterday because it started raining here about 7:20 and it was a cold rain.”

Frammento needs one defection from horses under consideration for Derby 141 by entry time Wednesday to make it into the gate.

“I don’t want to be on the also-eligibles,” Zito said. “He’s a true mile and a quarter horse and I hope he can get in.”

FROSTED – Wood Memorial winner Frosted breezed five furlongs in 1:01 Saturday morning at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida. Rob Massey was up for the work and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin liked what he saw. “He worked great,” McLaughlin said. “He went off in :13 and basically went :12, :12, :12,:12 and galloped out well. All systems are go. We’re very happy with the work.”

McLaughlin’s original plan was to work the colt on Friday, but he decided to wait a day and not have to use a wet track. “We pushed it back today and we’re happy we did,” McLaughlin said. “We had a perfect racetrack. We were looking for a maintenance work of 1:01. We’re ready to go.”

INTERNATIONAL STAR – Louisiana Derby winner International Star recorded his final serious work in advance of Kentucky Derby 141 early Saturday morning – officially a half-mile in :50.80 with regular jockey Miguel Mena up – at trainer Mike Maker’s preferred local base, the nearby Trackside training center. The work came in company with Nominative, a quality 4-year-old allowance filly also owned by Ramsey, who recorded an identical time.

“We were out trying to beat the rain,” Maker said of the 6 a.m. move. “It was a simple maintenance work and everything went well. He was well within himself. He’s fit by now. We’re not going to do anything in the last seven days that might put him ‘over the top.’ We’re ready to go.”

Trackside clockers recorded splits of :13, :25.20 and :37.60 with a five-furlong gallop-out time of 1:06.20. Ken Ramsey reported that the work was intended as a five-furlong move, with an additional eighth past the wire and around the first turn of the Trackside “bullring”. Ramsey, who was not present for the work but was in regular contact with Maker throughout the morning, relayed a final time of 1:02.40 with splits of :13, :25.40, :37.80 and :50.40. “The time doesn’t sound spectacular but Mike was pleased and if he’s pleased then I’m pleased,” Ramsey said. “I leave the training up to him.”

By mid-morning International Star was relaxing in a hydrotherapy spa that Ramsey installed at Trackside just for his top 3-year-old. The water is kept between 33 and 35 degrees and includes a salt solution that helps to minimize heat and inflammation. “He had it in Florida and loved it,” Ramsey said. “When he first got to Trackside, after a few days Mike said he was doing fine but he was missing his cold water spa. So I said, well, good grief, we have to get one up there! It took a week to get permission to put one in but we got his spa and last I heard this morning he was in it and enjoying it. I’m doing all I can to win that Derby!”

Maker said International Star will van to Churchill Downs Monday or Tuesday.

KEEN ICE – Keen Ice worked five furlongs Saturday morning in 1:01.60 under exercise rider Tammy Fox. The workout was the 15th fastest of 67 workouts at the distance. Keen Ice’s fractions were :11.80, :24, :36, :48.60 and out six furlongs in 1:15.60.

“We just wanted him to do whatever he wanted to do on his own,”' trainer Dale Romans said. “He’s not a real fast work horse by himself. So we didn’t want to put any company with him. We let him do his own thing. He had two really fast drills, got some long miles in him here. The heavy lifting is over. He was smooth doing everything. You saw what a beautiful stride he has. He swept to his right lead turning for home perfect. I told her, just smooch to him leaving there, just let him do whatever he wants. It ended up being just right.”

Keen Ice, whose only victory in seven starts came in a maiden race last year at Churchill Downs, is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby.

MR. Z – Because of the threat of rain, trainer D. Wayne Lukas decided not to wait for the training period reserved for Derby and Oaks horses after the renovation break and instead took Mr. Z to the track soon after it opened. With exercise rider Edvin Vargas aboard, Mr. Z galloped in a manner that pleased Lukas.

“He’s handling the track well, very well,” Lukas said. “His energy is really good. So I’m pleased where I’m at with him. He obviously has to improve. I’m comfortable where he’s at right now.”

After finishing last in the Louisiana Derby, more than 20 lengths behind winner International Star, Mr. Z. was third in the Arkansas Derby (GI), 8 3/4 lengths behind winner American Pharoah. Lukas called the Louisiana Derby “a debacle” for Mr. Z.

“We tried a bunch of stuff, took the blinkers off, changed up the rider, did a number of things,” Lukas said. “And I don't think he cared for the track either, as it turned out. ... He’s back to his old form and rebounded well in Arkansas.”

MUBTAAHIJ – Mubtaahij (IRE) breezed yet again over the Arlington Polytrack on an unseasonably cool morning in the Chicago suburbs. The work was missed by clockers on course, with the circuit’s main clocking crew at Hawthorne. Trainer Mike de Kock employs Fine Equinity, a GPS-based training management tracking system, to record morning work times, heart rates, and more. Their system recorded Mubtaahij working four furlongs in 49.70 seconds, with a final three furlongs in :35.30. The last quarter of the work was timed in equal splits of 11.50 seconds, home in 23 flat.

“I was very happy with both pieces of work,” assistant trainer Trevor Brown said, also alluding to Woodford Reserve Turf Classic hopeful and stablemate Umgiyo. “They had a good blow out and were a bit more intense than on Tuesday. They seemed to come out of it in good order and got right into their food mangers afterward.”

De Kock, with a phalanx of runners at Turffontein Racecourse on Saturday, the richest day in South African racing, pushed his flights back a day and will arrive in Louisville on Monday morning. “We had too many runners in big races today and it would have been much too rushed,” de Kock said from Johannesburg. He was rewarded with two Grade I wins, a Grade I second, and a Grade II victory on the lucrative program. “I’m really looking forward to getting to Louisville now.”
Delta Jackpot winner Ocho Ocho Ocho tested the Churchill Downs surface for the first time Saturday, galloping an easy 1 1/2 miles following the renovation break under Matt Williams, exercise rider and assistant to trainer Jim Cassidy.

“We just wanted to stretch his legs out, kind of get him out and let him see everything,” Williams said. “He traveled good yesterday, ate up good last night. He’s a pretty good traveler so that’s the usual for him. He seems to have settled into the barn.”

Williams, who hails from Ogden, Utah, and has worked for Cassidy “about a year,” also traveled with Ocho Ocho Ocho for the Blue Grass three weeks ago. “The Keeneland race was a big improvement,” he said. “The first race was a disappointment – he got bumped around at the gate and had traffic trouble and didn’t get much out of it. The Keeneland race was a lot better. We got what we needed and he got a good race out of it.” Cassidy will arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday and is still considering one more work for Ocho Ocho Ocho early in the week.

TENCENDUR – Wood Memorial runner-up Tencendur worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 shortly after the main track at Churchill Downs opened for training Saturday morning. Working in company with the 4-year-old allowance winner Wake Up in Malibu, Tencendur posted fractions of :11.60, :23.40, :35.20, :47.40 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.40. The move was the best of 67 at the distance.  “I wanted them to go in a minute and they did,” trainer George Weaver said. “He galloped out well and cooled out quick and he was dragging me around the barn wanting to play.” Weaver initially was going to work at 8:30 but opted to go when the track opened. Weaver said that Tencendur would have some paddock and gate schooling prior to the Derby. “He has not had any issues,” Weaver said. “But with Derby Day, it can affect even the calmest horses.”

Manny Franco, who rode Tencendur to a maiden win the only time he has ridden him, will have the Derby mount and was aboard for the work this morning. Joe Bravo was on Wake Up in Malibu.  The morning work was the first for the 20-year-old Franco at Churchill Downs.

“My first time here,” said Franco, who left later in the morning to return to New York and ride at Aqueduct before returning here Friday. “He worked well. The first time I rode him in thought he was talented, very talented.”

UPSTART – Upstart wrapped up the Florida portion of his preparations with a five-furlong breeze in company in 59.95 Saturday at the Palm Meadows Training Center. Trainer Rick Violette said Upstart, under rider Vicki King, responded when asked and put in an enthusiastic work.
“It was a typical Upstart work,” Violette said. “It looked like he was going :50 and change and it was :47 or :48. He galloped out great; didn’t want to pull up. He could have gone faster or slower. He’s pretty much push-button. We had the walkie-talkie on Vicki and I told her not to let him gallop out, that he had done enough. We didn’t have to do much, but he does run well off a quick last breeze. He’s shown that the runs well off a snappy breeze and that’s what we gave him.” Upstart will ship from Florida to Louisville on Tuesday. Jose Ortiz has the mount in the Derby.

WAR STORY – Trainer Tom Amoss called an audible with War Story, sending him to the track at 5:45 for an activity that included a paddock schooling session followed by a 1 ½-mile gallop under exercise rider Marvin Orantes. “You never know what it’s going to be like at 8:30,” Amoss said. “It could be lightning and thunder, so why take the chance.”
War Story will be ridden in the Derby by Joe Talamo, who was aboard for the first time in a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby. Amoss said War Story would return to the 8:30 training window reserved for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks hopefuls Sunday. “He will jog a mile and gallop a mile and a half, which is his usual. He will probably go to the gate Tuesday and have one more paddock session in the afternoon.”