Arnold Done Piddling Around
For those wondering about the source of pace in Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass, the answer appears be Wild Shot and Corey Lanerie.
“He will be on the lead,” trainer Rusty Arnold said today. “I’m done piddling around trying to get him to go a mile and a quarter.”
The past performance lines for Wild Shot prominently display the names of McCraken and Tapwrit, and Arnold will try again against the two race favorites on the morning line.
“I thought we would make our stand here where he ran his best race,” Arnold said. Wild Shot finished third to Classic Empire in last fall’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at the track.
The trainer said he had other reasons for choosing the Blue Grass.
“I could have ducked them (at Tampa), but Mr. Kelley has horses running all over,” Arnold said. “He has Sonneteer, who was second in the Rebel and going to the Arkansas Derby, the horse that was second in the TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (Patch) and he’s got one (True Timber) running in the Wood. I had nowhere else to run.”
After the Breeders’ Futurity, Wild Shot finished second to McCraken in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs and then finished 3 1/2 lengths behind McCraken and two behind Tapwrit when fourth in the Sam F. Davis.
In the Tampa Bay Derby, Wild Shot finished third, six lengths behind Tapwrit. In both Tampa races, Wild Shot sat off the pace, a tactic that is not expected to be employed Saturday.
On the Track Wednesday
Wild Shot returned to the track today for the first time since a half-mile work Monday and galloped before the break under Jozefat Calvo.
The other five Toyota Blue Grass entrants at Keeneland galloped Wednesday morning. The seventh entrant, J Boys Echo, is stabled at Churchill Downs and has to be at Keeneland by noon Thursday.
McCraken galloped 1 1/2 mile before the renovation break under exercise rider Yoni Orantes and, as he has done the past few days, returned to the barn via the paddock.
“You have to enjoy it,” trainer Ian Wilkes said of the buildup. “How often does a horse like this come along? You have to have fun with it, but you can’t get ahead of yourself. You have to take it one day at a time.”
Tapwrit visited the starting gate and galloped 1 3/8 mile under Romain Techer for trainer Todd Pletcher. Tapwrit schooled in the paddock later in the morning after training hours.
“He got an A plus at the gate this morning,” said Ginny DePasquale, the longtime Pletcher assistant who is overseeing his Keeneland string. “He is coming around at the right time considering his first time at Saratoga he got a D minus.”
With Fernando Rivera aboard, Practical Joke visited the paddock before he galloped 1 3/8 mile for trainer Chad Brown.
It's Your Nickel
For trainer Ken McPeek, It’s Your Nickel galloped 1 1/2 mile in the first set with Pablo Portes aboard. It’s Your Nickel is coming off a 61/2-length victory on synthetic track in the John Battaglia Memorial He also has wins on dirt and turf.
“We went into that race real confident, and he ran huge,” McPeek said. “Now we’re ready to find out how good he is. Up to this point, I don’t think we really know. We have some bears to run against, but if he can’t run third or better against this group, then he really, legitimately doesn’t belong in the Kentucky Derby. He’s had everything set up for him; he’s had plenty of time between races. He’s been here the whole time. The question is (whether he's) good enough."
Irap galloped a mile on the main track after the break with jockey Julien Leparoux hopping aboard for the first time prior to partnering in Saturday’s race.
Seeking to become the first maiden to win the Toyota Blue Grass, Irap is trained by Doug O’Neill. Overseeing the colt’s preparations this week is Jack Sisterson, who was here last spring for nearly a month with Nyquist before that colt went on to Churchill Downs and won the Kentucky Derby.
“That was a good time,” Sisterson said. “They had had a good experience here in 2015 for the Breeders’ Cup and if the weather got bad we could go to training track and not miss a day.”
Edited Keeneland release