Thursday, April 24, 2014
Kentucky Derby & Kentucky Oaks Update: Wednesday, April 23
VICAR'S IN TROUBLE (No. 2)/GENERAL A ROD (No. 15)/HARRY'S HOLIDAY (No. 20) - J. Armando Rodriguez's General a Rod recorded his first official work at Churchill Downs in preparation for Kentucky Derby 140, covering five furlongs in 1:03.40 with splits of :13, :26.20, 39 and out six furlongs in 1:17.60 with exercise rider Joel Barrientos up for trainer Mike Maker.
"They're all in good shape," Maker said. "General a Rod had a routine, maintenance work, so we'll work him back in six days and go from there."
Skychai Racing, Terry Raymond and Jana Wagner's Harry's Holiday was one of the first horses on the track after it opened at 5:45 to gallop under Barrientos.
DANCE WITH FATE (No. 3) - Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Ciaglia Racing's Dance With Fate, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) in his most recent start, is scheduled to work Saturday morning on the turf at Santa Anita according to trainer Peter Eurton.
Dance With Fate is scheduled to ship to Louisville on Monday. Corey Nakatani has the mount.
DANZA (No. 6)/INTENSE HOLIDAY (No. 8)/WE MISS ARTIE (No. 10)/VICEREMOS (No. 19) - Three of trainer Todd Pletcher's four Kentucky Derby possible entrants galloped after the renovation break at Churchill Downs.
Making their initial appearances beneath the Twin Spires were Starlight Racing's Intense Holiday and Ken and Sarah Ramsey's We Miss Artie, both of whom arrived from Florida Tuesday afternoon. Isabelle Bourez was aboard Intense Holiday and Nick Bush was on We Miss Artie.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Danza, winner of the Arkansas Derby (GI), was partnered by Ezequiel Perez.
Vinceremos, owned by WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stables, was scheduled to arrive at the Pletcher barn after training hours from WinStar, where he had been since the Blue Grass Stakes (GI).
Pletcher has not confirmed a rider for Vinceremos. Joe Bravo has the mount on Danza, Javier Castellano on We Miss Artie and John Velazquez on Intense Holiday.
HOPPERTUNITY (No. 7)/CHITU (No. 12)/BAYERN (No. 23) - Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman's Hoppertunity worked five furlongs in company in 1:00.20 after the renovation break with Rosie Napravnik up.
Working in company with Drill, a 5-year-old multiple graded stakes winner, Hoppertunity recorded fractions of :12.40, :24.40, :36.20 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.20, seven-eighths in 1:26.60 and a mile in 1:41.60. The five-eighths move was the second fastest of 15 at the distance.
"I was happy with the work," trainer Bob Baffert said. "I thought it went well even though the workmate didn't put up much of a fight and lost interest."
Hoppertunity, who arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday, enters Derby 140 off a runner-up finish in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) behind probable Derby favorite California Chrome.
"I was happy with the way he ran (in the Santa Anita Derby) and he finished well," Baffert said. "I didn't think he was going to beat California Chrome, but he ran a good, solid race.
"He (Hoppertunity) is a laid-back horse and he is not going to wow you. He is just a steady horse and he moves well over the track. We know he can run."
Tanma Corporation's Chitu galloped after the break under Dana Barnes and Kaleem Shah's Bayern jogged before the break under Jorge Alvarez.
Baffert entered both in Saturday night's $150,000-added Derby Trial (GIII).
"Bayern likes this track, so I am going to enter him in the Trial and watch for defections (from the Derby field)," Baffert said. "I think the Trial would set him up for the Preakness well."
As for Chitu, Baffert said, "I am going to enter him, but I am not sure if he will run. This gives me an option. He's a lazy work horse. He needs to get one good work and I want to see how he trains."
WILDCAT RED (No. 9) - Honors Stable Corp.'s Wildcat Red galloped 1 1/8 miles under exercise rider Juan Belmonte after the renovation break.
Trained by Jose Garoffalo, Wildcat Red arrived at Churchill Downs Tuesday afternoon from his South Florida base. Garoffalo is scheduled to be here Friday and Wildcat Red will work Saturday or Sunday with jockey Luis Saez slated to be aboard.
RIDE ON CURLIN (No. 11) - Daniel Doughtery's Arkansas Derby (GI) runner-up Ride On Curlin galloped a mile in 1:57.40 but stretched his legs down the lane and finished the final quarter in :26.20 after the renovation break under exercise rider Bryan Beccia.
Conditioned by Billy Gowan, Ride On Curlin is scheduled to breeze most likely on Saturday, depending on weather.
TAPITURE (No. 13) - Ron Winchell's Tapiture galloped early Wednesday morning with Abel Flores aboard for trainer Steve Asmussen.
MEDAL COUNT (No. 16) - Spendthrift Farm's Medal Count, runner-up in the Blue Grass (GI) last out, galloped after the renovation break under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar for trainer Dale Romans.
Medal Count, who will be ridden in Kentucky Derby 140 by Robby Albarado, is scheduled to work Saturday, weather permitting, according to Romans.
CANDY BOY (No. 17) - C R K Stable's Candy Boy jogged early Wednesday morning under exercise rider Jelani Grant for trainer John Sadler.
It was the first day at the track for Candy Boy, who arrived from Southern California on Monday and walked the shedrow Tuesday. Sadler is expected to be at the barn in the morning.
UNCLE SIGH (No. 18) - Wounded Warrior Stables and Anthony Robertson's Uncle Sigh is scheduled to work Friday morning on the Belmont Park Training Track around 9:30 according to trainer Gary Contessa.
Contessa said Uncle Sigh would leave New York by van early Saturday morning with a Saturday evening arrival at Churchill Downs anticipated. Contessa will fly to Louisville on Sunday. Irad Ortiz Jr., is scheduled to ride Uncle Sigh in the Derby.
COMMANDING CURVE (No. 21) - West Point Thoroughbreds' Commanding Curve, third in the Louisiana Derby (GII) in his most recent start, galloped after the renovation break for trainer Dallas Stewart under exercise rider Emerson Chavez.
Commanding Curve stands 21st on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard presented by Twinspires.com."
SOCIAL INCLUSION (No. 24) - Rontos Racing Stable's Social Inclusion is scheduled to work Thursday morning at Gulfstream Park.
BIG BAZINGA (No. 25) - Derby Dreamers Racing Stable's Big Bazinga galloped 1 ½ miles under Loren Diego after the renovation break. Big Bazinga, trained by Katerina Vassilieva, is scheduled to work Saturday.
KENTUCKY OAKS UPDATE - Wednesday, April 23, 2014
UNTAPABLE (No. 1) - Winchell Thoroughbreds' Untapable visited the starting gate and then galloped Wednesday morning under Angel Garcia at Churchill Downs in preparation for the May 2 $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Untapable is trained by Steve Asmussen, who saddled Summerly to win the 2005 Oaks. Rosie Napravnik, who won the 2012 Kentucky Oaks on Believe You Can, has the mount on Untapable.
SUGAR SHOCK (No. 2) - On Clud Nine LLC's Sugar Shock galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Seth VanDyke after the renovation break.
Trained by Doug Anderson, Sugar Shock is scheduled to work Friday with Calvin Borel up.
FASHION PLATE (No. 3) - Arnold Zetcher and Michael Tabor's Fashion Plate, winner of the Las Virgenes (GI) and Santa Anita Oaks (GI) in her two most recent starts, is scheduled to work Saturday morning at Santa Anita according to trainer Simon Callaghan.
Fashion Plate is scheduled to fly to Louisville on Monday.
IN TUNE (tie-No. 4)/MY MISS SOPHIA (tie-No. 4)/GOT LUCKY (No. 8) - Wertheimer and Frere's In Tune made her first appearance on the track at Churchill Downs, galloping under Ovel Merida after the renovation break.
In Tune, who is undefeated in three starts that includes a victory in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII), arrived at Churchill Downs Tuesday afternoon as part of a continent of horses trained by Todd Pletcher.
Pletcher's other Oaks considerations, Mathis Stable's My Miss Sophia and Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings and Philip Steinberg's Got Lucky, galloped with Humberto Zamora and Amy Mulen aboard, respectively.
Rider assignments for the Oaks are to be determined.
ROSALIND (No. 6) - Landaluce Educe Stables' Rosalind, dead-heat-winner of the Ashland Stakes (GI), galloped under exercise rider Danny Ramsey for trainer Kenny McPeek after the renovation break.
McPeek plans to work Rosalind on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, depending on weather.
ROOM SERVICE (No. 7)/AURELIA'S BELLE (No. 9) - Gary and Mary West's Room Service and James Miller's Aurelia's Belle galloped after the renovation break with exercise rider Calamity Compton handling the duties on both.
RIA ANTONIA (No. 10) - Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable's Ria Antonia worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 with Rosie Napravnik aboard before the morning renovation break at Churchill Downs.
Working on her own, Ria Antonia posted fractions of :12.80, :24.60 and :48.20 with a six-furlong gallop out time 1:14.80. The move was the third fastest of 15 at the distance.
"I was happy with the work," trainer Bob Baffert said of Ria Antonia, who arrived here Monday from Southern California. "She went really nice and moved well over the track."
Mike Smith, who rode Princess of Sylmar to victory in the 2013 Oaks, has the mount.
KISS MOON (No. 11) - Carl Pollard's Kiss Moon returned to the track for the first time since working five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Monday. Kiss Moon galloped after the break under Otto Thorwarth for trainer David Vance.
FIFTYSHADESOFGOLD (No. 12) - The Estate of Clarence Scharbauer Jr.'s Fiftyshadesofgold, a candidate for the Oaks or the Eight Belles (GIII) on May 2, galloped two miles before the renovation break under Sara Escudero.
Trained by Bret Calhoun, Fiftyshadesofgold is scheduled to work Friday.
UNBRIDLED FOREVER (No. 13) -- Charles Fipke's Unbridled Forever galloped after the renovation break under exercise rider Pedro Velez for trainer Dallas Stewart.
Robby Albarado has the Oaks mount.
SWEET REASON (No. 14) - Treadway Racing Stable's Sweet Reason remains under consideration for a possible start in the Kentucky Oaks but trainer Leah Gyarmati said no decision has been made on the filly who is training at Belmont Park.
THANK YOU MARYLOU (No. 15) - Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Thank You Marylou, who has run exclusively in stakes in her four-race career for trainer Mike Maker, galloped under Joel Barrientos a little after 6 o'clock.
EMPRESS OF MIDWAY (No. 16) - Daniel Kramer's Empress of Midway, galloped after the renovation break with Humberto Gomez aboard for trainer Doug O'Neill.
TOP 10 CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES PERFORMANCES
By Gary West, special to KentuckyDerby.com
Over the next 10 days or so, much will be written extolling the virtues of California Chrome. His virtues are as conspicuous as they are numerous. He's professional and smart; most of all, he's fast. And he just keeps running. He deserves the praise, the plaudits and the acclaim. In this run-up to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, he has given not only the best performance of any 3-year-old but arguably the best two performances.
And based on those two races, he's not just the best 3-year-old in the country, but he's best by daylight. At this point, he's probably a few lengths better than any other horse of his generation. And if this were the feature race on a Thursday he's preparing for, he'd be the odds-on favorite. But, of course, this is the Derby, the most turbulent moment in sports.
The unique confluence of circumstances - the pressured atmosphere, the 20-horse field, the long and frenetic run to the first turn, the 1 ¼ miles - can bring out the greatness in a horse. The circumstances can also expose a weakness previously hidden. Yes, right now, at this moment, California Chrome is best. But what counts is that moment following the musical outburst and the thunderclap of excitement on the afternoon of May 3, that moment that compresses years of planning and nurturing and months of preparation into two minutes. Will he be best then, when it counts, when the world and history are watching?
California Chrome was foaled, or born, on Feb. 18. He's two months older than Danza and Intense Holiday, nearly three months older than Hoppertunity, Bayern and Tapiture. In the development of a youngster, a month is precious. Could some of these younger horses step forward and challenge California Chrome, or even surpass him? Absolutely. Could the unique confluence of circumstances challenge the latent greatness within a horse who's still relatively unnoticed and unheralded? Absolutely.
After all, it's the Derby.
The Top 10 Kentucky Derby Championship Series Performances
1. California Chrome, Santa Anita Derby. The flashy chestnut overcame a little trouble early, showed his willingness to control his speed and then finished full of run, with a final three-eighths of a mile in 36.71 seconds, drawing clear to win by more than five lengths. He'll be a deserving favorite for the 140th Kentucky Derby.
2. California Chrome, San Felipe. He put away the speedy Midnight Hawk after three-quarters of a mile in 1:09.45 and then really went to work, winning by more than seven lengths under a long hold.
3. Constitution, Florida Derby. This is a difficult race to measure simply because Gulfstream Park tends to favor speed so unabashedly and because the pace was so modest. Still, the lightly raced colt fought through an opening along the rail to win in a photo in a determined effort. Most important, Constitution ran down Wildcat Red, who loves Gulfstream Park and was cruising along on an easy lead through those casual splits (48.19 for the opening half-mile and 1:12 for three-quarters). Constitution has been sidelined, but he could be a special horse. As for Wildcat Red and General a Rod, who finished second and third and are aimed at the Derby, it's hard to imagine them moving forward on May 3.
4. Wicked Strong, Wood Memorial. He made up two lengths in the final furlong and then drew clear to win the Wood by more than three lengths. In other words, he finished strongly indeed, with a final furlong in 12.52 seconds, suggesting the classic distance of the Derby is within his reach. If the 140th Derby is won in deep stretch, this horse could be wearing the roses. But six of the last 10 Derby winners, had taken the lead and control of the race by mid-stretch, and last year Orb was only a head back with a furlong remaining. And even horses that rally from far back to win the Derby generally make up more ground in the second turn than in the stretch.
5. Danza, Arkansas Derby. Yes, he was 41-1, but he ran as if he were an odds-on favorite, spurting clear to win by nearly five lengths in a very solid clocking for the day (1:49.68 for 1 1/8 miles). The Arkansas Derby was his first race around two turns, and Danza performed as if this is what he was born to do, running the final three-eighths of a mile in 37.09 seconds and galloping out beyond the wire with outstanding energy.
6. Hoppertunity, Rebel. A late foal - he won't actually turn 3 until May 7 - Hoppertunity has made huge strides in his last two races, and with another forward move he could be a major threat to win the roses. In the Rebel, he rallied in the second turn and finished strongly despite encountering trouble through the lane.
7. Hoppertunity, Santa Anita Derby. And in the Santa Anita Derby, although he never threatened, he was a clear second, defeating some very capable horses. Most important, for the recent Santa Anita race, he didn't have to get on a plane and travel halfway across the country and he didn't have to pour out all his energy to secure second. He could be ready to take that next step at Churchill.
8. Tapiture, Rebel. Although second, he might have been best in the Rebel, but at the very least his performance was the equal of Hoppertunity's. Tapiture's fourth in the Arkansas Derby, however, raises questions about his effectiveness beyond 1 1/16 miles. A high-strung colt and a late foal, he won't actually turn 3 until Derby Day.
9. Intense Holiday, Risen Star. He ran into some trouble in the Louisiana Derby and created even more for himself when he ducked in at the top of the stretch. But he hadn't done anything like that in his other races, and so the lapse might be dismissed as an aberration. For a measure of talent, look instead at his Risen Star effort. He was a little nervous in the saddling area, but after that he was all business. He rallied strongly in the second turn - where the Kentucky Derby is usually won - and ran the fourth quarter-mile in about 24 seconds. He got up in the final strides for the victory and then galloped out with overflowing energy. And it's worth noting that Vicar's in Trouble, who would win the Louisiana Derby, finished third, and that Hoppertunity, who would win the Rebel, finished fourth.
10. Chitu, Sunland Derby. Chitu looks like a sprinter and has the speed and quickness of a sprinter, but he hasn't conceded he's a sprinter, not yet anyway. When he won the Sunland Derby, he pressed a rapid pace - 46.46 seconds for the half and 1:09.60 for three quarters - and then persevered, while everybody around him was staggering - to win by more than two lengths. Still, he ran the final three-eighths of a mile over a fast surface in 38.28 seconds, which suggests he's unlikely to step forward at 1 ¼ miles.
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