BLACK ONYX (No. 12) – Sterling Racing’s Black Onyx had an uneventful morning on the track, galloping 1 ½ miles after the Friday morning renovation break under exercise rider Aurelio Gomez.
Gomez said trainer Kelly Breen was traveling to Louisville on Friday and is scheduled to supervise a breeze planned for Saturday morning.
Black Onyx has won both of his starts -- including the Spiral (GIII) -- since being moved into Breen’s care this year.
“The forecast looks to me like it’s going to start raining tomorrow afternoon and probably rain through Sunday, so if that forecast holds true for the rest of the day, then we’re going to go with everybody tomorrow (Saturday),” Pletcher said.
Pletcher also plans to work Kentucky Oaks contenders Unlimited Budget, Dreaming of Julia, Princess of Sylmar and Silsita on Saturday.
“The Oaks fillies are all going to go in the first set at 6 o’clock,” Pletcher said. “The Derby horses are going to go in the 8:30 set, except for Winning Cause, who will not work until Sunday or Monday.
“Right now, the plan is to work Palace Malice and Overanalyze together and Revolutionary and Charming Kitten will go together. Verrazano will go with (La Troienne contender) Authenticity again. That’s all subject to change, but that’s the tentative plan.”
While the plans for the weekend changed, training plans for Friday went according to plan.
All six of Pletcher’s Kentucky Derby contenders galloped, with Charming Kitten and Winning Cause going out before the break and Verrazano, Overanalyze, Revolutionary and Palace Malice going out following the renovation break during the 15-minute period when the track was reserved for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders.
Verrazano, Revolutionary and Winning Cause also visited the gate Friday morning.
CODE WEST (No. 21)/GOVENOR CHARLIE (No. 11)/POWER BROKER (No. 24) – Mike Pegram’s Govenor Charlie galloped 1 ½ miles with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez aboard for trainer Bob Baffert. Gary and Mary West’s tandem of Code West and Power Broker also went out for their morning exercise with Code West galloping 1 ½ miles under Alvarez and Power Broker jogging with Peter Hutton up.
Assistant trainer Jim Barnes said Baffert is scheduled to travel to Louisville from California on Saturday evening. Barnes said the colts likely will work Sunday or Monday with the decision based on weather and track condition.
FALLING SKY (No. 18) – Newtown Anner Stud, James Covello and Joseph Bulger’s Falling Sky breezed five furlongs in :59.60 Friday morning at Churchill Downs. The John Terranova-trained 3-year-old colt worked in company with stablemates Balance of Power and Swift Warrior after the renovation break while turning in the fastest clocking of 32 recorded at the distance.
Ridden by exercise rider Cassie Garcea, Falling Sky was rated to the outside of his stablemates through splits of :12.40, :23.80, :35.40 and :47.20 on his way to earning a “bullet.” He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.
“He worked the way we wanted him to. We’re just trying to keep him happy. We just wanted him to settle a bit and he showed he can. He settled and did his thing at the eighth-pole,” assistant trainer Reynaldo Abreu said. “We weren’t looking for him to open up and crush those other horses. We wanted them to finish together and for him to settle.”
Abreu, who reported that Terranova was scheduled to arrive in Louisville Friday afternoon, is encouraged by Falling Sky’s preparation at Churchill Downs.
“He’s going over this track better than the other tracks where I’ve seen him,” Abreu said. “He skips right over the track.”
The son of Lion Heart captured the Sam Davis (GIII) at Tampa Bay Downs in his 3-year-old debut, before checking in third in the Tampa Bay Derby (GII) and finishing fourth in the Arkansas Derby (GI).
“The way he came out of (his last race) was the best thing. We’d been shipping him back and forth (from Palm Meadows) for all his races,” Abreu said. “Vanning him back and forth and the race should have taken something out of him. When we took him back to the track two days later, he was happy as can be. It will be interesting to see how he runs from his stall.”
FRAC DADDY (No. 15)/JAVA’S WAR (No. 4) – Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Frac Daddy and Charles Fipke’s Java’s War visited the Churchill Downs paddock Friday morning before galloping 1 ½ miles.
The Ken McPeek-trained 3-year-olds are tentatively scheduled for workouts on Saturday morning.
“We’ll have them ready to work tomorrow, depending on the weather,” said McPeek, noting forecasts that call for rain. “There’s a chance we might work them Sunday.”
After disappointing efforts in the Holy Bull (GIII) and Florida Derby (GI) at Gulfstream, Frac Daddy made his way into the Kentucky Derby field with a second-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (GI) on April 13.
“His first race was a throw-out. He literally ripped his foot off. Then, he came out of that and his throat swelled up with a bunch of ulcers. That didn’t help his cause,” McPeek said.
Java’s War captured the Blue Grass (GI) after trailing the 14-horse field early because of a tardy start.
“This horse is smart. He gets it. He can overcome about anything. We do spend a lot of time trying to get them to finish, and he’s got all that figured out,” McPeek said. “His road here has been easier than Frac Daddy’s but there’s not much that splits them in the morning. Frac Daddy seems to be maturing. The other colt … the third race off a layoff is usually the best race for us.”
GOLDENCENTS (No. 3) – Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Goldencents is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs early Saturday afternoon from Southern California according to Churchill Downs stall manager Steve Hargrave.
The plane carrying Goldencents will land in Lexington and Goldencents will be vanned here and housed in Barn 45, where he will join a string of trainer Doug O’Neill horses. O’Neill, who will be arriving later Saturday, has 16 stalls allocated in Barn 45.
Owned by W.C. Racing, Dave Kenney and Rick Pitino’s RAP Racing, Goldencents worked six furlongs in 1:16.20 on Thursday at Santa Anita.
“He came out of the work in great shape and we are all excited about coming back,” said O’Neill, who saddled I’ll Have Another to victory in last year’s Kentucky Derby.
A victory by Goldencents would make O’Neill the first trainer to win the Run for the Roses in consecutive years since Bob Baffert did it in 1997 and 1998 with Silver Charm and Real Quiet, respectively.
GOLDEN SOUL (No. 23) – Trainer Dallas Stewart, eager to run Charles Fipke’s Golden Soul in the Kentucky Derby if a spot in the starting gate opens for him, expressed satisfaction in the colt’s five-furlong workout Friday morning.
As of Friday, Golden Soul, coming off a fourth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby, stood 23rd on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com” Leaderboard. If the race overfills, the top 20 entrants based on points earned will compose the body of the race. Entrants can include up to four also-eligible horses.
“We can’t predict what everyone else is going to do, but we’re hopeful,’’ Stewart said.
Working under exercise rider Emerson Chavez during training time reserved for Kentucky Derby horses, Golden Soul was timed in 1:00.80, the seventh fastest of 32 five-furlong workouts Friday. The splits were :12.20 for the first eighth of a mile, :24.40 for the quarter, :36 for three-eighths and :48.40 for the half. Golden Soul galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.40.
“Just basically maintenance,’’ Stewart said. “He had a hard work (1:12.40 for six furlongs) last week. We didn’t want to open him up this week. Get a breeze in him, comfortable, hopefully come back good, and we saw most of that so far today.
“He did if very easy. I really liked the way he galloped out. He finished the last eighth of a mile with his ears up in the work, then looked like when he got into the turn, he finished it off nicely.’’
ITSMYLUCKYDAY (No. 10) – Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa’s Itsmyluckyday was scheduled to leave Calder Race Course at 4 p.m. Friday for a van ride that is scheduled to conclude at Churchill Downs at approximately 7 a.m. Saturday.
Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., who is slated to arrive at Churchill on Monday, reported that his Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (GIII) winner has blossomed since his second-place finish behind Orb in the Florida Derby (G1) on March 30.
“He’s been doing fantastic. I couldn’t ask him to be doing any better. You check off certain things in your mind: What could I have done differently? What maybe could I have done better? What maybe could he have done better? And in all honesty, when I go through the checklist in my mind, there’s not anything I would change,” the veteran South Florida horseman said.
Plesa said he expects Itsmyluckyday to improve on his second-place finish in the Florida Derby in which he 2 ¾ lengths behind Orb.
“He’s stronger now than he was going into that race. He’s a little bit fitter now than he was going into that race. He got that race underneath his belt. He’s got a good mile work underneath his belt. So, I’m anticipating him running his best race,” Plesa said.
MYLUTE (No. 16) – Shortly after the Churchill Downs track opened for training early Friday morning, Mylute galloped a mile and a half with exercise rider Maurice Sanchez aboard.
Mylute, who finished second in the Louisiana Derby (GII) in his final Kentucky Derby prep, is scheduled to work Saturday morning.
Based at Churchill Downs under trainer Tom Amoss, Mylute will be working for the fourth time since shipping to the track from the Fair Grounds.
“It’ll be an easy half-mile work,’’ Amoss said. “He’ll be by himself. I don’t think it’s going to wow anybody. That’s not our purpose.’’
Rosie Napravnik, who will be riding Mylute in the Kentucky Derby, will be aboard for the workout.
In the Louisiana Derby, Mylute was making his ninth start but his first without blinkers. He settled farther off the early pace than he had in any of his previous races. A strong stretch run left him a neck behind winner Revolutionary.
“We had a planned strategy for the Louisiana Derby,’’ Amoss said. “We took the blinkers off of him. The idea was to make one run at the group. It worked out well. That will be the same strategy we use in the Derby.’’
NORMANDY INVASION (No. 14) – Fox Hill Farms’ Normandy Invasion galloped a mile and three-eighths under exercise rider Javier Herrera during the post renovation break period when the track is reserved for Derby and Oaks prospects.
Trainer Chad Brown said the Tapit colt will breeze this weekend. However, with rain in the forecast, Brown said the day and the time for the work will be a game-time decision based on conditions.
While Normandy Invasion, was grazing quietly behind Barn 42, Brown agreed with a visitor’s comment that the colt ran well in the 1 1/8 miles Wood Memorial (GI), when he closed to finish second three-quarters of a length behind Verrazano.
“He’s a bit of a grinder, but a mile and a quarter should suit him,” Brown said.
ORB (No. 1) – Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb galloped 1½ miles under exercise rider Jennifer Patterson and visited the starting gate after the renovation break at Churchill Downs Friday morning.
“He’s getting over the track great. He’s feeling good. I couldn’t be more satisfied,” trainer Shug McGaughey said.
The Fountain of Youth (GII) and Florida Derby (GI) winner is likely to breeze a half mile on Monday in preparation for a start in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Orb, along with stablemates Point of Entry, Hungry Island, Tokyo Time and two others, is stabled in Barn 43 on the Churchill backstretch.
“I was in this barn when I was a kid training, so I’m comfortable here. I like Churchill. I like being here and I like being here in the situation we’re in,” McGaughey said. “When I took the Phipps job, this is the barn I was in.”
Easy Goer, who finished second behind Sunday Silence in the 1989 Kentucky Derby, was stabled in Barn 41, but it’s not certain that Orb is bedded down in the same stall as the Belmont Stakes winner was.
“It’s the same barn, but I can’t remember what stall he was in,” McGaughey said.
OXBOW (No. 17)/WILL TAKE CHARGE (No. 9) – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has four Kentucky Derby victories among his 13 wins in Triple Crown races, might have three shots at this Derby.
Oxbow and Will Take Charge are assured places in the field, and Titletown Five, who hasn’t earned a Derby point, would vault into 20th position on the eligibility list if he wins the Derby Trial (GIII) on Saturday night. That one-mile race offers 20 points to the winner.
“Well, we have to win,’’ Lukas said while grazing Will Take Charge on Friday morning. “But I like our horse tomorrow. I think he’s a pretty damn nice horse. It’s not an easy spot, but I like him.’’
Titletown Five has run in one graded race, finishing ninth in the Louisiana Derby (GII). He’s owned by a partnership including former Green Bay Packers standouts Paul Hornung and Willie Davis.
Oxbow, with exercise rider Rudy Quevedo aboard, and Will Take Charge, under exercise rider Taylor Carty, had routine gallops Friday, Lukas said.
“We go, it depends, some days a mile and a half, some days a mile and five-eighths, some days, a mile and three-quarters,” Lukas said. “Like Oxbow is hard to pull up. He puts a lot into his mornings. This horse (Will Take Charge) is much more relaxed.
“They both galloped routinely and did very well. I’m very pleased with them.’’
Oxbow has raced four times this year, winning the Lecomte (GIII) at the Fair Grounds, finishing fourth in the Risen Star (GII) there, finishing second (a head behind Will Take Charge) in the Rebel (GII) at Oaklawn Park and finishing fifth in the Arkansas Derby (GI) at Oaklawn. Will Take Charge, who hasn’t raced since the Rebel on March 16, has worked four times since then, two of those workouts at a mile.
“I’m just trying to put the foundation and bottom on him without stressing him,’’ Lukas said.
VYJACK (No. 8) – Owner David Wilkenfeld watched the lone member of his Pick Six Racing stable breeze five furlongs in 1:00.40 during the time reserved for Derby and Oaks horses after the renovation break.
Wilkenfeld flew in from New York City on Thursday night and said he had about 1 ½ hours sleep before heading to Churchill Downs to see his gelding train.
Under trainer Rudy Rodriguez, Vyjack turned in split times of :12.20, :24.20, :36 and :48.20. His five-furlong time was the third fastest of 32 at the distance Friday. He galloped out six furlongs on 1:14.
“I was very, very pleased the way he worked,” Rodriguez said. “He did everything I asked for. I’m happy with the way he breezed and everything is 100 percent right.”
Vyjack won the first four starts of his career, a streak capped by a 2 ¼-length win the Gotham (GIII) on March 2. The son of Into Mischief was found to have a little mucous from a slight lung infection following a third-place finish in the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct. He recovered from that minor issue and had a leisurely half-mile work on April 19 at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. Friday’s breeze was a test that Rodriguez said the horse passed with high marks.
“I wanted a nice, decent work, not slow and not fast,” Rodriguez said. “I wanted him to blow him out a little bit and I think I accomplished that. It looked like he came back good and is already cooled out. That’s a very good sign. We scoped him and everything looks very, very good. I could not be more happy.”
Rodriguez said the Friday work gives him some flexibility with his training. He said he might give a horse a short, sharp work next week a few days before the Derby.
“I want to see how he will react in the next couple of days,” Rodriguez said. “Maybe I might come back and do it again. We’ll let him tell me what’s going on, but I got a very good work out of him today and I think we’re ready.
“This is what I was looking for and we’re happy with the way everything went.”
Wilkenfeld said he has heard that most owners don’t arrive in Louisville until a few days before the Derby, but he didn’t want to wait and miss a moment of being in America’s biggest race.
“Just being here is a wonderful experience,” he said. “Being on the backstretch in the morning; I like that at Aqueduct. I was down at Fair Hill with the horse with Rudy a few times.
“I wanted to get down here early. This is, for me, probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It could happen again, but right now I only have one horse so I’m going to enjoy every moment of it.
“I figured I would come and be here with Rudy -- it’s his first time here, also – show some support and enjoy it.”
KENTUCKY OAKS UPDATE – FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2013
BEHOLDER (No. 1) – Spendthrift Farm’s champion Beholder is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs early Saturday afternoon according to Churchill Downs stall manager Steve Hargrave.
Trained by Richard Mandella, Beholder will be on a flight that lands in Lexington late morning and will van from there to Churchill Downs, where she will be housed in Barn 45.
CLOSE HATCHES (No. 5) / FLASHY GRAY (No. 6) – Trainer Bill Mott send out his Oaks tandem for gallops Friday morning.
“Close Hatches galloped like a mile and three-eighths and went to the gate – stood and backed out,’’ Mott said of the filly who was ridden by Joanna Trout. “She’s doing very well. She’s galloping good. She’s scheduled to work on Sunday, I guess.’’
Close Hatches, undefeated in three starts, won at the Oaks distance, a mile and an eighth, in the Gazelle (GII) on April 6 at Aqueduct in her last start and stakes debut.
Flashy Gray, coming off a runner-up finish in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) is scheduled to work
Saturday. The workout will be her first at Churchill Downs.
Mott said he likes how Flashy Gray is getting over the Churchill track. “She’s a little relaxed,’’ he said of the filly who was ridden by Penny Gardiner. “There’s not a lot of traffic out there. She’s pretty relaxed right not without much traffic. We’ll put her in company to work tomorrow.’’
Mott noted that many of the Oaks filles have the same style – “speed, stalkers.’’ Close Hatches led all the way in her last two races, and Flashy Gray was a stalker in her last four races.
DREAMING OF JULIA (No. 4) / PRINCESS OF SYLMAR (No. 7) / SILSITA (No. 9) / UNLIMITED BUDGET (No. 3) – Prior to the morning renovation break on a clear Friday at Churchill Downs, Gulfstream Oaks (GII) winner Dreaming of Julia, Bourbonette Oaks (GIII) winner Silsita and Gazelle (GII) runner-up Princess of Sylmar galloped beneath the Twin Spires for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Following the renovation break, during the period reserved for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders, Unlimited Budget, undefeated winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII), galloped around the Louisville oval.
Pletcher’s quartet of Kentucky Oaks contenders are scheduled to breeze Saturday at approximately 6 a.m.
“Dreaming of Julia will work on her own as she has been, Unlimited Budget and Silsita will work together and Princess of Sylmar probably will work with (Eight Belles contender) Fusaichiswonderful,” Pletcher said.
MIDNIGHT LUCKY (No. 8) – Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman’s undefeated Midnight Lucky galloped 1 ½ miles with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez up for trainer Bob Baffert.
PURE FUN (No. 11) – Magdalena Racing’s Pure Fun galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Jose Cano Friday morning at Churchill Downs in preparation for a start in the Kentucky Oaks on May 3.
Pure Fun, who concluded her 2-year-old campaign with a victory in the Hollywood Starlet (GI), finished third in her 3-year-old debut in the Bourbonette Oaks (GIII) before checking in seventh against colts in the Lexington (GIII) on April 20.
“She’s happy now. That was basically an afternoon workout,” trainer Ken McPeek said. “That’s all the Lexington was. We needed to get a race into her.”
ROSE TO GOLD (No. 2) – Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centrofanti’s Rose to Gold worked a half-mile in :47.80 over a fast track under jockey Calvin Borel after the morning renovation break. The move was the second fastest of 51 at the distance.
Rose to Gold came on the track at the 5 ½-furlong gap and had one leisurely circuit of the track before Borel turned her loose through fractions of :24 and :35.60 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00 and six furlongs in 1:13.20.
“She is awesome. She worked very good, better than last week,” Borel said, referring to the filly’s :48.20 work of last Saturday. “This is just a filly that is getting better all the time.”
Borel, who won the 2009 Oaks on Rachel Alexandra, has been aboard Rose to Gold for her past two starts, victories in the Honeybee (GIII) and Fantasy (GIII) at Oaklawn Park.
“I got on her a couple times before the Honeybee,” Borel said of his introduction to Rose to Gold. “I had watched her run the day she was second (in the Martha Washington) and thought she had a little potential.”
Denis Roberson, who has been overseeing Rose to Gold’s preparations here for trainer Sal Santoro, said the filly would walk the next two days with Santoro scheduled to arrive in Louisville late Monday and be at the barn Tuesday.
“She will walk two days, gallop two days, walk two days and run,” Roberson said. “That’s been his M.O. with her and he has done a tremendous job.”
SEANEEN GIRL (No. 10) – Naveed Chowhan’s Seaneen Girl, who missed training time because of a bruised foot during the Fair Grounds meet, is doing fine, trainer Bernie Flint said.
“Naturally, it took a while to resolve that, but we still put glue-on shoes – we’re not using nail shoes on her,’’ Flint said.
Flint said that Seaneen Girl was racing for the first time with glue-on shoes when she finished third in the Fair Grounds Oaks. “She did well with them,’’ Flint said.
The Fair Grounds Oaks was Seaneen Girl’s first race this year. She closed her 2012 season with a victory in the Golden Rod (GII) at Churchill Downs.
Seaneen Girl galloped a mile and five-eighths Friday, and Flint said he’s planning to work her once more before the Oaks when she will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik.
“I think we’re seven days out now,’’ he said. “I’m going to probably be working her about five days out or four days out. We put a lot of air, long gallops, in her, and we use exercise riders to work her. They’re carrying 30, 40 pounds more than a rider would be, and believe that would build them up and build air in them. And really, we know she can run, so we don’t need to prove that point. I just have to build up the air and keep them nice and strong, so when we go over there, we’ve got to run a little farther, a mile and an eighth, they’ll have plenty air and wind.’’
Seaneen Girl shows two workouts since the Fair Grounds Oaks – five furlongs in 1:01.40 on April 17 at Churchill and five furlongs Wednesday in 1:06.20 at Churchill. But Flint said that she actually wasn’t working Wednesday but was galloping a mile and five-eighths. Clockers timed the last part of her gallop, he said.
“That was a joke,’’ he said. “It wasn’t really even a work, believe it or not. … She went a mile before she went the five eighths. That’s what you call just galloping around. That’s what she was doing.’’