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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Edited Staff Churchill Release (Sunday, April 30, 2023) – Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Rocket Can completed his major preparation for Kentucky Derby 149 by working five furlongs in company in :59.80 on a brisk Sunday morning at Churchill Downs.

    Disarm is scheduled to work Monday morning here for trainer Steve Asmussen and on Tuesday works are possible from Sun ThunderContinuar (JPN) and Derma Sotogake (JPN).

    Trainer Tim Yakteen’s Derby duo of Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Practical Move and Reincarnate both jogged a mile in their first appearance on track here.

ANGEL OF EMPIRE/HIT SHOW/JACE’S ROAD, VERIFYING – Trainer Brad Cox reported all four of his Kentucky Derby contenders were in fine fettle Sunday morning following their final works into this year’s Kentucky Derby.

    All four horses could have light training Monday.

CONFIDENCE GAME – A day after impressing onlookers with a :59 five-furlong breeze under jockey James Graham, the best of 54 at that distance, Don’t Tell My Wife Stable and Ocean Reef Racing’s Confidence Game walked the shedrow for trainer Keith Desormeaux.

    “He’s worked that fast before at Fair Grounds,” his regular rider Graham said, “I’ve sat off some strong company with him and beat them to the wire. But that work yesterday, to do it by himself was something impressive.”

    Having bought into Confidence Game earlier in April for an undisclosed amount, members of Ocean Reef Racing stopped by the barn Sunday to visit their son of Candy Ride. The young ownership group with 12 members is led by Louisville native William Paynter.

“I was on a business trip and was talking to a buddy who was in last year’s Don’t Tell My Wife, and he mentioned that they have a horse in the Derby,” Paynter said. “Jokingly I said we’ll buy half of him, but then I got back from the trip and started looking at his bloodlines, that he won the Rebel Stakes, and the fact he has two wins at Churchill Downs. I followed up and here we are.”

    Confidence Game schooled in the paddock after training hours.

CONTINUAR – Lion Race Horse Co. Ltd.’s Continuar (JPN) had a walk day at the Quarantine Barn.

DERMA SOTOGAKE – Hiroyuki Asanuma’s Derma Sotogake (JPN) had a walk day at the Quarantine Barn.

DISARM – Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Disarm galloped 1 ½ miles Sunday morning under exercise rider Roberto Howell in the irons.

    Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen was back in Louisville and stated the colt will work Monday.

FORTE/KINGSBARNS/MAJOR DUDE/TAPIT TRICE – Trainer Todd Pletcher’s Derby colts all walked the shedrow Sunday morning following their final drills Saturday heading toward next Saturday’s Run for the Roses.

    Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s ForteWhisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable’s Tapit Trice and Spendthrift Farm’s Kingsbarns all have guaranteed spots in the 149th edition of the race headliner. Their stablemate, Spendthrift Farm’s Major Dude, is No. 22 on the race’s list that only allows for 20 runners. Should he not make it into the big one, his connections are considering him for the $500,000 American Turf (GII) at a mile and one-sixteenth, also on Saturday.

    “All four came out of their Saturday works fine,” Pletcher said. “I’m pleased with where we are.”

    The trainer indicated that his charges would gallop their way up to the Derby for the balance of the week.

LORD MILES –  Vegso Racing Stable’s Lord Miles was scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs Sunday afternoon after vanning from Gulfstream Park.

MAGE – Following his final timed breeze on Saturday, trainer Gustavo Delgado Sr. said the Good Magic colt will follow a maintenance program during the days leading up to the Derby.

    Owned by OGMA Investments LLCRamiro RestrepoSterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH, Mage was timed in 1:16.80 for the six furlongs.

    “Now there is this suspense,” he said. “We’ll find out tomorrow about the post position, and prepare for Saturday.”

    Delgado said he’s seen rapid development in Mage in the last few months. In the Florida Derby, Delgado said that when he came up to challenge likely Kentucky Derby favorite Forte with jockey Luis Saez, it showed his potential.

    “I don’t think that Luis knew the horse,” he said. “And when he asked him, it surprised him. When he moved, whoosh, he moved very, very fast. He goes to the front with Forte. He’s got that possibility to win the race.” 

    Most importantly, being in Louisville for the Derby, Delgado said, “We are very happy, and we are going to enjoy the week.”

PRACTICAL MOVE/REINCARNATE – Trainer Tim Yakteen’s California pair of Pierre Jean and Leslie AmestoyJr. and Roger Beasley’s Practical Move and SF RacingStarlight RacingMadaket StablesRobert MastersonStonestreet StablesJay SchoenfarberWave Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan’s Reincarnate got their introductions to Churchill Downs Sunday morning when they both jogged a mile around the big Louisville strip. They had been flown in from their Santa Anita home base Saturday.

    Practical Move, the Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner, was out first at 5:15 under exercise rider Baltazar Contreras for his leg stretching. Reincarnate, the Sham Stakes (GIII) hero, and Contreras followed during the special 7:30 to 7:45 Derby/Oaks training period.

    “They both went well,” the rider said. “Both had good energy.”

    Besides his Derby duo, Yakteen brought four other runners on the flight, all with designs on Churchill races this week. They, too, did some jogging Sunday morning. The quartet consists of Johannes, who is bound for Saturday’s $500,000 American Turf (GII) for sophomores at a mile and one-sixteenth; Kangaroo Court and Fort Bragg eyeing Saturday’s $500,000 Pat Day Mile (GII), and Dillinger, a 3-year-old earmarked for a maiden race. 

RAISE CAIN – Andrew and Rania Warren’s Raise Cain galloped Sunday morning at Keeneland for trainer Ben Colebrook.

    Raise Cain is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on Monday morning after training at 7:30 at Keeneland.

ROCKET CAN – Trainer Bill Mott waited until Sunday morning for the colt owned by Frank Fletcher Racing Operations to put in his final breeze for the Derby. And his move during the cool, breezy training session with regular exercise rider Guelser Cardona aboard, had his Hall of Fame trainer beaming.

    The Into Mischief colt finished a five-furlong move in :59.80, inside of workmate Mr. McGregor. The splits were :12.80, :24.40, :36 and out six furlongs in 1:13.

   “I thought it went very well,” said Mott. “That’s racehorse time for this track. He had a workmate out there, both riders did a good job, and it worked out like we had hoped it would. I thought Rocket Can finished well, and galloped out well. It was a very nice work.”

    With the colt primed for the 1 1/4-mile Derby, now Rocket Can’s connections, along with those of the other 19 on the points leaderboard, await the post position draw Monday afternoon.

    “To ensure a win, you’ve got to have a pretty good trip,” Mott said. “It’s such a competitive race, that the trip means a lot. Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don’t, in such a big field.”

    Rocket Can worked in blinkers and he’ll be wearing them again in the race.

    “Visually, for me, they appear to be helping,” Mott said. “We had worked him before in blinkers and we had thought that they didn’t make an extreme amount of difference. But if they help just a little bit, that’s what you need.”

    Before the post position draw, Mott doesn’t plan too much for Rocket Can after Sunday’s breeze.

    “He’ll have an easy day tomorrow, then we’ll get him back on a medium exercise program until Derby Day,” said Mott. “We just hope that he stays healthy, and in one piece, until Saturday.”

    The Derby will answer one important question — which 3-year-olds can handle the distance.

    “The one thing we all have to prove is if we can get 10 furlongs,” Mott said. “That’s always the question in the Derby, there’s not that many prep races at that mile-and-a-quarter distance. When they turn for home in the Derby, that really sorts them out.

    “We hope this horse has the stamina to get the 10 furlongs. We think he has it, he has a pedigree that indicates he should get the distance. You never know if they can do it, until they do it.”

SKINNER – C R K Racing’s Skinner was en route to Churchill Downs Sunday and scheduled to arrive at the track at approximately 8:30 p.m. after his flight from California. His trainer, John Shirreffs, his wife Dottie and his right-hand stablehand Frank Leal were airborne with a Louisville arrival time of 2:30 p.m.

    Skinner, who was a closing third in the Santa Anita Derby last out, will be handled by California’s top rider, Juan Hernandez, for the first time in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. 

    Skinner, a Curlin colt who fetched $510,000 at auction, will be reunited with his connections at Barn 41 on the backside.

SUN THUNDER – After a gallop Saturday with exercise rider Martin Vargas, the runner-up in the Risen Star (GII) at Fair Grounds is pointing toward one last breeze, on Tuesday. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., who will ride the colt, owned by R.T Racing Stable and Cypress Creek Equine, in the Derby, is expected to climb aboard him in that workout.

   “He walked today, but he’s fine,” said Greg Geier, assistant to trainer Kenny McPeek.

TWO PHIL’S – Patricia’s HopePhillip Sagan, and Madaket Stable’s Two Phil’s is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs Sunday afternoon, traveling from his stable at Hawthorne Race Course.

    Trainer Larry Rivelli confirmed that Madaket owns 10 percent of Two Phil’s, having bought half of Sagan’s share. The GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks winner will be stabled with Mike Tomlinson in Barn 1.

ALSO-ELIGIBLES – Trainer Dale Romans said his Kentucky Derby hopeful came out of his Saturday 5-furlong breeze in good shape. Now, since Cyclone Mischief is 21st on the points leaderboard, he has to wait and see if there are any defections that would bring the Albaugh Family Stables and Castleton Lyons colt into the field.

    Cyclone Mischief was clocked in 1:00.80 for the five furlongs.

    “I thought he worked great yesterday, and he came back real good,” Romans said. “Now we just have to wait and see if one of the other horses drops out. You don’t want to wish anyone else to have a bad day, since most of these people are my friends. But you want to get in.

    “We’ll see what happens. We’re not going to name a rider yet, we’ll wait and see if there are changes. One other time, we were in this position, with Cherry Wine, and he didn’t get in. But then he went on to run second in the Preakness. If he doesn’t get in as the also eligible, we’ll just go on to the Preakness.”

    Hiroaki Arai’s Mandarin Hero (JPN) (No. 23) galloped two miles under exercise rider Yuji Horita.

    Mandarin Hero, runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby (GI), is trained by Terunobu Fujita, who is scheduled to arrive in Louisville on Thursday.

    Brereton Jones and Naber Racing’s King Russell (No. 24) walked the shedrow at trainer Ron Moquett’s barn the morning after working a half-mile in :47.80.

SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – Here are the horses (with jockeys and trainers) that are qualified for the Kentucky Derby and those on the also-eligible list (in alphabetical order with AEs listed last in preference order):

          Angel of Empire (jockey Flavien Prat, trainer Brad Cox); Confidence Game (James Graham, Keith Desormeaux); Continuar (JPN) (Ryusei Sakai, Yoshito Yahagi); Derma Sotogake (JPN) (Christophe Lemaire, Hidetaka Otonashi); Disarm (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen); Forte (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher); Hit Show (Manny Franco, Brad Cox); Jace’s Road (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox);  Kingsbarns (TBA, Todd Pletcher); Lord Miles (Paco Lopez, Saffie Joseph Jr.); Mage (Javier Castellano, Gustavo Delgado); Practical Move (Ramon Vazquez, Tim Yakteen); Raise Cain (TBA, Ben Colebrook); Reincarnate (John Velazquez, Tim Yakteen); Rocket Can (Junior Alvarado, Bill Mott); Skinner (Juan Hernandez, John Shirreffs); Sun Thunder (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek); Tapit Trice (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher); Two Phil’s (Jareth Loveberry, Larry Rivelli); and Verifying (Tyler Gaffalione, Brad Cox)

          Also-Eligible: Cyclone Mischief (TBA, Dale Romans); Major Dude (TBA, Todd Pletcher); Mandarin Hero (JPN) (TBA, Terunobu Fujita); King Russell (TBA, Ron Moquett).


AFFIRMATIVE LADY – AMO Racing USA’s Affirmative Lady galloped a mile on the main track at Keeneland under Kevin Lundie for trainer Graham Motion.

    Affirmative Lady will train at Keeneland early Monday morning before leaving by van around 9 a.m. for Churchill Downs.

AND TELL ME NOLIES – Peter Redekop’s And Tell Me Nolies, who arrived at Churchill Downs on Saturday, walked the shedrow Sunday morning.

    Winner of the Del Mar Debutante (GI) and Chandelier (GII), the Peter Miller trainee comes into the Kentucky Oaks off a runner-up finish in the Santa Anita Oaks (GII).

BOTANICAL, THE ALYS LOOK, WET PAINT – Trainer Brad Cox’s trio of Longines Kentucky Oaks runners BotanicalThe Alys Look and Wet Paint all galloped about 1 ½ miles Sunday morning at Churchill Downs.

    LNJ Foxwoods and Clearsky Farm’s Botanical is likely to be one of the top choices in this year’s Longines Kentucky Oaks and will be ridden by local jockey Chris Landeros.

    “She’s very talented and she’s already proved that this winter at Turfway when she was perfect from four starts,” Landeros said. “Keeneland’s meet has proved to be a good steppingstone for the Turfway horses. They’ve run very well there and I think that shows the caliber of horses that stayed this winter at Turfway. That gives you a lot of confidence coming into the Kentucky Oaks.

    “Brad (Cox) is very blessed at having all of these talented fillies in this year’s race and even some that won’t run in this year’s race that have shown a lot of promise.

    “I’ve been riding for 17 years now. I started when I was 17-years-old out west and my career has brought me to the biggest stage here at Churchill Downs. We’ve been here before but I’m glad I’m in this situation now with some more experience under my belt. I’m very anxious to get it going Friday.”

    Jockey Flavien Prat will have the mount on likely Oaks morning line favorite Wet Paint while Luis Saez will pilot The Alys Look.

DEFINING PURPOSE – Following her “happy half” workout on Saturday of :47 for the four furlongs,  the Ashland Stakes (GI) winner walked on Sunday.

   Greg Geier, assistant to trainer Kenny McPeek, said she emerged from the breeze in fine shape.

DORTH VADER – John Ropes’ Dorth Vader galloped about 1 ½ miles at 7:30 a.m. Sunday at Churchill Downs.

    “She was a bit on her toes (Saturday) but that’s kind of who she is,” trainer Michael Yates said. “I’ll probably take her over to the paddock once or twice to get acquainted with things. We’re very excited to be here this week.”

FLYING CONNECTION – Brad King, Randy Andrews, G. Chris Coleman, Jim Cone, Suzanne Kirby and Lee Lewis’ Flying Connection had a walk day for trainer Todd Fincher.

    Following training hours, Flying Connection had a paddock schooling session. Fincher said the Sunland Park Oaks (Listed) winner would go to the gate in the next couple of days.

GAMBLING GIRL/JULIA SHINING – Trainer Todd Pletcher’s Kentucky Oaks hopefuls both jogged a mile and three-eighths Sunday morning during the special Derby/Oaks 7:30 to 7:45 training session. Repole Stable’s Gambling Girl, who is guaranteed a spot in the mile and one-eighth headliner Friday, had Carlos Quevedo in the tack. Stonestreet Stables’ Julia Shining, who is two horses away from making the 14-horse lineup, was partnered by Humberto Zamora.

    “They both went well,” Pletcher said. “We’re good.”

    The trainer was asked for a possible Plan B for the Curlin filly Julia Shining should she not make it into the Oaks lineup.

    “Possibly we’d consider the Black-Eyed Susan the day before the Preakness in Baltimore,” he said. “Or we might wait until the Acorn (Stakes) in New York at Belmont (Grade I, $500,000 June 9).”

MIMI KAKUSHI –Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s Mimi Kakushi was hand-walked in the Quarantine Barn a day after working a half-mile in :50.40.

PRETTY MISCHIEVOUS – Pretty Mischievous galloped on Sunday morning during the special Derby/Oaks 7:30 to 7:45 training period at Churchill Downs. Having put in her final preparatory work ahead of the Oaks on Thursday, the Godolphin homebred has been moving well under exercise rider Albino Martinez and keeping to her schedule as laid out by trainer Brendan Walsh.

    “She galloped her normal one mile and a half today,” said Charlie Lynch, assistant trainer to Walsh. “She schooled in the paddock yesterday and it went very well.”

PROMISEHERAMERICA – Hoffman Thoroughbreds and Tom McCrocklin’s Promiseher America is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs early Monday morning, traveling from her home base at Belmont Park.

    Trainer Ray Handal has named Jorge Vargas Jr. to ride the daughter of American Pharoah in the Oaks. The grade-three Gazelle (GII)-winner will be stabled in barn 42.

SOUTHLAWN – Robert Masterson’s Southlawn had another routine 1 ½-mile gallop for trainer Norm Casse Sunday at 7:30 a.m.

    The speedy daughter of Pioneerof the Nile will be ridden in the Oaks by Rey Gutierrez.

WONDER WHEEL – After following up her final breeze with two easy days on the track, D.J. Stable’s Wonder Wheel galloped one mile and a half on Sunday morning. In good hands with assistant trainer David Carroll in the boot, Wonder Wheel entered the track at 5:40 a.m. in the Mark Casse barn’s second set. 

    Carroll reported that Wonder Wheel moved well beneath him and is doing great going into the race. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) champion will keep to the same routine leading up to Oaks day.

    Before becoming a trainer in 1992, Carroll worked as an exercise rider for Shug McGaughey. A brilliant exercise rider, Carroll accompanied the 1989 Belmont Stakes winner Easy Goer through his morning drills. 

ALSO-ELIGIBLE – Richard Bahde’s Taxed (No. 15 on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard) galloped a mile and a half under Santurino Vergara for trainer Randy Morse.

    Morse said Taxed is likely to enter the Oaks as an also-eligible.

SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY OAKS – Here are the horses (with trainers) that are qualified for the Longines Kentucky Oaks and those on the also-eligible list (in alphabetical order with AEs listed last in preference order):

          Affirmative Lady (John Velazquez, Graham Motion); And Tell Me Nolies (Ramon Vazquez, Peter Miller); Botanical (Chris Landeros, Brad Cox); Defining Purpose (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek); Dorth Vader (TBA, Mike Yates); Flying Connection (Florent Geroux, Todd Fincher); Gambling Girl (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher); Mimi Kakushi (Mickael Barzelona, Salem bin Ghadayer); Pretty Mischievous (Tyler Gaffalione, Brendan Walsh); Promiseher America (Jorge Vargas Jr., Ray Handal); Southlawn (Rey Gutierrez, Norm Casse); The Alys Look (Luis Saez, Brad Cox); Wet Paint (Flavien Prat, Brad Cox); Wonder Wheel (Joel Rosario, Mark Casse).

          Also-Eligible: Taxed (Rafael Bejarano, Randy Morse); Julia Shining (TBA, Todd Pletcher); Hoosier Philly (Edgar Morales, Tom Amoss)

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