Edited Churchill Release –Ten hopefuls for next Friday’s 149th running of the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) took center stage Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.
Leading the charge was probable morning line favorite Wet Paint who worked five furlongs in company with stablemate and Oaks hopeful The Alys Look in 1:01 for trainer Brad Cox.
Also working for Cox was Botanical, who breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 in company with Flashy Gem.
Four-time Oaks winning trainer Todd Pletcher worked Gambling Girl and Julia Shining a half-mile together with Gambling Girl being clocked in :50 and Julia Shining in :49.60
Pretty Mischievous worked a half-mile in company with Gilmore in :47.80 for trainer Brendan Walsh.
Southlawn worked a half-mile in :48.80 for trainer Norm Casse.
Wonder Wheel worked a half-mile in :47.20 for trainer Mark Casse.
Flying Connection worked five furlongs in company with Olivia Twist in 1:00.60 for trainer Todd Fincher.
Hoosier Philly worked a half-mile in :48.40 for trainer Tom Amoss.
At Keeneland, Affirmative Lady worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 for trainer Graham Motion.
Two Kentucky Derby hopefuls worked away from Churchill Downs Thursday morning.
Patricia’s Hope and Phillip Sagan’s Two Phil’s worked at Hawthorne going five furlongs in :59 with jockey Jareth Loveberry aboard for trainer Larry Rivelli.
At Keeneland, Andrew and Raina Warren’s Raise Cain worked a half-mile in :49 at Keeneland with Gerardo Corrales aboard for trainer Ben Colebrook.
ANGEL OF EMPIRE/HIT SHOW/JACE’S ROAD, VERIFYING – It was a regular training day for Angel of Empire, Hit Show, Jace’s Road and Verifying, who all galloped 1 ½ miles ahead of their Saturday morning works.
“We’re still keeping an eye on the weather as to what time we’ll work Saturday,” trainer Brad Cox said.
CONFIDENCE GAME – Don’t Tell My Wife Stables and Ocean Reef Racing’s Confidence Game walked the shedrow today.
“They all walk Thursdays and Sundays,” Julie Clark, assistant trainer to Keith Desormeaux, said. “He’s doing good. He went two miles Tuesday. Jogged yesterday and walked today. We think he is going to gallop tomorrow and have his last breeze Saturday.”
The plan is to go out with the other Derby entries at 7:30, entering at gap three. Regular rider Alex Cano will be on board.
“I usually take him back up to the chute first,” Cano said. “We’ll stand before galloping all the way around and then pull up by the kitchen and come back.”
CONTINUAR – Lion Race Horse Co. Ltd.’s Continuar (JPN) walked the shedrow in the Quarantine Barn after working a half-mile in :50 on Wednesday.
DERMA SOTOGAKE – Hiroyuki Asanuma’s Derma Sotogake (JPN) walked the shedrow in the Quarantine Barn after working five furlongs in 1:01.40 on Wednesday.
DISARM – Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Disarm had an easy 1 3/8-mile gallop at 7:30 a.m. with exercise rider Roberto Howell in the irons.
The Steve Asmussen-trained colt is scheduled to work Monday.
FORTE/KINGSBARNS/MAJOR DUDE/TAPIT TRICE – The Todd Pletcher trio of Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Forte, Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable’s Tapit Trice and Spendthrift Farm’s undefeated Kingsbarns visited the starting gate and then galloped about 1 3/8 miles.
Hector Ramos was aboard Forte; Amelia Green was on Tapit Trice and Elder Flores was on Kingsbarns.
Pletcher has Irad Ortiz Jr. signed on to ride Forte in Derby 149 and Luis Saez to pilot Tapit Trice. Jose Ortiz will work Kingsbarns on Saturday morning but the riding assignment for the Derby has not been finalized.
MAGE – The lightly raced Good Magic colt, owned by OGMA Investments LLC, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH, had another gallop Thursday morning.
“He galloped a mile-and-a-half again today, but he did it at a higher tempo than he did yesterday,” said Gustavo Delgado Jr., assistant trainer to his father, Gustavo Delgado.
“The way my father trains, he tries to build on each race,” Delgado Jr. said. “He’s showing improvement every time he goes out. He’s switching leads perfectly. His exercise rider said he couldn’t be happier with him.”
Regular exercise rider J.J. Delgado was aboard, and he’s expected to ride him in his final timed workout. Delgado Jr. said the team is expecting to breeze Mage on Saturday morning. His Derby rider, Javier Castellano, was to arrive in Louisville Thursday.
RAISE CAIN – Andrew and Raina Warren’s Gotham (GIII) winner Raise Cain worked in company a half-mile in :49 at Keeneland with Gerardo Corrales aboard for trainer Ben Colebrook.
“Very good work … well within himself,” Colebrook said of Raise Cain, who finished fifth in the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) in his most recent start.
Raise Cain galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.80.
No rider has been confirmed for Raise Cain, who is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs Monday morning after training at Keeneland.
ROCKET CAN – Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott again sent the colt owned by Frank Fletcher Racing Operations out for a gallop with regular exercise rider Guelser Cardona aboard. A final breeze ahead of the Derby is still planned for this weekend.
“He galloped again today,” said Mott, who noted that he’ll continue to get some paddock schooling in the days ahead. “He was in the paddock twice yesterday, once under tack and one time after training. And he’s going to go back today.”
SKINNER – C R K Racing’s Santa Anita Derby (GI) third-place finisher Skinner is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs Saturday.
Trainer John Shirreffs reported Juan Hernandez will pick up the mount in the Kentucky Derby.
SUN THUNDER – R.T. Racing Stable and Cypress Creek Equine’s Derby hopeful walked the shedrow, a day after breezing a half-mile in :48.60 with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.
Greg Geier, assistant to trainer Kenny McPeek, said the fourth-place finisher in the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) at Keeneland exited his workout in good shape. “He’s fine this morning,” he said.
TWO PHIL’S – Trainer Larry Rivelli was on hand at Hawthorne Race Course to watch Patricia’s Hope and Phillip Sagan’s Two Phil’s breeze for the final time ahead of his run in the Derby. Going five furlongs Thursday morning, the Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) winner posted a bullet going :59 flat.
“He chased a pretty fast horse (stablemate Smokin Richie), and effortlessly ran by him,” Rivelli said. “He galloped out three-quarters in 1:12. He couldn’t blow out a match after. The last two works were almost identically the same, but I changed it up a bit by putting him back in company. I haven’t wanted to work him every seven days because he’s been racing frequently and he’s fit. I just want to have him focused in on what he likes to do which is sit behind a horse and idle off until you ask him, and then make his move when it’s time. And he’s done that in both works. The track was in great shape today. It’s all systems go and I couldn’t be happier with how he’s going into the race.”
Regular jockey Jareth Loveberry flew to Hawthorne for the drill then headed back to Kentucky to ride his Thursday mounts at Keeneland.
Rivelli will bring Two Phil’s to Churchill Downs on Sunday night and plans to have him on the track at 7:30 a.m. Monday.
ALSO-ELIGIBLES – Albaugh Family Stables and Castleton Lyons’ Cyclone Mischief (No. 21) galloped about 1 ½ miles with rider Faustino Herrarte in the irons. Following training, Cyclone Mischief schooled in the Churchill Downs paddock. Trainer Dale Romans stated a rider has not yet been confirmed for the Kentucky Derby should he get into the race.
Spendthrift Farm’s Major Dude (No. 22) visited the starting gate and then galloped 1 3/8 miles under Joel Osorio for trainer Todd Pletcher and is scheduled to work Saturday.
Hiroaki Arai’s Mandarin Hero (No. 23) is en route to Churchill Downs today from Santa Anita where he worked five furlongs in 1:04.60 on Wednesday. Runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) in his U.S. debut, Mandarin Hero is trained by Terunobu Fujita.
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); and Mandarin Hero (JPN) (TBA, Terunobu Fujita).
LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS UPDATE
AFFIRMATIVE LADY – AMO Racing USA’s Affirmative Lady, winner of the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) in her most recent start, worked five furlongs at Keeneland this morning in 1:01.40 with Kevin Lundie aboard for trainer Graham Motion.
“I was very happy with her work this morning,” Motion said of the move over a fast track. “It was very similar to last week (five furlongs in 1:01 last Friday).
“I would have preferred to wait another day but it was too risky with the weather.”
Affirmative Lady is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on Monday.
BOTANICAL, THE ALYS LOOK, WET PAINT – Trainer Brad Cox’s trio of Longines Kentucky Oaks runners Botanical, The Alys Look and Wet Paint had their final works prior to the first Friday in May.
At 7:30 a.m., Botanical, with Chris Landeros up, worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 outside of stablemate Flashy Gem, who completed the same distance in 1:00.80. Just prior to Botanical’s move, The Alys Look, with Luis Saez up, worked five furlongs in 1:01 inside Wet Paint, who had Flavien Prat in the irons.
“It was a good morning for all three horses. We were just looking for them to do things easily with a week out from the race and we got that,” Cox said. “These fillies worked with their same workmates as last week. We liked how those works went so didn’t want to change much going into today. It’s a competitive field in this year’s Oaks, just like the Derby is with the boys. We’re in a fortunate position to have three horses in the race.”
All three fillies will have light training days Friday, according to Cox.
DEFINING PURPOSE – With regular exercise rider Shelby Spalding aboard, the impressive Ashland Stakes (GI) winner put in her usual mile-and-a-quarter gallop, without any issues, said Greg Geier, assistant to trainer Kenny McPeek.
Plans still call for the Magdalena Racing, Collette Marie Vanmatre and James Ball filly to breeze on Saturday.
FLYING CONNECTION – Brad King, Randy Andrews, G. Chris Coleman, Jim Cone, Suzanne Kirby and Lee Lewis’ Flying Connection worked five furlongs in company in 1:00.60 with Oaks rider Florent Geroux aboard.
Working in company with Coleman’s Olivia Twist, Flying Connection started 3 lengths in front and posted fractions of :24.80, :37, 1:00.60 and out six furlongs in 1:13.60. Olivia Twist, who was third in the Fantasy (GIII) and a candidate for next Friday’s $500,000 Eight Belles (GII), was ridden by Mickaelle Michel and timed in 1:00.20.
“I wanted to work them together … give them a little competition,” trainer Todd Fincher said. “We got whatwe wanted. I thought Mickaelle did a good job with Olivia Twist.”
Flying Connection, winner of the Sunland Park Oaks (Listed) in her most recent start), had worked five furlongs in 1:01 on her own here on April 17 with Geroux aboard.
“She went very good this morning,” said Geroux, a two-time winner of the Oaks with Shedaresthedevil in 2020 and Monomoy Girl in 2018. “I’ve got two Oaks; now I need two Derbys.”
Geroux was the rider of elevated Derby winner Mandaloun in 2021. In Derby 149, he has the call on Jace’s Road.
Fincher, who is based in New Mexico, said he is in Louisville to stay through the Oaks. He said that Flying Connection is penciled in for two or three paddock school sessions and one more trip at least to the starting gate.
GAMBLING GIRL – Repole Stable’s Gambling Girl worked a half-mile in :50 in company with Julia Shining with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher.
“The plan was to give them an easy half and they were both in hand the whole time,” Pletcher said. “Very pleased.”
Runner-up in the 1 1/8-mile Gazelle (GIII) in her most recent start, Gambling Girl will have a walk day Friday and return to the track Saturday.
MIMI KAKUSHI – Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s Mimi Kakushi jogged a mile with the pony and then galloped a mile under Xavier Ziani.
Mimi Kakushi is scheduled to work a half-mile Saturday.
PRETTY MISCHIEVOUS – Godolphin representatives were on hand to witness the Rachel Alexandra (GII) winner Pretty Mischievous’ final workout ahead of her run in the Oaks. Heading to the track at 7:30 a.m. with her Brendan Walsh barn stablemate, the 3-year-old colt Gilmore, Pretty Mischievous went four furlongs in :47.80. Tabbed to ride her in the Oaks, jockey Tyler Gaffalione was aboard.
“She galloped out in a minute flat,” trainer Walsh said. “And she was going easy too. She likes this track. She won her first two races here at Churchill Downs, and she ran third in the Golden Rod. Everything seems to be going smoothly enough. Hopefully she comes out of it good now and if we get a good week then we’ll be all set.”
Walsh said the plan for Friday is to jog once around the track. Ahead of the Oaks, Pretty Mischievous will gallop each morning at her regular 7:30 a.m. time
SOUTHLAWN – Robert Masterson’s Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) winner Southlawn completed her major preparation for the Longines Kentucky Oaks with an easy half-mile move in :48.80 Thursday morning.
Trainer Norm Casse’s exercise rider Joel Garcia was in the saddle for the work.
“It was a fairly easy move and nothing flashy,” Casse said. “She did most of her work last week. She’s trained forwardly out of that move and we’re ready to go.”
Jockey Rey Gutierrez will have the call in the Oaks.
WONDER WHEEL – D.J. Stable’s Wonder Wheel breezed four furlongs in :47.20 Thursday morning during the 7:30 a.m. Derby and Oaks workout window. The Mark Casse-trainee posted the second fastest time of 66 Thoroughbreds who went that distance. It was jockey Joel Rosario’s fist chance to acquaint himself with the 2-year-old champion filly ahead of piloting her in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks.
“It went very well,” David Carroll, assistant to trainer Mark Casse, said. “She’s a filly that’s very deceptive. Joel thought he went 49 or 50 (seconds) on her but she went 47 and 1. We warned him that she will fool you so to be careful (not to ask too much of her). She loped to the pole and eased off from there, and I thought he had her switched off, but I looked down at the clock and saw she was rolling. She just covers a lot of ground. She switched to her right lead on cue. He didn’t move on her. And he couldn’t believe that she went that fast. But that’s her. She cooled out in two minutes, hardly had to drink any water.”
Assuming the weather cooperates, Friday’s plan is to get Wonder Wheel back to the track to jog two miles.
“Tomorrow we want to get her out to the track,” Carroll said. “She’ll jog, get her out there and stretch her legs. We’ll make sure everything is okay with her and keep her in her little routine. Then she’ll gallop Saturday and Sunday and possibly have Monday off.”
ALSO-ELIGIBLE – Richard Bahde’s Taxed (No. 15 on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard) walked the shedrow at trainer Randy Morse’s barn a day after she worked worked a half-mile in :47.60.
Stonestreet Stables’ Julia Shining (No. 16) worked a half-mile in :49.60 in company with stablemate Gambling Girl for trainer Todd Pletcher. Humberto Zamora was aboard.
Gold Standard Racing Stable’s Hoosier Philly (No. 17) worked a half-mile in :48.40 for trainer Tom Amoss.
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 (TBA, Ray Handal); Southlawn (Rey Gutierrez, Norm Casse); The Alys Look (Luis Saez, Brad Cox); and 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).
SECRET OATH WORKS FIVE FURLONGS IN 1:01 FOR LA TROIENNE – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas watched last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner, Secret Oath, prepare for the La Troienne (GI) with a five-furlong workout Thursday morning.
With jockey Mickaëlle Michel aboard the Briland Farm filly for the breeze, Secret Oath was timed in 1:01. Tyler Gaffalione is to ride her in the 38th running of the $750,000 La Troienne, part of the Oaks Day undercard, a test for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up going 1 1/16 miles.
“She was cruising, it was a beautiful work,” said Lukas. “You don’t really need to do much, since she just raced, with a three-week window this time.”
Sent off as the 3-5 favorite in the $1 million Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, the Steve Asmussen-trained Clariere just managed to catch Secret Oath at the wire.
“She was the best horse,” Lukas said of his filly, who has earned $2.8 million. “I hope Tyler got a feel for what he can do and cannot do with her.”
Lukas praised the work that Michel has done with the filly.
“That’s an important part of what we’re trying to do,” Lukas said. “It’s was perfect what she did with her, and she’s done that all spring. She’s a big part of it.”