Edited Churchill Staff Release – Two of trainer Brad Cox’s four Kentucky Derby contenders – Arkansas Derby (Grade I) winner Angel of Empire and Gun Runner Stakes winner Jace’s Road – continued their training toward the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) with easy half-mile moves Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.
When the track opened at 5:30 a.m. (all times Eastern), Albaugh Family Stables’ Angel of Empire worked :48.20 alongside 3-year-old stablemate Tapit’s Conquest. Two hours later, West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh Family Stables’ Jace’s Road worked on the outside of Victory Formation in :48.20.
Angel of Empire, who will enter the Kentucky Derby following his 4 ¼-length victory in the Arkansas Derby, sported blinkers while working outside his stablemate through early fractions of :12.40 and :24.40. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.80, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols. Cox’s exercise rider Edvin Vargas was aboard for the move.
Angel of Empire has previously used blinkers for his workouts.
Two hours later, Vargas was back in the irons on Jace’s Road, who worked in similar fractions as Angel of Empire.
“It was a solid morning with three weeks out from the Derby,” Cox said. “It’s always an exciting time of year and we’ll see what happens in 21 days.”
Following Jace’s Road’s work, Cox’s other Derby contenders, Blue Grass runner-up Verifying and Wood Memorial (GII) runner-up Hit Show, galloped about 1 ½ miles. They are scheduled to work next Saturday.
PLETCHER ARRIVALS – Trainer Todd Pletcher’s horses are set to move into Barn 39 at Churchill Downs over the next 72 hours.
On Sunday, Blue Grass Stakes (GI) winner Tapit Trice is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs from Keeneland at 10:30 a.m. Kentucky Derby favorite Forte, along with TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Kingsbarns, are tentatively scheduled to arrive from South Florida early Tuesday morning. The duo are scheduled to van to Churchill Downs from South Florida on Monday afternoon.
WILD ON ICE SCHEDULED TO BREEZE MONDAY AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Sunland Park Derby winner Wild On Ice is scheduled to breeze Monday at Churchill Downs, according to trainer Joel Marr.
Wild On Ice arrived at Churchill Downs on Easter Sunday following a 15-hour journey from New Mexico. The Texas-bred gelded son of Tapizar vanned to California, boarded a plane to Tennessee and then vanned to Churchill Downs.
Ken Tohill, who at age 60 would become the oldest jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby, is scheduled to work Wild On Ice on Monday.
“I think he’s really gotten used to Kentucky this week,” Marr said. “He seems happy and is feeling good. We like to graze him after training in the morning and we just got done taking him to the equine spa.”
Wild On Ice is stabled in Barn 43.