Churchill Downs Press Release – Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders kicked it into high gear Saturday morning with several horses around the country logging their most serious workouts prior to the first weekend in May. At Churchill Downs, Derby contenders Cyberknife (six furlongs, 1:12.20), Smile Happy (five furlongs, 1:00.40), Tiz the Bomb (five furlongs 1:00.20) and Un Ojo (:59.40) all breezed for the “Run for the Roses.” At Keeneland, Blue Grass (GI) winner Zandon worked a half-mile in :48.60 before he ships to Churchill Downs on Sunday.
Gold Square’s Arkansas Derby winner Cyberknife breezed at 5:15 a.m. (all times Eastern) with jockey Florent Geroux in the saddle. The son of Gun Runner worked on the outside of stablemate Koolhous. Cyberknife started two lengths back at the five-furlong marker and finished two lengths in front at the wire. Cyberknife continued his strong move around the far turn and completed seven furlongs in 1:24.60, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.
“It was a really strong move and he’s a really good work horse,” Geroux said. “He continues to improve as time goes on and he showed that winning the Arkansas Derby. Even going back to his allowance win before the Arkansas Derby he showed a new level of class.”
During the 7:30-7:45 a.m. training period reserved for Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders, Lucky Seven Stable’s Blue Grass Stakes (GI) runner-up Smile Happy and Magdalena Racing Lessee’s Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) winner Tiz the Bomb breezed in company. Smile Happy and jockey Corey Lanerie began the work about one length in front of Brian Hernandez Jr. and Tiz the Bomb. Hernandez and Tiz the Bomb moved to the outside of Smile Happy and finished in tandem at the wire.
“We were just looking for an easy move today and we got that,” trainer Kenny McPeek said. “We’ll probably do the same thing again next week.”
Cypress Creek Equine’s Un Ojo arrived at Churchill Downs on Tuesday with trainer Ricky Courville’s son, Clay, in tow. Clay breezed Un Ojo through opening eighth-mile splits of :11.60, :23, :35 and :47.60. Un Ojo galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.20.
“It’s amazing being here at Churchill Downs,” Clay said. “I’ve been here before but nothing like this. (Un Ojo) is getting over the track really well.”
At Keeneland, Jeff Drown’s Zandon completed eighth-mile fractions of :12.80, :25.20 and :37. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.80, six furlongs in 1:13.80 and seven-eighths of a mile in 1:27.60. Trainer Chad Brown reported Zandon will ship to Churchill Downs on Sunday and be stabled in Barn 25.
Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) contenders Hidden Connection (five furlongs, 1:00.60), Nostalgic (four furlongs, :48.80) and Venti Valentine (four furlongs, :47.20) all worked Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.
Sunday morning, likely Kentucky Derby and Oaks favorites Epicenter and Echo Zulu are both scheduled to work for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
DAWN AT THE DOWNS: DERBY, OAKS MORNING WORKOUTS OPEN TO PUBLIC – Churchill Downs will be open free-of-charge daily from 7-10 a.m. through Wednesday, May 4 so guests can watch the nation’s top 3-year-old Thoroughbreds train toward their engagements in this year’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.
Horses train on Churchill Downs’ main track daily from 5:15-10 a.m. with an exclusive training window only for Derby and Oaks participants from 7:30-7:45 a.m. following the 7-7:30 a.m. renovation break.
Those horses are identified by special saddle towels which include their names: yellow saddle towels for Derby horses and pink saddle towels for Oaks contenders.
Kentucky Derby Morning Works presented by TwinSpires.com will begin Monday and air on www.kentuckyderby.com/works, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Fans in attendance will be able to watch the show on the track’s Big Board and infield televisions.
Guests can enter Churchill Downs through the Paddock Gate and should park for free in the nearby White Lot for convenient entry. Guests will be directed to Sections 115-117 to watch the morning workouts.
No outside food and beverage is allowed. Churchill Downs’ Paddock Grill will be open each morning with breakfast food and beverage options.
Also, the Churchill Downs Store will be open daily featuring all of the best official race merchandise, collectibles, drinkwear, party supplies, gifts, apparel and gear for men and women in advance of the Kentucky Derby.
On Sunday, May 1 and Monday, May 2, fans can enjoy a premium breakfast in Millionaires Row or the Stakes Room for Dawn at the Downs. Tickets start at $41 and can be purchased on www.KentuckyDerby.com/tickets.
The 148th runnings of the $1.25 Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) and $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) will be held Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7, respectively. Opening Night of Derby Week and the 44-day Spring Meet is Saturday, April 30.
KENTUCKY DERBY MORNING WORKS PROGRAM AIRS MONDAY – Former leading jockey Rosie Napravnik, a two-time winner of the Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), along with the voice of the Kentucky Derby, Travis Stone, join host Joe Kristufek as the featured analysts on the Kentucky Derby Morning Works presented by TwinSpires.com for the 11-day online broadcast that begins Monday.
The one-hour program will be streamed live on www.kentuckyderby.com/works from 7-8 a.m. (all times Eastern) starting Monday and will feature the 15-minute exclusive training period for Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders from 7:30-7:45 a.m. Fans can also watch the broadcast across several of the Kentucky Derby social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Napravnik’s first appearance on the broadcast will be Friday while Stone will be on-set Wednesday and Thursday. A wide array of other experts will lead fans through the show including TwinSpires.com handicappers James Scully, Scott Shapiro and Brandon Stauble.
Fans will be invited to join in the discussion using the hashtag #KyDerby.