Donegal Racing’s Dullahan, third behind I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), was scheduled to work after Saturday’s renovation break at Churchill Downs, but trainer Dale Romans called an audible and sent the chestnut son of Even the Score out for a one-mile breeze at 6:15 a.m. (all times Eastern), shortly after the track opened for training.
Dullahan covered the distance on a fast track in 1:43 under former jockey and regular work rider Tammy Fox.
“I was afraid it was going to be too hot and muggy at 8:30,” Romans said. “We wanted to beat the heat.”
Romans’ star recorded fractions of :26, :38.60, :51.40, 1:04.60, 1:17.40 and galloped out 1 1/8 miles in 1:57.
“He worked great,” Romans said. “It was just what we were looking for. He seemed to get stronger as he went along.”
It was the second work for Dullahan since his third-place finish in the Derby and Romans said he will work once more before the Belmont.
“He’s going to van to New York tomorrow (Sunday) night and arrive at Belmont early Monday morning,” Romans said. “He’ll breeze next Saturday at Belmont.”
Romans said jockey Javier Castellano, who will ride Dullahan in the Belmont, would be aboard for next Saturday’s work.
Castellano will replace jockey Kent Desormeaux, who rode Dullahan in his last five races and was aboard for his victories in the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) and Toyota Blue Grass (GI) over the Polytrack at Keeneland.
“We’re going from a Hall of Fame jockey to a future Hall of Fame jockey,” Romans said. “Also, Castellano knows the track (at Belmont) very well.”
Romans will board a plane bound for New York early Sunday afternoon to saddle Shackleford in Monday’s Met Mile (GI), but before he does, he will saddle Roman’s Avenue in the first race at Churchill Downs. Roman’s Avenue, a $230,000 Keeneland September Yearling purchase, will be making his career debut.
“He’s one of my best 2-year-olds,” Romans said. “He’s shown a lot of promise. I’m going to watch him run and then I have to hustle to the airport to catch my flight.”
In his final work for Sunday’s race, Roman’s Avenue breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.20 at Churchill Downs last Tuesday. The dark bay or brown son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense will break from the rail under Corey Lanerie. Post time for the first race Sunday is 12:45 p.m.
CHAMPION HANSEN BREEZES AT TRACKSIDE FOR WOODY STEPHENS – Dr. Kendall Hansen and Skychai Racing LLC’s Hansen, ninth in the Kentucky Derby (GI), continued his preparations for the $400,000 Woody Stephens (GII) on June 9 at Belmont Park with an easy five-furlong breeze at Churchill Downs’ Trackside Training Center in 1:02.60 for trainer Mike Maker.
“It went well. We weren’t looking to do too much,” Maker said.
Hansen was guided in the breeze by regular exercise rider Joel Barrientos.
Saturday marked the second work for Hansen since the Derby. In his first work after his effort in the Run for the Roses, Hansen breezed four furlongs in :51 at Trackside on May 19.
Maker said Hansen is in fine form and noted he will work at Trackside again next Saturday.
“We’re going to keep him here (rather than ship to Belmont early),” Maker said. “He’ll work again next Saturday and hopefully it will be a little cooler then.”
Hansen, a gray or roan son of Tapit, was named the champion 2-year-old colt in 2011 after his narrow victory over Union Rags in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) at Churchill Downs last November. The Derby was his first off-the-board finish and his record now stands at 4-2-0 from seven lifetime starts with earnings of $1,623,305.
GRIT AND GRACE WORKS FOR ON FIRE BABY CONNECTIONS – Trainer Gary Hartlage knew On Fire Baby was special from the moment last spring when she walked off the van into his Churchill Downs barn. The gray/roan daughter of Smoke Glacken validated that early opinion later in the year with wins in the Pocahontas (GII) and Golden Rod (GII) at Churchill Downs and a victory this spring in the Honeybee (GIII) at Oaklawn Park.
Anita Cauley’s homebred filly is set to return to competition for the first time since a fifth-place finish in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI) in Monday’s Acorn (GI) at Belmont Park. But on Saturday morning the attention of Hartlage and Cauley was focused on the familiar track at Churchill Downs and a young filly named Grit and Grace, who carries both a familiar pedigree and the high hopes of Hartlage and Cauley.
Grit and Grace, a 2-year-old gray/roan filly by Tapit, is the first foal out of Cauley’s homebred High Heels, who won the 2007 Fantasy (GII) at Oaklawn Park prior to finishing third behind Rags to Riches and Octave in the Kentucky Oaks. High Heels is a half-sister to On Fire Baby, as both are out of the Gilded Time mare Ornate.
Grit and Grace arrived at Hartlage’s barn at Churchill Downs two weeks ago and recorded her first career workout on May 19 by breezing an easy half-mile in :52.40. She sped up a bit in Saturday’s work and covered a half-mile in :50.60 under jockey Joe Johnson.
“I told Joe to go in about :50 and so everything was perfect,” Hartlage said.
Cauley noted that there are positives and negatives to seeing a homebred out of a homebred hit the racetrack for the first time.
“It’s pretty cool, but it makes you think about how old you are,” Cauley joked.
While On Fire Baby arrived at Churchill Downs during last year’s Spring Meet, she was not ready to run until August and debuted at Ellis Park. Hartlage is hoping that will not be the case with Grit and Grace.
“There’s still a month left in the meet, so we’re hoping she’ll run here,” Hartlage said.
BARN TALK – The Bluegrass Art Experience Festival will take place in the Churchill Downs infield on Memorial Day Weekend. The family-friendly festival will be open Saturday through Monday from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. and provides a unique environment to showcase the vast variety of artistic expression in Kentucky and the surrounding region. The event will also be used as a platform to raise money and create public awareness of nonprofit charities that include Home of the Innocents and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. Admission to the festival is free with the $3 general admission to Churchill Downs. …
The Churchill Downs racing program on Sunday, May 27 will be accompanied by Family Fun Day activities Presented by Kroger. Family Fun Days promise a very special day for the entire family with attractions that include Horse Racing Bingo, Junior Jockey Club activities, a walking tour of the Kentucky Derby Museum to visit with Winston, its resident miniature horse, visits with Churchill Charlie and more. Family Fun Day activities take place from 11:30 a.m-4 p.m. in the Paddock Pavilion on Sundays throughout the meet.
WORKTAB – John Campo III’s Hard Seven, third in the Santa Barbara Handicap (GII) at Santa Anita in her most recent start, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 on the fast main track at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning for trainer Dan McFarlane. It was the fastest work of 24 at the distance. …
Lally Stable’s Heavenly Landing, winner of the Marshua’s River (GIII) at Gulfstream Park in January, breezed four furlongs Saturday in :49.20 for trainer Eddie Kenneally. The work ranked 15th of 75 at the distance. …
Heuristic Stable’s Fortune Play, a multiple stakes winner with $324,842 in career earnings, breezed four furlongs in :47.40 for trainer John Booker Jr. It was the fastest half-mile work of the morning.
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