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Union Rags Tops Busy Day of Derby Works at Churchill Downs
Godolphin Stable’s Alpha breezed five furlongs on the training track at Belmont Park in :59.40 under jockey Rajiv Maragh.
Working in company with stablemate Steele Road, the Bernardini colt was timed in splits of :11.60, :23.20 and :47. The Wood Memorial (Grade I) runner-up galloped out a sixth furlong in 1:15.
It was the colt’s first work since the race on April 7. His schedule was interrupted by about four days when he developed an infection in his left foreleg from cuts sustained in the Wood.
“He went great,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “He trained great and galloped out well. Rajiv Maragh was aboard him. Just in case he rides him, we wanted Rajiv to have a feel of him and he loved him and thought he worked awesome.
“All systems are go. It was great morning and a very nice work. It was a little faster than we normally want or get, but we did want a good work because he only worked once in between races. So the :59.40 is great.
“He’s cooled out well and we’ll fly to Kentucky on Monday.”
McLaughlin used a workmate to create a situation in which Alpha would get the most out his breeze.
“Alpha started out about a length behind him and went a half a length by him. Going out to the five-eighths he was basically on his own,” McLaughlin said. “The other horse was done after a half. We just want to make sure he got a good work.”
The Alpha team has not committed to a jockey for the Kentucky Derby, but McLaughlin said that Maragh is a leading candidate. Ramon Dominguez has ridden Alpha in his three starts this year, but has committed to Hansen for the Kentucky Derby.
“Basically, we wanted to see what happened to everybody this weekend, and us, too, to make sure that all goes well,” McLaughlin said. “We wanted to see if anybody decided not to run for one reason or another. We’ll talk with Simon Crisford, the racing manager. But right now, if we entered today, it would be Rajiv Maragh.
BODEMEISTER/LIAISON – Zayat Stables LLC’s Bodemeister galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider George Alvarez after the morning renovation break at 8:30 a.m. (all times Eastern).
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said that weather permitting the colt would work Sunday morning. If the track is wet, Baffert said the breeze would be pushed back to Monday.
Arnold Zetcher’s Liaison galloped 1½ miles. The CashCall Futurity (G1) winner is scheduled work Monday morning.
CREATIVE CAUSE – Heinz Steinmann’s Santa Anita Derby (GI) runner-up Creative Cause was a picture of calmness as he headed to Barn 41 to be bedded down. Groom Guadalupe Vasquez said the colt took the flight in stride. Creative Cause was third in last November’s Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) in Louisville.
Trainer Mike Harrington was scheduled to arrive in Louisville later Saturday and will prepare his Derby prospect for a final scheduled workout Tuesday morning.
DADDY NOSE BEST / SABERCAT – Bob and Cathy Zollars’ Daddy Nose Best and Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Sabercat, the duo of Kentucky Derby contenders trained by Steve Asmussen, galloped 1 3/8 miles at Churchill Downs prior to the renovation break Saturday.
Both colts are scheduled to work at the Louisville track Monday.
DONE TALKING – Skeedattle Stable’s Done Talking finished his major work for Derby 138 by working a bullet five furlongs in 1:01 on Saturday morning at Laurel Park with jockey Sheldon Russell up.
“I thought about having a workmate for him, but he would have gone too fast, so he went on his own,” trainer Hamilton Smith said. “I wanted to go around a minute and change and he almost hit it on the number.
The move was the best of 17 at the distance over a fast track. Done Talking galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60.
“It was fast this morning, but the rain is the coming,” Smith said. “He did it the way we wanted. He finished good and galloped out good.”
Done Talking is scheduled to leave Laurel Park around 4 a.m. Sunday and arrive at Churchill Downs around mid-afternoon.
DULLAHAN – Donegal Racing’s Dullahan, winner of the Toyota Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland, tuned up for Kentucky Derby 138 with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.20 on the fast track at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning.
Working under exercise rider Tammy Fox, Dullahan recorded fractions of :11.80, :23.80 and :36 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.80 for trainer Dale Romans. It was the ninth fastest work of 53 at the distance.
“The work was perfect,” Romans said. “It was exactly what we were looking for. We just wanted a nice maintenance breeze. He went in :57 and change at Keeneland before the Blue Grass and then he ran in the Blue Grass and now he’s working two weeks later and going to run three weeks (after the Blue Grass), so he’s plenty fit and we just wanted him to stretch his legs a bit.”
A chestnut son of Even the Score, Dullahan is a half-brother to Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who closed from last to take the Run for the Roses in 2009. Dullahan is also a deep closer and Romans said the race could set up well for him.
“I like the way the race looks on paper for us,” Romans said. “The Derby seems to usually have an unreasonably fast pace and there are some fast horses in there this year. The problem is those fast horses are quality and they could just keep going. It’ll be interesting to see how it all unfolds.”
Dullahan will be ridden by three-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Kent Desormeaux, who has been aboard the Kentucky-bred colt in five of his eight career starts.
EL PADRINO/GEMOLOGIST – Trainer Todd Pletcher’s option to move up workouts for Kentucky Derby hopefuls El Padrino and Gemologist to Saturday morning at Palm Meadows Training Center was washed away by rain.
Let’s Go Stable’s El Padrino and WinStar Farm’s Gemologist are scheduled to work on Sunday, but the weather-conscious Pletcher had left open the possibility of working them on Saturday instead.
El Padrino and undefeated Gemologist are scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs from the Boynton Beach, Fla. training center on Tuesday.
HANSEN – Kendall Hansen and Skychai Racing’s Hansen breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 in company Saturday morning at Churchill Downs’ Trackside Training Center.
In a work that resembled a handoff in a relay race in track and field, Hansen engaged stablemate Derby Kitten, who was waiting in the stretch, the two ran together for about a quarter-mile and the 4-year-old Derby Kitten continued on with his half-mile breeze. The split times for Hansen’s breeze under Joel Barrientos were :12.20, :24.60, :36.60 and :49.20. The 2011 juvenile male champion galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.
Trainer Mike Maker deemed the work – which he joked that he dreamed up himself – a success.
“We’re trying to harness the speed so if we put a workmate with him from the starting point of the work he has a tendency to be very aggressive,” Maker said. “So we just sprinkled it in the last part.”
Rather than trying to synch things at a specific pole, Maker said he told the rider on Derby Kitten to begin his work when he hooked up with Hansen.
“Basically, the plan was to try to get Hansen to go soft the first three-eighths, which he did, and then just finish up his last quarter, which he did,” Maker said.
Hansen galloped out through most of the backstretch of the six-furlong track after completing his breeze.
After cooling out, the Tapit colt was taken to a sand pit at the training center where he was allowed to spend several minutes frolicking and rolling in the sand.
I’LL HAVE ANOTHER – Trainer Doug O’Neill led Santa Anita Derby victor I’ll Have Another off the van into his shedrow at Churchill Downs at 12:30 p.m. following a flight from California. “He looks great,” O’Neill said as he led the colt, owned by longtime client J. Paul Reddam, around the barn.
The colt will go to the track Sunday morning, O’Neill said, to continue his preparation for the Kentucky Derby. O’Neill arrived Friday.
Johnny Garcia, I’ll Have Another’s regular exercise rider, accompanied the colt and said the flight was smooth and the horse was a perfect gentleman.
MARK VALESKI – Louisiana Derby (GII) runner-up Mark Valeski galloped 1 ½ miles after the 8-8:30 morning renovation break during the training period reserved for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks hopefuls.
Trainer Larry Jones was in the saddle and said that Mark Valeski, who is owned by Brereton Jones, would work Monday or Tuesday depending on the weather.
Rosie Napravnik has the Kentucky Derby riding assignment.
OPTIMIZER – Bluegrass Hall’s Optimizer galloped after the morning renovation break under exercise rider Joel Cano.
Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Optimizer is scheduled to work Sunday morning with Jon Court slated to be aboard.
PROSPECTIVE – John Oxley’s Tampa Bay Derby (GII) winner Prospective continued his preparations for Derby 138 by breezing five furlongs at Churchill Downs in 1:01.20 Saturday morning for trainer Mark Casse.
Working in company with Moon Traveler, a 3-year-old maiden who is also owned by Oxley, Prospective recorded fractions of :12.20, :24.80, :36.80 and :49 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.80.
Shaun Bridgmohan was in the irons for Saturday’s work, but Prospective, who most recently finished sixth in the Toyota Blue Grass (GI), will be ridden by Luis Contreras on Derby Day.
“I thought it was perfect,” Casse said. “I told Shaun to go 1:01 and he went 1:01.20. He told me he was magnificent. The horse he worked with is not a bad horse and I was surprised how easily Prospective worked away from him. I’ve said all along I think this horse likes Churchill. We’re ready.”
Prospective crossed the wire about three lengths in front of his workmate, who was given a five-furlong time of 1:01.80.
ROUSING SERMON – Tree Top Ranches’ Rousing Sermon arrived at Churchill Downs at 12:30 p.m. following a flight from California. Collin Gomez, who said he does a little bit of everything for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, said Rousing Sermon traveled well.
Hollendorfer is scheduled to arrive Monday in advance of a scheduled Tuesday workout for Rousing Sermon, third in the Louisiana Derby (GI) in his most recent start.
TAKE CHARGE INDY – Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s Take Charge Indy walked for a second morning on Saturday because the track at the Palm Meadows Training Center was very wet from a rain storm.
Take Charge Indy breezed Thursday morning in 1:00.40 and walked Friday morning.
“We decided to just shedrow him for 45 minutes in the barn and the horse will get out to the track on Sunday,” trainer Pat Byrne said. “We’re facing the same kind of weather, but I’ve got to get him out to the track and do something. He’s fresh and he’s got to get out before we put him on the plane on Tuesday.”
Byrne will accompany the Florida Derby (G1) winner when they ship from Florida. Three-time Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel will ride the colt in the Run for the Roses.
TRINNIBERG – Shivananda Parbhoo’s Trinniberg was sent to the track for some light exercise Saturday morning at Churchill Downs, jogging two miles under exercise rider Sabastian Garcia following the renovation break.
“We went very good. He jogged today, tomorrow he’ll gallop two miles,” said trainer Bisnath Parboo, the father of Trinniberg’s owner. “He couldn’t be doing any better. He’s very fit.”
Trinniberg enters the Kentucky Derby off a pair of strong front-running victories in the Swale (GIII) at Gulfstream Park and Bay Shore (GIII) at Aqueduct this year. The son of Teuflesberg capped his 2-year-old season at Churchill Downs, where he set a sharp pace before fading to seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint last November.
Willie Martinez will have the return mount aboard Trinniberg.
UNION RAGS – Chadds Ford Stable’s Union Rags was given his final serious preparation for Kentucky Derby 138 Saturday morning during a five-furlong workout following the renovation break at Churchill Downs.
With jockey Julien Leparoux aboard, Union Rags breezed the distance in :59.80 on fractions of :12, :23.60, and :47.20. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.80.
“I thought he ran good. We wanted a strong work here and that was the plan all along,” trainer Michael Matz said. “I wished I could have seen it. All I saw was the front part of it, the last quarter of a mile, but it looked like he went nice.”
Leparoux gave Matz his thumbs up on the son of Dixie Union’s first workout at Churchill after shipping in from Keeneland on Thursday.
“He never says much. He said he galloped out real strong and said he thinks he likes the track,” Matz said. “That was the plan to do it a week ahead of time and give him some time to recover. The gods were good. It didn’t rain on us, so it’s up to him.”
Matz, who saddled Barbaro for a commanding victory in the 2006 Kentucky Derby, remarked how smoothly things have gone while preparing Union Rags along the road to the Kentucky Derby.
“It’s been amazing. Every time, we’ve been just one or two days off working him. It’s worked out perfectly,” Matz said of the training program that was rarely interrupted by bad weather. “Usually, when you try to get a horse to the Derby and try to plan everything, something goes awry one way or another. He’s really been right on track.”
Union Rags, who finished second behind Hansen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs in November, spent the winter at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Fla. He captured the Fountain of Youth (GII) by four lengths in his 2012 debut before finishing a troubled third in the Florida Derby (GI) at Gulfstream Park.
“We wanted him to have a nice work. I think if Julien went out there and wanted to go in :50 for the half-mile – or :51 – he could have done that,” Matz said. “But now is the time to turn the screws a little title. This is it.”
WENT THE DAY WELL – Team Valor International and Mark Ford’s Went the Day Well, outfitted with blinkers, worked five furlongs in 1:01 over a fast track with jockey John Velazquez up. The move was the sixth fastest of 53 at the distance.
Working in company with Crimson China, a 4-year-old stakes winner who finished fifth in the Toyota Blue Grass (GI) last year, Went the Day Well started a length behind his workmate and finished three lengths in front in fractions of :12.40, :24.60, :36.40, :48.80 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60.
“I thought he went super,” trainer Graham Motion said. “John felt that he was better on the dirt here than he was last week on the synthetic (at Keeneland in which he worked six furlongs in 1:14.40).”
Went the Day Well never has raced in blinkers, but the son of Proud Citizen was outfitted with them this morning.
“I put ‘cheaters’ on him and it seemed like it really helped him,” Motion said. “Last week at Keeneland, he was content to stay with Crimson China and today he went right on by.”
Would Went the Day Well wear blinkers in the Derby?
“I am going to have to talk to the stewards about that,” Motion said. “He got to loafing and almost interfered with a horse at Turfway (Park in winning the Vinery Racing Spiral). I think they made a difference today.”
Went the Day Well comes into the Kentucky Derby off a victory in the Spiral, just as stablemate Animal Kingdom did last year. Unlike Animal Kingdom, Went the Day Well already is proven on dirt.
“He didn’t have anything to prove (this morning),” Motion said. “With Animal Kingdom, I talked with Barry (Irwin of Team Valor International) and if he had not handled the dirt, he would not have run.”
Animal Kingdom responded with a six-furlong work in 1:13 on the Saturday before the Kentucky Derby.
Went the Day Well ran twice in 2011 finishing second in two grass races in England. He made his U.S. debut in February on dirt at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 4, finishing fourth, and then broke his maiden four weeks later.
“His first race was typical for a European horse in that he was a step slow out of the gate,” Motion said. “After that first race, we considered taking him to New York for the Gotham (GIII). We took him to the airport and then turned around and stayed for the maiden race.”
Off the maiden victory, Went the Day Well took the Spiral by 3 ½ lengths.
“It was a big step for him going from a maiden to a Grade III,” said Motion, who will turn on the lights tonight for the opening night of the 39-day spring meet. “I feel good about him and I feel good about running him in this race. And, I feel a whole lot better after the work today.”
BARN TALK – Trainer Bob Baffert said Peachtree Stable’s Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty will run in the La Trioenne on Friday.
“Martin Garcia worked her Friday and said she worked really strong,” Baffert said. “She’s doing really, really well. I called John Fort and said ‘there aren’t a lot of races for her, she’s doing great, let’s put her on the plane.’ He said to go ahead.
“We’ll watch her train here. If she looks good, we’ll run her.”
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2012, and its Spring Meet is scheduled for April 28-July 1. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.
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