Final preparations are underway for the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. Scroll down to see how your Derby favorite is training up to the big race!
ATOMIC RAIN – A late addition to the field for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), Atomic Rain arrived at Churchill Downs at 2 a.m. Wednesday after a 13-hour van ride from Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
Trainer Kelly Breen was aboard when the Smart Strike colt went out for a one-mile jog this morning at 7 o’clock. Atomic Rain returned from the exercise bucking and snorting.
“He’s all full of himself this morning,” Breen said, “and he’s usually not like that. The van ride must have done him good.”
Atomic Rain worked a bullet Tuesday morning at Monmouth before getting on the van. He zipped a half-mile in :47.20, the best work at the distance.
Atomic Rain will give trainer Breen two Derby starters in his first appearance in the race. West Side Bernie has been at Churchill Downs for two weeks already after his second in the Wood Memorial (Grade I) gave him sufficient earnings to make the starting field. Both colts are owned by George and Lori Hall.
Atomic Rain finished fourth in the Wood, and last year was second in the Remsen (Grade II). He has not won since breaking his maiden at Monmouth last June.
Joe Bravo, who has been aboard in the colt’s past two starts, has the mount in the Kentucky Derby.
NOWHERE TO HIDE – My Meadowview Farm’s Nowhere to Hide was entered in Kentucky Derby 135 on Wednesday morning by trainer Nick Zito after the defection of Win Willy.
“I guess if the No. 20 spot is left open by the gods, you ought to at least enter,” Zito said with smile. “Shaun Bridgmohan will ride.”
A son of Vindication, Nowhere to Hide has compiled a record of 8-1-2-1 with earnings of $100,099, of which $55,500 are graded. Nowhere to Hide broke his maiden at Calder on Dec. 13 and then jumped into stakes company with fourth-place finishes in the Risen Star (Grade III), Tampa Bay Derby (Grade III) and Illinois Derby (Grade II).
“This horse has traveled a lot,” Zito said. “He was fourth to Friesan Fire at the Fair Grounds and he hasn’t been beaten that far. I told the owner (Leonard Riggio) we might be fourth here.”
Nowhere to Hide, who has been at Churchill Downs since the April 4 Illinois Derby, visited the starting gate and galloped Wednesday morning after the renovation break under Stacy Prior. Zito said that had Nowhere to Hide not been entered in the Derby, he was aiming for the Belmont Stakes (Grade I) on June 6 with a race in between.
My Meadowview Farm has had one previous Kentucky Derby starter, Noble Causeway, who finished 14th in the 2005 Run for the Roses.
WIN WILLY – Trainer Mac Robertson removed Win Willy from the Kentucky Derby field Wednesday morning after X-rays revealed what veterinarians termed a “suspicious” line in the colt’s left front ankle.
“We took precautionary X-rays yesterday,” Robertson said, “and there was a little line in the ankle on the X-ray. The two vets who read the X-ray said it was ‘suspicious.’ To me, it was a big stop sign.”
Win Willy, who broke his maiden last August, has been in serious training since the beginning of the year. He won an allowance race at Oaklawn Park in February, and then followed with a victory in the Grade II Rebel in March, and a fourth in the Grade II Arkansas Derby in April.
“He came a long way in 80 days, and it might have been too much, too fast,” Robertson said. “When he flattened out that way in the Arkansas Derby, I was afraid something was bothering him. But he’s looked sound and clean-legged since then, and he even went to the track to train early this morning. He’s fine, actually, and he looks the same as always. But I’m not willing to take any chances with him.
“I always told myself that if I got a good horse like this that I wouldn’t push on with him if I suspected something. So I’m sticking to that. He’s too nice a horse to take chances with.”
Robertson said that Win Willy will walk for 30 days and then shedrow for 30 days, and then X-rays will be taken again.
“He had never been X-rayed before yesterday,” Robertson said. “But we decided to take precautionary X-rays because in the back of my mind I thought something had happened in the Arkansas Derby.”
Win Willy breezed twice after the Arkansas Derby on April 11. He went a half in :51.20 at Oaklawn on April 21, then worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 at Churchill Downs on April 27.