Derby Hopefuls Continue Prep for First Saturday in May

Apr 19, 2012 Travers Manley

A number of contenders for the 138th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) continued their preparations for the first Saturday in May on a picture-perfect Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.

One of the first Derby contenders on the track was Zayat Stables LLC’s Bodemeister, who has been considered one of the favorites for the Run for the Roses following his breakout performance in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (GI) at Oaklawn Park last Saturday. The bay son of Empire Maker jogged a mile shortly after the track opened under Peter Hutton, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert. Hutton said Bodemeister will gallop Friday shortly after 6:00 a.m. (ET).

A trio of Derby 138 contenders galloped after the break Thursday morning.

John Oxley’s Prospective, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (GII) in March, galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Juan Bernardini. After a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland in his last start, Prospective was considered to be only 50/50 to enter the Derby; however, assistant trainer Norman Casse confirmed late Wednesday that Prospective will run.

“We wanted to see how he came out of the Blue Grass and he galloped great yesterday (Wednesday),” Casse said. “Ultimately, the decision was up to Mr. Oxley and he wanted to run.”

Brereton Jones’ homebred Mark Valeski, second in both the Risen Star (GII) and Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds, galloped a 1 ¼ miles under trainer Larry Jones, who confirmed the bay son of Proud Citizen will breeze at Churchill Downs on Monday after the renovation break during the 15-minute period set aside exclusively for training by Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders. Rosie Napravnik, who will ride Mark Valeski in the Derby, will be aboard for the work.

Donegal Racing’s Blue Grass winner Dullahan visited the Churchill Downs oval for a 1 ½-mile gallop Thursday under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar. Dullahan is expected to work for the first time since his Blue Grass triumph on April 28 after the renovation break.

At nearby Trackside Training Center, Dr. Kendall Hansen and Sky Chai Racing LLC’s Hansen, the champion 2-year-old of 2011 and winner of the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI), galloped a 1 ¼ miles. Hansen finished second, 1 ¼-lengths behind Dullahan, in the Blue Grass.

ON FIRE BABY, SUMMER APPLAUSE TO WORK FRIDAY AT CHURCHILL DOWNS On Fire Baby, who completed the Pocahontas (GII)-Golden Rod (GII) double at Churchill Downs last fall and recently took the Honeybee (GIII) at Oaklawn Park, and Summer Applause, winner of the Rachel Alexandra (GIII) and most recently second by a neck in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII), will continue their preparations for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI) with breezes beneath the Twin Spires on Friday morning.

Anita Cauley’s homebred On Fire Baby is considered to be one of the leading contenders for the Kentucky Oaks. The gray daughter of Smoke Glacken sports a career record of 4-0-1 from six career starts and earnings of $312,329. Her lone off-the-board finish came on Keeneland’s Polytrack in the Darley Alcibiades (GI) last October.

On Fire Baby arrived at Churchill Downs from Oaklawn on April 16 and visited the track for the first time Wednesday. Trainer Gary Hartlage said On Fire Baby galloped at the Louisville track early Thursday morning and that she will breeze Friday shortly after the track opens at 6 a.m. (ET).

Gillian Campbell, R Group Management Ltd. and Greenwood Lodge Farm’s Summer Applause will also breeze at 6 a.m. on Friday, according to trainer Bret Calhoun. It will be the second breeze at Churchill Downs for Summer Applause since she arrived from Fair Grounds on April 3. The bay daughter of Harlan’s Holiday went four furlongs on a fast track in :47.60 on April 13.

In the Fair Grounds Oaks, Summer Applause finished second to Believe You Can, who also visited the Churchill Downs track Thursday morning. With trainer Larry Jones aboard, Believe You Can galloped 1 ¼ miles after the renovation break. The Brereton Jones homebred will breeze on Monday after the renovation break under Rosie Napravnik, who will be aboard Believe You Can in the Kentucky Oaks.

In other Kentucky Oaks news, Peachtree Stable’s Mamma Kimbo, the undefeated winner of the Fantasy (GII) at Oaklawn Park, galloped 1 ¼ miles prior to the renovation break under Peter Hutton, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert.

DERBY WEEK STAKES BEGINNING TO TAKE SHAPE – Churchill Downs will be the site of the 138th runnings of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks in just over two weeks; however, the famous Louisville track will also run 11 other stakes events during Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Week 2012 and the fields for those races are beginning to come together.

The lists below include horses currently pointing to each respective stakes race, according to Churchill Downs officials.  

The 88th running of $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (Grade III) for 3-year-olds at one mile on the main track on Saturday, April 28: Bourbon Courage, Hierro, Kid Sidney, Laurie’s Rocket, Nonios, Quick Wit, Saint of Saints, Shared Property, Stealcase and The Black.

The 27th running of the $150,000-added Edgewood Presented by Kentucky National Insurance for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course on Friday, May 4: Byrama-GB, Cozze Up Lady, Goldrush Girl, Heart of Destiny, June Cleaver, Koko Loca-IRE, Lotta Lovin, Matching Skies, Miz Ida, More Than Love, Robi Jo and Welcome Dance

The 57th running of the $100,000-added Eight Belles Presented by Xerox (Grade III) for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on the main track on Friday, May 4: Good Deed, Ice Cream Silence, My Due Process, Small Kitchen and Xunlei.

The 27th running of the $300,000-added La Troienne Presented by Steelcase and ORI (Grade II) for fillies and mares, 4-year olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the main track on Friday, May 4: Absinthe Minded, Afleeting Lady, Havre de Grace and St. John’s River.

The 9th running of the $300,000-added Alysheba Presented by Besilu Stables (Grade II) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the main track on Friday, May 4: Alma d’Oro (also considering the Churchill Downs), Mucho Macho Man, Scotus and Successful Dan.

The 21st running of the $200,000-added American Turf Presented by Ram (Grade II) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course on Friday, May 4: Achilles, Atigun, Finnegans Wake, Gung Ho, Handsome Mike, Howe Great, Late Night Action, Monastic, Our Entourage, Saturday Launch, Silver Max and Tones-IRE.

The 18th running of the $125,000-added Twin Spires Turf Sprint Presented by GE Appliances (Grade III) for 4-year-olds and up at five furlongs on the Matt Winn Turf Course on Saturday, May 5: Amanecer de Oro, Bridgetown, Cactus Son, Chamberlain Bridge, City Stage, Fiddlers Patriot, Santo Gato and Zeb.

The 26th running of the $300,000-added Humana Distaff (Grade I) for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up at seven furlongs on the main track on Saturday, May 5: Fantasy of Flight, Groupie Doll, Musical Romance, Salty Strike, Sassy Image and Switch.

The 27th running of the $200,000-added Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Presented by American Commercial Lines (Grade II) for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up at one mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course on Saturday, May 5: Annabel Lee, Aruna, City to City, Daisy Devine, Hungry Island, It’s Tea Time, Maggies Ransom, Marketing Mix and Tapitsfly.

The 78th running of the $400,000-added Churchill Downs Presented by Navistar (Grade II) for 4-year-olds and up at seven furlongs on the main track on Saturday, May 5: Alma d’Oro (also considering the Alysheba), Gantry, Hamazing Destiny, Sahara Sky, Shackleford and Will’s Wildcat.

The 26th running of the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (Grade I) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course on Saturday, May 5: Boisterous, Data Link, Doubles Partner, Get Stormy, Little Mike, Papaw Bodie, Slim Shadey-GB, Turallure and Turbo Compressor.

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

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