Kentucky Derby Favorite Improbable Returns to the Track

May 09, 2019 Gary Yunt

WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and Starlight Racing’s Improbable, who went off the 4-1 favorite in last Saturday’s $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I), returned to the track Thursday morning at Churchill Downs for the first since being elevated to fourth in the Run for the Roses.

With Humberto Gomez aboard, Improbable came onto the fast track just before 6:30 a.m. (all times Eastern) and jogged once around alongside a pony with assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes aboard.

“(Trainer) Bob (Baffert) said to just jog him today,” Barnes said. “I am very happy with him. He was feeling good, bucking and playing. It was difficult to keep his feet on the ground.”

Baffert is scheduled to return to Louisville Sunday from his base at Santa Anita.

Mike Smith will ride Improbable in the Preakness (GI) on May 18 for Baffert.

Five other horses stabled at Churchill Downs with the Preakness as their next target had routine mornings.

Gary Barber’s War of Will jogged two miles alongside a pony with Kim Carroll aboard for trainer Mark Casse. Tyler Gaffalione has the ride back in the Preakness.

Top Racing, LLC, Global Thoroughbred and GDS Racing’s Stable’s Bodexpress galloped 1 ¾ miles to the delight of Gustavo Delgado Jr., son of trainer Gustavo Delgado. No rider has been confirmed for the Preakness.

Tommie Lewis, Steve Crabtree, Dean Demaree, David Bernsen, Jim Chambers and Magdalena Racing’s Signalman galloped a 1 ½ miles at 5:30 a.m. under exercise rider Danny Ramsey for trainer Kenny McPeek.

Rupp Racing’s Owendale, winner of the Lexington (GIII) at Keeneland in his most recent start, galloped 1 ½ miles at 5:45 a.m. for trainer Brad Cox.

Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Laughing Fox, winner of last Saturday’s Oaklawn Invitational Stakes, visited the starting gate and then galloped Thursday for trainer Steve Asmussen.

ABYSSINIAN MADE 3-1 FAVORITE IN SATURDAY’S MAMZELLE Hat Creek Racing’s Abyssinian was made the 3-1 favorite for Saturday’s first running of the $100,000-added Mamzelle Overnight Stakes – a five-furlong turf dash for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Wesley Ward, Abyssinian won her grass debut by 6 ¾ lengths at Gulfstream Park in February and enters the Mamzelle off a third-place finish against the boys in the Palisades Turf Sprint at Keeneland on April 4. Tyler Gaffalione has the mount.

Ward also entered Limestone Turf Sprint third-place finisher Chelsea Cloisters (7-2 morning line, jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.) and Cincinnati Trophy Stakes winner Iva (12-1, Julio Garcia) in the Mamzelle.

The Mamzelle, which attracted a field of 13, will go as the 10th race on Saturday’s 11-race program with a 5:26 p.m. (all times Eastern) post time. First post time Saturday is 12:45 p.m.

The field for the Mamzelle, with riders, weights and morning line odds from the rail out: Iva (Garcia, 120, 12-1), Raintree Starlet (Miguel Mena, 120, 20-1), Morissette (Adam Beschizza, 118, 30-1), Kim K (Ricardo Santana Jr., 118, 20-1), Chelsea Cloisters (Hernandez Jr., 118, 7-2), Shesomajestic (Stewart Elliott, 118, 20-1), Catherinethegreat (Julien Leparoux, 118, 8-1), Change of Control (Gabriel Saez, 118, 30-1), Abyssinian (Gaffalione, 118, 3-1), Midnight Fantasy (Erik Barbaran, 120, 8-1), Queen of Bermuda (IRE) (Chris Landeros, 123, 6-1), Play On (Shaun Bridgmohan, 120, 9-2) and Old and Costly (Edgar Morales, 118, 50-1).

SPRING MEET RACING RETURNS WITH TWILIGHT THURSDAYS, MOTHER’S DAY – After a spectacular opening week highlighted by the 145th runnings of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) and Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI), the Churchill Downs Spring Meet resumes with a week highlighted by the first of its popular Twilight Thursday programs and Sunday’s celebration of Mother’s Day.

Twilight Thursday has all of the elements that have made the celebration a fan favorite during the past two years: live racing, $1 beer, food from many of Louisville’s most popular food trucks and live music. Admission gates open at 4 p.m. and the first of the Twilight Thursday’s eight races has a post time of 5 p.m.

Twilight Thursdays are scheduled each week through June 28.

The first post-Kentucky Derby week of racing continues with live racing programs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s special Mother’s Day celebration at 12:45 p.m. Limited dining reservations for Mother’s Day at Churchill Downs remain available for online purchase at or by calling (502) 636-4450.

For more information about Churchill Downs’ Spring Meet events and schedule, visit

FREE GENERAL ADMISSION FOR MOTHERS ON SUNDAY – In honor of Mother’s Day, Churchill Downs will offer free general admission access Sunday for all mothers who are present with their child regardless of age.

MEET LEADERS – Following a remarkable Kentucky Derby Weekend with four Grade I victories, Ricardo Santana Jr. had an 8-6 win lead over Gabriel Saez in the rider standings to begin Thursday’s eight-race program. James Graham, Corey Lanerie, Julien Leparoux and Irad Ortiz Jr. were tied for third with five wins each. … Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen had an 8-4 win lead over Rusty Arnold in the trainer standings with Tom Amoss and Chad Brown tied for third with three victories a piece. … A quartet of owners were tied atop the standings with two victories: Calumet Farm, G. Watts Humphrey Jr., Klaravich Stables and Maggi Moss.

DOWN THE STRETCH – There is a $137,594 carryover in the 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot for Thursday’s program. The sequence begins in Race 3. … Oaklawn Park’s leading rider David Cohen began riding at Churchill Downs on Thursday. A winner of 1,427 career races, Cohen defeated Ricardo Santana Jr. in the Oaklawn rider standings 75-73 wins. … “Inside Churchill Downs” will air Fridays throughout the Spring Meet at 6 p.m. on ESPN 680/105.7. The weekly one-hour horse racing radio show is co-hosted by Churchill Downs Racetrack’s Darren Rogers and Kevin Kerstein, and delivers a wide-ranging list of interesting guests, from jockeys, trainers, owners to well-informed handicappers and other industry insiders. Those outside the Louisville radio market can listen live online at or via podcast on the station’s website or

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