Kentucky Derby Update: Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May 01, 2019 Coady Photography Churchill Downs Communications

LOUISVILLE, KY (Wednesday, May 1, 2019) MASTER FENCER WORKS FIVE FURLONGS UNDER LEPAROUXKatsumi and Yasuyo Yoshizawa’s Master Fencer (JPN) worked five furlongs in 1:05.20 under jockey Julien Leparoux over a fast track on a warm Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.

Making their first appearances on the track for the Derby were Tuesday arrivals Maximum Security, Vekoma, Bodexpress and the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Spinoff and Cutting Humor as well as Kentucky Oaks also-eligible Point of Honor.

BODEXPRESSTop Racing LLC, Global Thoroughbred and GDS Racing Stable’s Bodexpress, who arrived from South Florida Tuesday, jogged once around the Churchill Downs track Wednesday morning.

Bodexpress, a maiden who finished second behind Maximum Security in the Florida Derby (GI) at Gulfstream, is on the also-eligible list and would need a defection by 9 a.m. Friday to draw into the Derby field.

“We’re hoping he gets in,” said Gustavo Delgado Jr., assistant and son of trainer Gustavo Delgado. “He just jogged today. He’ll gallop tomorrow.”

Should Bodexpress draw into the field, Chris Landeros would have the mount.

BY MY STANDARDSAllied Racing Stables By My Standards had his normal 1 ½-mile training session Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.

“Things are sort of out of our hands right now,” Allied Racing Stables’ Chester Thomas said. “We’re feeling good, we’re happy, we’re nervous, we’re all of the emotions. Above all, I’m just thrilled to be here. (Trainer) Bret (Calhoun) and his team deserve a shot to be in the Derby and I’m glad I get to be here with him.”

Calhoun was part of a memorable moment at the annual trainer’s dinner Tuesday evening when host Jill Byrne asked the question, “What level of firm will your hair be on Derby Day?”

Without hesitation, Calhoun responded, “With the weather forecast, I’m certain it will have a firm hold.”

By My Standards was scheduled to school in the paddock during Wednesday’s third race.

CODE OF HONORWilliam S. Farish’s Code of Honor went to the track shortly before the 7 a.m. break and galloped 1 ½ miles under Brian Duggan before taking the scenic route back to the barn, which has been his routine all week.

Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey is making his first appearance in the Kentucky Derby since winning the race in 2013 with Orb. When asked if there were any similarities between the two, McGaughey, said “Their running styles are a little bit similar. I think Code of Honor likes to stay towards the back like Orb did, but he’s more efficient. Orb was a blue collar, working class type horse. This horse gets over the ground easier and is quicker. Other than their running styles, there aren’t really any similarities.”

McGaughey said Code of Honor will continue with the same training schedule the rest of the week.

COUNTRY HOUSE/TACITUSJuddmonte FarmsTacitus and Mrs. J. V. Shields Jr. et al.’s Country House have kept a holding pattern over the past couple days in their training toward the $3 million Kentucky Derby (GI), each galloping over the dirt for conditioner Bill Mott, who observed on a pony.

Hitting the track soon after the commencement of the special 7:30-7:45 a.m. Kentucky Derby/Oaks training session, they both appeared comfortable throughout their collective exercise, with exercise riders Marianne Scherer (Country House) and Juan Quintero (Tacitus) in the respective irons. Tacitus got an unexpected gallop-mate in Kentucky Oaks (GI) 2-1 morning-line favorite Bellafina, who tracked him while under a snug hold. Country House followed about one furlong astern.

“They both walked through the paddock and then galloped a mile and a half,” Mott said. “They both seem happy and all is well.”

While Tacitus, who drew well in post eight for the $3 million Kentucky Derby (GI), has produced an ample amount of buzz, stablemate Country House has been less heralded. Third in the Arkansas Derby (GI), fourth in the Louisiana Derby (GII) and second in the Risen Star Stakes (GII) in his past three starts, the son of 2010 beaten Derby favorite Lookin At Lucky has improved gradually since breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park in January—his lone victory from six tries.

“We ran him back three weeks into the Arkansas Derby after the Louisiana Derby and then three weeks back to here, but I think he’s a horse who can handle it,” Mott said. “Nothing seems to bother him and hopefully the light will really come on Derby Day. He’s been a little slower to come around and made some mistakes in his races, but I think he’s getting better and better each time.”

The chestnut Kentucky-bred homebred will break from the outside post 20, which Mott said will be of little issue, considering his one-run closing style. He acquires a new rider—his fifth—when Flavien Prat takes the reins.

CUTTING HUMOR/SPINOFF – Trainer Todd Pletcher made his first appearance at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning and so did his pair of Derby colts – Starlight Racing’s Cutting Humor and Wertheimer and Frere’s Spinoff. The Kentucky-bred colts went trackside and galloped during the special Oaks-Derby training period starting at 7:30.

“They both went 10 furlongs,” the seven-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner said. “They’re in good shape. They’ve settled in well and they went over the ground smoothly this morning. Knock on wood, our first morning went well.”

Cutting Humor, winner of the Sunland Derby (GIII) on March 24, drew post 10 for his go in Saturday’s 145th Kentucky Derby and he’ll be handled for the first time by Churchill Downs many-time riding champ Corey Lanerie. Stablemate Spinoff, second in the Louisiana Derby on March 23 in his most recent effort, gets Manny Franco in the boot as they’ll break from post 19 in the 20-horse field.

GAME WINNER/IMPROBABLE/ROADSTER – Given that his Kentucky Derby contingent features a divisional champion and two other Grade I-winning counterparts, no one is suggesting that trainer Bob Baffert is flying anywhere close to under the radar coming into this year’s 10-furlong classic. Still, with the Richard Mandella-trained Omaha Beach shouldering the expectations as the favorite on the morning line, the Hall of Famer is breathing a little bit easier than he was this time last year when he was readying Justify for his historic Triple Crown sweep.

“I think it’s nice to not come in here as the heavy favorite, you can just enjoy the week more,” Baffert said. “Last year we came in here with Justify and we knew it was my race to lose. So I felt a little extra pressure. There are a lot of good horses in here. I think they’re a pretty evenly matched group of horses. You don’t see anybody like really puffing off the screen here. When (2015 Triple Crown winner) American Pharoah came in here, we knew he was from on another planet.”

They may not go off as the betting choice, but Baffert’s trio continue to go about their routine without a hitch heading into Saturday. Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Roadster was one of the first ones onto the track during the special training period for Oaks and Derby runners at 7:30 a.m., galloping about a mile and a half under HumbertoBetoGomez and was joined during that time frame by stablemate and fellow top-level winnerImprobable, who galloped under Jose Contreras.

As was the case on Tuesday, reigning juvenile male champion Game Winner emerged at 9 a.m. with Gomez in the irons for his gallop.

“(This year) reminds me a little bit of the Silver Charm derby (in 1997),” Baffert said. “You had a lot of good 3-year-olds in there and whoever gets the trip is going to win it.”

GRAY MAGICIANWachtel Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber’s UAE Derby runner-up Gray Magician got his first feel for the local surface when galloping with a pony Wednesday during the special 7:30-7:45 Kentucky Derby/Oaks session. A bit lathered, he was ridden by Peter Miller’s assistant trainer Ashlie Campbell.

“He felt good,” Campbell said subsequently at Barn 39. “He was a little warm, but it was nothing to worry about with him. We just wanted to introduce him to the crowds. He galloped about a mile and a quarter.”

A dominant winner of a one-mile Del Mar maiden in November, he was then a game fourth behind well-regarded trio Gunmetal Gray, Sueno andMuch Better in January’s Sham Stakes (GIII). After disliking the slop three weeks later in his third consecutive two-turn mile run, he then shipped to Maryland and cut back a bend to a one-turn mile in the $100,000 Miracle Wood, but ran into a buzz-saw named Alwaysmining, a horse expected to be one of the favorites in upcoming Preakness Stakes (GI).

The son of Graydar has carried his form over three very different surfaces in three vastly different jurisdictions and appears to be one of the few horses who will relish the added distance. Bred by Twin Creeks Farm, he is one of the top progeny of his young sire. Twin Creeks principal RandyGullatt was on hand to see him up close.

“It is a very difficult business, breeding thoroughbred racehorses,” Gullatt said. “To see an offspring by a stallion we raced and are still a part of develop into a Derby contender is priceless. We all dream of this. It is what keeps us going.”

Graydar (Taylor Made Stallions), who won the Donn Handicap (G1) during his brief but brilliant career, is one of four Twin Creeks stallions, along with Constitution (WinStar Farm), Destin and Mission Impazible (both at Sequel Stallions New York).

HAIKALShadwell Stable’s Haikal got his second feel for Churchill Downs Wednesday during the special Kentucky Derby/Oaks 7:30-7:45 a.m. training session. Leaving Barn 41, the son of Daaher jogged with a pony and then broke off into a gallop.

“He galloped a mile and a quarter today,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “We just want to keep him happy, sound and healthy right now.”

LONG RANGE TODDYWillis Horton Racing LLC.’s Long Range Toddy returned to the track for the first time since completing his final Derby work Monday and galloped one mile under regular exercise rider Brooke Stillion.

On Tuesday, the Rebel Stakes (GII) winner drew post 18 of 20, but his jockey, Jon Court, was not discouraged and quickly pointed out that the last winner to come from the 18 hole was fellow Rebel Stakes winner American Pharoah, who then went on to become the first horse in 37 years to win the Triple Crown.

“I’m comfortable with it,” Court said. “In fact, I’m somewhat happy about it. All the speed is to the inside of us. I can come away from there and hopefully fold right in behind the speed. I just have to sit quiet and keep from getting hung too wide.”

Owner Willis Horton wasn’t thrilled with the post position, but says his horse has enough tactical speed to get himself into position. He’s just enjoying the ride with his homebred son of Take Charge Indy.

“It’s really an honor to have a horse as good as he is,” Horton said. “We think he has a big future and it’s a great honor to be in the Derby.”

MASTER FENCERKatsumi and Yasuyo Yoshizawa’s Koichi Tsunoda-trained Master Fencer got his second feel for the Churchill Downs dirt Wednesday during the special Kentucky Derby/Oaks 7:30-7:45 a.m. training session, working an easy five furlongs in 1:05.20 with jockey JulienLeparoux in the saddle. The pair will join again Saturday when they break from post 15 in the 20-horse field.

“He went really well today,” Tsunoda said through a translator. “We are pleased with today’s work. He didn’t work too hard, since he had a (strong gallop) at Keeneland on Sunday before shipping to Churchill Downs. He seems to be handling the dirt just fine. Even with a gate boy, he’ll probably start slow, as usual. He has great closing speed, so I expect to see that turn of foot on Saturday.”

MAXIMUM SECURITYGary and Mary West’s Maximum Security got acquainted with the Churchill Downs track Wednesday morning while galloping a mile on his first day since arriving from his winter base at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Florida.

“He looked good; he’s acting good; he’s cooling out good,” trainer Jason Servis said.

Undefeated Maximum Security will be the second Kentucky Derby starter for Servis, who saddled Firenze Fire for an 11th-place finish last year.

The son of New Year’s Day began his career with a victory in a $16,000 claiming race for maidens at Gulfstream Park before going on to win two optional claiming allowance races and capture the Florida Derby (GI) by 3 ½ lengths, all at Gulfstream.

Maximum Security’s ascension from maiden claimer to Kentucky Derby contender hardly seemed plausible to his connections while he was preparing for his career.

“Nobody wanted to breed to the stallion. He was getting sold to Brazil. The mare went through the sale for $11,000, and I think his brother won cheap,” Servis said. “He was a late foal and was not breezing well at all at Monmouth last year. He never got into the bridle. When he got to Florida, he had a couple better breezes.

“We went over all the horses, Ben [Glass, the Wests’ stable manager] and I, and he said, ‘What about Maximum Security?’ I said, ‘He’s just average. He’s not showing much.’ He said, ‘Take him to Florida and run him where he can win. That’s what I did.”

Maximum Security romped in the 6 ½-furlong race by 9 ¾ lengths in front-running fashion.

“When I put him in, I thought he’d win. I wasn’t expecting a gallop like that. I thought he’d win a maiden $16,000, but I didn’t think he’d win by 10,”Servis said.

Maximum Security came right back to score under wraps by 6 ½ lengths after running six furlongs in 1:09.93. The homebred colt was ridden in his first two races by apprentice Romero Maragh, who would subsequently be sidelined with a serious back injury.

“Romero was adamant he was a stake horse. He’s an apprentice, but he’s a Maragh. The whole family is in racing. He said, ‘This is a stake horse,’ ”Servis said. “I had to take it with a grain of salt because he’s an apprentice. He was spot on.”

Maximum Security went on to win a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance by 18 ¼ lengths under Irad Ortiz Jr. before scoring a 3 ½-length victory in the Florida Derby under Luis Saez. In the Florida Derby, Maximum Security was allowed to set comfortably early fractions before drawing away in the stretch.

“I was surprised [about the fractions]. They went 45 [seconds for a half-mile] in the Fountain of Youth (GII). Gary said, ‘I bet they go slow this race.’ He was right. They went the half in :48.98,” Servis said. “I think after the Fountain of Youth, everybody was spooked.”

The 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby was Maximum Security’s first stakes and first start around two turns.

“I know Gary. He’s breeding everything for the Derby. So, if I know he bred this horse, he’s thinking Derby. [Distance] never worried me.,” Servissaid. “I didn’t ask them, because I know they’re not breeding turf sprinters.”

OMAHA BEACH – The Derby favorite Omaha Beach was under tack and ready to rock ‘n roll Wednesday morning when it came up to 7:30 and the special Derby-Oaks training session at Churchill Downs.

The Fox Hill Farm standard bearer, officially made the 4-1 morning line top choice for the Run for the Roses on Tuesday when he drew post 12 in the 20-horse field, had regular exercise rider Taylor Cambra aboard as they made their way trackside from Barn 28 alongside a big, white pony. TrainerRichard Mandella followed in trace.

Cambra took his charge from the five-furlong gap on the backside to the paddock gap on the frontside to stand for a bit, then proceeded to gallop the big colt strongly around the big oval.

“He went a mile and three-quarters,” said the tall reinsman as he flashed a big smile.

Was it his best gallop yet, someone asked?

“Absolutely,” came the resolute reply.

There was no argument about that from Mandella.

“Good as ever,” the Hall of Famer noted.

The Arkansas Derby (GI) winner returned to his barn, then had a nice bath just outside it as a substantial crowd looked on. Later, as he walked under the shedrow, he once again displayed the sweet disposition he has become noted for.

Throughout Derby Week, Mandella has been quick to make friends for racing — as well as special memories — when it comes to kids and his horse. On hand Wednesday were about a dozen local grade school/junior high kids there with adults to get a feel for Louisville’s most special event.

The trainer had all the kids bunch together at the mouth of his barn and when Omaha Beach swung by on his walk, he brought him over and dropped his big head right in the middle of the awed youngsters. Cell phone cameras clicked like crazy and the school kids giggled in delight. One young towhead lad got a special treat when the horse took a liking to him and began to gently nibble on his hair. You know he’ll never live that one down with his buddies, nor ever forget the special moment.

Mandella also noted that he’s expecting a crew of wounded veterans to be at the barn Thursday to take in the scene and bring a special camouflage blanket they’ve made in tribute to Omaha Beach and the special significance of his name in this, the 75th anniversary year of the bloodiest D-Day landing site on the French coast. The vets are involved with a unique group called Homes for Our Troops, which builds special houses for disabled veterans.

The trainer said he was likely to paddock Omaha Beach either Wednesday or Thursday – though possibly both — in front of the race-day crowds. He has a paddock time today before the sixth race.

PLUS QUE PARFAIT – Flying comfortably under the radar, Imperial Racing’s $2.5 million UAE Derby (GII) winner Plus Que Parfait left Barn 9 at 7:30 this morning and put in another strong gallop under Tom Molloy, assistant trainer, with head conditioner Brendan Walsh watching on horseback.

“He went about a mile and a half,” Walsh said. “He’s a talented horse and he is going to get better. The distance won’t be an issue with him and he proved that when (winning over 1 3/16 miles) in Dubai. The nine-hole is perfect for him. Hopefully the speed goes inside of us and he can save some ground like he did in the UAE Derby.

“He has to answer a question this week of whether or not he’s come back (to form) from Dubai,” he continued. “He’s giving me every indication that he has, but as we’ve seen in previous years, it’s one thing to do it in the morning and it’s another to go out there and do it in a race.”

The son of Point of Entry is Walsh's first starter in the Derby. Two years ago, he started his first Kentucky Oaks filly in Lee Mauberret's Wicked Lick, who finished 13th. Yet to land a Grade I, Walsh has won 10 Grade III stakes and six Group IIs, including two editions of the Marathon (GII) on the Breeders' Cup undercard with Cary Street (2014) and Scuba (2016). Plus Que Parfait is his highest earner to date, with $1,590,400 in acquired prize money.

TAXR. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch and Corms Racing Stable’s Tax galloped a mile and a quarter at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning.

“He’s getting over the track really well. He’s doing good. He’s nice and relaxed, so we’re happy with him,” trainer Danny Gargan said.

Gargan said the son of Arch would gallop into the race with a possible schooling session in the paddock during the week.

“He might go over one time. I’m not too worried about the paddock with him. He’s laid back. He likes people. He doesn’t get shook or rattled by people. He actually likes the crowd,” Gargan said. “I walk him past [trainer Bob] Baffert’s barn, where all the people are, and it doesn’t bother him.”

Like his Derby contender, Gargan isn’t getting rattled by his first Derby experience.

“It’s just another race, really. I’m enjoying it and having fun. We’re in the Derby. I was nervous in the Wood about the Derby because of the points,”Gargan said. “We’re here. It’s all up to him. He’s training good. I think if we get the right situation, he’s one of the horses that can win the race.”

Tax, who captured the Withers (GIII) at Aqueduct after stumbling at the start, earned his way into the Derby field when he finished second after an eventful trip in the Wood Memorial.

“He’s a fighter. He likes competition,” Gargan said.

VEKOMARandy Hill and Mike Gatsas’ Blue Grass (GII) winner Vekoma galloped a mile and a quarter and visited the starting gate under CindyHutter on the colt’s first day on the track at Churchill Downs.

“He galloped well and looked around a lot like you would fexpect with a new place,” trainer George Weaver said, adding that Vekoma would school in the paddock this afternoon with horses in the third race.

For Weaver, a Louisville native and graduate of Atherton High School, this will be his second shot at the Derby roses. In 2015, Tencendurfinished 17th behind American Pharoah.

“The first Derby I went to was 1980, Genuine Risk. I remember that vividly,” Weaver said. “And I was big for Winning Colors (in 1988) and that was before I started working for Wayne (Lukas).”

Vekoma, a late May foal, won his lone two starts in 2018, closing the year with a victory in the one-mile Nashua (GIII) at Aqueduct in November. At that point, Weaver backed off to gear up for a 3-year-old campaign.

“He is a really good colt; very talented,” Weaver said. “His Fountain of Youth was good (a third off a three-month layoff), his Blue Grass was great and I hope Saturday is great.”

Javier Castellano, who was aboard for the first time in the Blue Grass, has the mount Saturday and will break from post position six.

WAR OF WILLMark Casse needed to do something to elevate his mood after watching his charge War of Will draw the dreaded No. 1 post for the 145th edition of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday. So when the Canadian Hall of Fame trainer returned to his room Tuesday, he decided to gather as much evidence as possible to convince him that the son of War Front wasn’t handed a doomsday sentence with his starting point.

“I went and I watched 20 Derbys last night from the one hole. I did. And I’ve decided it’s a good post,” Casse said after watching War of Will gallop under exercise rider Jose Vasquez Wednesday morning. “I mean it has won 9 percent of the time which is better’s than Bob (Baffert)’s 17 (withRoadster) which has never won – and I told him that too.”

Indeed, Casse has some positives that can be gleaned from War of Will’s post. Eight Kentucky Derby winners have started their journey from that inside spot and while none hasg prevailed since Ferdinand in 1986, Lookin At Lee did finish second in 2017 from that rail-skimming position.

Another tick in War of Will’s favor is he does have the speed needed to get himself in position early on and has proven himself to be one of the better gate horses Casse says he has conditioned.

“He has to break. The good news is, he’s probably one of the best breaking horses that I’ve ever trained,” Casse said. “If he doesn’t break, it’s on to the Preakness.”

The rain that is currently in the forecast for Saturday is also something Casse said “is not going to hurt our feelings” as War of Will broke his maiden over a sealed, sloppy Churchill Downs main track last Nov. 24. That maiden win was also the first time Gary Barber’s colt was paired with jockey TylerGaffalione and the duo has gone on to win three of their four outings together, including the Lecomte (GIII) and Risen Star Stakes (GII).

“He’s just a great rider. He has the utmost confidence in the horse and I have the utmost confidence in him,” Casse said of Gaffalione.

WIN WIN WINLive Oak Plantation’s Win Win Win jogged a mile, visited the starting gate and then galloped a mile under exercise rider Melanie Williams. Win Win Win is scheduled to school in the paddock with horses in Thursday’s second race.

For trainer Mike Trombetta, Win Win Win represents his second Kentucky Derby starter. He was here in 2006 with Sweetnorthernsaint who finished seventh as the favorite behind Barbaro.

“I am not really doing anything different (from the last time),” Trombetta said. “I am just trying to enjoy it. I remember it was a little overwhelming with a lot of stuff going on. He had been in Maryland and Illinois and then we get here and everybody wants to see him, even just getting a bath.”

Sweetnorthernsaint rebounded from a troubled trip in the Derby to finish second two weeks later in the Preakness (GI).

Julian Pimentel will get the leg up Saturday and break from post position 14.


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BELLAFINAKaleem Shah’s Kentucky Oaks favorite, Bellafina, took to the track during the special Oaks-Derby training period between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m. Wednesday and went through a full gallop of a mile and one-half under exercise rider Georgio Moreno.

Assistant trainer Carlos Santamaria oversaw the move and liked what unfolded.

“She handled the track well again,” said Santamaria, sporting his usual dandy of a cowboy hat. “She’s doing good.”

Trainer Simon Callaghan made it into Louisville Tuesday and was planning on being on hand for the Wednesday exercise, but had an unfortunate incident happen at his rental home around 6 a.m. when he slipped and fell on a narrow stairway and landed hard on his right shoulder. A trip to the hospital told the tale of a dislocated shoulder.

“Excruciating pain for about an hour or so,” the transplanted Englishman said by phone later in the morning, “but they put it back in place and gave me some medication and everything’s going to be all right. I’m sporting a sling, but I’ll be back at the barn tomorrow morning and we’ll move ahead. I know my filly’s doing well and that’s the important thing.”

CHAMPAGNE ANYONE – Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) winner Champagne Anyone galloped a mile Wednesday morning under exercise riderKara Lee for trainer Ian Wilkes.

Owned by Six Column Stables and Randy Bloch, Champagne Anyone will break from post position 10 under Chris Landeros, who has ridden the Street Sense filly in all seven of her starts.

Landeros, who is married to Wilkes’ daughter Shelby, has turned into one of the trainer’s go-to riders.

“I still use Julien (Leparoux) a lot, but Chris being on this filly just happened,” Wilkes said. “He helped develop her last summer at Ellis Park.”

Another part of the Wilkes team who has played a role in Champagne Anyone’s path to the Kentucky Oaks is Lee.

“I was on her here last fall when she was here,” Lee said. “Ian left some horses here over the winter at Skylight (Training Center) and I stayed here. Then I picked her back up when she came back from Florida.”

CHOCOLATE KISSES –The Honeybee Stakes (GIII) winner Chocolate Kisses came out at 9:10 a.m. and proceeded to gallop under exercise riderKim Carroll.

DUNBAR ROAD – For Peter M. Brant’s Dunbar Road, it’s just a matter of finding a spot in the 14-horse starting gate for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (GI). If she gets in as the first also-eligible, she’ll be the 5-1 second choice.

“She had another great gallop,” trainer Chad Brown said. “Everything is going fine for her here. She’s doing really great.”

She was out with her regular exercise rider, Kriss Bon, during Wednesday’s training session for Oaks and Derby horses. Jose Ortiz is named to ride in the Oaks, if she makes the field.

FLOR DE LA MARGodolphin Racing’s Flor de La Mar came out at 9 a.m. along with stablemate Game Winner and galloped under JoseConteras. The daughter of Tiznow is coming into the Kentucky Oaks off a runner-up effort behind Bellafina in the Santa Anita Oaks (GI).

JAYWALKD.J. Stable LLC and Cash is King LLC’s Jaywalk jogged six furlongs and galloped a mile Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.

“She’s doing great. She’s happy. I’m happy. She’s where she needs to be,” trainer John Servis said.

Servis holds the distinction of winning the Kentucky Derby (GI) with his first and only starter, as well as the Kentucky Oaks (GI) with his first and only starter.

“I have a percentage to uphold,” quipped Servis, who visited the Churchill Downs winner’s circle with 2004 Derby winner Smarty Jones and 2016 Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia. “The pressure is on.”

Servis also visited the Churchill winner’s circle last fall with Jaywalk, who rolled to a 5 ½-length triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI), which gives him a measure of confidence heading into her start in Friday’s Oaks.

“She’s run over the track and has run well. She just happened to have the seven post in the race, so hopefully, lightning will strike twice,” said Servis, whose trainee drew the No. 7 post for the Oaks.

JELTRINADR Racing Stable LLC’s Jeltrin galloped a mile at Churchill Downs Wednesday on the morning after being given an open gallop in preparation for a start in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Trainer Alexis Delgado will saddle his first filly in the Kentucky Oaks since leaving Venezuela and venturing to South Florida.

“There are bad moments in Venezuela right now,” Delgado said. “It’s safe here for my family.”

Delgado has saddled 14 winners from 133 starters in the U.S. Jeltrin, who earned her way into the Kentucky Oaks with a victory in the Davona Dale (GII) at Gulfstream Park, is his first graded-stakes winner.

“In the U.S.A., only one year, two months, I’ve been training. Now, I’m at Churchill Downs. It’s very exciting,” Delgado said.

Delgado said he won about 500 races in Venezuela.

“I’ve been training 20 years. My father was a groom. My whole life has been in racing,” the 37-year-old father of three said. “I love getting up at 4 o’clock and going to work. My life is being a trainer.”

LADY APPLEPhoenix Thoroughbreds III and KatieRich StablesLady Apple went to the track at 7:30 a.m. and galloped one mile under Juan Vargas.

The Curlin filly is undefeated in three starts this year and continues to impress her Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who sees the Oaks setting up similar to her last race in the Fantasy Stakes.

“She’s a filly that continues to step up,” Asmussen said. “She couldn’t be doing any better. She’s happy here and seems to be taking everything in. I love her post position. The three hole is great for her. The Fantasy shaped up the way we thought it would with plenty of speed and it looks similar in the Oaks. She proved she’s not afraid to come through tight quarters last time and we’re expecting big things Friday.”

LIORA – One of Liora’s best attributes according to her connections is the fact the daughter of Candy Ride (ARG) is completely unfazed by whatever conditions she is asked to compete under.

She’s won over both fast and sloppy surfaces. She can run foes off their feet on the front end or stalk those who want to press the issue. It’s that level of indifference that is bringing peace of mind to those closest to her this week.

Two years after watching their multiple graded stakes winner Farrell finish last of 14 as the second betting choice in the Kentucky Oaks, Coffee Pot Stables is back with Liora – who brings a lighter resume to the table but a strong level of confidence nonetheless. The dark bay filly, who put in another routine gallop Wednesday, captured the Golden Rod Stakes (GII) at Churchill Downs last November and enters this year’s Oaks off runner-up finishes in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (GII) and Fair Grounds Oaks (GII).

The fact Liora is 20-1 on the morning line is somewhat of a relief to her owners, who had to stress over the expectations Farrell carried with her in 2017.

“We’re just kind of having a good time,” said Annette Bacola of Coffee Pot Stables. “With Farrell, Farrell had a lot of speed and a lot of talent and we went in as one of the favorites so we were really kind of nervous about it and tense. And then she got injured during the race. But Liora, she may surprise a few people. She’s tough and she’ll run no matter what.

“She doesn’t care what color the flowers are in the infield, she doesn’t care about track conditions. She just likes to run. And she’s tough and she’s strong and according to (trainer) Wayne (Catalano), she’s never been in better shape. So we’ll see, we’re just here to have a good time actually.”

MOTION EMOTION – Trainer Tom Van Berg sent Mark DeDomencio’s Motion Emotion to the track at 7:30 a.m. for a two-mile gallop underRaul Vizcarrondo Wednesday, in anticipation of possibly having a wet track Thursday that could limit morning training.

“We wanted to put some air in her today,” Van Berg said. “This is probably our last bit of serious training, especially if it rains tomorrow.”

Van Berg has been filling some big shoes since December 2017 when he took over the stable of his late father and Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg. When asked what it would feel like to win the Oaks, Van Berg said, “I haven’t gotten that far yet. I think the hard part will be remembering Dad and how emotional he got after he won the Derby (with Alysheba in 1987). I had never seen him shed a tear in his life up until that point when he was remembering his own dad and it will probably be the same for me. I’ll probably be emotional. I’d love it. I’d love it for (Racing Manager) Mike Puhichand Dr. Mark, who have stood by our stable. I’d love it for (assistant trainer) Sammy (Almaraz), who worked for my dad for 40 years. It would be amazing for everyone involved.”

OUT FOR A SPIN – Ashland Stakes (GI) winner Out for a Spin galloped 1 ½ miles Wednesday morning for trainer Dallas Stewart. The filly drew the rail for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks.

“It’s sort of out of our control with the post,” Stewart said. “Someone has to draw the rail. It’s not that bad, though.”

Out for a Spin is listed at 15-1 on the morning line odds.

POINT OF HONOREclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Stetson Racing’s Point of Honor, second on the also-eligible list for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, galloped a mile and an eighth and visited the starting gate under Cindy Hutter on her first day at Churchill Downs.

A winner of two of three starts and fourth in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) in her most recent outing, would be ridden by John Velazquez should there be two defections that get her in the starting gate. She is scheduled to school in the paddock this afternoon with horses in the first race.

Trainer George Weaver said that Point of Honor would be pointed to the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (GII) at Pimlico on May 17 if she does not get in the Oaks.

POSITIVE SPIRIT – The 10-length winner of the Demoiselle (GII) in December, who was a strong second in the Gazelle (GII) at Aqueduct in her most recent start for trainer Rodolphe Brisset, appears to have adapted well to her Churchill Downs surroundings.

Brisset, who works many of his own horses, brought Michael J. Ryan and Gerry Dilger’s Positive Spirit onto the Churchill Downs track Wednesday morning for a mile-and-a-half gallop, which is typically part of her routine.

“She’s doing extremely good, we’re very happy with her,” Brisset said. “I think she looked great galloping; we got a lot of comments about how good she looked out there. We also stopped to go to the gate in the middle of the gallop. It’s kind of a routine thing for us.

“She’ll train a little bit tomorrow and we will train the morning of the race.”

The filly, who drew the No. 6 post, is 30-1 on the morning line and will have Manny Franco aboard for her first Grade I test.

RESTLESS RIDER – Ashland Stakes (GI) runner-up Restless Rider galloped under regular exercise rider Danny Ramsey, said Greg Geier, an assistant to trainer Kenny McPeek, who was at Keeneland early Wednesday.

The Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farm filly drew the outside No. 14 post for the Oaks. Brian Hernandez Jr. will be aboard Restless Rider, who was made the 6-1 co-third choice along with Champagne Anyone. She was clocked in :49.60 for the four furlongs during her final workout Monday.

Restless Rider had three wins and three seconds in six races last year as a 2-year-old, including winning the Alcibiades (GI) at Keeneland and was a runner-up to Jaywalk in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Churchill Downs. She finished a neck behind Out for a Spin in the Ashland atKeeneland in her 3-year-old debut.

SERENGETI EMPRESS – All is going as planned for trainer Tom Amoss in prepping Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (GI). She was on the track for a 1 ½-mile gallop again Wednesday morning. Jose Ortiz is down to ride her in the Oaks.

“She had her regular gallop today,” Amoss said of his filly, who is the 8-1 co-fourth choice along with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) championJaywalk. “We did take her to the gate, for schooling, and she did well. It was the second time this week that we did that.”

STREET BAND – As Street Band came on the track to train at 7:30 a.m. with the other Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks horses, several onlookers commented how much energy the filly has had all week as she bounced along until breaking into a 1 ½-mile gallop under exercise rider Jorge Nava.

When asked about the high energy his filly is displaying, trainer Larry Jones said, “That’s just her. We never have to ask her to go. That’s the problem we had with her early. We had trouble getting her to relax and I thought she’d only be a sprinter. But, now that she’s running longer, she’s learning to relax. I wish she wasn’t that way all the time, but I’m not going to change anything now.”

While an Oaks win would be the fourth one for Jones, it would be the first for jockey Sophie Doyle who referred to Street Band as “a fiery red head” like herself.


A new two-day Pick 6 that features six Grade I races, including the $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve and $1.25 millionLongines Kentucky Oaks, highlights a spectacular wagering menu for the 2019 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs.

Along with the new $2 Oaks/Derby Pick 6, the wagering menu will also feature a $1.5 million guaranteed Pick 5 on Kentucky Derby day that will end on the Kentucky Derby in Race 12 and the $1 million guaranteed Bourbon Double for the Old Forester Turf Classic (GI) and Kentucky Derby. The 50-cent Pick 5, arguably the fastest growing wager in the U.S., features a 15% takeout. The Bourbon Double has a $1 minimum denomination.

The Oaks/Derby Pick 6, which has a $250,000 guaranteed pool, has a mandatory payout with a 15% takeout. The wager will begin Friday with the $500,000 La Troienne – a 1 1/16-mile event for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up, followed by the Kentucky Oaks – run at 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-old fillies. Saturday’s races include the $500,000 Humana Distaff – for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at seven furlongs; the $500,000 Churchill Downs – for 4-year-olds and up run at seven furlongs; the $1 million Old Forester Turf Classic – for 4-year-olds and up run at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course; and the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby.

The wagering menu will also include the 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot which began on Opening Night, April 27, and run through the entirety of the Spring Meet, including Oaks and Derby days. To win the entire Single 6 Jackpot, a player must have the only winning combination. If there are multiple winning combinations, 90 percent of the pool will be paid out and 10 percent will carry to the next day’s card. The Single 6 Jackpot takeout is 15%.

Head-to-head wagers, which were approved earlier this month by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, will not be offered this year.

The full list of post times and wagering offerings are available here:….


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