The top three finishers from Saturday’s 141st Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) were doing well Monday morning at Churchill Downs.
American Pharoah and Dortmund, the 1-3 finishers, walked the shedrow at trainer Bob Baffert’s barn and Firing Line did the same a few barns away for trainer Simon Callaghan.
Meanwhile, trainer D. Wayne Lukas hoped that a Preakness run may be in the cards for Mr. Z, who finished 13th in the Derby.
“I haven’t talked to Mr. (Ahmed) Zayat, but we will get together,” Lukas said. “My vote would be to go (to the Preakness). He never got a chance to run (after being checked repeatedly in the run to the first turn). We were the whipping boy, but you get that in an 18-horse field.”
Lukas plans to be in Baltimore for Preakness Weekend May 15-16 with runners expected in several undercard stakes both days.
ALVAREZ FINALLY GETS HIS DERBY ROSE – While his boss Bob Baffert was enjoying a fourth Kentucky Derby victory with American Pharoah, exercise rider Jorge Alvarez was finally able to savor his first.
“I was the exercise rider for Lookin At Lucky, Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister,” said Alvarez, who attended his first Derby in 2001 when he was the exercise rider for Jamaican Rum, trained by Jim Cassidy.
“Pioneerof the Nile and ‘Bode’ I thought were the two best horses in the race, but sometimes the best horse doesn’t win.A 50-1 shot (Mine That Bird) beat Pioneerof the Nile.”
Ironically, Pioneerof the Nile is the sire of American Pharoah, who delivered the goods Saturday.
“I tried not to get too confident (leading up to the race,” Alvarez said, “because I know things can happen in a race.”
While American Pharoah and stablemate Dortmund walked the shedrow, there was still plenty of activity for the Baffert crew.
After the morning renovation break, Kaleem Shah’s Luminance worked six furlongs in 1:13 under Chris Landeros. Runner-up in the Santa Anita Oaks (GI) in her most recent start, Luminance is considered as a probable starter in the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (GII) on May 15 at Pimlico.
FIRING LINE IN GOOD PREAKNESS SPOT AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Arnold Zetcher’s Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line had an easy Monday morning, coming out of his stall for a bath at 8 and then walking the shedrow for a half-hour with assistant Carlos Santamaria striding alongside.
Housed in Barn 42, Firing Line’s stall has not been the home to any recent Kentucky Derby winners, but in the early 1990s it was the place to be for the Preakness. Hansel had the stall in 1991 and Pine Bluff was there the year later for the Derby. Both lost in the Derby but won two weeks later in Baltimore.
“Hmmm,” Santamaria said with a smile, “and 2015 more history.”
It already has been a magical ride for the 37-year-old Santamaria, who was hired by Simon Callaghan to be his assistant less than two months ago.
"I never thought I would be here. This is a race that you dream about,” said Santamaria, who started his career with trainers Charlie Whittingham and David Hofmans before spending the past 19 years with Jack Carava.
And Firing Line is a dream horse to work with.
“He is a total professional. He does what you want him to do,” Santamaria said. “You want to jog, he’ll jog. You want to stand for 10 minutes, he’ll stand.”
Firing Line finally got the best of his nemesis Dortmund in the Derby, a colt he had lost to twice in photo finishes. However, he could not take down race favorite American Pharoah, finishing a length back.
"After the race, I felt bad for him because he didn’t deserve to lose,” Santamaria said. “It is too bad there couldn’t have been two winners.”
WORK TAB -- Winchell Thoroughbreds’ champion Untapable worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 over a fast track early Monday morning for trainer Steve Asmussen. Joining the winner of last year’s Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) as well as four other Grade I races on the tab for Asmussen were multiple graded stakes winner Tapiture (1:01 for five furlongs) and three-time graded stakes-placed Bold Conquest (1:00.80 for five furlongs). Charles Fipke’s Tale of Verve, who was on the also-eligible list for the Derby but did not draw in, worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 shortly after the track opened. Trainer Dallas Stewart said the Belmont on June 6 was a more likely option for his horse than the Preakness.