Scratch time for the 141st Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) passed at 9 a.m. Friday with no further defections from Saturday’s field thus leaving Charles Fipke’s Tale of Verve on the outside looking in.
However, Zayat Stables’ El Kabeir’s status for Saturday’s race became clouded Friday morning when he took “a few cautious steps” that caused the cancellation of a morning gallop at Churchill Downs.
OTHER KENTUCKY DERBY NOTES
AMERICAN PHAROAH/DORTMUND – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s colts -- Zayat Stables’ American Pharoah and Kaleem Shah’s Dortmund -- galloped at 5:45 Friday morning, shortly after the track opened for training.
Baffert said both of his horses were doing well. He was looking forward to a day of racing even though he only had one horse entered in the Friday stakes. “I’m just going to watch the races now, watch the Oaks day and figure out my strategy,” Baffert said.
From Baffert’s perspective, the Derby will be won, or lost, in the moments after the gates open.
“Our horses are not going to be coming from out of the clouds,” he said. “The break is going to be the key.”
During the days leading up to the 141st Derby, Baffert talked about how he prepares his jockeys. He said he talks with them about the other horses and jockeys in the race, but that ultimately they have to make the right decisions about pace and positioning during the running.
“You can’t manage it,” Baffert said. “If you have to manage the jockey then you’re running the wrong guy.”
Two-time Derby winner Victor Espinoza will be aboard American Pharoah, the morning-line favorite. They will leave from post 17. “He rides with a lot of confidence and he’s been here at the big dance,” Baffert said. “It’s up to him. I can’t really tell him anything.”
Martin Garcia has the mount on unbeaten Dortmund, the second choice. They will be in post No. 8. Garcia has been aboard the big colt for all of his races.
“Martin, this is the first time that he’s going to ride a horse that actually has a really good chance to win (this will be his fourth Derby mount), so I’m sure he will be a little nervous,” Baffert said. “It’s going to be a good test for him to see what he does. You really can’t map out too much for him. With 20 horses in there, it’s too confusing. He knows his horse. He’ll just put him in a nice spot. He likes his horse a lot. He has a lot of confidence in his horse. He hasn’t let him down yet. He knows what the horse likes and that’s important.”
BOLO – The California-based colt Bolo went for a mile jog and a visit to the paddock Friday morning at 7:30 as he moved forward toward his date with destiny Saturday in Kentucky Derby 141.
Regular exercise rider Tony Rubalcava was aboard for the exercise and he reported back to trainer Carla Gaines that all was well as they went back to Barn 45 on the Churchill Downs backstretch.
“He’s ready,” Gaines said. ”He’s doing well on this track and we’ll hope all goes well tomorrow.”
The trainer indicated she’d likely give her Temple City colt a light jog Derby morning.
Sixteen times previously a female trainer has tightened the girth on a Derby starter, beginning with Mary Hirsch in 1937 with the horse No Sir who finished 13th. But one female – Dianne Carpenter – performed the feat twice, sending out Biloxi Indian (12th) in 1984 and Kingpost (14th) in 1988. Most recently, Kathleen O’Connellhad a starter with Watch Me Go (18th) in 2011. The best finishes by female Derby trainers have been Shelley Riley’s second-place effort by Casual Lies in 1992, along with third-place finishes by Kristin Mulhall withImperialism in 2004 and Kathy Ritvo with Mucho Macho Man in 2011.
So on Saturday it will be the 17th time a female conditioner sends out a Derby horse, though -- because of Carpenter’s double duty -- Gaines will, in fact, be the 16th lady to do so.
CARPE DIEM/ITSAKNOCKOUT/MATERIALITY – Trainer Todd Pletcher had his reduced-to-three Kentucky Derby contingent out for gallops Friday morning at Churchill Downs during the early 5:45-6 training session slotted for Derby and Oaks horses only. The trainer’s intended fourth horse, Stanford, had been withdrawn from the race Thursday.
Carpe Diem, a colt by Giant’s Causeway, Itsaknockout, by Lemon Drop Kid, and Materiality, a son ofAfleet Alex, had their regular exercise riders up – Patti Krotenko (Carpe Diem), Ezequiel Perez (Itsaknockout) and Carlos Cano (Materiality) – as they set off for steady gallops that were all “mile and a quarterish,” according to Pletcher.
“I’m pretty happy with where they all are right now,” the trainer said. “I’m happy with what I’ve seen here.”
He was asked if he’d have liked a few more days or a week with any of the horses to get them ready for Derby 141.
“No,” he said. “We’re ready. Let’s go.”
Later – at approximately 6:50 a.m. – Pletcher sent out the Malibu Moon colt Stanford for a mile and three-eighths gallop underneath exercise rider Isabelle Bourez. The Louisiana Derby (GII) runner-up had been entered for the Derby Wednesday and had drawn post 11 in the 20-horse field. But after further consideration, the Stanford owners decided they’d look for a better race for their horse and had Pletcher scratch him.
Thursday the trainer indicated that he’s likely to choose between the Peter Pan Stakes (at Belmont Park on May 9) or the Preakness Stakes (at Pimlico on May 16) for Stanford’s next start. Friday morning he said he’d breeze him five furlongs Derby morning at Churchill in preparation for that next outing.
DANZIG MOON – John Oxley’s Danzig Moon followed his regular morning routine by galloping 1 ½ miles under exercise rider William Cano. Danzig Moon was on the track at 5:45 during the early Oaks Day morning period for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks entrants.
Trainer Mark Casse said the runner-up in the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) in his most recent start would gallop in the morning.
Listed at 30-1 on the morning line, Danzig Moon will break from post position five under Julien Leparoux.
Casse, who will be saddling his third Kentucky Derby starter, was asked what he would like to see in Saturday’srace to enhance the chances of Danzig Moon.
“I would like to see a fast pace and have us be about 10 lengths behind,” Casse said.”Hopefully the pace comes apart at the seams and we can pick them up.”
EL KABEIR – Zayat Stables’ El Kabeir’s status for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby became clouded Friday morning when he took “a few cautious steps” that caused the cancellation of a morning gallop at Churchill Downs.
“We’re a wait-and-see. He just has a tender spot in the inside quarter of his left front foot. We’re working on it. It could be a simple bruise. It could be an abscess forming there,” trainer John Terranova said. “We’re working on it.”
Terranova will closely monitor the condition before determining if the son of Scat Daddy is fine to compete in the Derby.
“We’ll see how he is later today and tomorrow morning,” he said. “If everything looks good, he’ll go out and train, exercise a little bit and stretch his legs. If he’s not, we’ll take him out of the race.”
Terranova found out something wasn’t right with El Kabeir when he walked out of his stall.
“He took a few cautious steps out of his stall this morning. Right away, it was a concern,” Terranova said. “It doesn’t seem to be anything serious. Timing-wise, we’ll have to wait and see. Hopefully we’ll be good.”
Terranova said he was taking the unfortunate development in stride.
“It’s part of the game, part of being a trainer. It comes with the territory,” he said. “We’ll do what’s best for the horse.”
El Kabeir , rated at 30-1 in the morning line, was a prominent competitor during the winter and spring at Aqueduct, where he captured the Jerome (GIII) and Gotham Stakes (GIII), as well as finishing second in the Withers (GIII) and third in the Wood Memorial (GI).
FAR RIGHT – Harry Rosenblum and Robert LaPenta’s Far Right jogged two miles under exercise riderLaura Moquett shortly after the track opened for training at 5:45 Friday morning.
Trainer Ron Moquett said the Arkansas Derby (GI) runner-up had an excellent paddock schooling sessionThursday afternoon and may jog in the morning to complete his preparations for Kentucky Derby 141.
Far Right, a 30-1 shot on the morning line who will be ridden by Mike Smith, represents the first Kentucky Derby starter for Moquett.
“I hope everybody gets a clean break and half of them decide who wants to win the first half of the race and set it up for us in the second half,” Moquett said.
FIRING LINE – The well-made colt Firing Line by the young stallion Line of David galloped a mile and one half Friday in the early 5:45-6 a.m. training period set aside for Derby and Oaks horses at Churchill Downs. Regular exercise rider Humberto Gomez was in the tack and trainer Simon Callaghan looked on from just inside the Lukas Gap on the backstretch.
“I believe he’s ready,” Callaghan said of his charge who will break from post 10 Saturday and be ridden by three-time Derby winner Gary Stevens.
“He’s feeling good, acting good, right where we want him to be,” the trainer added.
Callaghan, who will be saddling his first Derby horse, noted that he’ll probably put Firing Line on the trackSaturday for a light jog.
FRAMMENTO – Mossarosa’s Frammento galloped 1 ¼ miles under exercise rider Juan Bernardini at 7:30Friday morning.
Eoghan Conlon, assistant to trainer Nick Zito, said the fourth-place finisher in the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) would go to the track in the morning.
Corey Nakatani will have the mount on Frammento, who was stabled here last fall and finished fourth in a two-turn allowance race after breaking his maiden at Keeneland.
That experience here was a reason that Zito kept the colt at Keeneland until Frammento’s Tuesdayafternoon arrival here.
Zito is seeking his third Derby victory. His first came in 1991 with Strike the Gold, who won the Blue Grass Stakes before taking the Derby. Three years later Go for Gin came off a runner-up effort in the Wood Memorial (GI) to win the roses.
FROSTED – Godolphin Racing’s Frosted galloped 1 3/8 miles Friday morning at Churchill Downs followingThursday’s full training schedule that included visits to the starting gate and paddock as well as a strong gallop.
“Everything’s great,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “He’ll go to the track in the morning.”
McLaughlin, who saddled Frosted for a last-to-first two-length victory in the Wood Memorial (GI) at Aqueduct in his most recent start, is hoping for a solid early pace in the Derby to set up Frosted late kick.
“We were last in Wood Memorial with a slow half-mile in 49 (seconds). I feel like it’s going to set up with about 10 horses with early speed, we’re going to be back, closer to 20th than firstt the first part of the race,” McLaughlin said. “I’m not saying we’re going to be that far back. He might be 10th, but I feel like he’s going to settle well.”
Joel Rosario, who rode Frosted for the first time in the Wood Memorial, has the return mount aboard the son of Tapit for the Derby.
INTERNATIONAL STAR – Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Louisiana Derby (GII) winner and Road to the Kentucky Derby points leader (171) International Star galloped 1 1/4 miles soon after the track opened at 5:45 a.m. Ken Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker were grinning ear to ear as they followed the son of Fusaichi Pegasusback to the barn.
“We are all smiles,” Ken Ramsey said. “We’re very delighted with what happened this morning. I kind of wish that today was the day. You get sweaty palms when you get this close to the race with one that we think is this good.”
One day after International Star stayed in his barn rather than visit the track for some form of exercise, Maker was eager to show doubters that his day of walking wasn’t a sign that something might be amiss. “It was just a routine gallop,” Maker said. “If we’re not ready today then we never will be. There was nothing out of character. He walked up great, galloped terrific, in the bridle.”
Added Ramsey: “There’s nothing more to say at this point. The hype is over with. It’s time for potential to develop into performance.”
KEEN ICE –?Donegal Racing's Keen Ice galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar for trainer Dale Romans. "Everything's good,'' Romans said. Keen Ice is a son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, who finished third in the Derby in 2007. Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning rider Kent Desormeaux has the mount.
MR. Z – Zayat Stables’ Mr. Z galloped under exercise rider Edvin Vargas Friday morning for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. "He did it really well,'' Lukas said.
On Saturday, Lukas will extend his record for Derby starters to 48. Nerves won't be an issue for him, he said.
"I never got nerves for the first one or the last,'' he said. "I just try to get them over there and see what happens. I don't get really excited even during the races. I don't jump up and down and holler. I watch it pretty analytically. I'm analyzing what's going on, pretty much. I don't get that excited.''
Lukas, 79, will be competing in his 26th Derby. His first Derby starter was Partez, who finished third in 1981.
MUBTAAHIJ (IRE) – Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s UAE Derby (GII) winner Mubtaahij (IRE) came to the track about 6 a.m. for a very light jog in the one-mile chute, making five laps of roughly three-eighths per lap with exercise rider Lisa Moncrieff. Stablemate Umgiyo, entered for Saturday’s Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI), also joined in the fun.
“It’s customarily what we do before races just to stretch their legs out a little bit, keep them moving,” saidTrevor Brown, assistant to trainer Mike de Kock. “We’re happy with the way they came out of their works yesterday and all systems are go.”
Saturday will be only the beginning of a busy weekend for jockey Christophe Soumillon, who will ride at Longchamp Racecourse in Paris on Sunday. The 33-year-old will leave Churchill Downs with a police escort after the Derby Day finale is official. From there he’ll fly by private jet to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, hop in a limo to John F. Kennedy International Airport in the New York City borough of Queens, and make the last direct flight for Paris. Soumillon should touch down in Paris about noon local time Sunday and will ride in yet another car to make first post at 1:30 p.m. He’ll ride Dubai Sheema Classic winner Dolniya in the Group 1 Prix Ganay about 3 p.m.
OCHO OCHO OCHO -- DP Racing LLC’s Delta Jackpot (GIII) winner Ocho Ocho Ocho went to the track at 5:45 a.m. for a 1 1/2-mile gallop under exercise rider Amy Williams.
“He really galloped well this morning,” trainer Jim Cassidy said later in the morning as he surveyed the morning barn area crowds for a last time. “He had no issues and everything was good. Just keeping him happy. I just brought him in from grazing and he seems to be fine.”
The son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense may be holding up better than his 69-year-old trainer, who admitted to being worn down by all of the obligations that come with running a Derby horse.
“I’m tired but other than that everything is fine,” he said.
Jockey Elvis Trujillo rides five races at Santa Anita today and will arrive in Louisville tonight. Cassidy said they will meet in the morning to discuss their strategy for the Derby.
TALE OF VERVE – Charles Fipke's Tale of Verve won't be racing in the Kentucky Derby. Because no horses were scratched before 9 a.m. Friday, Tale of Verve won't draw into the race from the also-eligible list. He gallopedFriday under exercise rider Emerson Chavez for trainer Dallas Stewart, who said he's planning to work Tale of Verve on Sunday morning.
TENCENDUR – Phil Birsh’s first Derby starter, Tencendur, went out to the track when it opened for business at 5:45 Friday morning. “We just galloped a mile, from wire to wire,” said exercise rider Blair Golen, who works for trainer George Weaver.
Golen said that everything was fine with Tencendur, who she described as typically being full of himself. After he completed his
morning exercise, Tencendur was allowed to graze outside of Barn 42. “If he wasn’t stopping to have his picture taken -- he loves to have his picture taken -- he was mauling me,” Golen said.
Weaver said he hopes his horse will be able to sit back off what he expects to be a sensible pace and stay away from trouble.
“I think a lot depends on the breaks and how the race develops,” he said. “There are a lot of horses that want to lay close to
the pace in here, but they’re not necessarily a :46 type horse. Usually the Derby has a solid-enough pace in it and I think it will this year.
But it will be interesting to see how it develops. Although there are those kind of front-runners, none of them are that blinding Spend a Buck-type speed horse. In years past we’ve had what are really sprinters trying to go long. I don’t see that. We have horses that want to lay close and go a half in :48 or :47 in change.
Tencendur earned his Derby qualifying points with a second in the Wood Memorial (GI) at Aqueduct. He made his move to the lead in the second turn. “We laid close to the pace in New York on top of a :49 half. I doubt that we’ll be laying on top of the pace in here. We’re going to ask the horse to position himself and I doubt that (jockey)Manny (Franco)’s going to put him close to the pace. I see him being a stalker, a mid-packer
“Invariably there is some bottle-necking going into the first turn and you want to do your best to avoid that and you want your horse to get into a good rhythm where the horse is in a nice stride. Turning up the backstretch, the jock has to pick a path that gives his horse the best shot to get there.”
UPSTART – Ralph M. Evans and WinStar Farm’s Upstart galloped1 3/8 miles under exercise rider Vicki KingFriday morning at Churchill Downs.
“He thinks he’s King Kong,” trainer Richard Violette Jr. said. “He’ll have a little jog tomorrow, but we’re done.”
Violette expressed his complete satisfaction with Upstart’s readiness to compete in Saturday’s Run for the Roses.
“He’s trained well; he’s eating well; he’s held his weight; he’s sound, happy. That’s what we want,” he said. “Let him get a good trip.”
Upstart originally drew the No. 19 post position but will break from the No. 18 post because of the defection of Stanford.
“I’d like to save some ground around the first turn. I’ll probably have to look at diving to the rail or the 2-3 path. Get there and ride the race from there,” Violette said. “If you’re wide the first turn, you have to try to cut the corner the second turn, and that doesn’t happen too often. You’re usually wide both turns. At the break, we’ll follow American Pharoah, but we’ll be looking to dive in somewhere and hope that works.”
Jose Ortiz has the mount aboard Upstart, who prepped at Gulfstream Park, where he won the Holy Bull (GII), finished first but was placed second in the Fountain of Youth (GII) and checked in second in the Florida Derby (GI).
WAR STORY – Loooch Racing Stables, Glenn Ellis and Christopher Dunn’s War Story jogged a mile and galloped a mile under exercise rider Marvin Orantes for trainer Tom Amoss.
“I was happy with him this morning,” said Amoss, who will be saddling his fourth Kentucky Derby starter. “The track looks tighter than it has been all week and he likes it like that.”
Never worse than third in five career starts, War Story comes into the Derby off a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (GII) under Joe Talamo, who will be back aboard Saturday. War Story is the second Derby mount for Talamo, who finished 17th on Sidney’s Candy in 2010.
“I hope there is a hot pace,” Amoss said of a scenario that would best aid War Story, who is one-for-one at Churchill Downs with an off-the-pace score last fall.
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), which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 2, 2015. The track’s 2015 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 25-June 27. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.ChurchillDowns.com.