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ADVICE / DUNKIRK / JOIN IN THE DANCE / TAKE THE POINTS – A trio of Todd Pletcher-trained Kentucky Derby “possibles” went through their final serious drills for the Saturday spectacular on Monday morning, putting a “put me in coach” spin on activities Pletcher’s Barn 38.
Pletcher took up a post in the grandstand and oversaw the activities, which began shortly after the renovation break ended at 8:30 a.m. (all times EDT) when Hall of Fame jockey-turned-jockey-agent-and-sometimes-exercise-rider Angel Cordero Jr. guided the Sky Mesa colt Join in the Dance through a five-furlong workout timed in 1:00.20.
Join in the Dance, stakes-placed and No. 21 on the Kentucky Derby “eligible” list based on graded stakes earnings starting out the day, has a good turn of foot and could be a solid forward factor in the full field if he gets to run.
“He’s an enthusiastic work horse, so it was good to see him settle and work well today,” Pletcher said afterward. “He should be ready now.”
Next from the Pletcher barn – just after 9 a.m. – came two other Derby candidates, the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (Grade II) winner Advice and the gray Even the Score colt Take the Points.
Advice went off first with exercise rider Kevin Willey up and covered four furlongs in :47.20, then galloped out an extra furlong in 1:00. He is already solidly “in” the Derby lineup based on graded earnings, should his connections – the WinStar Farm crew of Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt – decide they’d like a third horse in Derby 135. The Kentucky farm already has Hold Me Back and Mr. Hot Stuff scheduled to run in the 10-furlong classic, so the thought of wheeling Advice back in two weeks off his Lexington tally has been debated.
“I got him (Advice) finishing up that work in :23 and 1,” Pletcher said. “It was a good move for him.”
Shortly after Advice took care of business, exercise rider Horacio De la Paz had Take the Points ready to ramble five-eighths and he was joined – once again – by the unstarted potential star (he’s by Storm Cat out of champion Serena’s Song) Schramsberg, with Cordero on board. The pair had worked in company last week and they went at it again with the unraced chestnut youngster starting out a length or two in front as they went by the five-furlong marker.
The gray colt – who sits at No. 22 on the Derby “eligible” list -- took dead aim on his “rival” around the turn and by the time he’d gone by the wire in 1:00.20, he was well clear and drawing out on the less-experienced colt, who was given a final time of 1:01.60.
“I was happy to see the work by Take the Points,” Pletcher said. “He picked up his workmate and went right on by. He looked good doing it.”
The trainer said decisions on who might – and might not – be entered in the Derby on Wednesday morning would be made Tuesday. Possible jockey assignments will be fixed then, too.
“We’ll see how they come out of these works tomorrow morning,” the trainer said. “We’re happy with the overall activity today and it sets us up for lots of possibilities.”
The final Pletcher Derby candidate – and one of the possible favorites for the race – Dunkirk, spent his Monday morning shipping to West Palm Beach Airport for a flight to Louisville. He was expected to join the Pletcher barn Monday afternoon.
CHOCOLATE CANDY – Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer made a beeline from Barn 42 to the clocker’s stand on the Churchill Downs backside Monday morning just before 8:30 a.m. and the end of the track’s renovation break. He got there in time to watch Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith backtrack his colt Chocolate Candy from the six-furlong gap to the eighth pole, then turn and ease on in to a five-furlong workout.
As the work began to unfold on the backstretch near the five-eighths pole, a two-horse collision near the finish line occurred and sent track sirens wailing. It also sent Hollendorfer – and everyone else at the track – into moments of high anxiety. Fortunately for the Chocolate Candy connections the unhappy incident did not disrupt their business and the tall, bay son of Candy Ride clipped off a drill of :59.20, galloping out an extra furlong in 1:12.80. (Clockers caught the early splits in :12, :23.60, :35.60 and :47.)
“We both saw the horses down,” Smith said afterward. “Luckily, it happened over by the outer rail. He (Chocolate Candy) just looked that way for a second, but he turned back and kept on going. We both were able to focus and complete what we had to do.”
A slightly shaken Hollendorfer was happy to have the work and the incident behind him.
“We were lucky we got to finish the work,” he said heading back to the barn. “So many things can happen. It is worrisome.
“I had told Mike ‘Just like Santa Anita’ (a reference to a :59.20 work turned in by the pair at the California track on April 12). He hit it right on. Now I think my horse has a chance to run well here. He can handle this track and now we know he can run well here. Handling the track is key and he’s show us he can.”
Smith had little doubt about that subject.
“Sure, he’ll handle this track,” the rider said. “He’ll handle anything. He’s a nice colt. His work today felt just like the one at Santa Anita. He’s ready to go.”
Chocolate Candy is a winner of four of nine starts and $532,500. He was bred by the late Sid Craig and his wife Jenny and currently races for the family’s Trust.
DESERT PARTY / REGAL RANSOM – Trainer Saeed bin Suroor watched his Kentucky Derby prospects jog a mile shortly after the track opened for training at 6 a.m.
The Godolphin duo turned in the two fastest five-furlong works Saturday morning: Regal Ransom in :59.20 and Desert Party in :59.60. Sunday morning they walked the shedrow at Barn 41.
“They came out of their work in good form. No problem,” bin Suroor said. “They are perfectly, sound, happy, fresh. No problems at all.”
The veteran trainer said the colts would gallop Tuesday morning. Both colts started their racing careers in the United States last year, spent the winter in Dubai and competed in the international race meet at Nad al Sheba race track. Regal Ransom, who had finished second to Desert Party in the first two races at Nad al Sheba, pulled off a bit of an upset in the UAE Derby on March 28, beating his stablemate by a half-length.
“Both of these horses are much better than they were in Dubai,” bin Suroor said. “They each had three runs in Dubai. They handled the travel very well.”
Alan Garcia will ride Regal Ransom and Ramon Dominguez has the assignment on Desert Party in the Derby.
FLYING PRIVATE – Robert Baker and William Mack's Flying Private worked four furlongs in :47.40 after the renovation break Monday. Robby Albarado, who has the mount for Derby 135, was aboard for the move that featured fractions of :23.80 for the quarter and :35.80 for three-eighths.
“He went well,” Albarado said. “It was just a maintenance work with company. Wayne (trainer D. Wayne Lukas) wanted to get a good finish and that's what we got.”
FRIESAN FIRE – Larry Jones had said he did not expect Friesan Fire to work as fast in his final Derby drill as Hard Spun did two years ago.
He was right. Friesan Fire worked bullet five furlongs in :57.80 with jockey Gabriel Saez up. Hard Spun had worked in :57.60 under Jockey Mario Pino on the Monday of Derby Week.
“A fifth of a second off,” Jones said, adding with a laugh, “that’s good, people would have said I worked him too fast.”
Working immediately after the renovation break over a “fast” track, Friesan Fire reeled off fractions of :11.20, :22.20, :33.60, :45.20 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.
“I was very happy with it,” Jones said. “Gabe said he thought he went in about a minute. If I could have written the perfect script, I would have had him gallop out in 1:12, but he has been watching those tents every day (on the backside) and I wanted to put the blinkers on to keep him more focused.”
Jones, whose horses have run second in the past two editions of the Kentucky Derby, was asked if he felt the Derby gods might smile on him this year.
“I feel blessed to have run in the past two Kentucky Derbys and have horses run well,” Jones said referring to Hard Spun and Eight Belles. “If the gods want to smile on me, I’m gonna grin from ear to ear.”
Jones said Friesan Fire would walk Tuesday, jog Wednesday and then gallop up to Derby 135.
“Wednesday is going to be an easy day,” Jones said. “He may go to the paddock and the gate and walk around and see some folks. We’re fine (after this work); he wasn’t blowing at all when he came back.”
Friesan Fire is owned by Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm, the same partnership that owns Kodiak Kowboy who worked five furlongs in :59.80 immediately after Friesan Fire as a prep for a run in Saturday’s Grade II Churchill Downs. Saez was aboard Kodiak Kowboy and also worked Just Jenda, owned by Jones’ wife Cindy, a half-mile in :48 in preparation for the Eight Belles on Saturday.
GENERAL QUARTERS – Owner/trainer Tom McCarthy looked on as his Toyota Blue Grass (Grade I) winner turned in a second straight spirited gallop mid-track under exercise rider Julie Sheets. McCarthy said he won’t change plans with his one-horse stable and continue to just gallop General Quarters up to Derby 135.
“He’s a strong galloper, maybe too strong sometimes,” McCarthy said moments after this morning’s 1 1/2-mile exercise.
General Quarters does not have the prettiest conformation or stride, especially in the right-front foot, which is why he sold for just $20,000 as a yearling. But, as McCarthy noted, “It does not affect him when he gallops or runs, there’s no doubt about that. You have to do something corrective when they are a baby, or just live with it. He’s always had it and always will.”
One area where McCarthy won’t have to worry about his horse is familiarity with Churchill Downs. McCarthy said because General Quarters has raced, trained and stabled here in the past, “He knows his way around. There’s no need to school him in between races in the paddock or do too much with him at this point.”
HOLD ME BACK – Typically, horses spend a day away from the track the morning after a timed workout. Not WinStar Farm’s Hold Me Back, who needed more action than a stroll around trainer Bill Mott’s shedrow.
Sunday morning, the Toyota Blue Grass (Grade I) runner-up worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 under Hall of Fame jockey and three-time Kentucky Derby-winner Kent Desormeaux. At 6:55 a.m. Monday, Mott led the colt and assistant trainer Kenny McCarthy to the track, where they galloped a mile.
“He doesn’t like to walk,” Mott said. “He’d rather train. He’s full of energy and gets anxious. He wants to get out and do a little something.”
I WANT REVENGE – One day before he’s scheduled for his final tune-up for the Kentucky Derby, I Want Revenge jogged a mile and galloped a mile under exercise rider Joe Deegan at Churchill Downs on Monday morning.
“I think he’s just peaking now,” trainer Jeff Mullins said. “He looks just as good as he did in New York, maybe a little better. For as much traveling as he’s done for a young horse, he hasn’t missed a beat. I don’t think he’s ever come out of his feed tub one time.”
Mullins will send the Kentucky-bred colt to the track Tuesday morning right after the renovation break, although he said he hadn’t decided whether the workout will be four or five furlongs.
While getting his morning bath following his exercise Monday morning, I Want Revenge looked like the picture of health, except for a few minor abrasions on his left knee.
“He got cast in his stall the night before his first work here,” said Mullins, whose colt has worked the two previous Tuesdays at Churchill Downs. “You can see the scapes on his head and everywhere else.”
I Want Revenge will be ridden by 19-year-old Joe Talamo, who guided him from last to first with a heads-up ride in the eventful Wood Memorial (Grade I) at Aqueduct in his final prep.
“He definitely moved up a couple notches in my book, that’s for sure. I knew he was a good rider, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t realize he was that young,” Mullins said. “I thought he was 20-something years old. To show that kind of confidence and patience, it’s pretty strong for a guy that age.”
Although the son of Stephen Got Even settled nicely in the back of the pack after a very slow start, Mullins isn’t so sure that his Wood Memorial winner necessarily showed a new dimension with his deep-closing effort at Aqueduct.
“That happened by accident. Sometimes you might not be able to make him do that,” he said. “He’s a strong-minded horse. If he breaks without any trouble, I don’t think you’re going to be able to wrangle him back.”
MINE THAT BIRD – Expected to be Canada’s first champion 2-year-old in the Kentucky Derby starting gate since Talkin Man in 1995, Mine That Bird drilled five furlongs in 1:02 flat Monday morning under jockey Calvin Borel. Churchill Downs clockers had the son of Birdstone galloping out an additional furlong in :13.20.
Mine That Bird was ponied to the five-eighths pole easily and broke off slowly for Borel, asked to run through the lane at trainer Chip Woolley’s instructions. Fractions were :13, :25.40, :37.40, :49.80 and 1:02 for the official clocking.
“Things went super,” Woolley said afterward. “I’m really happy with my horse. It’s pretty much exactly what I wanted – he started slower and finished up super-strong. He came back to the barn really playing. That’s as good as you are ever going to see him feeling. He’s not an animated horse.”
Mine That Bird will walk the shedrow Tuesday and “lope” up to the race the rest of the week. Woolley said his colt may school in the starting gate Wednesday, but will not be schooling in the paddock during racing days this week.
Monday’s exercise was delayed approximately 40 minutes because of an on-track accident that temporarily forced the track’s closure. Woolley said Mine That Bird was just about to be bandaged and ready to go out when the closure announcement was made.
“Luckily we weren’t all the way ready at the time,” he said. “It’s unfortunate for the horses and horsemen involved any time something like this happens. We just had to be patient.”
It was a big morning for Borel, who also worked Kentucky Oaks favorite Rachel Alexandra just moments before being hustled to the Woolley barn via golf cart to partner with his Derby 135 mount.
MR. HOT STUFF – WinStar Farm’s Mr. Hot Stuff was airborne from California on Monday, a day after drilling five furlongs in 1:00.40 at Santa Anita.
The stretch-running full brother to Travers Stakes (Grade I) winner Colonel John is trained by Eoin Harty, who shipped successfully to Kentucky on Sunday after overseeing the work.
Harty confirmed that the Eastern-based rider John Velazquez has taken the call on Mr. Hot Stuff for Derby 135. Velazquez had been scheduled to ride Florida Derby (GI) winner Quality Road in the Kentucky Derby, but became available after that colt’s foot concerns took him out of Derby consideration on Monday morning.
NOTE: The plane carrying Mr. Hot Stuff from California was scheduled to arrive in Louisville at approximately 5 p.m., and the colt is expected to arrive on the grounds around 6 p.m.
MUSKET MAN – Illinois Derby (Grade II) winner Musket Man had another easy day Monday, and trainer Derek Ryan said the colt’s work is done until Saturday.
“He galloped an easy mile and a half today,” Ryan said, “and then he went to the gate to school at 7 a.m. That’s really it for him. He’ll just gallop up to the race now.”
Musket Man, a colt by Yonaguska–Fortesque, by Fortunate Prospect, had his last serious breeze for the Derby on Saturday, going five furlongs in 1:01.60 with jockey Eibar Coa aboard.
He is coming off back-to-back victories in the Tampa Bay Derby (Grade III) and the Illinois Derby and has only lost once in six career starts, a third-place finish in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (Grade III) at Tampa Bay in February.
Ryan bought the colt as a yearling in 2007 at Keeneland because he had trained Musket Man’s half-sister, a filly named Casablanca Babe.
“I gave $20,000 for her as a 2-year-old,” Ryan said. “She ended up getting claimed for $50,000, but she was a remarkable mare. She won on everything – dirt, mud, turf, synthetics – anything.
“So when I saw this colt in the book, I went to the sale to buy him. He’s turned out to be a runner like his sister.”
Casablanca Babe won 12 of her 46 career starts and earned more than $200,000.
PAPA CLEM – One of the potential Derby 135 pace players walked the shedrow Monday morning for the second straight day as scheduled. Papa Clem will return to the track Tuesday morning and will blow out on Thursday with a “quarter-mile breeze, maybe let him go out three-eighths,” trainer Gary Stute said.
“He came out of Saturday’s work perfect; his legs were ice cold,” Stute said. “When I work him alone like that, it takes nothing out of him. He’s really one who needs to see another horse to get serious. He’s never been one to impress you training, so we’ll find out Saturday for sure how he’s handling the track, honestly.”
With the defection of Quality Road Monday morning, the Derby’s pace scenario softened somewhat, which could benefit horses with solid early foot like Papa Clem.
“He can be up there or sit off the pace like we found out in Arkansas,” Stute said. “He pretty much runs his :47-and-change for the half. If it’s slow, that will put him up there. If it’s fast, he’ll be a few lengths off it. I wouldn’t mind a post somewhere in that 6-7-8 range.”
Stute will be making his Kentucky Derby debut, but he carries on a family legacy. His father, Mel, ran Snow Chief in the 1986 Derby. After an 11th-place finish in Louisville, Snow Chief rebounded to win the Preakness. The younger Stute will have family support this week.
“My mom and dad are coming in this week, and dad has Kitty in the Bag running Thursday in the 2-year-old stakes ($100,000 Kentucky Juvenile),” Stute said. “It figures to be an exciting week for all of us.”
PIONEEROF THE NILE – Regular exercise rider Joe Steiner guided Pioneerof the Nile through a five-furlong work in 1:01 moments after the track reopened at 8:30 a.m. following the renovation break.
Trainer Bob Baffert watched the work from the front side of the track and, as is his custom, was in touch with the rider via radio. Pioneerof the Nile, owned by Zayat Stables, cruised through fractions of :11.80. :23.80, :36 and :48.60. He was allowed to gallop out a long way and was timed in 1:13.40 for the six furlongs.
“He went really nice,” Baffert said. “There was a lot of wind. He left the half-mile pole, went five-eighths and he galloped out pretty strong all the way around there. He was moving really well and looked comfortable over the track.”
Pioneerof the Nile has won all four of his starts on synthetic surfaces in California since being moved to Baffert’s care late last year. The son of 2004 Kentucky Derby runner-up Empire Maker has trained well on dirt, but the Derby will be his debut on dirt.
“He’s got a long stride as it is, but he really moves better over the dirt, I think,” Baffert said. “His stride is just tremendous.”
Baffert was pleased with the way the colt performed in his final breeze before the Derby.
“He did it pretty effortlessly,” Baffert said. “I think he wanted to go a little faster; I wouldn’t let him. I was really happy with the work. I’m really excited about the work.”
Steiner gave the Santa Anita Derby winner high marks, too.
“It was a comfortable, smooth move,” Steiner said. “He just kind of coasted around there and we let him gallop out on his own. He felt perfect.”
Steiner, who has been a jockey for nearly 25 years, said he likes the way the colt is approaching the race.
“Mentally, he’s focused, he’s confident, he’s calm,” Steiner said. “The way you want a horse to act, he’s shown everything. He’s like a dream to gallop. He’s very kind. I think the key at this point is being focused and confident. He’s handling all the media and all that stuff around him. It doesn’t faze him. And physically, he’s right on. With the combination of the two, now it’s up to luck.”
Steiner said Pioneerof the Nile feels the same way to him on the dirt track at Churchill Downs and the synthetic surfaces in California. The Derby will be Pioneerof the Nile’s first race on dirt. “You couldn’t ask a horse to be doing any better than this.” Steiner said.
QUALITY ROAD – Trainer Jimmy Jerkens canceled his Kentucky Derby plans for Quality Road on Monday morning, reporting that the quarter crack in the right front hoof of his Florida Derby winner was still too sensitive to go forward with a scheduled workout at Belmont Park.
“It’s devastating,” said Jerkens, who had planned a six-furlong workout over the Belmont training track. “I don’t know if you can get another horse in the Derby with his credentials.”
The quarter crack had been patched by hoof specialist Ian McKinlay on Sunday morning before Quality Road was sent to the track for a 1¾-mile gallop. However, his Kentucky Derby future became tenuous when a tinge of blood was detected in the hoof upon his return to the barn.
“He’s really sensitive on the quarter. It’s not terribly bad, but it’s not right,” Jerkens said. “Even if we could work him tomorrow, it’s hard to fathom that he can get sound enough to work and come out of it good.”
Quality Road had previously developed a quarter crack in his right rear leg at Gulfstream Park, but it was successfully patched and has not hindered his training.
Jerkens said that future plans for the son of Elusive Quality, who has won three of four starts, are on hold until he and McKinlay can successfully treat the half-inch crack in wall of the right front foot.
“We’ve got to get it right. I don’t know how long it will take,” he said. “We’ll re-patch it, but we can’t do that until all the soreness is out of it. This crack is a lot different than the other one (in the right rear). It’s a lot more sensitive.”
NYRA notes writer Jenny Kellner contributed to this report.
SQUARE EDDIE – The chestnut charger Square Eddie limited his fancy footwork to a walk around the shedrow at Barn 17 Monday morning following his four-furlong drill in :50.20 on Sunday.
“Quiet day; all’s good,” exercise rider Tony Romero said.
Trainer Doug O’Neill was an early visitor to the barn to check on his charge and he had noted that the horse was scheduled to go back to the track Tuesday for a light jog.
Romero confirmed that the Smart Strike colt would once again ship to Keeneland Monday afternoon to continue his “swimming” routine, using the pool and treadmill at a Lexington facility. The Square Eddie connections have attributed a fair share of their runner’s fitness and recovery from a small fracture suffered in California in February to his additional regular exercise in various pools.
SUMMER BIRD – Summer Bird, a son of 2004 Belmont Stakes (GI) winner Birdstone was out right after the track reopened at 8:30 Monday morning. He galloped a mile and a half around the Churchill Downs strip with jockey Chris Rosier aboard, and then went to school in the paddock. He was in the paddock when an accident occurred near the finish line, and he stayed there for 30 minutes until the track was clear.
“He had already finished his gallop and was in the paddock when the track was closed,” trainer Tim Ice said. “He was out of harm's way, and I told Chris just to stay there until everything was clear. He’s doing great, and he’ll just gallop up to the race. He’ll school in the gate on Thursday.”
Summer Bird had his final breeze – six furlongs in 1:15.80 – at Churchill Downs on Friday. The colt was bred by his owners, the husband-wife team of Drs K.K. and V. Devi Jayaraman. They had a Derby starter in 1989, when Irish Actor ran seventh behind Sunday Silence.
“We got to the Derby after being in the business six or seven years, and we thought how easy it was,” Dr. K.K. Jayaraman said with a smile. “It only took us 20 years to get back here.”
The Jayaramans raced Summer Bird’s dam, the Summer Squall mare Hong Kong Squall. Although she failed to win in nine career starts, Hong Kong Squall has produced five starters and five winners in five years.
“She hasn’t missed a season,” Dr. Jayaraman said. “She has a 2-year-old by Jump Start who hasn’t run yet, a yearling by Johar, and she’s due to foal on May 11 from a cover to Friends Lake.
“When she does foal, she’ll be bred back to Birdstone. She’s been wonderful to us.”
WEST SIDE BERNIE – With trainer Kelly Breen aboard, West Side Bernie galloped a mile and three-eighths around the Churchill Downs oval Monday morning.
“He felt great out there,” Breen said. “The work (a half-mile in :48.20 on Saturday) set him up right for the race.”
This is Breen’s first Derby experience, but his rider Saturday will be Stewart Elliott, who won the Run for the Roses aboard Smarty Jones in 2004.
“Stew and I had dinner the other night,” Breen said, “and we started talking about what post we would want if we had this pick or that pick. I had some ideas, but Stew came up with some interesting stuff. I think I’ve run the race a thousand times in my head to figure out what the best post will be. The draw will be interesting.”
West Side Bernie ran well to be third in the Holy Bull Stakes (Grade III) at Gulfstream Park in January, but then threw in a clunker when sixth in the Lanes End (Grade II) at Turfway Park in March.
“He just didn’t fire in that race, for whatever reason,” Breen said. “We knew we wanted to run in the Derby, and we wanted another race for him, so we settled on the Wood Memorial.”
In that Grade I event at Aqueduct on April 4, West Side Bernie made a big run around the turn and finished second, a length and a half behind I Want Revenge.
“Now everybody is giving me statistics,” Breen said. “Like the fact that both Monarchos and Funny Cide finished second in the Wood before they won the Derby.
“All I know is that you need the best horse, or the luckiest horse, to win the Derby. I hope that’s us.”
WIN WILLY – Win Willy, a son of Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, came out on the track after the break Monday morning for his final serious work and was timed in 1:02.40 for five furlongs over the fast main track.
With exercise rider Eli Lopez aboard, Win Willy cruised through splits of :13.20, :25.60 and :37.80, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.60.
“He looked good, went along nice and smooth,” trainer Mac Robertson said. “It looked like he finished strong, which is what I wanted to see.”
Robertson said he deliberately used his regular exercise rider, who weighs 140 pounds, rather than jockey Cliff Berry because that particular plan had worked before with Win Willy.
“Coming into the Rebel (Grade II on March 14 at Oaklawn Park), Eli breezed him three times, in what looked like slow times,” Robertson said. “He went three-quarters in 1:15 4/5, then a half in :50, and a half in :51 2/5. But that set him up perfectly for the race, and he won big (by 2 1/4, going away). Then, coming into the Arkansas Derby, I had the jockey up in the breezes. It was just different for the horse. With Cliff up, he breezed a half in :48 2/5, and then a bullet half in :48 flat just before the race. And then, of course, he ran fourth in the race. So I just thought I’d go back to what worked for us earlier in the year, and had Eli breeze him at Oaklawn last week (a half in :51.20) and then again today. We’ve done all we can do, and now he’s gonna belong in there, or he isn’t.”