SUPER SAVER (first), MISSION IMPAZIBLE (ninth), DEVIL MAY CARE (10th), DISCREETLY MINE (13th) – It was shortly after 5 a.m. on Sunday following Kentucky Derby 136 and trainer Todd Pletcher was at his barn and overseeing his first set of horses as they readied for gallops on a stormy spring morning.
The previous day Pletcher had climbed the mountain he’d been working on for the past nine years, winning the world’s most famous race with a racy colt named Super Saver aided by a late-blooming racing star named Calvin Borel.
The numbers flowed in almost stark contrast – Pletcher lightening the load of an 0-for-24 run in the Run for the Roses to a much sweeter 1-for-28, while Borel, the Cajun journeyman who seemingly has been reborn at Churchill Downs, registering an unprecedented third Derby tally in the past four years.
Borel somehow got a colt who never had been more than a few lengths off the lead in any of his races to sit well behind a fast pace, then used a rail trip that has become his trademark to zoom the bay clear of traffic and home by 2 1/2 lengths on a sloppy and sealed racing strip.
Referring to his four Derby runners, Pletcher reported they had all come out of their 10-furlong battles in good order and each was walked on the shedrow at Barn 34 as a hard rain fell outside.
Did the trainer sleep last night?
“A little bit,” he said.
How did he celebrate his big win?
“We went back to our hotel and had some dinner with family and friend, like we always do,” he said. “Though I must say this one was more fun.”
Super Saver, who races in the silks of WinStar Farm, is now likely bound for the Preakness on May 15 at Pimlico in Baltimore as he takes the next step on the Triple Crown trail, according to the conditioner. Indications were that he’d ship him to Maryland on May 12.
In the case of the Glencrest Farm’s filly Devil May Care, who finished 10th in the 20-horse field, Pletcher said she would not be considered for the Preakness. That was the case also with E. Paul Robsham Stables’ Discreetly Mine, who finished 13th.
But with ninth-place finisher Mission Impazible, owned by Twin Creek Racing Stables, the jury was still out. “We’ll take a couple of days and think about him running there,” Pletcher said.
ICE BOX (second), JACKSON BEND (12th) – After reporting that both of his Derby starters were doing well Sunday morning, trainer Nick Zito couldn’t help but wonder if he would have had his third Kentucky Derby winner had Robert LaPenta’s Ice Box received a less troubled trip under jockey Jose Lezcano.
“It was kind of great to see Ice Box run so well. You salute WinStar, but you always say what could have been,” said the Hall of Fame trainer, who has saddled Strike the Gold (1991) and Go for Gin (1994) for Derby victories. “If you just read the chart, he was steadied three times – not once, but three times. So, it’s got to be disappointing.”
Ice Box was steadied early before settling back in 19th during the early going. The son of Pulpit made a strong inside move before getting blocked and steadied at the top of the stretch. He was steadied again during the stretch run before making a last surge to fall short of winning by 2 ½ lengths.
“It was a tough race to lose, obviously, but a great race to be thankful for. We have to be thankful for the horse we’ve got, and knock wood, it looks like he came back good; that’s the most important thing,” Zito said. “He definitely had an excuse, that’s for sure. The winner was very good and Ice Box was just as good, that’s for sure. He was just as good as the winner; he just didn’t get the chance to win.
“I don’t like making excuses, but even if you read the paper a little bit, you’ll see he was checked not once but three times. He ran a winning race. He runs even harder than the winner.”
Zito was far from disappointed with Jacks or Better Farm and LaPenta’s Jackson Bend’s effort in which he had to alter course under Mike Smith on the turn into the homestretch.
“Jackson Bend came back good. He’s a tough little guy,” he said. “Mike said he didn’t beat him up. He had to be checked at a bad time.”
Zito didn’t sound enthusiastic of running Ice Box back in the Preakness at Pimlico on Mary 15.
“I won’t make a decision until next week. I want to see how the horses are. If you start with Ice Box, he had six weeks for this race, so you have to train him pretty hard, so it’s not necessarily easy to come back in two weeks,” Zito said. “Jackson Bend, believe it or not, is a tough little guy. We’ll see about him and talk to Bob, but I’m not going to make any decisions now, that’s for sure.”
Both Ice Box and Jackson Bend will remain at Churchill Downs while their connections decide upon their next starts.
Should he decide to pass on the Preakness with Ice Box, Zito said he’d have no trouble training the Florida Derby (GI) winner up to the Belmont Stakes.
“That’s easy for Nick Zito,” cracked Zito, who brought back Birdstone from an eighth-place finish in the 2004 Derby for an upset victory over Triple Crown hopeful Smarty Jones in the Belmont Stakes.
PADDY O’PRADO (third) – Baldemar Bahena, assistant to Dale Romans, reported that Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado “came back fine and ate up” after his Kentucky Derby run. “He is good this morning.”
Romans said that he had no immediate plans for Paddy O’Prado but that the Preakness was under consideration with a decision possible later in the week.
MAKE MUSIC FOR ME (fourth) – Trainer Alexis Barba expressed pleasure with both the performance of Peter and Ellen Johnson’s Make Music for Me and the manner in which the son of Bernstein came out of his late-closing, fourth-place Derby finish.
“I feel great. He’s a great little horse. He’s fabulous. He ran a winning race as far as I’m concerned,” said Barba, whose colt closed from last place in the 20-horse field to finish fourth under Joel Rosario in his first start on a dirt track.
The Southern California-based trainer said a final decision on a possible Preakness start has not been made, but that Make Music for Me will remain at Churchill Downs for a few days before being shipped to Keeneland.
NOBLE’S PROMISE (fifth) – Chasing Dreams Racing 2008’s Noble’s Promise is headed back to trainer Ken McPeek’s Magdalena Farm in Lexington on Monday “to be a horse for a couple of days,” McPeek assistant Philip Bauer said Sunday.
Noble’s Promise had the lead at the quarter pole under Willie Martinez, but was overtaken by Super Saver and Calvin Borel.
“To be in the lead in the Derby is pretty thrilling,” Bauer said. “When I saw they went :46 and 1:10, I was worried he might be too close (to the pace). He left everything out there. You couldn’t ask him to run any harder.”
McPeek said the Preakness would be discussed in the coming days along with the possibility of going to Royal Ascot for the St. James’ Palace (Group I) to be run at a mile on the grass on June 15.
“We will see how it looks like the Preakness is shaping up, but I would say now it is doubtful but not out of the question,” McPeek said. “He may not come back to Churchill Downs. If he goes to the Preakness, he would probably ship from my farm to Pimlico. If he goes to Royal Ascot, he would train at my farm and at Keeneland.”
LOOKIN AT LUCKY (sixth), CONVEYANCE (15th) – Trainer Bob Baffert’s Derby duo of Zabeel Racing International’s Conveyance and Pegram, Watson and Weitman Performances’ Lookin At Lucky returned from their mile and a quarter foray in Kentucky Derby 136 “in good order,” according to the white-haired conditioner.
“They’re all good,” the trainer said Sunday morning. “I’m not sure what we’re going to do with them next. It’ll be the end of the week before we make a call on that.”
Conveyance cut out the pace for the first seven furlongs of the 10-furlong Derby before running out of steam and finally finishing 15th in the 20-horse field. Lookin At Lucky, who was roughed up early in the race and virtually lost all chance, did well to finish sixth in the Run for the Roses.
“Tough luck; what are you going to do,” Baffert said.
DUBLIN (Seventh) – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said that Robert Baker and William Mack’s Dublin likely would be headed to Baltimore for the second leg of the Triple Crown in the Preakness Stakes (GI) on May 15.
“It’s tough to make a decision the day after the race, but I would say more than likely he will go,” Lukas said. “He’s fine this morning and came out of the race good.”
Lukas had pleasure of watching one of his former assistants, Todd Pletcher, win his first Kentucky Derby with Super Saver.
“I am really happy for Todd. It was great,” Lukas said. “He’ll be back (with a chance to win more Derbies), no doubt about it.”
Lukas also said that Westrock Stables’ Tidal Pool, third to Blind Luck in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (GI), would not be going to Pimlico for the May 14 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (GII).
STATELY VICTOR (eighth), DEAN’S KITTEN (14th) – Tom and Jack Conway’s Stately Victor and Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Dean’s Kitten left Churchill Downs at 7 o’clock Sunday morning for the short van ride to the Trackside Training Center where trainer Mike Maker awaited them.
“They look good this morning,” Maker said. “They both came out of their races fine.”
Maker said that Stately Victor, winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) in his race prior to the Kentucky Derby, would be pointed to the Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 5.
“That’s the plan now,” Maker said. “He would stay here and then possibly go to Belmont the week of the race. Dean’s Kitten will be pointed to something at Arlington Park or possibly the grass series at Colonial Downs.”
AMERICAN LION (11th) – The big WinStar Farm colt American Lion walked the shedrow at Barn 41 Sunday morning, then was placed on a trailer and shipped to Keeneland in the aftermath of his run in Kentucky Derby 136 Saturday.
“I’ll keep him at Keeneland for the next few weeks while we figure out what’s next for him,” trainer Eoin Harty said. “Thank God he came out of the Derby OK and we’ll just go on from here.”
American Lion was bumped early in the 10-furlong classic, then raced wide in the 20-horse field. He managed to finish 11th behind winner Super Saver.
HOMEBOYKRIS (16th) – Trainer Rick Dutrow reported Sunday morning that Louis Lazzinnaro and partners’ Homeboykris came out of the Kentucky Derby in fine shape.
“I want to blame it on the track. But he probably didn’t want to run that far and he probably didn’t want to run with horses that good,” said Dutrow, who saddled Big Brown for a Kentucky Derby victory in 2008. “He did throw a front shoe, but he’s OK.
He cooled out fine (Saturday) and walked fine this morning. He was just in the wrong spot and the wrong time.”
Dutrow said he had no immediate plans for Homeboykris other than to return his 3-year-old gelding to New York to regroup.
“We’re going to figure it out,” he said. “We’re not going to retire him. He’s a gelding.”
SIDNEY’S CANDY (17th), LINE OF DAVID (18th) – Ike and Dawn Thrash’s Line of David and Sid and Jenny Craig Trust’s Sidney’s Candy walked the shedrow at Barn 42 Sunday morning following their forwardly placed journeys in Kentucky Derby 136 Saturday.
The two John Sadler-trained colts, both of whom were up close in the chase of leader Conveyance through the early part of the 10-furlong Derby, had surrendered to weariness and finished well back – Sidney’s Candy in 17th and Line of David in 18th.
Assistant trainer Larry Benavidez reported that both horses seemed to be fine following their journeys.
Sadler had arranged for a plane on Tuesday to take several of the nine-horse contingent he had brought from California to Kentucky back home and his two Derby colts will be part of that ship.
One Sadler runner, the Thrashs’ Hurricane Ike, who captured The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII) on opening day of the current Churchill Downs meet, is likely to ship from Louisville to Baltimore to run in the May 15 Preakness Stakes.
AWESOME ACT (19th) – Vinery Stables and Mrs. Susan Roy’s Awesome Act was none the worse for wear Sunday morning while his connections were still trying to solve the mystery surrounding his dismal showing under jockey Julien Leparoux.
“It was surprising. Julien was lost for an explanation. He settled. He just didn’t pick up,” said Wayne Tanner, assistant to British trainer Jeremy Noseda. “We thought he’d go in slop. Whether he got a lot of kick-back and he wouldn’t go forward in it, I don’t know. We’re just guessing.
“He didn’t blow very long; he was bright enough after the race. Maybe, he just didn’t let himself down on a sloppy track,” Tanner added. “No complaints; he won the Gotham (GIII) and finished third in a Grade 1 in the Wood Memorial. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen (Saturday).”
Awesome Act will remain at Churchill Downs, where he’ll join the stable of trainer Steve Asmussen, who had aided in the training of the Gotham Stakes winner during his spring campaign in the absence of Noseda.
BACKTALK (20th) – Frank Bernis, assistant to trainer Tom Amoss, said “everything is perfect today,” after the Gold Mark Farm runner finished last in the Kentucky Derby.
“Everything looked good in the race,” Bernis said. “I didn’t see any trouble and (jockey) Miguel (Mena) didn’t mention any trouble to Tom. He will stay here for a while until they plan what to do next.”