Two more contenders for the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) joined the scene at Churchill Downs Thursday afternoon when the 1-2 finishers in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) – Pioneerof the Nile and Chocolate Candy – arrived at Churchill Downs
Zayat Stables, LLC’s Pioneerof the Nile and the Sid and Jenny Craig Trust’s Chocolate Candy arrived in Louisville following a flight from Southern California. The two horses made the short journey form Louisville International Airport to Churchill Downs in separate vans and arrived at the home of the Kentucky Derby at approximately 12:30 p.m. (EDT).
Pioneerof the Nile, who is bidding to give trainer Bob Baffert his fourth Kentucky Derby victory, is stabled in Barn 33. Chocolate Candy, who is stabled in Barn 42, is trained by Northern California legend Jerry Hollendorfer, who is looking for his first victory in the “Run for the Roses.”
The Santa Anita Derby victory for Pioneerof the Nile was his fourth straight stakes win and the son of 2003 Kentucky Derby runner-up Empire Maker brings a career record of 5-0-1 in eight races and earnings of $1,234,200 to Churchill Downs.
Chocolate Candy, a homebred son of Candy Ride and winner of the El Camino Real Derby (GIII), has a record of 4-2-1 in nine races and earnings of $532,500.
Neither Baffert nor Hollendorfer accompanied their horses to Churchill Downs. Baffert is scheduled to arrive in Louisville on Friday and will be at the barn on Saturday.
Meanwhile, trainer Charles “Scooter” Dickey said he still has Kentucky Derby hopes for Oxbow Racing’s Flat Out, winner of the $50,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park and sixth behind Papa Clem in last week’s Arkansas Derby. The Florida-bred son of Flatter has a record of two wins in five races and total earnings of $87,700.
Flat Out, who is stabled in Barn 48 for the Churchill Downs-based Dickey, galloped at Churchill Downs Thursday in his first trip to the track since the Arkansas Derby and his return to the Louisville track.
The colt missed valuable training time over the winter in Arkansas following a troubled fourth place finish behind Old Fashioned in the Southwest Stakes (GIII). He suffered a bruised heel in that race and missed a scheduled start in the Rebel. Flat Out raced in the Arkansas Derby off a break of almost two months. Normally a stretch runner, Flat Out was second to pacesetter Old Fashioned with a half-mile to run in the Arkansas Derby and faded in the stretch to be beaten by 8 ¼ lengths.
“He’s an awful good horse and he had a lot of bad luck when he got hurt in that other race,” Dickey said. “He’s just now coming back to himself. He was just too fresh in the Arkansas Derby – he didn’t want to lay up that close.”
A lot of things would have to happen for Flat Out to make it in to a maximum field of 20 for the Derby. The colt has graded stakes earnings of $32,500, which ranked 33rd on Churchill Downs’ latest list of graded stakes earnings by possible Derby starters. The Kentucky Derby field is limited to 20 horses with preference based on total earnings in graded stakes races.
“He’s doing fine now and we got that race in him down there,” Dickey said. “We’re looking for better things.”
Thursday’s arrival of the two West-Coast based Kentucky Derby contenders and the addition of Flat Out raised the roster of possible starters brings the number of Derby 135 horses on the grounds to 10. Also in that group are Wood Memorial (GI) winner I Want Revenge; Toyota Blue Grass (GI) winner General Quarters; Arkansas Derby (GII) winner Papa Clem; Illinois Derby (GII) winner Musket Man; Wood Memorial (GI) runner-up West Side Bernie; and the Dubai-based duo of Regal Ransom and Desert Party, the 1-2 finishers in the $2 million UAE Derby (GII).