On an action-packed Saturday morning beneath the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs, Godolphin’s undefeated champion colt Essential Quality continued his march to the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) with a swift five-furlong move in :59.60 early Saturday morning. Fellow Derby contenders Mandaloun (six furlongs, 1:11.40) and Soup and Sandwich (five furlongs, :59.80) also worked toward their start in the “Run for the Roses.”

Essential Quality, the recent winner of the $800,000 Blue Grass (GII) at Keeneland, worked at 5:15 a.m. (all times Eastern) with jockey Luis Saez aboard through splits of :12.80, :24.60 and :47.40. The gray Tapit colt began his work one length behind two-time winning stablemate Spa City and finished even at the wire. Spa City’s final five-furlong time was :59.80, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols. Essential Quality galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.20 and completed seven furlongs in 1:28.60.

 “I’m not taking a deep breath yet but we’re very pleased with where we are at today two weeks from the Derby,” trainer Brad Cox said. “He really had to work for that win in the Blue Grass and we were very pleased how well he ended up bouncing out of it.”

 Following Essential Quality’s move, Juddmonte Farm’s Mandaloun worked with jockey Florent Geroux aboard in company with maiden winner Colonel Bowman. The duo began their six-furlong move from the five-eighths pole through splits of :12.40, :24.20, :35.60 and :58.80. Mandaloun continued to extend his stride in front of Colonel Bowman through a seven-furlong gallop out in 1:25.20 and completed one-mile in 1:41.60. Colonel Bowman’s final six-furlong time was 1:11.80.

“(Mandaloun) worked great,” Cox said. “We were all puzzled after the Louisiana Derby (GII) but he’s been doing great since that race maybe that was just a head scratcher. He’s a really good looking son of Into Mischief and we know he’s better than what we saw in his last start.”

 At 7:30 a.m., Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Soup and Sandwich cruised five furlongs with jockey Tyler Gaffalione on board. The undefeated son of Into Mischief worked in company with four-time winner Epic Dreamer through opening fractions of :12.40, :24.20 and :35.20. Soup and Sandwich began drawing clear of his workmate at the wire and galloped out strongly in front with a six-furlong time of 1:12.40 and completed seven furlongs in 1:25.20.

“This horse is just starting to figure things around the racetrack,” trainer Mark Casse’s assistant David Carroll said. “Tyler was in cruise control around there and that gallop out was great.”

Saturday started the 7:30-7:45 a.m. training period for Derby and Longines Kentucky Oaks contenders. During that time window, Phoenix Thoroughbred’s $200,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) winner Crazy Beautiful worked a five-furlong bullet move in :59 with opening fractions of :12.40, :24, :35.40 and :47. She completed her work with a six-furlong gallop out in 1:12.40.

Fellow Oaks contender Ava’s Grace, the runner-up in the $600,000 Fantasy (GIII) behind Pauline’s Pearl, worked a half-mile in :48.60 at 5:15 a.m. with jockey Adam Beschizza up. Owned by Cypress Creek Equine and trained by Robertino Diodoro, Ava’s Grace has yet to finish off the board four starts with one win, one second and two third-place finishes.

DERBY NEWS AND NOTES – Six-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer reported via text Saturday morning that Gary and Mary West’s Concert Tour, third beaten 2 ½ lengths as the favorite in the April 10 Arkansas Derby (GI), would bypass the May 1 Kentucky Derby. Text: “Concert out. Wait for Preakness.” … Three horses remain listed as “possible” starters in the Derby: Caddo River for trainer Brad Cox and either Highly Motivated or Crowded Trade for trainer Chad Brown. If Brown only runs one as expected that would put American Pharoah (GI) winner and Arkansas Derby fourth Get Her Number into the field and Lexington Stakes (GIII) winner King Fury at No. 21 awaiting the Caddo River decision. … Cox reported that Arkansas Derby (GI) runner-up Caddo River is continuing to train towards a start in the Kentucky Derby but would talk the race over with owner John Ed Anthony and make the decision in the next week. … Klaravich Stable’s Blue Grass runner-up Highly Motivated galloped Saturday at Keeneland and is scheduled to work on Sunday. The colt is tentatively scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday. … M Racing Group’s Like the King worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 at Keeneland for trainer Wesley Ward. The Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) winner is scheduled to arrive Derby Week to Churchill Downs.

SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – Likely starters in the 147th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles on Saturday, May 1 in order of preference (with possible jockey and trainer): Essential Quality (Luis Saez, Brad Cox); Hot Rod Charlie (Flavien Prat, Doug O’Neill); Super Stock (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen); Like the King (Drayden Van Dyke, Wesley Ward); Known Agenda (Irad Ortiz, Todd Pletcher); Rock Your World (Umberto Rispoli, John Sadler); Bourbonic (Kendrick Carmouche, Todd Pletcher); Medina Spirit (John Velazquez, Bob Baffert); Midnight Bourbon (Mike Smith, Steve Asmussen); Mandaloun (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox); Helium (Julien Leparoux, Mark Casse); Soup and Sandwich (Tyler Gaffalione, Mark Casse); Dynamic One (Jose Ortiz, Todd Pletcher); Sainthood (TBA, Todd Pletcher); Hidden Stash (Rafael Bejarano, Vicki Oliver); Dream Shake (TBA, Peter Eurton); and Besos (Marcelino Pedroza, Greg Foley).

Possible starters within the Top 20 on the preference list: Caddo River (TBA, Brad Cox); Highly Motivated (Javier Castellano, Chad Brown); and Crowded Trade (TBA, Chad Brown).

Next up in order of preference: Get Her Number (TBA, Peter Miller); King Fury (Brian Hernandez Jr.); Hockey Dad (TBA, Doug O’Neill); Keepmeinmind (David Cohen, Robertino Diodoro).

Out of race: Rebel’s Romance (IRE) (June 5 Belmont Stakes); Greatest Honour (rest); Concert Tour (May 15 Preakness); Life Is Good (ankle chip); Weyburn (May 8 Peter Pan); PanadolProxyRombauer (May 15 Preakness); Drain the Clock (shorter distances); New Treasure (IRE); HozierSpielberg (rest); and Jackie’s Warrior (May 1 Pat Day Mile).

SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY OAKS – Likely starters in the 147th running of the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on Friday, April 30 in order of preference (with possible jockey and trainer): Search Results (Irad Ortiz Jr., Chad Brown); Travel Column (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox); Crazy Beautiful (Jose Ortiz, Kenny McPeek); Pauline’s Pearl (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen); Malathaat (Joel Rosario, Todd Pletcher); Soothsay (Flavien Prat, Richard Mandella); Clairiere (Tyler Gaffalione, Steve Asmussen); Will’s Secret (Jon Court, Dallas Stewart); Millefeuille (TBA, Bill Mott); Moraz (Umberto Rispoli, Michael McCarthy); Ava’s Grace (TBA, Robertino Diodoro); Pass the Champagne (Javier Castellano, George Weaver); and Maracuja (Kendrick Carmouche, Rob Atras).

Possible starters within the Top 14 on the preference list: Beautiful Gift (John Velazquez, Bob Baffert).

Next up in order of preference: The Grass Is Blue (TBA, Chad Brown); Competitive Speed (TBA, Javier Gonzalez); Coach (Luis Saez, Brad Cox); Souper Sensational (TBA, Mark Casse); Moon Swag (TBA, Brendan Walsh); Army Wife (TBA, Mike Maker); and Spritz (Chris Landeros, Rodolphe Brissett).

Out of race: WholebodemeisterMnasekAdventuringKalypsoVequistMiss Brazil; and Nayefah.

STAKES PROBABLES – The following are the early probable stakes race entrants for Kentucky Derby Week, according to assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator Dan Bork:

The 6th running of the $125,000 William Walker (Listed), run on Saturday, April 24 at 5 ½ furlongs on turf, entries close Wednesday, April 21: Bodenheimer (trainer Valorie Lund); Cees Get Degrees (Michelle Lovell); Charles Chrome (Reeve McGaughey); Field Day (Brad Cox); Gagetown (Brad Cox); The Wolfman (Phil Schoenthal). Possible: Unitedandresolute (Tom Amoss)

The 3rd running of the $120,000 Isaac Murphy Marathon Overnight Stakes presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, run Tuesday, April 27 at 1 ½ miles, entries close Thursday, April 22: Dack Janiel’s (Jack Sisterson); Plus Que Parfait (Brendan Walsh); Strong Tide (Mike Lauer); You’re To Blame (Ron Moquett).

The 27th running of the $125,000 Kentucky Juvenile, run Wednesday, April 28 at five furlongs, entries close Friday, April 23: Bohemian Frost (John Ennis); Saucy Lady T (James Chapman); Shesgotattitude (Ennis).

The 16th running of the $120,000 Opening Verse Overnight Stakes, run Wednesday, April 28 at one-mile on turf, entries close Friday, April 23: Captivating Moon (Chris Block); Epic Dreamer (Mark Casse); Sayyaaf (Mike Maker); Set Piece (Brad Cox); Spectacular Gem (Jimmy Baker).

The 11th running of the $150,000 Unbridled Sidney, run on Thursday, April 29 at 5 ½ furlongs on turf, entries close Saturday, April 24: A Bit of Both (Mike Maker); Ambassador Luna (James Gulick); Change of Control (Michelle Lovell); Dixieincandyland (Eddie Kenneally); Foxxy Belle (Michael Ann Ewing); Into Mystic (Brendan Walsh); Lady Grace (Mark Casse); She’sonthewarpath (Steve Margolis); Wining Envelope (Chris Block); Yes It’s Ginger (Greg Foley).

The 27th running of the $250,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint presented by Sysco (Grade II), run Friday, April 30 at 5 ½ furlongs on turf, entries close Monday, April 26: American Butterfly (D. Wayne Lukas); Carotari (Brian Lynch); Classy John (Dallas Stewart): Diamond Oops (Patrick Biancone); Firecrow (Ron Moquett); Just Might (Michelle Lovell); Sombeyay (Peter Miller).

The 37th Running of the $300,000 Edgewood presented by Newport Racing & Gaming (Grade II), run on Friday, April 30 at 1 1/16 miles on turf, entries close Monday, April 26: Aunt Pearl (Brad Cox); I Get It (Mark Casse); Oliviaofthedesert (Kenny McPeek); Postnup (Cherie Devaux); Queen of the Green (Jason Barkley). Possible Jouster (Todd Pletcher), Zaajel (Pletcher).

The 66th running of the $300,000 Eight Belles presented by Smithfield (Grade II), run on Friday April 30 at seven furlongs, entries close Monday, April 26: Abrogate (Steve Asmussen); Dayoutoftheoffice (Tim Hamm); Euphoric (Bernie Flint); Slumber Party (Kelly Breen); Sun Path (Brad Cox); Windmill (Larry Jones). Possible: Joyful Cadence (John Ortiz).

The 18th running of the $400,000 Alysheba presented by Sentient Jet (Grade II), run on Friday, April 30 at 1 1/16 miles, entries close Monday, April 26: Attachment Rate (Dale Romans); Chess Chief (Dallas Stewart); Maxfield (Brendan Walsh); Roadster (Bob Baffert): Sonneman (Steve Asmussen); Visitant (Bill Morey).

The 36th running of the $500,000 La Troienne presented by TwinSpires.com (Grade I), run on Friday, April 30 at 1 1/16 miles, entries close Monday, April 26: As Time Goes By (Bob Baffert); Dunbar Road (Chad Brown); Envoutante (Kenny McPeek); Paris Lights (Bill Mott); Sanenus (Michael McCarthy); Shedaresthedevil (Brad Cox). Possible: Finite (Steve Asmussen).

The 30th running of the $500,000 American Turf presented by Derby City Gaming (Grade II), run on Saturday, May 1 at 1 1/16 miles on turf, entries close Tuesday, April 27: Fire At Will (Mike Maker); Holy Vow (John Ortiz); Lucky Law (Patrick Biancone); Palazzi (Mark Casse); Winfromwithin (Todd Pletcher).

The 97th running of the $500,000 Pat Day Mile presented by LG&E and KU, run on Saturday, May 1 at one-mile, entries close Tuesday, April 27: Dream Shake (Peter Eurton); Excellent Timing (Chad Brown); Gretzky the Great (Mark Casse); Jackie’s Warrior (Steve Asmussen); Prevalence (Brendan Walsh); Whiskey Double (Steve Asmussen).

The 36th running of the $500,000 Longines Distaff Turf Mile (Grade II), run on Saturday, May 1 at one-mile on turf, entries close Tuesday, April 27: Abscond (Eddie Kenneally); Blowout (Chad Brown); Got Stormy (Mark Casse); Princess Grace (Mike Stidham).

The 35th running of the $500,000 Derby City Distaff presented by Kendall-Jackson Winery (Grade I), run on Saturday, May 1 at seven furlongs, entries close Tuesday, April 27: Gamine (Bob Baffert), Sconsin (Greg Foley). Possible: Bell’s the One (Neil Pessin); Finite (Steve Asmussen); Hibiscus Punch (Justin Nixon); Unique Factor (Peter Miller).

The 86th running of the $500,000 Churchill Downs presented by Ford (Grade I), run on Saturday, May 1 at seven furlongs, entries close Tuesday, April 27: Charlatan (Bob Baffert); Hog Creek Hustle (Vickie Foley); Lexitonian (Jack Sisterson); Tap It To Win (Mark Casse). Possible: Bango (Greg Foley); Shashashakemeup (Peter Miller).

The 35th running of the $1 million Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (Grade I), run on Saturday, May 1 at 1 1/8 miles on turf, entries close Tuesday, April 27: Arklow (Brad Cox); Colonel Liam (Todd Pletcher); Digital Age (Chad Brown); Ivar (Paolo Lobo); Masteroffoxhounds (Richard Baltas); Ride a Comet (Mark Casse); Smooth Like Strait (Michael McCarthy). Possible: Flavius (Chad Brown), Spooky Channel (Brian Lynch).

DOWN THE STRETCH – The Churchill Downs Spring Meet is set to kick off for Opening Night on Saturday, April 24. Entries will be taken on Wednesday. … Sunday starts turf training at Churchill Downs from 9:30-10 a.m. Turf training will continue on Sundays and Tuesdays for the remainder of the Spring Meet. … Limited tickets remain for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Derby Week. To purchase tickets, visit www.KentuckyDerby.com/Tickets.

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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