Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s likely Kentucky Derby favorite Forte recorded his first published workout at Churchill Downs on Friday morning when he breezed five furlongs in 1:02 outside stablemate Bright Future.
Along with Forte’s five-furlong move, other Kentucky Derby contenders to record workouts were Angel of Empire (six furlongs, 1:13.40); Hit Show (five furlongs, 1:01); Tapit Trice (four furlongs, :48.60) and Verifying (five furlongs, 1:01). Currently No. 21 on the Kentucky Derby preference list is Jace’s Road,who worked six furlongs in 1:13.40.
Florida Derby (GI) winner Forte was ridden in his workout by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and started about a half-length behind Bright Future. The duo easily completed an opening quarter-mile fraction of :26.20. The duo began to pick up their momentum around the far turn through a three-furlong split of :38.60. Forte galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.40 and completed seven furlongs in 1:27.
“It was a normal work from him, which is exactly what you want to see,” Ortiz said. “I let him start going at the five-furlong pole and just get into stride. Going into the turn he stayed with the other horse. When I tipped him out in the stretch he responded well and galloped out nicely. His mind has changed a lot this year from last year. I’m happy with that. He’s growing physically but has a great mind.”
Just prior to Forte’s move, Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable’s Blue Grass (GI) winner Tapit Trice recorded his half-mile move with regular exercise rider Amelia Green in the saddle. Tapit Trice completed an opening eighth-mile in :12.80 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.
“These workouts become super, super important,” Pletcher said. “They keep you up at night.
“Tapit Trice started out with a nice, steady breeze. He was on the bridle throughout He seemed to get over the track very comfortably.
“If you look at Forte’s progression numbers wise, he’s made that progression forward in each start. Same thing with Tapit Trice. What I’m encouraged by with both of them is how they handled the mile-and-an-eighth and how they handled their final prep. It gives you confidence stretching out in the Derby. Forte is a very straightforward horse to train. He’s pushbutton. When Irad asked him to sit just off of his workmate this morning he did just that. When you press ‘go’, he quickly accelerated to put a head in front of his workmate.”
Trainer Brad Cox’s foursome of Angel of Empire, Hit Show, Jace’s Road and Verifying all worked at 7:30 a.m. ET. Angel of Empire was paired outside Jace’s Road and the duo completed eighth-mile fractions of :12.20, :23.80, :35.60 and 1:00.40. They galloped out seven furlongs in 1:26.40. Jockey Flavien Prat was aboard Albaugh Family Stable’s Angel of Empire while Florent Geroux was in the boot on West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh Family Stable’s Jace’s Road.
In Cox’s next set, Gary and Mary West’s Hit Show, ridden by exercise rider Edvin Vargas, worked inside Westerberg, Mrs. John Magnier, Jonathan Poulin, Derrick Smith and Michael B. Tabor’s Verifying, who had jockey Tyler Gaffalione aboard. Hit Show and Verifying began their move at the 4 ½-furlong marker through splits of :12.60, :24.40 and :48.60.
“Angel of Empire is the type of horse we’ve been confident all along that can handle the mile-and-a-quarter distance in the Derby,” Cox said. “He excelled going the longer distance in the Arkansas Derby and moves like the type of horse that will like a route of ground.
“Jace’s Road is sitting on the outside looking in but worked well this morning with Angel of Empire. I thought they handled themselves well and galloped out strongly.
“Hit Show just missed in the Wood Memorial. It was a pretty tough beat that day but he showed us that as the distances get longer he can handle the route of ground as well.
“Verifying, like Hit Show, was a tough beat about an hour before in the Blue Grass. Going back in his career, I don’t’ think he was quite ready when we ran him in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He started to mature over the winter and I’m still a little confused on his effort in the Rebel. He was in contention, then dropped back and then rallied in the stretch. He put things together in the Blue Grass and has a lot of tactical speed that should play to his advantage in the Derby.”
The special 15-minute training window for Kentucky Derby and Longines Kentucky Oaks contenders will begin Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET.
Kentucky Derby contenders will wear a yellow saddle towel while Oaks contenders will sport a pink saddle towel.
The first morning of the Kentucky Derby Morning Works show is Monday.
LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS CONTENDER PRETTY MISCHIEVOUS WORKS FIVE FURLONGS IN 1:00.40 – Godolphin’s homebred Pretty Mischievous continued her work toward the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) with a swift five-furlong move in 1:00.40 Friday morning at Churchill Downs.
Pretty Mischievous, with jockey Tyler Gaffalione aboard, worked outside her stablemate Corsini and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13. Like her work on April 14, Pretty Mischievous sported a small cup pair of blinkers.
“I thought it was a really nice work. She was able to sit just off her workmate and relaxed beautifully,” Gaffalione said. “I let her out little by little down the lane and had a good, strong gallop out. So I was very pleased with it. I rode her in all of her starts but two (the Untapable Stakes and Fair Grounds Oaks) when Brian (Hernandez Jr.) rode. He did a great job with her in both of those starts. She always puts herself in a great position and travels well with the pace. She has a nice turn of foot so if all goes well, with some racing luck, I think we’re fully capable in the Oaks.”
Trained by Brendan Walsh, Pretty Mischievous began her career at Churchill Downs on Sept. 18 where she broke her maiden by 2 ¼ lengths. In her most recent start, Pretty Mischievous took the lead at the head of the stretch in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) but was defeated 3 ¼ lengths by Southlawn.
Gaffalione has the call for the Kentucky Oaks.
DERBY, OAKS NEWS AND NOTES – Blue Grass Stakes (GI) third-place finisher Blazing Sevens worked a half-mile in :48.80 at Keeneland. The Chad Brown trainee is scheduled to arrive in his Barn 25 at Churchill Downs on Monday. … Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) winner Affirmative Lady breezed five furlongs in 1:02 at Keeneland for trainer Graham Motion. She’s scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs by May 1. … Rebel (GII) winner Confidence Game continues to train at Churchill Downs but his next work is still to be determined. … Kentucky Derby Week early stakes probables will be reported in Saturday’s news update. … Finally, the most pressing news of the day from Churchill Downs: it has been reported that Mr. Man, the famous goat and mascot of the Brad Cox barn, is scheduled to arrive at Barn 22 from Oaklawn Park on Tuesday.
SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – Here are the horses (with jockeys and trainers) that are qualified for the Kentucky Derby and those on the also-eligible list (in alphabetical order with AEs listed last in preference order):
Angel of Empire (jockey Flavien Prat, trainer Brad Cox); Blazing Sevens (TBA, Chad Brown); Confidence Game (James Graham, Keith Desormeaux); Continuar (JPN) (Ryusel Sakai, Yoshito Yahagi); Derma Sotogake (JPN) (Christophe Lemaire, Hidetaka Otonashi); Disarm (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen); Forte (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher); Hit Show (Manny Franco, Brad Cox); Kingsbarns (TBA, Todd Pletcher); Lord Miles (Paco Lopez, Saffie Joseph Jr.); Mage (TBA, Gustavo Delgado); Practical Move (Ramon Vazquez, Tim Yakteen); Raise Cain (Javier Castellano, Ben Colebrook); Reincarnate (John Velazquez, Tim Yakteen); Rocket Can (Junior Alvarado, Bill Mott); Sun Thunder (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek); Tapit Trice (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher); Two Phil’s (Jareth Loveberry, Larry Rivelli); Verifying (Tyler Gaffalione, Brad Cox); and Wild On Ice (Ken Tohill, Joel Marr).
Also-Eligible: Jace’s Road (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox); Skinner (Victor Espinioza, John Shirreffs); Cyclone Mischief (TBA, Dale Romans); Major Dude (TBA, Todd Pletcher); and Mandarin Hero (JPN) (TBA, Terunobu Fujita).
SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY OAKS – Here are the horses (with trainers) that are qualified for the Longines Kentucky Oaks and those on the also-eligible list (in alphabetical order with AEs listed last in preference order):
Affirmative Lady (John Velazquez, Graham Motion); And Tell Me Nolies (Ramon Vazquez, Peter Miller); Botanical (Chris Landeros, Brad Cox); Defining Purpose (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek); Dorth Vader (TBA, Mike Yates); Flying Connection (TBA, Todd Fincher); Gambling Girl (TBA, Todd Pletcher); Mimi Kakushi (TBA, Salem bin Ghadayer); Pretty Mischievous (Tyler Gaffalione, Brendan Walsh); Promisher America (TBA, Ray Handal); Shidabhuti (TBA, Chad Brown); Southlawn (Rey Gutierrez, Norm Casse); The Alys Look (Luis Saez, Brad Cox); and Wet Paint (Flavien Prat, Brad Cox).
Also-Eligible: Wonder Wheel (Mark Casse); Taxed (Randy Morse); Julia Shining (Todd Pletcher); Hoosier Philly (Tom Amoss); and Punchbowl (Brad Cox).