C2 Racing Stable and La Milagrosa Stable’s White Abarrio made his first appearance on the Churchill Downs racetrack since last November when he jogged Tuesday morning over the sloppy surface.
Trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., White Abarrio finished third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) two days after Thanksgiving last fall. He returned to the Derby City early Monday morning from his South Florida base.
The final scheduled work of the week is planned for Wednesday morning from Teruya Yoshida’s UAE Derby (GII) winner Crown Pride (JPN) with jockey Christophe Lemaire scheduled to be aboard.
BARBER ROAD – William Simon’s Barber Road, who is the first Kentucky Derby starter for his owner and trainer John Ortiz, galloped one mile and visited the paddock Tuesday during the special 7:30 a.m. training time.
“He’s doing great. He’s loving this. He was enjoying himself in the mud. The track isn’t a concern,” Ortiz said. “He just walked around the paddock like it was nothing. He’s ready. I was more concerned with the pony than him this morning.”
CHARGE IT, MO DONEGAL, PIONEER OF MEDINA – The weather turned just before 5 a.m. at Churchill Downs Tuesday and trainer Todd Pletcher took notice.
“I was thinking about taking my Derby and Oaks horses out first thing (5:15) to beat the rain,” the Hall of Fame conditioner said, “but there was too much lightning in the sky for my liking. So we waited for the 7:30 special training period.”
That turned out to be the right call, for sure.
His stable’s trio of Derby colts – the roan Charge It (with exercise rider Hector Ramos up), the Wood Memorial (GII) winner Mo Donegal (Amelia Green) and the Pioneerof the Nile colt Pioneer of Medina (Carlos Perez) – were among the very first to step foot on the wet surface when it opened at 7:30 after the rain had ceased and the lightning had gone away. They each galloped for a mile and one-sixteenth, a shorter distance than their usual routine.
“We wanted to get them out and back safely this morning,” Pletcher said.
CLASSIC CAUSEWAY – Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper’s Classic Causeway had a one-mile jog early Tuesday morning under trainer Brian Lynch’s exercise rider Calamity Compton.
Lynch reported there are some minor equipment changes that Classic Causeway will race with in the Derby, including a new bridle with an adjusted nose strip.
Julien Leparoux has the call.
CROWN PRIDE (JPN) – With trainer Koichi Shintani looking on, Teruya Yoshida’s Crown Pride (JPN) jogged for 10 minutes in the mile chute and then galloped the Kentucky Derby distance of a mile and quarter under Masa Matsuda.
“From Dubai (where he won the Grade II UAE Derby on March 26), he has really improved and he likes this track,” Shintani said. “He will have a fast work in the morning and (jockey) Christophe Lemaire will be on him.”
Lemaire, who most recently rode at Churchill Downs during the 2010 and 2011 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, arrived in Louisville at 3 this morning.
Crown Pride trained this morning over a track that was drenched from a steady downpour that began at 5 o’clock. Crown Pride’s only defeat in four career starts came in the Hyacinth at Tokyo in February over a muddy track.
With thunderstorms in the forecast for later in the week, an off track for Derby 148 is possible.
“In Japan, when the track is muddy a horse’s foot can sink into the surface,” Shintani said. “This track, there is more cushion and it is safer. I don’t see that as being a problem.”
Japan is 13 hours ahead of Louisville, so when the horses go in the gate for the Run for the Roses it will be almost 8 Sunday morning in Tokyo.
CYBERKNIFE, TAWNY PORT, ZOZOS – Trainer Brad Cox called an audible because of the weather and sent all three of his Kentucky Derby hopefuls to the track early with Zozos, under exercise rider Kelvin Perez, heading out in the first set to gallop 1 ½ miles. Arkansas Derby (GI) winner Cyberknife followed in the second set with his regular rider Katie Talbot aboard, while Tawny Port went out in the third set with Edvin Vargas handling the riding duties.
The stablemates will be close together when they enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate on Saturday. Cyberknife drew post 16, Tawny Port drew post 18 and Zozos drew post 19.
“I’m good with where they are starting from,” Cox said. “The post doesn’t really matter with Tawny Port. Zozos has a little more speed so he’ll be able to get out of there. Cyberknife is a quick gate horse, so he should he fine. He has one speed horse to his outside (Classic Causeway) and that should help him.
“If we get a wet track on Saturday, I’m fine with that. We train over a wet track all the time and they all handle it good. So far so good, I’m happy with all of them. The key is getting a good trip. I expect all of them to make a good showing.”
Cox said his horses will school in the gate tomorrow and will more than likely go out during the special 7:30 a.m. training time.
EPICENTER – Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Epicenter, the 7-2 second choice on the morning line for Derby 148, returned to the track at his usual 5:30 a.m. time to gallop. The morning rains had turned the track muddy, but that did not stop him from impressing his trainer, Steve Asmussen.
“He is a horse that has not skipped training days in the mud but he has not performed in a race (in the mud),” Asmussen said. “My favorite thing today about Epicenter is how consistent he has been, how he has looked (in the mornings). I think he looked the same on the racetrack today, four days before the Derby, as he did at New Orleans this winter. Very professional. Very consistent with his temperament and his stride. We are just wanting more of the same, just a little faster which is what he has done in every one of his starts this year and there is no reason he shouldn’t carry on.”
Monday’s draw was not without drama for Epicenter’s connections. With two pills to pull, post three and post six remained, and once again, Asmussen’s highly touted Derby entry drew an inside post, the three.
“I’m not crazy about the three hole with him,” Asmussen said. “There is a lot of pace to his immediate outside. You just want (to get) away from there fast. You don’t want to get shuffled back, covered up to a position he is not familiar with.”
In 2011, Nehro broke from post 19 and finished second with Animal Kingdom passing him coming for home.
“In the Nehro year I did not pick up Animal Kingdom,” Asmussen said. “We looked at [Nehro] and it looked like he would get by Shackleford. I glanced back and did not pick up Animal Kingdom, and for that split second, I thought I had won the Derby.”
ETHEREAL ROAD – Aaron Sones and Julie Gilbert’s Ethereal Road had his first gallop Tuesday morning as an official Kentucky Derby starter after becoming the last horse to make the 20-horse field with the defection of Un Ojo. He galloped 1 ½ miles during the special 7:30 a.m. training time.
Ethereal Road will be the 50th Kentucky Derby starter for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who already has four Derby trophies. His most recent starter was Bravazo, who finished sixth in 2018.
“I guess getting 50 horses qualified for the Kentucky Derby is an achievement,” Lukas said. “I’m real tickled to get this horse qualified because this is a new client. He wanted to get in and have this experience, so I’m happy for him (Aaron Sones). It’s important to get them this experience because it’s what it is all about.
“Ethereal Road is doing good. He’s has a good of couple weeks here. I was surprised how well he handled the wet track this morning. He did really good out there. He got over it awfully nice.”
HAPPY JACK – Trainer Doug O’Neill had his colt Happy Jack on the racetrack for the 7:30-7:45 special training period for Derby and Oaks horses. The Calumet Farm homebred by Preakness winner Oxbow had veteran exercise rider Tony Romero as his pilot.
The two went to stand in the starting gate in the mile chute, then galloped a mile and a quarter.
“He was good this morning,” Romero said back at Barn 41. “He was nice and quiet.”
O’Neill looked on at the exercise and was pleased by the results.
“Touch wood,” the conditioner said doing just that. “It’s all good so far.”
MESSIER, TAIBA – Trainer Tim Yakteen has settled in nicely for his first go-round at the Kentucky Derby and had a good battle plan in place for his two Derby colts — the Empire Maker offspring Messier and the son of Gun Runner named Taiba.
Tuesday morning was full of “Kentucky spring sunshine” with the rain coming down and the lightning flashing all around. It was wondered if his California-based twosome might be affected by the wet track conditions, something that is more the exception than the rule out his way.
“No, they’ll be fine,” Yakteen said. “We had a pretty good rain and an off track at Santa Anita a couple of weeks back and they handled it well. No problems today.”
At the start of the special Derby/Oaks training period at 7:30, the track was wet but the rain and lightning had abated and Yakteen gave exercise rider Beto Gomez a leg up on Messier in the shedrow of Barn 37. The duo went to the racetrack and headed to the mile chute where the good-sized Canadian-bred stood nicely in the starting gate for him. They then headed to the main track and galloped a mile and a quarter.
From there the two walked back to Barn 37 and Yakteen was ready to go with a quick shedrow leg-up transfer of Gomez from Messier to Taiba without missing a beat. The rider went trackside and repeated the same program with his chestnut charge and all went well again.
“Things are good,” Yakteen said. “Thumbs up.”
The trainer scheduled his two horses to paddock school today during the third race.
RATTLE N ROLL, SMILE HAPPY, TIZ THE BOMB – Trainer Kenny McPeek had Magdalena Racing’s Tiz the Bomb and Lucky Seven Stable’s Smile Happy on the track Tuesday, galloping a mile and a half. Edwardo Ruvalcaba was on Tiz the Bomb, while Danny Ramsey was aboard Smile Happy.
Tiz the Bomb galloped in the company of Oaks filly Cocktail Moments, with Albert Kelly, who was outside of him on the sealed track. Smile Happy started several lengths behind the other two.
“It was a routine day, and everyone came out of it just fine,” said Greg Geier, assistant to McPeek.
Smile Happy starts from the No. 5 post in the Derby with Corey Lanerie, while Tiz the Bomb, with Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard, drew the No. 9 post.
Rattle N Roll is the second also-eligible for the Derby.
RICH STRIKE – RED TR-Racing’s Rich Strike, the first horse on the also-eligible list for Kentucky Derby 148, visited the starting gate in the mile chute and then galloped a mile and a quarter under Gabriel Lagunes for trainer Eric Reed.
SIMPLIFICATION – Tami Bobo’s Simplification galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Ismal Ramirez for trainer Antonio Sano.
The Fountain of Youth winner drew post 13 for Saturday’s Run for the Roses and will be ridden by Jose Ortiz.
“The 13 is perfect …a little outside and toward the middle,” Sano said. “I didn’t want to be inside.”
Simplification has not raced on an off track but Sano feels from the colt’s works that a muddy surface would not be a problem.
Simplification had his final work for the Derby Friday at Gulfstream Park with a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.44.
SUMMER IS TOMORROW – Michael Hilary Burke and Negar Burke’s Summer Is Tomorrow had a scheduled walk day Tuesday following a half-mile breeze in :49.20 on Monday morning.
Runner-up in the UAE Derby (GII) in his most recent start, Summer Is Tomorrow will be ridden Saturday by Mickael Barzalona and break from post position four.
“Perfect,” said Caroline Seemar, wife of trainer Bhupat Seemar, of the spot in the gate.
Summer Is Tomorrow is scheduled to school in the paddock this afternoon with horses in the eighth race.
WHITE ABARRIO – Settling in after vanning to Louisville from Gulfstream Park, C2 Racing Stable and La Milagrosa Stable’s White Abarrio was on the track for the first time Tuesday.
“He jogged a mile today and did fine,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “He’s going to gallop every day, and go to the gate. How about this Kentucky weather? You’re always hoping for a fast track for the Derby, and hopefully it won’t be sloppy.”
“They say grays like the slop,” Joseph said of White Abarrio, a gray colt. “So hopefully, if it is sloppy, this gray will do great.”
ZANDON – Jeff Drown’s Blue Grass Stakes (GI) winner Zandon jogged Tuesday over the sloppy surface.
Zandon drew post 10 for the Kentucky Derby.
“I wanted him to draw toward the middle of the starting gate and we got just that,” trainer Chad Brown said. “Training wise we’ve done most of our serious work and he’s fit for Saturday.”
THE KENTUCKY DERBY FIELD – Here’s the field from the rail out for the Grade I, $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI): Mo Donegal (Irad Ortiz Jr.); Happy Jack (Rafael Bejarano); Epicenter (Joel Rosario); Summer Is Tomorrow (Mickael Barzalona); Smile Happy (Corey Lanerie); Messier (John Velazquez); Crown Pride (JPN) (Christophe Lemaire); Charge It (Luis Saez); Tiz the Bomb (Brian Hernandez Jr.); Zandon (Flavien Prat); Pioneer of Medina (Joe Bravo); Taiba (Mike Smith); Simplification (Jose Ortiz); Barber Road (Rey Gutierrez); White Abarrio (Tyler Gaffalione); Cyberknife (Florent Geroux); Classic Causeway (Julien Leparoux); Tawny Port (Ricardo Santana Jr.); Zozos (Manny Franco); Ethereal Road (Luis Contreras). Also Eligibles: Rich Strike (Sonny Leon); Rattle N Roll (James Graham).
LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS UPDATE
BEGUINE – Charles Matses’ Beguine, who is on the also-eligible list for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, galloped a mile and a half at 5:15 this morning under Raul Vizcarrando for trainer Danny Peitz.
CANDY RAID – The rain let up before Don’t Tell My Wife Stables and trainer Keith Desormeux’s Candy Raid made her way to the muddy track at 7:30 a.m. under exercise rider Alex Cano, where he jogged her 1 1/2 miles.
Asked how Candy Raid would handle a wet track, Desormeaux said, “It might move her up.”
COCKTAIL MOMENTS – Trainer Kenny McPeek had Dixiana Farms’ Cocktail Moments on the track this morning, going a mile and a half with exercise rider Albert Kelly. The Kentucky-bred filly, who was a $190,000 purchase at the Keeneland September yearling sale, pressed stablemate Tiz the Bomb and exercise rider Edwardo Ruvalcaba during the outing on a sloppy and sealed track.
McPeek has named Corey Lanerie as her rider in the Longines Kentucky Oaks, in which she drew the No. 11 post.
DESERT DAWN – Trainer Phil D’Amato – in from California Monday – was out early Tuesday morning with the idea of getting his Kentucky Oaks filly Desert Dawn ready to do some galloping during the special 7:30-7:45 training session for Derby/Oaks runners.
But when the weather grew more threatening by the minute, the 46-year-old horseman called an audible and had exercise rider Roman Cecher take his bay daughter of Cupid to the track shortly after it opened at 5:15 a.m. They galloped a mile and a quarter as the rain began to fall.
“We tried to beat the rain today,” the trainer said. “We’ll go back to the 7:30 time tomorrow. She’s a happy horse now.”
ECHO ZULU – L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Echo Zulu kept to her routine Tuesday, being led over with trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn first set at 5:15 a.m. One day after drawing post seven outside the other likely early speed fillies, the undefeated 2-year-old Eclipse Champion galloped about 1 1/4 miles in the rain over the muddy track.
“She drew a great spot,” Asmussen said of her post position. “We’ll see what we can do.”
GODDESS OF FIRE, NEST, SHAHAMA – Rain and lightning just before 5 a.m. Tuesday at Churchill Downs caused a change in plans for the three Oaks fillies that train out of conditioner Todd Pletcher’s Barn 35.
Instead of going trackside for the early 5:15 start of training, the conditioner shifted his fillies to the 7:30 start of the special training period for Derby and Oaks runners. So at that time, two of the fillies – Goddess of Fire (with exercise rider Humberto Zamora up) and Nest (Nora McCormack) – went on the track for gallops of a mile and one sixteenth. Just before 8 a.m., Zamora returned to the track with the third filly – the undefeated daughter of Munnings named Shahama. They, too, galloped a mile and one sixteenth.
The trio had been galloping farther in the training previously, but the weather and the wet track made for an alteration in plans.
“Wanted to get them out and back safely,” Pletcher said.
The trainer has scheduled his fillies to school in the paddock with the horses in the fifth race Tuesday afternoon.
HIDDEN CONNECTION – Hidden Brook Farm and Black Type Thoroughbreds’ TwinSpires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) runner-up Hidden Connection galloped about 1 ½ miles early Tuesday morning.
KATHLEEN O. – Winngate Stables’ Kathleen O. kept to her 6 a.m. routine of galloping for one mile under exercise rider David Jego. The difference today was the soaking rain and muddy track.
Asked about the possibility of a wet track for Friday’s Oaks, trainer Shug McGaughey said, “She broke her maiden in the slop so we are not worried about that.”
McGaughey reported that owner Patrick Kearney would arrive Wednesday or Thursday. At age 83, Kearney decided to get into horse ownership, and Kathleen O. was his first purchase. Named after Kearney’s wife, the daughter of Upstart is the first foal from the Blame mare Quaver.
“Niall Brennan led me to her,” McGaughey said. “She’s got Claiborne on both sides. Flatter was bred by Claiborne. And Blame is from Claiborne. Arch behind that. We knew she’d be a great dirt horse going two turns.”
Bred by Gainesway Thoroughbreds and Bridlewood Farm, Kathleen O. was purchased as a 2-year-old for $275,000 at OBS.
NOSTALGIC – Godolphin’s Nostalgic galloped 1 ½ miles at 7:30 a.m. under Penny Gardiner.
SECRET OATH – Briland Farm’s multiple stakes winner Secret Oath did not let a downpour stop her regular routine as she and exercise rider Danielle Rosier were, as usual, among the first horses on the track when it opened at 5:15 a.m.
The Arrogate filly drew post position one on Monday, but it was not a concern for her Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
“If it was the Kentucky Derby with 20 horses, you’d be sick about it,” Lukas said. “Being the Oaks, we’ll be starting in the middle of the track, so it’s not nearly as bad. There will be quicker horses in there than her, so we can deal it.”
At 86 years-old, Lukas says as long as he has horses such as Secret Oath and Kentucky Derby contender Ethereal Road in his barn, he doesn’t plan on slowing down.
“I normally get up at 3:15 a.m. every morning, but I was up at 3 today,” Lukas said. “It is horses like this that keep me going. I love the competition.”
TURNERLOOSE – Ike and Dawn Thrash’s Turnerloose was the only horse from the Brad Cox barn to come out during the 7:30 a.m. special training time, but she’s likely to have some company Wednesday from her three Kentucky Derby-bound stablemates after they trained earlier in the morning on Tuesday. The filly, coming off a fourth in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII), galloped 1 ½ miles with regular Edvin Vargas.
VENTI VALENTINE – NY Final Furlong Racing Stable and Parkland Thoroughbreds’ Gazelle (GIII) runner-up Venti Valentine was on the track with exercise rider Luis Peña, galloping a mile and a quarter, trainer Jorge Abreu said.
“After galloping a mile and a quarter, she also went and stood in the gate,” Abreu said. “It went very, very well. Now she’ll gallop to the race and school.”
Weather predictions for the Louisville area call for a chance for rain Thursday through Saturday. Unlike many of the others in the Longines Kentucky Oaks, New York-bred Venti Valentine won on a sloppy Belmont track last October, in just her second lifetime start.
“It seems like she can handle the slop just fine,” Abreu said. “It shouldn’t be a factor.”
She had a final workout for the Longines Kentucky Oaks last Friday with Tyler Gaffalione aboard, going five furlongs in 1:00.80. Gaffalione will ride her in the Oaks, starting from the No. 7 post.
YUUGIRI – Sekie and Tsunebumi Yoshihara’s Fantasy Stakes (GIII) winner Yuugiri went to the track at 7:30 a.m. with trainer Rodolphe Brisset aboard and schooled in the gate before galloping 1 ½ miles over the sloppy track.
“She continues to do very well here,” Brisset said. “We’re happy with our post position (six). She has the tactical speed to do well from there.”
Brisset said he’s seen a big change in Yuugiri for the better this year.
“She’s definitely matured,” he said. “She used to be rank in the mornings and hard to train. She really did well this winter at Oaklawn. It’s so busy there in the mornings that horses either get used to it and settle down or they don’t. She’s settled and has done very well.”
THE LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS FIELD – Here’s the field from the rail out for the Grade I, $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI): Secret Oath (Luis Saez); Nostalgic (Jose Ortiz); Hidden Connection (Rey Gutierrez); Nest (Irad Ortiz Jr.); Goddess of Fire (John Velazquez); Yuugiri (Florent Geroux); Echo Zulu (Joel Rosario); Venti Valentine (Tyler Gaffalione); Desert Dawn (Umberto Rispoli); Kathleen O. (Javier Castellano); Cocktail Moments (Corey Lanerie); Candy Raid (Rafael Bejarano); Shahama (Flavien Prat); Turnerloose (Manny Franco). Also Eligible: Beguine (Ricardo Santana Jr.)
KENTUCKY DERBY, OAKS MORNING WORKOUTS OPEN TO PUBLIC – Churchill Downs will be open free-of-charge daily from 7-10 a.m. through Wednesday so guests can watch the nation’s top 3-year-old Thoroughbreds train toward their engagements in this year’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.
Horses train on Churchill Downs’ main track daily from 5:15-10 a.m. with an exclusive training window only for Derby and Oaks participants from 7:30-7:45 a.m. following the 7-7:30 a.m. renovation break.
Those horses are identified by special saddle towels which include their names: yellow saddle towels for Derby horses and pink saddle towels for Oaks contenders.
Kentucky Derby Morning Works presented by TwinSpires.com will begin Monday and air on www.kentuckyderby.com/works, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Fans in attendance will be able to watch the show on the track’s Big Board and infield televisions.
Guests can enter Churchill Downs through the Paddock Gate and should park for free in the nearby White Lot for convenient entry. Guests will be directed to Sections 115-117 to watch the morning workouts.
No outside food and beverage is allowed. Churchill Downs’ Paddock Grill will be open each morning with breakfast food and beverage options.
Also, the Churchill Downs Store will be open daily featuring all of the best official race merchandise, collectibles, drinkwear, party supplies, gifts, apparel and gear for men and women in advance of the Kentucky Derby.
The 148th runnings of the $1.25 Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) and $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) will be held Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7, respectively. Opening Night of Derby Week and the 44-day Spring Meet is Saturday, April 30.