Lani turns in three-furlong work for Derby
Lani, winner of the UAE Derby (G2) in his most recent start, worked three furlongs in :37.40 with blinkers on over a track labeled fast during the 8:30-8:45 a.m. (EDT) training period reserved for Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) contenders Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.
With jockey Yutaka Take aboard, Lani jogged right onto the track, galloping easily once around before beginning his work at the three-eighths pole. Clockers timed Lani in :14 for his first eighth and had a gallop-out time of :50.60 for a half-mile. The work was the fifth fastest of eight at the distance.
Lani pulled up at the three-quarters pole, backtracked to the mile chute where he walked for a few minutes before returning to the barn.
"He was a little shy to start, but after the quarter pole we got a good gallop for two furlongs," Take said via interpreter Keita Tanaka. "It was supposed to be five furlongs, but he wanted to stop. Back home in Japan he has done that before, so it is not a concern."
Take has ridden the Tapit colt in five of his six starts.
"His temperament is that he is not willing to run always," Take said. "If he does (want to run), he has a big chance (in the Derby)."
And when would Take know his charge wants to run?
"After the gate," Take said with a laugh.
Wednesday marked the first time Take had been at Churchill Downs since riding two horses in the 2000 Breeders' Cup. Prior to that, he had ridden in the 1995 Kentucky Derby, finishing 14th on Ski Captain.
"That was schooling for me. It was a good experience," Take said. "For all riders, it is extremely difficult to ride in the Derby and I know how precious it is. It is one of my biggest ambitions (to win the Derby) and to have a horse here is exciting."
Take left Japan on Tuesday to come in for the work and is scheduled to return to Japan on Thursday. He will be back in Louisville next Friday.
The morning's only Oaks worker was Rachel Alexandra (G2) winner Venus Valentine, who breezed a half-mile in :49.40 on her own shortly after the track opened for training at 5:45.
With exercise rider Mario Garcia aboard, Venus Valentine posted fractions of :12.40, :25, :37.40, :49.40 and out five furlongs in 1:02.20 over a track labeled good. The work was the 14th fastest of 23 at the distance.
"I thought it went well," trainer Tom Amoss said. "On her own, she is a good work horse."
Venus Valentine, fifth in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in her most recent start, wore blinkers in the work.
"That will be a change to blinkers on for the Oaks," Amoss said. "She is acclimating to the blinkers. She is plenty fit. This was her last work and she will gallop into the race."