Pletcher duo lead baker's dozen of Derby workers at Churchill
Edited press release
For those wanting to get a line on contenders for this year's Kentucky Derby (G1) plus enjoy a mild, sun-splashed Kentucky morning, Churchill Downs was the place Friday as 13 horses under consideration for the $2 million Kentucky Derby worked over a fast track
Todd Pletcher's duo of Destin and Outwork put in their final preparations for the Kentucky Derby during Churchill Downs' special 8:30-8:45 a.m. (EDT) training window, which is exclusive to possible starters in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Working in company with Stradivari, Destin went five furlongs in 1:01.20 producing eighth-mile fractions of :12.60, :24.80, :37.40, :49.60, galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.20 and seven furlongs in 1:27.
"Destin worked very well," Pletcher said. "I had him in company. I thought it was very good. He seemed enthusiastic for him. I particularly liked the way he finished up and galloped out. I was very happy. We wanted to make sure we got a good solid work today. He's had a good series of solid works, but we wanted to make sure he worked solid today and had a good gallop out."
The son of Giant's Causeway will enter the Kentucky Derby off an eight-week layoff, having last raced in the March 12 Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Should he win, it would be the longest documented layoff since complete records were kept starting in 1929. Regret won the 1915 Derby off a 259-day layoff and Sir Barton won the 1919 Derby off a 238-day layoff.
"It was a tough decision," Pletcher said of the choice to train up to the Kentucky Derby. "Part of it was we were passing up a good opportunity. The Wood Memorial, the Blue Grass and the Arkansas Derby are all in between and Grade 1s and significant races in their own. We just felt like, for us, we have had success in the past with giving horses a little extra time.
"Looking back to last year's Breeders' Cup with Liam's Map, we didn't race him in between Saratoga and the Breeders' Cup and the same thing with Stopchargingmaria and even Rachel's Valentina who didn't win but ran a good second to Songbird. We just felt like sometimes our horses run well fresh and that should apply to the Kentucky Derby just as much as any other race."
In five career starts, Destin's lone off-the-board effort came in the Jan. 16 Lecomte (G3) at the Fair Grounds where he was fourth beaten five lengths.
"A part of that race was simply him not focusing," Pletcher said. “We made a blinker adjustment for the Sam Davis (G3) and tried to close him up a little bit, trying to get him to focus. The thing we did like about the Lecomte was that it was a sneaky good race. He really never leveled off and ran until the last sixteenth of a mile and when he did he finished up with enthusiasm so it was a much more professional race in the Sam Davis and more so in the Tampa [Bay] Derby. If we can keep him focused, I think he'll get the distance."
Also breezing following the renovation break for Pletcher was Wood Memorial (G1) victor Outwork, who worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 in company with Azar, who is probable for the $300,000 American Turf (G2) on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Churchill Downs clockers caught the son of Uncle Mo in fractions of :13.20, :37.40, galloping out three-quarters of a mile in 1:14.
Pletcher described the work as "a very similar workout" to stablemate Destin.
"I had him going just a little faster [than Destin]," Pletcher said. "What I really liked was the way that he finished up. He can sometimes tend to idle a little bit, as he did in the Wood Memorial, when he gets past the last horses. Today, I thought he looked much more professional and more focused. He was concentrated throughout the gallop out."
Mohaymen worked a half-mile in :47.40 under exercise rider Miguel Jaime for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
Working on his own, Mohaymen produced fractions of :12.60, :23.80, :35.80 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.80. The work was the fifth fastest of 67 at the distance.
"He was a little keen early, but he smoothed out nicely," McLaughlin said. "Miguel kept him off the rail and out in the three path because there were a lot of workers along the rail. It was a beautiful work and he galloped out great. He really likes the track."
Suddenbreakingnews, runner-up in the Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16, completed his Kentucky Derby preparations by working a strong five furlongs under jockey Chris Landeros. The Mineshaft gelding competed the work in :59.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13. It was the eighth fastest of 52 at the distance.
"I was happy with it and Chris was happy with it," trainer Donnie Von Hemel said. "Chris said when he asked him, he stretched out. I was probably looking for something a bit slower, but not significantly. We just have to keep him healthy and happy now. And, make sure he stays in this frame of mind."
Oscar Nominated breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 in company with stablemate Hint of Roses. Julien Leparoux was aboard Oscar Nominated, who was one of the first horses working after the renovation break.
"I thought he worked really well," trainer Mike Maker said. "He got over the grounds really well. We aren't trying to do too much, we just want to keep him happy."
Trainer Chad Brown worked his two Kentucky Derby hopefuls early and late Friday morning. First up for Brown just as the track opened at 5:45 was My Man Sam. With jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard and working in company, My Man Sam posted fractions of :13, :25.60, :37.80 and completed the half-mile in :49.60. The Blue Grass (G1) runner-up galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.20 and three-quarters in 1:14.80. The move was the 46th fastest of 67 at the distance.
Coming out after the break was Shagaf. With Gian Cueva aboard and working on his own, Shagaf worked a half-mile in :47.80. Fractions on the work were :12..40, :24.40, :35.80 and out five furlongs in 1:00.20. The work was the 10th fastest of 67 at the distance.
Brown moved the works up a day because of the weather forecast that calls for plenty of rain in the Louisville area beginning late Friday night.
"I felt like I was studying again for finals," Brown said of constantly monitoring the weather forecast. "We felt like this would be the best day, so why risk it (waiting)? I think they worked very good."
Under former jockey turned assistant trainer Greta Kuntzweiler, Whitmore completed his last major Derby preparation by working five furlongs in company with Meanbone as soon as the track opened at 5:45 a.m. Clockers caught the Pleasantly Perfect gelding in splits of :12.40, :24, :35.60, 48 and 1:00 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14. It was the 13th fastest of 52 at the distance.
"It was perfect," trainer Ron Moquett said. "We were just looking for the best possible surface this morning. He did it nice and easy. He looked like he was just galloping."
Whitmore is coming into the Kentucky Derby off a troubled third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby in which he bobbled soon after the break when two horses cut him off. One start earlier, he had been forced to go wide the entire trip when finishing second to Cupid in the Rebel (G2).
"I'm just hoping for a good, safe trip," Moquett said. "He's not getting the credit he deserves for just how tough those last two races were for him."
"Does it look like he's ready?" trainer Dallas Stewart asked after Tom's Ready worked five furlongs in :59.40 under exercise rider Emerson Chavez. Working in company with Forever d'Oro after the break, Tom's Ready produced fractions of :23.80, :36 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.20 and seven-eighths in 1:27.20. The move was the third fastest of 52 at the distance.
Tom's Ready began about five lengths in back of his workmate, a start that was by design.
"He gets eager when he goes head to head and this way, he can ease up to them on the turn," Stewart said. "This was a good work."
Majesto, working after the renovation break with Javier Castellano aboard, worked five furlongs in 1:01.40. Working on his own, Majesto produced fractions of :12.80, :24.80, :36.80 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15 and seven-eighths in 1:28.60.
"Javier said he worked very easy," trainer Gustavo Delgado said. "I thought it was a very good work."
Delgado said he would confirm a rider for Majesto on Saturday.
Mo Tom walked a half-mile in :48.60 under exercise rider Mario Garcia after the break. Working on his own, Mo Tom produced fractions of :12.20, :24.40, :36.60 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.20 and six furlongs in 1:15.40. The work was the 27th fastest of 67 at the distance.
"The work was fine, but I was a little disappointed in the track," trainer Tom Amoss said. "That was not the same track it was at 6 this morning and not the same track that you'll have in the afternoon."
Fellowship, 21st on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, worked four furlongs in company with Street Gray in :47 after the break. With exercise rider Brian O'Leary up, Fellowship posted fractions of :12.20, :23.60, :35 and out five furlongs in 1:00. It was the fastest half-mile move of the morning of 67 recorded works.
"It was a perfect work," said Norman Casse, assistant to his father, trainer Mark Casse. "He is a super talented colt and I think he will run well if he gets in the Derby."
Discreetness worked after the break under jockey Jon Court for trainer Jinks Fires. Working on his own, Discreetness worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 and posted fractions of :11.80, :23.60, :35.80, :47.80 and out six furlongs in 1:15.20. The work was the 15th fastest of 52 at the distance.
"It was a nice move and he was well in hand," Court said.
Standing 26th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, Discreetness likely would go in the $250,000 Pat Day Mile (G3) on Derby Day if he does not draw in to the Derby field.