After a very slow day of Kentucky Derby news, April 28 has presented us with a bevy of excellent information. Let’s break it down!
It was works galore at Churchill Downs.
- The best move the of day goes to Grade 3 Spiral Stakes victor Went The Day Well. Campaigned by the same connections as Animal Kingdom, the son of Proud Citizen was clocked in 1:01 for five furlongs while wearing blinkers for the first time. He will likely use them in the Derby. Trainer Graham Motion thinks it will help him keep a straighter course of action. His splits were :12.40, :24.60, :36.40 and :48.80 and he galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60
“I thought he went super,” trainer Graham Motion said. “John felt that he was better on the dirt here than he was last week on the synthetic (at Keeneland in which he worked six furlongs in 1:14.40).”Went the Day Well never has raced in blinkers, but the son of Proud Citizen was outfitted with them this morning.“I put ‘cheaters’ on him and it seemed like it really helped him,” Motion said. “Last week at Keeneland, he was content to stay with Crimson China and today he went right on by.”Would Went the Day Well wear blinkers in the Derby?“I am going to have to talk to the stewards about that,” Motion said. “He got to loafing and almost interfered with a horse at Turfway (Park in winning the Vinery Racing Spiral). I think they made a difference today.”Went the Day Well comes into the Kentucky Derby off a victory in the Spiral, just as stablemate Animal Kingdom did last year. Unlike Animal Kingdom, Went the Day Well already is proven on dirt.“He didn’t have anything to prove (this morning),” Motion said. “With Animal Kingdom, I talked with Barry (Irwin of Team Valor International) and if he had not handled the dirt, he would not have run.”Animal Kingdom responded with a six-furlong work in 1:13 on the Saturday before the Kentucky Derby.Went the Day Well ran twice in 2011 finishing second in two grass races in England. He made his U.S. debut in February on dirt at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 4, finishing fourth, and then broke his maiden four weeks later.“His first race was typical for a European horse in that he was a step slow out of the gate,” Motion said. “After that first race, we considered taking him to New York for the Gotham (GIII). We took him to the airport and then turned around and stayed for the maiden race.”Off the maiden victory, Went the Day Well took the Spiral by 3 ½ lengths.“It was a big step for him going from a maiden to a Grade III,” said Motion, who will turn on the lights tonight for the opening night of the 39-day spring meet. “I feel good about him and I feel good about running him in this race. And, I feel a whole lot better after the work today.”
- Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes winner Union Rags was clocked in :59.80 for five furlongs over the Churchill Downs track. He recorded splits of :12, :23.60, :47.20 and was out in 1:13.80 for six furlongs. It was met with mixed reviews. Mike Welsch of DRF loved the work, while Jude Feld of Racehorse Report said the work was OK, but not great.
“I thought he ran good. We wanted a strong work here and that was the plan all along,” trainer Michael Matz said. “I wished I could have seen it. All I saw was the front part of it, the last quarter of a mile, but it looked like he went nice.”Leparoux gave Matz his thumbs up on the son of Dixie Union’s first workout at Churchill after shipping in from Keeneland on Thursday.“He never says much. He said he galloped out real strong and said he thinks he likes the track,” Matz said. “That was the plan to do it a week ahead of time and give him some time to recover. The gods were good. It didn’t rain on us, so it’s up to him.”
- Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen looked like a big ball of muscle as he breezed through five furlongs in 1:01.20 at the Churchill Downs Trackside Training Center. He was in company with graded stakes winning four year old Derby Kitten through the stretch.
In a work that resembled a handoff in a relay race in track and field, Hansen engaged stablemate Derby Kitten, who was waiting in the stretch, the two ran together for about a quarter-mile and the 4-year-old Derby Kitten continued on with his half-mile breeze. The split times for Hansen’s breeze under Joel Barrientos were :12.20, :24.60, :36.60 and :49.20. The 2011 juvenile male champion galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.Trainer Mike Maker deemed the work – which he joked that he dreamed up himself – a success.“We’re trying to harness the speed so if we put a workmate with him from the starting point of the work he has a tendency to be very aggressive,” Maker said. “So we just sprinkled it in the last part.”Rather than trying to synch things at a specific pole, Maker said he told the rider on Derby Kitten to begin his work when he hooked up with Hansen.“Basically, the plan was to try to get Hansen to go soft the first three-eighths, which he did, and then just finish up his last quarter, which he did,” Maker said.Hansen galloped out through most of the backstretch of the six-furlong track after completing his breeze. After cooling out, the Tapit colt was taken to a sand pit at the training center where he was allowed to spend several minutes frolicking and rolling in the sand.
- Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes winner Dullahan went out for a five furlong work in 1:01.20. His fractions were fast early as he recorded splits of :11.80, :23.80 and :36 and galloped out in 1:15.80 for trainer Dale Romans. Jude Feld tweeted “DULLahan” in response to the work.
“The work was perfect,” Romans said. “It was exactly what we were looking for. We just wanted a nice maintenance breeze. He went in :57 and change at Keeneland before the Blue Grass and then he ran in the Blue Grass and now he’s working two weeks later and going to run three weeks (after the Blue Grass), so he’s plenty fit and we just wanted him to stretch his legs a bit.”A chestnut son of Even the Score, Dullahan is a half-brother to Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who closed from last to take the Run for the Roses in 2009. Dullahan is also a deep closer and Romans said the race could set up well for him.“I like the way the race looks on paper for us,” Romans said. “The Derby seems to usually have an unreasonably fast pace and there are some fast horses in there this year. The problem is those fast horses are quality and they could just keep going. It’ll be interesting to see how it all unfolds.”
- Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby champ Prospective got through five furlongs in 1:01.20 in the company of Moon Traveler at Churchill Downs. He was best by 3 lengths with splits of :12.20, :24.80, :36.80, and :49 while galloping out six in 1:14.80. Trainer Mark Casse had Shaun Bridgmahon up for the work, but Luis Contreras will ride Prospective in the Derby.
“I thought it was perfect,” Casse said. “I told Shaun to go 1:01 and he went 1:01.20. He told me he was magnificent. The horse he worked with is not a bad horse and I was surprised how easily Prospective worked away from him. I’ve said all along I think this horse likes Churchill. We’re ready.”
- Done Talking worked five furlongs in 1:01 at Laurel Park with Sheldon Russell up.
“I thought about having a workmate for him, but he would have gone too fast, so he went on his own,” trainer Hamilton Smith said. “I wanted to go around a minute and change and he almost hit it on the number.The move was the best of 17 at the distance over a fast track. Done Talking galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60.“It was fast this morning, but the rain is the coming,” Smith said. “He did it the way we wanted. He finished good and galloped out good.”Done Talking is scheduled to leave Laurel Park around 4 a.m. Sunday and arrive at Churchill Downs around mid-afternoon.
- Trinniberg jogged two miles at Churchill Downs and will gallop two more on Sunday. He enters the Derby after two sprint victories against graded stakes company.
- Grade 1 Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy walked the shed row at Palm Meadows. Several works there were canceled, including El Padrino and Gemologist. They will work on Sunday instead. Mark Valeski is scheduled to work on Sunday.
- Stablemates Sabercat and Daddy Nose Best galloped 1 3/8 miles for Steve Asmussen. They will work on Sunday.
- Optimizer galloped today and will work on Sunday.
- I’ll Have Another, Rousing Sermon and Creative Cause have arrived via plane at Churchill Downs.