LOUISVILLE, KY (Monday, April 26, 2021)Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Midnight Bourbon worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 over a fast track at Churchill Downs while earlier at Parx, Mark Schwartz’s Brooklyn Strong worked five furlongs in 1:00.92 to punch his ticket to Louisville for Kentucky Derby 147 for trainer Danny Velazquez.

   Later Monday morning, a field of 14 3-year-old fillies were entered for Friday’s 147th running of the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI).    

BOURBONIC, DYNAMIC ONE, KNOWN AGENDA, SAINTHOOD – Trainer Todd Pletcher’s Derby four-bagger was swinging for the fences Monday morning at Churchill Downs as they continued their preparation for this coming Saturday’s big game known as Kentucky Derby 147.

   Each of the well-bred youngsters galloped approximately a mile and a quarter on a sunny Kentucky morning and they all earned a thumbs up from Pletcher after they reported back to his Barn 42 on the track’s backside.

   Heading out first at the start of the 7:30 - 7:45 a.m. special training period for Derby and Oaks contenders were Florida Derby (GI) winner Known Agenda (with exercise rider Carlos Perez Quevuedo aboard) and New York’s Wood Memorial (GII) runner-up Dynamic One (with Hector Ramos in the tack). They were followed at 7:50 by Wood Memorial winner Bourbonic (Ramos) and Turfway Park’s Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) runner-up Sainthood (with Amelia Green up).

   The colts were likely to follow a similar pattern for the rest of the week with possible side trips to the starting gate and paddock mixed in, Pletcher said.

   “So far, so good,” he said.

BROOKLYN STRONG – Mark Schwartz’s Brooklyn Strong passed the last hurdle and is now Kentucky Derby bound after working five furlongs in 100.92 at Parx Monday. He will depart his Bensalem, Pennsylvania base at 6 p.m. Monday and is expected at Churchill by 6 a.m. Tuesday.

   “It was perfect,” trainer Danny Velazquez said. “I’d like to say it went just as planned, but none of this has been planned. We’re excited. He worked great. Cooled out great. He’ll have all day to relax before he leaves.”

   Brooklyn Strong, who ended 2020 by winning the Remsen Stakes (GII) at Aqueduct, will be making only his second start of 2021. He was most recently fifth in the Wood Memorial April 3 in his debut.

ESSENTIAL QUALITY, MANDALOUN – Trainer Brad Cox’s Derby-duo of Godolphin’s Essential Quality and Juddmonte Farm’s Mandaloun had a spirited jog Monday morning at Churchill Downs.

   “Both horses came out of their Saturday works great and we’re just doing our normal routine leading into race day,” Cox said. “They’ll both gallop Tuesday and we’ll just make sure they’re happy until Derby Day.”

HELIUM, SOUP AND SANDWICHD J Stable’s Helium and Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Soup and Sandwich both schooled at the starting gate and galloped 1 ½ miles over the track Monday morning, with the former looking particularly strong for trainer Mark Casse. Assistant trainer David Carroll was happy with how the morning went, even though both colts may go about it in different ways.

“That’s who Helium is; he likes to train and he’s fresh and on the muscle,” Carroll said. “Soup and Sandwich, you really only see that from him when he breezes. But they are both doing great, they schooled beautifully at the gate, and now we’re just hopeful we’ll get some luck at the draw (Tuesday).”

HIDDEN STASH – BBN Racing’s Hidden Stash galloped a mile and a half with trainer Vicki Oliver aboard early Monday morning at Keeneland.

   A similar activity is planned for 5:30 Tuesday morning before Hidden Stash vans to Churchill Downs.

HIGHLY MOTIVATEDKlaravich Stables Highly Motivated went back to the track for the first time since his final Derby workout Saturday morning for trainer Chad Brown, jogging under exercise rider Peter Roman.

   “I gave him a jog all the way around with the pony, just to see how he was moving and stretching himself out,” Brown said. “I’m really happy with how he looked and he’s going to go back to galloping tomorrow. I’ll do a little paddock schooling one of the days and we'll be in good shape."

HOT ROD CHARLIE – The Louisiana Derby (GII) winner and racing millionaire Hot Rod Charlie got his first feel for the Churchill Downs racing strip Monday morning by going through a handy one-mile jog with exercise rider Jonny Garcia in the tack during the 7:30 - 7:45 training period for Derby and Oaks runners.

   Trainer Doug O’Neill, already a two-time Kentucky Derby winner (I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Nyquist in 2016) was a most-interested observer as his charge went through his paces.

   “We both shipped well Sunday,” the ebullient O’Neill offered. “I always ship well.”

   “Charlie” seemed more than ready to take on his assignment Monday, but he had to go some to outdo his pony, the Hall of Famer Lava Man, who accompanied the sophomore on his journey east and acted like a young boy (despite his 20 years) as he led the way to the racetrack.

   Lava Man, the world’s greatest claim ($50,000 that parlayed into more than $5.2 million), attempted retirement a bunch of years back, but was so unhappy with pasture life that he was returned to the racetrack. He has flourished in his new role schooling the youngsters and has earned the nickname “Coach” from the folks at the O’Neill barn.

   O’Neill indicated that Hot Rod Charlie would jog again Tuesday, then gallop up to Saturday’s $3 million Run for the Roses.

KEEPMEINMINDKeepmeinmind, who broke his maiden last fall at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII), schooled in the gate and then galloped 1 1/2 miles Monday at 7:30 a.m.

   Trainer Robertino Diodoro, who arrives in Louisville Monday evening, said Keepmeinmind schooled without blinkers and will be entered Tuesday without blinkers.

KING FURY – Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farm’s King Fury was out on the track Monday morning during the period reserved for Kentucky Derby and Oaks horses. With exercise rider Lalo Jose Quiroz aboard, King Fury followed up on Saturday’s work with a jog and a gallop.

   “Uncomplicated,” said trainer Kenny McPeek after King Fury and Oaks contender Crazy Beautiful came off the track. “Coming off the work, I jogged them a mile and galloped them a mile. This is a typical routine, we’re not going to change anything from what we would do for any other race.”

LIKE THE KING – M Racing Group’s Like the King galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Jose Hernandez Monday morning at Keeneland for trainer Wesley Ward.

   A similar activity is scheduled for Tuesday morning at 6 o’clock before Like the King vans to Churchill Downs.

   Ward said he probably would be at the post position draw scheduled at 11 a.m. in the Aristides Lounge at Churchill Downs.

MEDINA SPIRIT – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert made his first appearance at Churchill Downs since winning the rescheduled Kentucky Derby last September with Authentic on Monday. He arrived at the barn shortly after watching his 2021 Derby prospect Medina Spirit gallop 1 3/8 miles from the Grandstand.

   “I was hoping to enjoy my Derby win a little longer, but it’s always great to be back at Churchill Downs,” Baffert said. “I love coming here. It looked like we were coming with something really live a couple of months ago. (Life Is Good) looked really strong, but that’s part of the business.

   “I think we’re here with a horse that’s in the top 10. I usually like to come in with a top five type horse. He’s top 10. He shows up every time. He’s run second to some really nice horses. He’s doing well over this track.”

   Medina Spirit trained at the 7:30 a.m. time allotted for Kentucky Oaks and Derby horses along with stablemate Concert Tour. Although Concert Tour has the points needed to run on virtue of his win in the Rebel Stakes (GII) and third in the Arkansas Derby (GI), Baffert said he would not be entered Tuesday and is instead being pointed toward the Preakness Stakes.

MIDNIGHT BOURBON, SUPER STOCKWinchell Thoroughbreds Midnight Bourbon, in what will likely be the last major workout from the 20 prospective Derby starters, went five furlongs in 1:02.40 under exercise rider Wilson Fabian. The son of Tiznow posted splits of 24.40 and 49.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:16.20.

   “I’m very happy with how he went,” Asmussen said. “We got exactly what we wanted and he continues to do very well.”

   Erv Woolsey’s and Asmussen’s father Keith’s Super Stock went back to the track for the first time since his final Derby breeze Saturday morning and jogged one-mile alongside assistant trainer Scott Blasi aboard the pony.

O BESOSBernard Racing, Tagg Team Racing, West Point Thoroughbreds and Terry L. Stephens’ O Besos galloped about 1 ½ miles under Margarito Fierro for trainer Greg Foley.

   “We’ll probably school him in the paddock at some point this week and be ready for Saturday,” Foley said.

ROCK YOUR WORLD – Trainer John Sadler and the 3-year-old colt Rock Your World shipped from California to Louisville Sunday and both went trackside Monday morning for the special 7:30 - 7:45 training period for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks runners.  

   Rock Your World, an undefeated son of Candy Ride, just stretched his legs for the first time at Churchill Downs in an easy one-mile jog around the big oval with exercise rider Javier Meza in the boot. The tall, dark youngster was a picture as he went through his paces in professional fashion.

   “I’ll gallop him the rest of the week, then just walk him on race day,” Sadler said.

   Rock Your World is owned by Sadler’s chief clients, Californian brothers Kosta and Pete Hronis, along with their partner, David Talla. He was a $650,000 Keeneland yearling purchase who clicked in his first race on New Year’s Day at Santa Anita on the grass, then followed that up with a further tally on the turf in the listed Pasadena Stakes over the same course on Feb. 27.

   The connections were encouraged enough by their colt’s abilities to throw him into the deep end of the pool in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 3 and were promptly rewarded with a 4 ¼-length triumph in front-running fashion over nine furlongs on dirt. Shortly thereafter, they went from the deep end of the pool to ocean swimming by putting his name on the list for Kentucky Derby 147.

   California-based Umberto Rispoli had been aboard Rock Your World for his two California stakes scores, but when Sadler favorite Joel Rosario came open for the Run for the Roses the switch was made.

   Rock Your World will be one of the favorites for the 10-furlong classic this Saturday.

SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – Likely starters in the 147th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles on Saturday, May 1 in order of preference (with possible jockey and trainer): Essential Quality (Luis Saez, Brad Cox); Hot Rod Charlie (Flavien Prat, Doug O’Neill); Super Stock (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen); Like the King (Drayden Van Dyke, Wesley Ward); Known Agenda (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher); Rock Your World (Joel Rosario, John Sadler); Bourbonic (Kendrick Carmouche, Todd Pletcher); Medina Spirit (John Velazquez, Bob Baffert); Midnight Bourbon (Mike Smith, Steve Asmussen); Mandaloun (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox); Highly Motivated (Javier Castellano, Chad Brown); Helium (Julien Leparoux, Mark Casse); Soup and Sandwich (Tyler Gaffalione, Mark Casse); Dynamic One (Jose Ortiz, Todd Pletcher); Sainthood (Corey Lanerie, Todd Pletcher); Hidden Stash (Rafael Bejarano, Vicki Oliver); O Besos (Marcelino Pedroza, Greg Foley); King Fury (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek); Keepmeinmind (David Cohen, Robertino Diodoro); Brooklyn Strong (Umberto Rispoli, Danny Velazquez).

LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS UPDATE Shadwell Stable’s Malathaat has been installed as the 5-2 favorite in a field of 14 fillies entered Monday morning for Friday’s 147th running of the $1.25 Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI).

AVA’S GRACE – Trainer Robertino Diodoro was monitoring the Kentucky Oaks draw on his drive from Hot Springs, Arkansas to Louisville and was pleased when he learned his Fantasy Stakes runner-up Ava’s Grace had drawn post position seven.

   “I think it’s good,” Diodoro said. “It looks Iike the speed is to the inside of us, which is good.”

   Ava’s Grace galloped 1 ½ miles under Walter Davila early Monday.

   Diodoro said he’s pleased with how his filly is coming into the race.

   “She’s good, very good,” he said. “I was there for her work, which was very good (last Friday). We just have to keep her healthy and happy until Friday.”

CLAIRIERE, PAULINE’S PEARLStonestreet Stables’ homebreds Pauline’s Pearl and Clairiere both walked the shedrow Monday morning, a day after completing their final Oaks preparations for trainer Steve Asmussen, and are scheduled to go back to the track Tuesday morning.

   Pauline’s Pearl drew the rail for the Oaks while stablemate Clairiere drew post three.

COACH, TRAVEL COLUMN – Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) winner Travel Column galloped 1 ½ miles during trainer Brad Cox’s first set of training at 5:15 a.m.

   “I’m hoping we draw somewhere in the middle of the gate with speed to our inside,” jockey Florent Geroux said about one hour prior to the draw.

   Geroux’s wish was granted when Travel Column drew post six for the Oaks.

   Kueber Racing’s Coach galloped 1 ½ miles at 5:45 a.m. and drew post nine for the Oaks. Luis Saez has the call.

   “It’s great being a Louisville guy having a horse in the Oaks,” owner Rick Kueber said. “It’s the most exciting time of year in this city and it’s really special to be involved in this race as an owner.”

COMPETITIVE SPEEDJohn Minchello’s Competitive Speed jogged two miles under exercise rider Anthony Gallo for trainer Javier Gonzalez.

   Third in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) in her most recent start, Competitive Speed drew post position 13 for Friday’s Oaks in which she will be ridden by Chris Landeros.

   “I was hoping for something between the seven and the nine, but that is OK,” Gonzalez said. “There is a long run to the first turn and he can move in and get a good position without losing much ground.”

CRAZY BEAUTIFUL – Phoenix Thoroughbred LTD’s Crazy Beautiful took to the track along with her stablemate, Derby contender King Fury, during the training period reserved for horses pointed to the two big races Friday and Saturday. Following a quiet Sunday morning at trainer Kenny McPeek’s barn, the filly had an easy jog and a gallop with exercise rider Danny Ramsey.

   “She’s coming into this thing like a beast,” McPeek said. “I’ve been watching some of the others out there, and I feel pretty confident that we’ll get a piece of it.”

   And if Crazy Beautiful delivers? McPeek said his reaction would be: “About time. I’ve been second three times and fourth three times. We’ve run well, and if you keep doing that, eventually you’re going to get it.”

MALATHAAT – Shadwell Stable’s Malathaat went to the racetrack at 7:30 during the special training period and exercise rider Amelia Green was at the controls for a visit to the gate and a 1 3/8-mile gallop as she readies for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks.

   How did she handle the gate, Green was asked?  “Perfect,” was the answer. The gallop was a good one, too, she noted.

   Malathaat drew post 10 for Friday’s Oaks.

   “I’m basically fine with the draw,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I probably would have preferred to be a bit more toward the middle but if it was a case of drawing inside or outside, I’ll take the outside. It’ll work out fine.”

   The bay Curlin filly is four-for-four in her brief career, most recently ringing the bell in the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 3. She’ll be handled by Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez Friday and is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the $1.25 million “Run for the Lillies.”

MARACUJA – Beach Haven Thoroughbreds’ Maracuja completed her journey from Elmont, New York, arriving at Churchill Downs Monday morning for trainer Rob Atras. The daughter of Honor Code was second in Aqueduct’s April 3 Gazelle (G3) and will get her first feel for the Churchill Downs main track Tuesday morning.

   She drew post two in the Oaks.

   “I think the draw is fine,” Atras said. “In two-turn races I would prefer a middle draw but being down inside isn’t necessarily bad either. Hopefully, we can save some ground into the turn and not get shuffled back. My filly doesn’t have a lot of tactical speed so it’s not that big of a deal since we weren’t going to be going to the lead early anyway.”

MILLEFEUILLEJuddmonte Farms’ Millefeuille galloped a little more than a mile under exercise rider Ailsa Morrison on the filly’s first day back on the track following a bullet work of :59.60 on Saturday.

   Trained by Bill Mott, Millefeuille drew post position 14 for Friday’s Oaks.

MORAZDon Alberto Stable’s homebred filly Moraz took advantage of the 7:30-7:45 a.m. training period at Churchill Downs Monday to stretch her legs as she moves closer to her Kentucky Oaks date this Friday. Trainer Michael McCarthy was on the scene for her 1 ¼-mile gallop after returning from the Bay Area and Golden Gate Fields in California where he had run six of his stable’s horses Sunday.

   Exercise rider Olha Krushevska was aboard Moraz for her exercise. The Ukrainian-born horsewoman, who has been in the United States for eight years, reported that the filly went well in her move. “She was very professional,” she said.

   Moraz drew post eight in the Oaks.

   “It should be just fine,” McCarthy said. “There is plenty of tactical speed and she’s easy to ride. I’m happy with our spot.”

   McCarthy indicated that the filly would gallop the rest of the week up to her Friday testing in the nine-furlong Oaks.

PASS THE CHAMPAGNE – Trainer George Weaver was en route to Churchill Downs Monday to catch up with his filly Pass the Champagne, who arrived around 7 a.m. from South Florida. Several hours later she drew post position five for Friday’s race.

   ‘I’m happy with it,” Weaver said. “I was hoping for a spot between four and seven.”

   Pass the Champagne will gallop the next three mornings. Weaver said he hasn’t determined the exact time yet.

SEARCH RESULTSKlaravich Stables’ Search Results picked up the pace a bit Monday morning, as she galloped 1 3/8 miles for trainer Chad Brown and “continues to thrive here.” The undefeated daughter of Flatter returned to the track Sunday with a light jog around and will school in the paddock at some point this week.

WILL’S SECRETWillis Horton’s Honeybee (GIII) winner Will’s Secret jogged at 7:30 a.m. for trainer Dallas Stewart.

   She’s scheduled to gallop at the same time Monday.

THE FIELD FOR THE $1.25 MILLION LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS Pauline’s Pearl (Ricardo Santana Jr., 20-1), Maracuja (Kendrick Carmouche, 20-1), Clairiere (Tyler Gaffalione, 5-1), Crazy Beautiful (Jose Ortiz, 15-1), Pass the Champagne (Javier Castellano, 15-1), Travel Column (Florent Geroux, 3-1), Ava’s Grace (David Cohen, 50-1), Moraz (Flavien Prat (30-1), Coach (Luis Saez, 50-1), Malathaat (John Velazquez, 5-2), Will’s Secret (Jon Court, 30-1), Search Results (Irad Ortiz Jr., 3-1), Competitive Speed (Chris Landeros, 50-1), Millefeuille (Joel Rosario, 20-1). All starters will carry 121 pounds.

continue reading