While no horses being pointed to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) worked at Churchill Downs April 25, a pair of fillies being pointed to the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) breezed at the Louisville track.
Dennis Geier, assistant to trainer Bret Calhoun, said the four-furlong move by Fiftyshadesofgold went as planned. The daughter of My Golden Song completed the first furlong in :12 3/5 and first quarter in :24 2/5 for exercise rider Sara Escudero. She galloped out in 1:02 1/5.
Calhoun is expected to arrive at Churchill Downs April 26 after attending the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. 2-year-olds in training sale.
Fiftyshadesofgold, who races for the estate of her breeder Clarence Scharbauer Jr., finished 7 3/4 lengths behind likely Kentucky Oaks favorite Untapable in the Fair Grounds Oaks.
As for Empress of Midway, trainer Doug O'Neill's assistant Jack Sisterson said they didn't ask for a lot from the daughter of Empire Maker who completed the half-mile move before some morning rain arrived at Churchill. Sisterson and exercise rider Humberto Gomez said the track was in great shape.
"She worked good. She had a three-quarter work before she left California which was a good, serious work," Sisterson said of Empress of Midway's handy six-furlong move in 1:12 2/5 April 16 at Santa Anita. "We weren't looking for any fast times today or anything and Humberto did a great job with her. We wanted to gallop out five furlongs in 1:02 and she did exactly that.
"She got over the ground well, and the big thing we were looking for was for her to gallop out strongly and she did that."
Clockers had Daniel Kramer's Empress of Midway in splits of :12 3/5, :25 1/5, and :37 2/5 with a gallop out in 1:02 4/5 and six furlongs in 1:15 4/5. In advance of the Oaks, Kramer has sold a percentage of the filly to Rick Pitino. The University of Louisville men's basketball coach is a part-owner of Goldencents , who also is trained by O'Neill and started in last year's Derby.
"I'm excited; I've never had an Oaks horse," said Pitino after watching the workout Friday morning. "I enjoy coming out here in the mornings. I love the work ethic in this sport; it's seven days a week."
With the departure of In Tune from Oaks consideration, Empress of Midway is expected to make the Oaks field.