Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender Done Talking zipped five furlongs in a bullet 1:01 at Laurel Park April 28. The work was the fastest of the day among 17 horses working at the distance.
"I told Sheldon to go a minute and change and he hit it almost on the number," said trainer Hamilton Smith, referring to regular rider Sheldon Russell, who was aboard. "I wanted him to gallop out strong. He wasn’t tired when he came back to the barn and we are ready to go."
The Illinois Derby (gr. III) winner will be the veteran trainer’s first Derby starter. Done Talking is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs April 29. Done Talking will be stabled in Dale Roman's barn.
Both Done Talking and Roman's Derby entry Dullahan were broken by Smith’s brother, Franklin Smith, at the Elloree Training Center in South Carolina.
"He had them from the time the first saddle was put on them until they came up to the races," said Smith. "He (his brother) called me once he got to breezing (Done Talking) and said he had a nice colt that he’d like me to have. He hasn’t missed a trick for us. He is a very smart horse and he does everything right."
A son of Broken Vow —Dixie Talking, by Dixieland Band, Done Talking has won three of seven career starts, with earnings of $381,200. A Kentucky homebred for Skeedattle Stables, Done Talking also won the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct last fall.
"I am looking forward to a great race out of him, I really am," said Smith. "If we get pace up front that should help us. Naturally you need to have a good trip with all those horses in there. With his running style you worry about getting shut off but if we can be mid-pack early, about eighth or ninth and relax, we might shock everybody."
Smith has been a Maryland mainstay for more than 30 years. The 67-year-old has 1,645 career winners and has conditioned runners such as Gin Talking, Case Of The Blues, and Blind Date, all multiple stakes winners. The usually stoic Smith was uncharacteristically animated when his 3-year-old rallied to win the Illinois Derby.
"I was expecting a high five from Ham," said co-owner Willie White. "But he grabs me and lifts me off the ground and says, ‘This is what I’m talking about’. It was fun."
"I usually don’t show a lot of emotion," Smith said. "Those kind of races are exciting because he was coming from way back and had to weave his way through (the field). It is a little more exciting than winning on the front-end."
"We are particularly happy for Hammy, a guy who has worked so hard for so many years," added co-owner Lou Rehak. "To have this opportunity at this stage of his career is pretty awesome."
The ownership group of White, Rehak, and Bob Orndorff (Skedattle Associates), who also are neighbors on Triadelphia Mill Road in Clarkesville, are making their first trip to the Kentucky Derby.