Team Valor International and Mark Ford’s Went the Day Well turned in “his best work ever” at Churchill Downs April 28, leaving his connections pleased with their hand heading into the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Wearing blinkers for the first time in a breeze, the 3-year-old son of Proud Citizen–Tiz Maie’s Day, by Tiznow broke off about one length behind stablemate Crimson China as the duo went through splits of :12 2/5, :24 3/5, :36 3/5, and :48. 4/5. Went the Day Well Improved his position under jockey John Velazquez to finish about three lengths ahead of the workmate in an official time of 1:01 for five furlongs. Trainer Graham Motion gave the colt six furlongs in 1:14 1/5, while Churchill clockers had him gallop out in 1:14 3/5.
“Johnny actually said he felt a little better over here on this surface than he did on the synthetic,” Motion said, referring to Went the Day Well’s April 21 move at Keeneland. “He finished up quicker and I couldn’t have been happier. It was about as good as I could have hoped for.”
Team Valor president Barry Irwin said Went the Day Well had "his best work ever."
“That’s the first time he’s gone by a horse without any waiting,” Irwin remarked. “It was nice to see him draw away from the other horse.”
According to Motion, Went the Day Well will likely be equipped with blinkers in his Derby start.
“I’m going to talk to the stewards about it,” he said. “His last two races he really got to loafing…I think it’s going to make a difference for this horse.”
Team Valor-owned Animal Kingdom followed a similar pattern to Derby victory last year. Both horses won the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III) on Polytrack at Turfway Park in their final Derby preps.
“We were in a situation similar to last year with this horse here, we weren’t going to get in any prep we chose because of his lack of earnings,” Motion said. “The Spiral was the first race that came up, he was doing very well, and we felt if he had a chance to get in that race we should go for it because we didn’t know which race he might be able to get in after that. He had to run very well in order to get here, and it worked out. He’s come leaps and bounds.”
Bred in New York by the Estate of Austin Delaney, Went the Day Well has two wins and two seconds from five starts with earnings of $315,345. He began his career in Great Britain, placing second twice on turf, before returning to the U.S. for his 2012 campaign. Fourth in his American debut at 1 1/8 miles, he finally broke his maiden going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt at Gulfstream Park March 3.
“The fact that he handled the dirt so well today made me feel very good about it,” Motion said. “I thought today was one of the best works I’ve seen him do, to be honest.”