With no workouts at Churchill Downs for Kentucky Derby contenders, it was a relatively quiet morning Thursday at the Louisville, Kentucky track. The lack of activity on the track did not diminish backside buzz centered around horses that are still "on the bubble" (possible starters) for the May 3 race.
And most of the discussion centered around the possibility that Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Ten Cents a Shine was still under consideration for the 1 1/4-mile race.
Since being transferred to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas from Ken McPeek in mid-February, Ten Cents a Shine finished eighth in the Santa Anita Derby after a poor start and was also eighth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.
Lukas, who has saddled four Kentucky Derby winners, said Ten Cents a Shine has improved since coming to Churchill and since he had some dental work performed.
"He is doing better," said Lukas, who also has Coolmore Lexington Stakes winner Scrimshaw pointed toward the Derby. "In the Blue Grass he was a little sour. He had two teeth that were bothering him and that may have been a factor. We had them worked on. He is perfectly sound, but he does have a little bit of an attitude. I have talked to him."
Last Saturday, April 19, Ten Cents a Shine worked five-eighths of a mile in :58 2/5, the fastest time of the day among 34 horses working that distance. "That's a great time over this track," said Lukas, adding that the son of Devil His Due will work again Saturday.
"Who'll be the first to say he hasn't got a shot?" Lukas asked. "That horse can run. He's dead-fit. I've honed him to a fine edge. Fitness is not the problem. It's not the physical, it's the mental aspect that we've had to deal with."
Meanwhile, owner Ken Ramsey told the Louisville Courier-Journal
that he believed his chances of seeing Ten Cents a Shine in this year's Derby faded along with the horse in the final stages of the Blue Grass.
"Anybody other than this trainer, I would say forget it," Ramsey told the Courier-Journal of his confidence in Lukas' judgment. "Wayne said besides Empire Maker, he thinks there are four horses with a chance to win based on the training and distance. And he thinks two are in his barn. I don't know how it's going to work out, but I told him to train the horse and I'll pay entry fees. Nobody would like to get in (the Derby field) more than I will. But I told him that I don't want to get embarrassed and he said we won't. He said he thinks we can hit the board."
Meanwhile, trainer Tom Amoss said nothing had changed about the status of Lone Star Sky and that a final decision will be made following a breeze next Tuesday. Amoss said the final workout and "the complexion of the race" would determine whether he and owner Buddy New would enter Lone Star Sky.
Another horse still being considered for the Derby is Lexington runner-up Eye of the Tiger. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said the son of American Chance would ship by van from Keeneland to Churchill Downs on Saturday and the colt is scheduled to work on Monday.
In a West Coast workout involving a horse being pointed toward the Derby, Outta Here worked five furlongs in :59 4/5 Thursday at Hollywood Park, with trainer and part owner William Currin reporting the colt was "never touched" by exercise rider Pat Seeley.
"I was very pleased with his work and that was the last major thing we had to do. Now we are ready to ship Sunday," said Currin, who opted to work Outta Here before the break at Hollywood. "The track had a little moisture in it this morning and I didn't want to wait until after the break and have him go in 58 and 1 or 2. As it was, he could have gone faster, but there was no need to. He is ready."
Discussion of which horses will or won't run in the Derby and which horses have the best chances to win the 1 1/4-mile classic will continue to dominate the backside Friday, as there are no workouts scheduled that day either.
Brancusi, who is stabled at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs Friday for a Saturday morning work.
The Bobby Frankel-trained pair of Empire Maker, the likely Derby favorite, and Peace Rules are scheduled to breeze this weekend. Tentative plans call for Peace Rules to work Saturday and Empire Maker to work Sunday.