(edited Churchill Downs release)
Courtlandt Farm’s homebred Adriano is now considered “likely” for a run in the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) following a four-furlong workout April 13 at Churchill Downs.
The Graham Motion-trained chestnut son of A.P. Indy, winner of the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park March 22, had jockey Edgar Prado in the saddle as he breezed a half-mile in intermittent rain over a “fast” surface in :50.
Adriano is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Gold Canyon. The Kentucky-bred has won three of seven starts and has earned $387,700.
The 3-year-old colt breezed in company with Longley, a 4-year-old Courtlandt Farm stablemate. Longley broke off in front of Adriano, but the duo raced as a team through the turn and into upper stretch before Adriano and Prado pushed past in the final furlong to finish a length in front of his workmate.
Motion planned to discuss the colt’s future later in the day with Courtlandt Farm owner Donald Adam, but felt Adriano had shown enough in the easy work over the track to earn a start in the Derby. He had said earlier that a good work over the surface could earn Adriano entry into the Run for the Roses, but the colt could run in the Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) April 19 at Keeneland if he did not handle the Churchill Downs surface well.
“I’m pretty sure we’re going to go for it after this – I don’t know why we wouldn’t,” Motion said. “Believe me, I want to win the Derby as much as anybody else does, but I don’t think it’s engraved in my mind that I’ve got to get there. I want to get there for the right reasons, and when we analyze it and we talk with Mr. Adam and with Edgar, I think it is the right thing to do at this point. That was depending upon what happened today, and I think it went well.”
Churchill Downs clockers caught Adriano in fractions of :13, :25.40, and :37.80 and the colt galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.40. Longley was timed in :50.40 for his four-furlong move. Adriano’s move ranked 29th among 42 at the distance.
“He went nice,” said Prado, one day after having won the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) aboard Monba. “He started nice and easy, and he finished good. When I called on him, he was there. Graham was happy and I was happy with him.”
Motion had expressed reservations about Adriano’s handling of traditional dirt courses like the one-mile oval at Churchill Downs after the colt turned in a disappointing ninth-place finish behind Cool Coal Man Feb. 24 in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park. That was his first race on traditional dirt after Adriano had raced on grass or Polytrack in his five previous starts.
Motion’s concern about the colt’s capability on dirt was one reason Adriano turned up in the Lane’s End, where he romped by 2 ½-lengths over the Polytrack surface. Motion brought Adriano to Churchill Downs to see how his colt would handle the dirt footing under the historic Twin Spires, and was pleased with what he saw as he watched the move from a seat atop his stable pony.
“He seemed to handle it fine,” said Motion. “I don’t think the time was real flashy, but, to be honest, I really wasn’t asking him to do that. And it (the track) was kind of ‘cuppy’ – I’m guessing they didn’t put a lot of water on the track because of the rain, so it just looked like it was a little loose.”
“I pretty much told Edgar he had a free rein to do what he wanted, within reason. He kind of smooched to him at the eighth pole and he really lengthened his stride. He just seemed to accelerate like he would on any surface. I couldn’t say he went a lot differently than he would have gone on the turf or the Polytrack.”
If Adam and Motion make the expected decision to point Adriano toward the Kentucky Derby, Prado will have a decision to make. In addition to Monba, he also won the Wood Memorial (gr. I) April 5 aboard Tale of Ekati. Motion indicated that Prado would need to make a decision on whether he would stick with Adriano for the Derby within “24 hours.”
“He’s got to make up his mind, and I don’t want to miss out on getting somebody else,” said Motion. “If Edgar is not the ‘money rider’ right now, he’s certainly one of the two or three.”
Motion planned to take Adriano back to Keeneland after Sunday’s work. If the ultimate decision is to point Adriano toward the Derby, Motion said the colt would likely return to Churchill Downs late this week.