(Edited Churchill Downs report)
Starlight Stable and Paul Lucarelli’s Sam P., runner-up to Great Hunter in the Robert B. Lewis (gr. II) and third to Tiago in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), tuned up for an expected run in the $2 million Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with a sharp five-furlong workout at Churchill Downs on Monday.
The 3-year-old son of Cat Thief –- one of five likely Derby starters trained by three-time Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher –- breezed five furlongs over a “fast” track under exercise rider Horacio DePaz in 1:00.60, which ranked second among 39 moves at the distance. Churchill Downs clockers caught Sam. P in fractions of :13.40, :25.40 and :37.60 as he worked in company with stablemate Just A Streak.
“We thought it was good,” said Pletcher. “The horse had a good energy level. He got over the ground well. He showed last fall that he likes the track here. We were happy with it.”
Sam P. won a one-mile allowance race at Churchill Downs last fall, a race in which he defeated fellow Kentucky Derby hopeful Chelokee by 2 ¼-lengths. Pletcher made an equipment change on the colt when he added blinkers in the Santa Anita Derby, but he said there’s a good chance that the new equipment will be dropped for the colt’s Derby run.
“We felt like putting some blinkers on him might get him a little more focused and actually overdid it a little bit. He was a little bit rank in the Santa Anita Derby and I thought he stayed on well to be third, considering that. We’re going to decide whether we’re going to take the blinkers off, or at least cut them back. We’re probably leaning towards taking them off altogether.”
Pletcher said that Sam P. is considered definite for the “Run for the Roses.”
“He’s doing well, he’s got the earnings to get in and he’s got a win over the track, so we might take a shot. We need him to step his game up to another level, but it’s the right time to do it.”