The following is a press release from Churchill Downs:
Louisville, KY (March 26, 2001) – Trainer John Ward's two Kentucky Derby 127 contenders, John Oxley's Monarchos and Hero's Tribute, arrived on the grounds at Churchill Downs at approximately 10:40 a.m. (EST) Monday.
Monarchos, a strapping gray son of Maria's Mon, is coming off an impressive 4 1/2-length win the Florida Derby (GI) and is scheduled to start next in Aqueduct's Wood Memorial (GII) on April 14. Hero's Tribute, who is slated to run in the Toyota Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland on the same day, ran a troubled third in his most recent start in the Louisiana Derby (GII).
Ward said he expects both horses to breeze this weekend and then once more over the Churchill surface before they ship to the sites of their respective Derby preps. Monarchos is tentatively scheduled to leave for Aqueduct on Tuesday, April 10, while Hero's Tribute would ship to Keeneland the day before the Toyota Blue Grass.
Also on the plane was Holiday Thunder, runner-up in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) at Churchill Downs but a disappointing sixth in the Fountain of Youth (GI) at Gulfstream Park. He was also considered to be a strong Derby candidate for Ward until the middle of last week, when he was pulled from consideration for a scheduled run in Turfway Park's Spiral Stakes (GII). Ward said the son of 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch is scheduled to be examined at Lexington's Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital. If the colt is given a clean bill of health, Ward is considering a run for Holiday Thunder in Keeneland's Coolmore Lexington Stakes (GII) on April 21 with an eye toward the Preakness Stakes (GI) at Pimlico on May 19.
Ward, in total, had eight horses on the flight from Florida, which arrived at Louisville International Airport at approximately 9:45 a.m. The 127th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 5. The Oaks, which will also be renewed for the 127th consecutive year, is scheduled for Friday, May 4.