Less than 24 hours after champion Classic Empire crossed the wire first in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), trainer Mark Casse was overseeing approximately 20 of his runners put in their first works at Churchill Downs April 16.
Among the group were Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) runner up State of Honor and Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) winner Salty, who are pointing toward the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) May 6 and the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 5, respectively.
"They were both good. Today was just kind of an easy breeze since they just ran, they'll both do a little more next week," Casse said, adding that both sophomores took to Churchill's track well.
"Salty worked in company (with graded stakes placed Mississippi Delta). State of Honor worked by himself, and we were just trying to get him to settle down a little bit, trying to get him relaxed—he's going to have to do that to run a 1 1/4 miles."
The Canadian-bred To Honor and Serve colt breezed a half mile in :49.80 under exercise rider E.J. Bowler, with splits in :12 and :24 2/5 and a gallop out for five furlongs in 1:02. Conrad Farm's homebred has hit the board in all four starts this year, including a second in the Lambhom South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and a third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3).
Gary Barber, Baccari Racing, and Chester Prince's Salty was credited with a half-mile breeze in :48.40, with splits of :12 1/5 and :24 2/5 before galloping out to five furlongs in 1:01. The Quality Road filly has won two of her three total starts and was an impressive 4 1/4-length winner in the Gulfstream Park Oaks in her last start.
Also on the Churchill worktab Sunday for Casse was John Oxley's grade 1 winner Noble Bird. The 6-year-old son of Birdstone breezed four furlongs in :49 2/5 and, according to his trainer, will point to the May 5 Alysheba Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles.
"As usual, (Noble Bird) works good but we just never know what Noble Bird we're going to see," Casse said of the horse who finished off the board in both of his starts this year. "If things keep going (well), we'll probably run him in the Alysheba."
Live Oak Plantation's grade 1 winner World Approval also stretched his legs Sunday morning, going four furlongs in :51 4/5. The 5-year-old Northern Afleet gelding won his only start this year, the EG Vodka Turf Classic Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs April 2. Casse said he will train up to the May 6 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (G1).
Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) fifth place finisher Lookin for Eight clocked :48 2/5 for four furlongs Sunday. The Lookin At Lucky colt will be aimed toward the May 5 Pat Day Mile Presented by LG&E and KU (G3).