Kentucky Derby 131 Notes - Sunday, May 1

Kentucky Derby 131 Notes - Sunday, May 1
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Kentucky Derby 131 Headlines:
* Seven Derby horses work at Churchill Sunday
* Jose Valdivia, Jr. to ride Going Wild
* Buzzards Bay to work at Santa Anita Monday

Sunday Work Tab
* Bandini 5f 1:00.80
* Bellamy Road 5f 1:00.40
* Giacomo (@Hol) 6f 1:11.80
* Going Wild 5f :59.60
* High Fly 5f 1:00.40
* Flower Alley 5f 1:00.60
* Noble Causeway 5f 1:00.00
* Spanish Chestnut 5f 1:00.40

Scheduled to work at Churchill
Monday (5/2):
* Coin Silver
* Closing Argument
* Sort It Out

AFLEET ALEX - Cash is King Stable's Afleet Alex made two trips to the fast main track at Churchill Downs on a Sunday morning that began cool and clear.

With regular exercise rider Salomon Diego up, Afleet Alex went to the track at 6:05 and jogged two miles. After the renovation break, Afleet Alex returned to the track with visits to the paddock and gate on the itinerary and a leisurely stroll through the barn area.

"The second time out, he went to the paddock for two or three minutes, then jogged to the half-mile pole, galloped a mile, went to the gate, jogged to the half-mile pole and then galloped another mile," trainer Tim Ritchey said.

At the end of the morning activity, a loose horse on the track had Ritchey take Afleet Alex off at the clocker's stand by the five-eighths gap instead of the six-furlong gap.

We got a little tour of the backside, because I didn't want to be out there with the loose horse," Ritchey said.

Ritchey, who currently has 38 horses stabled at Delaware Park, began his two-a-day regimen with Afleet Alex on Dec. 15.

"He is the kind of horse that enjoys being out," Ritchey said. "We started jogging two miles and then jogging another two miles (after the break) to get him used to it and he just thrived."

Jeremy Rose has the Derby mount.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Ritchey has requested that media members with questions about Afleet Alex gather each day at 10:15 a.m. (EDT), Afleet Alex is stabled in Barn 41.

ANDROMEDA'S HERO/BELLAMY ROAD/HIGH FLY/NOBLE CAUSEWAY/SUN KING - Trainer Nick Zito completed the major preparations for his Kentucky Derby hopefuls with three works Sunday morning over a fast track at Churchill Downs.

In order of appearance on the track, Kinsman Stable's Bellamy Road worked five furlongs in 1:00.40, fourth-fastest of 58 at the distance; My Meadowview Farm's Noble Causeway worked five furlongs in company with Capac in 1:00, third-fastest of 58; and, Live Oak Plantation's High Fly, working in company with Last Samurai, worked five furlongs in 1:00.40, tied for fourth-fastest of 58. Maxine Correa was the rider on all three colts.

Zito talked about each work.

With Bellamy Road, I thought Maxine did a great job. There has been a lot of talk about horses being in there that maybe not rate a little bit or do what he has to do, or maybe he won't be able to get the trip. It was a good thing she worked him the way she did. You could see he was even all the way around, finished up good and he looked very relaxed doing it. Getting that out of the way, I thought Bellamy Road worked very well.

"On Noble Causeway, I thought he worked very well. I used a horse with him named Capac. Capac is not a bad horse. He is coming around now. We got that horse a few months ago. He's not Ghostzapper, so what happened was Capac obviously could not keep up with Noble Causeway, so maybe as far as the last part of that, I think that was good, too, because he might have gone a little too fast. On the other hand, we needed a little zip in him, because in the Derby, as we always say, these guys play for real and you've got to get to a spot sometimes and Gary (Stevens) is going to have to get to a spot, so that worked really well. We got that job done. I was really happy about his gallop out. We know he will go a mile and a quarter. We know he is royally bred. He went well.

"High Fly, he worked with a horse named Last Samurai, who is owned by Mrs. (Charlotte) Weber (of Live Oak), too, and I thought he went extremely well. I think the main thing with him was, whoever that horse was (that dropped in at the eighth pole) may be a blessing, because that last eighth, he really got himself going when he saw that horse. So, that was good, too. All five works went exceptionally well (including Thursday moves by Sun King and Andromeda's Hero)."

Zito was asked about his preparations for Bellamy Road, who figures to be the favorite for Derby 131 off his front-running 17 ½-length victory in the Wood Memorial (GI).

"What we try to do in our program, since we are training horses, especially the last 15 years, is basically try to get all of our horses to relax," Zito said. "I think our stable now, people know that we try to get our horses to go a mile and a quarter, no matter what race it is. Don't get me wrong; it's the horses that get the job done.
That's what we are trying to do. With Bellamy Road, there has been so much talk that he won'tr rate and this and that, at least this last work and the work before (1:02.20 on April 21 at Churchill Downs) at least shows us some indication that he will."
Does Zito think he will rate?

"I hope so. Nobody knows for sure," the two-time Derby winner said. "I'm like everybody else. I think he will, of course. Obviously, you watch the work, he sure looks like it. Racing is different. You never know when the gates open up which foot goes which way. That's why we always talk about lucky and blessed."

Tracy Farmer's Sun King, who will be ridden by Edgar Prado, galloped a mile and a half with Carlos Correa up.

At Keeneland, Robert LaPenta's Andromeda's Hero galloped under exercise rider Megan Smillie. No rider has been confirmed on Andromeda's Hero.

Zito likes the hand he has been dealt as he seeks his third Derby victory.

"If we don't get number three now, then I will have to have Secretariat himself," Zito said. "No question. I can't ask the man upstairs to give me a better shot at this. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen and I guess we will keep trying."

MEDIA ADVISORY: Zito has requested that media members who wish to discuss his Derby 131 contenders gather each morning for a question-and-answer session beginning at 9:30 a.m. His horses are stabled in Barn 36.

BANDINI/COIN SILVER/FLOWER ALLEY - Two of trainer Todd Pletcher's talented trio - Bandini and Flower Alley - had their final Derby drills Sunday morning, with Coin Silver slated to breeze Monday morning.

Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's Bandini, who worked in company with Pletcher's tough older horse, Lion Tamer, breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 with jockey John Velazquez aboard. Lion Tamer was clocked in 1:00.20.

Melnyk Racing Stables' Flower Alley, wearing blinkers for the first time, breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00.60 in company with champion filly Ashado, who went in 1:00.30. Exercise rider Michelle Nihei was aboard.

"We wanted them to work between a minute and 1:01 and we got it,"
Pletcher said. "I was pleased that they both went well and seemed to handle the track just fine."

Bandini, who will be ridden by Velazquez in the Derby, is coming off a six-length score in the Blue Grass Stakes, just his fifth lifetime start.

Pletcher said he is pleased with the progress of the colt by 2000 Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.

"He's getting physically stronger and more mature mentally all the time," Pletcher said of Bandini. "He's a late foal (May), and he's by Fusaichi Pegasus, so we tried to follow the same map as his sire, in terms of when he made his first start, and his schedule after that."

Bandini made his career debut at Aqueduct last November, and it was a disaster start to finish.

"In the paddock, he kicked his jockey (Jamie Spencer) in the chest, so we had to unsaddle him and get a new rider. Then he got off bad and ran greenly. But it was a learning experience. He had to run behind horses and get dirt in his face, and it was a good lesson. He was ready for his next start (Jan. 6 in Florida) and ran the way we thought he could."

Flower Alley, who will wear blinkers for the first time in the Derby, tried them on for size in his breeze Sunday morning. The colt by Distorted Humor (sire of 2003 Derby winner Funny Cide) won the Lanes End Stakes in March, but was second in the Arkansas Derby last out. He drifted a bit in that race, prompting Pletcher to add the hood.

"I wanted him to keep his focus," Pletcher said. "This morning, in fact, he was a little too focused when he started his work, but after about a hundred yards he settled down and kept right up with Ashado (best 3-year-old filly of 2004)."

Flower Alley made a big jump from his maiden win on Feb. 19 into the Lanes End Stakes on March 26. He justified Pletcher's confidence with an upset victory and ran well enough in the Arkansas Derby to punch his ticket for Kentucky. Jorge Chavez will ride Saturday.

Peachtree Stable's Coin Silver, winner of the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland just eight days ago, is scheduled to breeze Monday morning.

"He's coming back in a short time, so we won't do too much with him," Pletcher said.

Pat Valenzuela has picked up the mount for the Kentucky Derby.

BUZZARDS BAY - Fog City Stable's Buzzards Bay, who shook up the West Coast Derby picture with his $62.20 upset in the Santa Anita Derby, went through his familiar routine today at Santa Anita, jogging one mile before galloping a mile and one-half for trainer Jeff Mullins.

Buzzards Bay, a Florida-bred son of Marco Bay, will have a significant workout Monday at the Arcadia, California track, breezing six furlongs under regular jockey Mark Guidry. Mullins said this morning that Buzzards Bay will work in company with stablemate Florida Keys who will have exercise rider Joe Vaca in the saddle. The workout is scheduled for 8 a.m., Pacific time.

Buzzards Bay is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Wednesday, with Mullins due in that same afternoon. Guidry will arrive in Louisville Monday afternoon, according to Mullins.

CLOSING ARGUMENT - The colt by Successful Appeal got his first look at the Churchill Downs strip Sunday morning as he galloped a mile and three-eighths under exercise rider Danny Wright.

"He handled it great and looked good out there," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "He'll breeze Monday morning. We'll take him out at 8:40 when the track opens after the break."

Closing Argument, owned by Philip and Marcia Cohen, won the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream in February and has been stabled at Keeneland the past month. In his last start, he finished third behind Bandini in the Blue Grass Stakes. The colt had one work after the Blue Grass, breezing a half-mile in :49.20 at Keeneland last Monday.

Cornelio Velasquez, who has been his regular rider, will be aboard the colt in the Derby.

CONSOLIDATOR/GOING WILD - Bob and Beverly Lewis' Going Wild turned in his final major tune-up for Saturday's Kentucky Derby, drilling five furlongs in :59.60 today before dawn. The Sham Stakes winner cut out fractions of :11.80, :23.60, :35.20 and :47 with exercise rider Stacy Prior in the irons, galloping out six panels in 1:14.

"He was full of himself this morning," Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said of the son of Golden Missile. "He was tough to pull up. It was great to see him get over this surface well once again. I have been high on him all along. He's got to show us something in the next one - that's for sure - and I know it's easy to knock him. But I've been around a long time to know these horses, and I just can't believe what I saw out of him in those last two starts."

Lukas announced today that Hollywood Park-based jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr. will have the mount aboard Going Wild in the Derby. Valdivia last guided Going Wild when the colt registered his maiden-breaking victory Dec. 26 at Santa Anita. Meanwhile, stablemate Consolidator, also with Prior aboard, galloped a mile and five-eighths just after the track opened at 6 a.m. for training. Rafael Bejarano will ride the Grade 1 winner in the Derby.

DON'T GET MAD - The recently crowned Derby Trial winner walked 30 minutes around the shedrow as a pleased trainer Ron Ellis glowed. Just 24 hours after his overpowering win in Churchill's opening day feature, Don't Get Mad puts owner B. Wayne Hughes in an enviable position with two potential Derby 131 starters (see Greeley's Galaxy for more on Hughes' entry situation). Ellis said that Don't Get Mad definitely will be pointed toward the Derby and will race if both can draw into the field. If both do not draw into the Derby field, Ellis said Don't Get Mad would be aimed for the Preakness two weeks later.

"He'll walk for the next few days," Ellis said of Don't Get Mad. "He's had his prep for the Derby; that's for sure. Some people say he's just a one-turn horse, but I don't believe that. I think the Lasix dulled him in California. We took him off Lasix yesterday and he warmed up with a lot more energy before the Trial. We scoped him (about 30 minutes) after the Trial, and he didn't bleed."

llis said the situation with owner Hughes is not a difficult situation at all. "I bought Greeley's Galaxy for Mr. Hughes as a two-year-old in training and we look at everything as a team. I want what's best for the team."

As for a potential rider for Don't Get Mad (Derby Trial pilot Gary Stevens is committed to ride Noble Causeway in the Derby), Ellis said, "It's still up in the air. I fielded about a dozen calls yesterday and there are some really good riders out there still looking."

Ellis also indicated that sidelined 2004 Eclipse Champion two-year-old Declan's Moon is 30 days away from returning to light training at Santa Anita. Declan's Moon will miss the Triple Crown after having surgery in his front left knee to remove a single chip. The unbeaten gelding could return in October at Keeneland or on Maryland Million Day, according to Ellis.

GIACOMO - Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss' Giacomo, the Holy Bull colt who was fourth, two lengths behind Buzzards Bay, in the Santa Anita Derby, completed his major preparations for the 131st Kentucky Derby with a bullet six-furlong workout in 1:11.80 this morning at Hollywood Park for trainer John Shirreffs.

Giacomo, with exercise rider Sabina Seibel in the saddle, worked in company with stablemate Bullistic, handled by exercise pilot Arturo Mares.

According to Shirreffs, Giacomo broke off about a length behind Bullistic and completed the drill about a length and a half in front at the wire. Giacomo's time was fastest of 17 at the distance at Hollywood Park this morning. Bullistic received a time of 1:12.80.

"They went off a little keen," said Shirreffs, "but then settled and went steady the rest of the way. It was exactly what I wanted."

Shirreffs said he is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Tuesday afternoon, preceding Giacomo who is due in at approximately noon Wednesday. Mike Smith retains the mount on the colt whom he has ridden in every one of his seven races.

GREELEY'S GALAXY - Illinois Derby winner Greeley's Galaxy, owned by B. Wayne Hughes who won Saturday's Derby Trial with the impressive Don't Get Mad, had a routine Sunday morning, galloping a mile and one-half under exercise rider Mikki Fincher.

With Hughes expected to post a $200,000 supplemental fee, Greeley's Galaxy, trained by 83-year-old Warren Stute, likely will be entered with Don't Get Mad in the 131st running of the Kentucky Derby next Saturday. If there are no defections between now and the Derby entry deadline Wednesday, Hughes will be forced to choose between running Greeley's Galaxy or the Ron Ellis-trained Don't Get Mad since the rules state that preference is accorded original nominees in the event more than 20 horses are entered.

Stute is scheduled to return to Churchill Downs in time to supervise Greeley's Galaxy's final Derby prep, a five-furlong breeze, Wednesday. Kent Desormeaux has the Derby mount.

GREATER GOOD - Southwest and Rebel Stakes (GIII) winner Greater Good galloped a mile and a half before the renovation break with exercise rider Betsy Couch up.

Owned by Lewis Lakin, Greater Good will represent the fourth Kentucky Derby starter for trainer Bob Holthus, whose first Derby starter came in 1972 with Our Trade Winds (13th).

Holthus' other Derby starters were Proper Reality (fourth) in the 1988 and Pro Prado (13th) last year.

John McKee has the riding assignment on Greater Good.

HIGH LIMIT - Blue Grass Stakes runner-up High Limit was on the Churchill Downs track this morning to gallop a mile and one-half under exercise pilot Jose Cuevas for trainer Bobby Frankel.

The lightly campaigned Maria's Mon colt, a winner of three of four starts before the Blue Grass, including his three-year-old debut in the Louisiana Derby, is scheduled to work a half-mile Wednesday, his last important prep before the Kentucky Derby.

Frankel continues to be pleased with High Limit's progress. "He's doing well and he has a real chance to improve. He's only had four starts, but I'm not concerned about that. With his race in the Blue Grass and his breeze the other day (with Horse of the Year Ghostzapper), I think he has enough seasoning. I do think he will be a serious horse later in the year."

High Limit showed some greenness in the Blue Grass when he ducked toward the rail in the stretch and switched to his left lead. "He had made the lead and started looking around and ducked in from a shadow." The trainer said he considered equipping the colt with blinkers but discarded the idea, saying, "This isn't the time, right before the Derby, to be making big changes."

From a strategic standpoint, Frankel is pleased Spanish Chestnut, who is expected to insure a quick pace, will be competing. "I was satisfied with the way High Limit rated in the Blue Grass and I think he can come from further back and be effective."

Ramon Dominguez, who has ridden High Limit in all of his races, again has the call for owners Gary and Mary West.

SORT IT OUT - Sort It Out, trainer Bob Baffert's lone hope for a fourth win in the Kentucky Derby, galloped a mile and one-half this morning under exercise rider Mick Jenner.

Sort It Out, a New York-bred son of Out of Place owned by Stonerside Stable and Preferred Pals Stable, will breeze Monday morning after the renovation break, Baffert said. "He's not much of a work horse, so he'll go in company." The trainer has not decided who will be aboard Sort It Out for the workout.

SPANISH CHESTNUT - The son of Horse Chestnut tried out the Churchill Downs track for the first time Sunday morning and found it to his liking as he breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00.40 with exercise rider Rodolph Brisset aboard.

"He handled the track very well," said trainer Patrick Biancone, "and he recovered quickly from the work. I am very happy with the way he is coming into the race."

Spanish Chestnut, owned by Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, who also own Bandini, has made eight career starts - four this year - and has won three, including the San Rafael Stakes in January. The colt is a dedicated front-runner, and will help assure a good pace in the Derby.

"The owners are very happy to have two horses in the race," Biancone said. "The Derby is very different from other stakes races. A lot of things can happen. From what I have seen, 10 horses lose the race in the paddock, five lose the race on the way to the track, and the other five stay the distance. The more horses you have in this race, the better."

Joe Bravo, who has had great success riding Biancone-trained horses, will have the mount on Spanish Chestnut for the first time Saturday.

WILKO - Last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner left his Hollywood home Sunday morning for a flight to Louisville, and was expected to arrive at Churchill Downs in late afternoon.

Trainer Craig Dollase was also in the air Sunday, and was expected at the track by early evening.

Wilko had his final Derby tune-up at Hollywood Park Saturday morning when he breezed 5 furlongs in :59.80. It was his third work since running third behind Buzzards Bay in the Santa Anita Derby on April 9. On April 25, the Awesome Again colt worked 7 furlongs in 1:26.80, and on April 19 drilled 5 furlongs in :59.80.

The colt is the most experienced runner in this year's Derby with 14 starts, all but four in Europe when he was trained by Jeremy Noseda.

Corey Nakatani, who has ridden him twice, has the call Saturday.

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