Kentucky Derby 131 Notes - Wednesday, May 4
Updated: Wednesday, May 4, 2005 11:19 PM
Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2005 4:59 PM
Kentucky Derby 131 Headlines
* High Limit, Greeley's Galaxy work
* Giacomo, Buzzards Bay scheduled to arrive
Wednesday Work Tab
High Limit 4f :48.20
Greeley's Galaxy 5f 1:01.60
Scheduled to work at Churchill Thursday (5/5):
AFLEET ALEX - Cash is King Stable's Afleet Alex made one trip to the fast Churchill Downs racing surface on a cool, clear Wednesday morning under exercise rider Salomon Diego.
With trainer Tim Ritchey alongside on a pony, Afleet Alex went to the track at 6:50 and jogged a mile, visited the paddock, took some time standing in front of the grandstand and then jogged another mile before returning to the barn at 7:15.
Ritchey was satisfied with the morning's activity, which came a day after the triple graded stakes winner worked a half-mile in :48.40.
Ritchey has been doing some scouting of the opposition in the mornings by watching from his tack room the in-house feed of Dawn at the Downs, which shows Derby horses on the track going through their morning paces.
Anybody particularly catch your eye, Tim?
"Bellamy Road is an impressive looking individual," Ritchey said of the probable Derby favorite, who won the Wood Memorial (GI) by 17½ lengths in his most recent start.
Although this Derby will be the first for Ritchey and jockey Jeremy Rose, the barn does have a link to the 2002 Derby.
Diego's brother, Loren, was the exercise rider for Request For Parole, who ran fifth behind War Emblem for trainer Steve Margolis. Loren Diego also was the exercise rider for 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Cajun Beat, also trained by Margolis.
MEDIA ADVISORY: Ritchey has requested that media members with questions about Afleet Alex gather at 10:15 a.m. (EDT) on Thursday. Ritchey will meet the press Friday morning at 8 o'clock. Afleet Alex is stabled in Barn 41.
ANDROMEDA'S HERO/BELLAMY ROAD/HIGH FLY/NOBLE CAUSEWAY/SUN KING - It was a busy morning at trainer Nick Zito's barn, with his four Churchill Downs-based hopefuls going through their daily paces, two owners on hand to check out their charges and a visit from University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino.
Kinsman Stable's Bellamy Road was on the track before 7 to gallop a mile and a half and visit the starting gate under exercise rider Carlos Correa.
The son of Concerto, who will be ridden by Javier Castellano, will be attempting to become the first Derby winner since Sunny's Halo in 1983 to take the Run for the Roses with the benefit of only two prep races as a 3-year-old.
"There wasn't anything we could do. Bellamy Road got ready March 12 and the next race was the Wood Memorial on April 9," Zito said. "What else can we do? He had two races and won by more than a combined 33 lengths."
The 2005 debut, which came off a five-month layoff following the Breeders' Futurity (GI) at Keeneland when Bellamy Road was trained by Michael Dickinson, produced a 15 3/4-length victory.
"Like everybody else, when he won that race, I thought 'this is amazing,' " Zito said. "In the Wood, we assumed, like everybody else, 'Well, he's not going to win like that.' And he did."
One of the first Zito horses out Wednesday was Sun King, whose owner, Tracy Farmer, was on the scene.
Under Correa, Sun King galloped a mile and a half and visited the paddock. Zito plans a trip to the gate for the son of 1999 Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic in the morning.
Edgar Prado, who has ridden Sun King to victory in two of three starts in 2005, has the Derby call.
Zito's 1-2 Florida Derby finishers, High Fly and Noble Causeway, respectively, galloped a mile and a half and visited the starting gate.
Maxine Correa was on High Fly and Carlos Correa on Noble Causeway.
Charlotte Weber of Live Oak Plantation will be attempting a Kentucky Oaks-Derby double that has not been accomplished since Calumet Farm turned the trick in 1951. She was on hand to watch High Fly, whose stablemate In the Gold will run in Friday's Oaks.
High Fly and My Meadowview Farm's Noble Causeway have not raced since their Florida Derby efforts, and come into the Derby off a five-week layoff. No Derby winner has won off that long a layoff since Needles had a six-week break between his Florida and Kentucky Derby triumphs in 1956.
"If High Fly or Noble Causeway don't win, it is not because of the five weeks. I will never use it as an excuse," Zito said. "I think if anything, for these two horses, to get to the Kentucky Derby, that was the only way they could get there.
"They both ran three mile and an eighth races, which is very, very tough. Gulfstream Park's schedule had no mile and a sixteenth races. They were all a mile and an eighth and in my opinion, with those two horses, we have no excuse training-wise."
Jerry Bailey has the call on High Fly and Gary Stevens the mount on Noble Causeway.
At Keeneland, Robert LaPenta's Andromeda's Hero galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Megan Smillie. Zito said the Fusaichi Pegasus colt would train at Keeneland in the morning and van to Churchill Downs later in the day.
Rafael Bejarano, who became available when an injury forced the retirement of Consolidator, will ride in his first Kentucky Derby on Andromeda's Hero.
"I have won before on him," said Bejarano, who has posted eight victories over the first three days of the Churchill Downs meet. "He looked really good the last time (in the Arkansas Derby when ridden by Corey Nakatani). After the wire he was by every horse and he needed a little more distance. I think this is the time for this horse. I know this colt. I think he has a good shot."
MEDIA ADVISORY: Zito has requested that media members who wish to discuss his Derby 131 contenders gather for a question-and-answer session at 9:30 a.m. Zito's horses are stabled in Barn 36.
BANDINI/COIN SILVER/FLOWER ALLEY - Bandini and Flower Alley went to the track for light exercise Wednesday morning, while Coin Silver walked under the shedrow.
Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's Bandini, who figures to be one of the top three choices in the Derby, had exercise rider Frederic Buscail aboard as he galloped a mile and a half and then stood in the starting gate.
Flower Alley, owned by Melnyk Racing Stables, went through the same routine with Michelle Nihei aboard.
"They had an easy gallop and both of them were calm around the gate," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "Bandini was well-behaved the entire time."
Bandini, a son of 2000 Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus who has been known for his high-spirited approach to racing, will likely be Pletcher's shortest-priced starter in the Kentucky Derby.
In 2000, Pletcher's first Derby, Impeachment and Trippi were 6-1 as part of a four-horse mutuel entry, while More Than Ready started at 11-1 and Graeme Hall was 46-1. In 2001, Invisible Ink was second at 55-1, while Balto Star went off at 8-1. In 2002, Wild Horses was 58-1, and last year Pollard's Vision went off at 24-1 and Limehouse was 41-1.
"All three horses are doing extremely well," said Pletcher, who refuses to single out one of the trio as his favorite. "They all come off good races, and they're all training well over this track. All three have their own styles, but they'll likely be in the second tier somewhere, stalking a hopefully very hot pace."
Bandini comes off a smashing six-length score in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland with regular rider John Velazquez aboard, while Peachtree Stable's Coin Silver, who gets a new rider in Pat Valenzuela, is fresh off a strong victory in the Lexington Stakes 11 days ago. Flower Alley won the Lanes End Stakes and last out finished second in the Arkansas Derby, both with regular rider Jorge Chavez up.
BUZZARDS BAY - Fog City Stable's Buzzards Bay, who earned his place in the 131st Kentucky Derby with a 30-1 upset in the Santa Anita Derby, is scheduled to arrive in Louisville early this afternoon on a flight from Ontario Airport in California.
Buzzards Bay will be stabled in barn 45 with three stablemates also trained by Jeff Mullins. The son of Marco Bay is expected to be on the track Thursday morning to jog a mile and gallop a mile and one-half, his normal routine. Mark Guidry has the Derby mount.
CLOSING ARGUMENT - The Successful Appeal colt had an easy morning, jogging once around the oval with exercise rider Danny Wright aboard.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who has his first Derby starter, likes the way his horses is coming up to the race.
"He's a longshot, but he's doing well here," McLaughlin said. "He's been a very consistent horse for me - he's never finished worse than third in seven starts."
Closing Argument has been a winner for his owners, Philip and Marcia Cohen, who purchased the colt for $100,000 at the Ocala Sale last April and sent him to Mclaughlin.
Since then, Closing Argument has a record of 3-2-2 in seven starts, and has earned $586,984.
Cornelio Velasquez, who has ridden the colt in every start but one, has the call Saturday. Last out, Closing Argument was third, nine lengths behind Bandini, in the Blue Grass.
DON'T GET MAD - Last Saturday's Derby Trial winner made his first visit to the Churchill Downs racetrack since his convincing victory, hitting the track for some light exercise before this morning's renovation break. The Ron Ellis trainee jogged a mile and gave his conditioner every indication that all's well for the Derby 131 contender with the least amount of rest between starts.
"He's happy and doing very well," Ellis said. "He's doing as good as you can hope."
Don't Get Mad is scheduled to return to the track on Thursday and continue jogging up to the Derby. Jockey Tyler Baze will be aboard B. Wayne Hughes' colt in Saturday's main event.
GIACOMO - Trainer John Shirreffs was at barn 45 this morning, personally preparing a stall for the arrival of Giacomo, due in early this afternoon after a flight from Ontario Airport in California.
Shirreffs, competing in the Kentucky Derby for the first time, arrived in Louisville Tuesday night.
Giacomo was on the same plane transporting Buzzards Bay, to whom he finished fourth, beaten two lengths, in the Santa Anita Derby April 9.
Mike Smith, who has piloted the Holy Bull colt in all seven of his races, has the call again in the Kentucky Derby. Smith has ridden in 11 Derbies, finishing second three times, on Prairie Bayou in 1993; Proud Citizen in 2002 and Lion Heart a year ago.
GOING WILD - The Sham Stakes winner turned in a routine mile and five-eighths gallop this morning, going out before dawn with Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas' second set of horses to make their way to the track.
Exercise rider Derek Smith was aboard the Bob and Beverly Lewis color-bearer. Lukas, in search of his fifth Kentucky Derby crown, said that Going Wild heads into Saturday's showdown with a fighting chance.
"He's getting better (this week), but of course everyone here tells you that," Lukas said. "He won't embarrass us. Lukas expects - and hopes for - a tight, firm, fast racetrack for the Derby.
"I think he likes a firmer track," Lukas said. "He ran his best races on a firmer track out in California."
The sport's all-time leading trainer in terms of earnings said that Going Wild's sixth-place effort in the Lexington Stakes two weeks ago should be discounted - as should any horse's performance over the Keeneland racetrack, which historically can be feast or famine for many horses. Lukas flatly reasoned, "When High Hield won (the Blue Grass Stakes in 2000), I thought he was Secretariat. He comes here and runs 15th."
Jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr. has the mount in the Kentucky Derby.
GREATER GOOD - Lewis Lakin's Greater Good galloped a bit more than a mile and a half before the renovation break with exercise rider Betsy Couch up and was scheduled for a paddock schooling session during the Wednesday afternoon race card.
"If he is good this afternoon, he may not go back," trainer Bob Holthus said. "I was pleased with him this morning, the way he was relaxed."
Last year when Holthus saddled Pro Prado in the Kentucky Derby, he was asked if any Derby prospect had caught his eye. He named three, including eventual winner Smarty Jones.
The 70-year-old conditioner was posed the same question Wednesday morning.
"I have seen two or three," Holthus said. "Bellamy Road, (Bobby) Frankel's horse (High Limit), and Afleet Alex. He's a good athlete."
Holthus saw his first Derby in 1956 when Needles won and he estimates he has witnessed about 40 firsthand.
Among his favorites was Secretariat in 1973 ("I thought he was one of the best horses I ever saw").
Did any horse really stand out in training and then win the race?
"Majestic Prince," Holthus said of the 1969 winner.
GREELEY'S GALAXY - With 83-year-old trainer Warren Stute back on the scene, B. Wayne Hughes' Greeley's Galaxy breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 this morning in his last major move prior to Saturday's 131st running of the Kentucky Derby. Mikki Fincher, the colt's regular morning partner, was in the saddle again today.
Asked at the barn his opinion of the workout, Stute said candidly, "Fair. He went too slow early because he was under too much hold. I expected faster, but the last half-mile was fine. He finished OK.
"He looks good and healthy. I hope he can sit behind the pace early.
Kent (Desormeaux) is a good rider and knows what to do." Desormeaux has been riding in Japan but, according to Stute, he arrived in Louisville Tuesday.
Greeley's Galaxy will walk under the shed Thursday morning and then will be schooled in the paddock between races in the afternoon. He will gallop both Friday and Saturday, Stute said.
Greeley's Galaxy, hero of the Illinois Derby for his third straight victory in four starts, is being supplemented to the Derby at a cost of $200,000.
HIGH LIMIT - Louisiana Derby winner High Limit, representing owners Gary and Mary West in Saturday's 131st Kentucky Derby, completed his major preparation for the race this morning by breezing a half-mile in :48.20 under exercise rider Jose Cuevas.
Trainer Bobby Frankel, seeking his first Derby success, sent the son of Maria's Mon to the track after the renovation break and expressed satisfaction with the result.
"It was fine," said Frankel. "I wanted between 48 and 49. The horse is doing super."
Frankel was somewhat upset with quotes attributed to High Limit's regular jockey, Ramon Dominguez, in today's edition of the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Dominguez was quoted as saying, "He probably doesn't have enough experience to compete at the highest level yet. But I feel like he's capable of getting it done if he runs his race. He's very talented."
"I want a rider who has confidence in his horse," said Frankel.
"There might be a new rider on this horse, who knows? I'm going to give him a call." A few minutes later, Frankel softened, saying, "Most likely, he will ride."
Dominguez has piloted High Limit in all four of his races, with three victories, the only defeat coming in the Blue Grass Stakes when the colt was beaten six lengths in finishing second to Bandini.
"I hope the rider can find a comfort zone early and rides a good race," said Frankel.
SORT IT OUT - Sort It Out, the longshot hope of trainer Bob Baffert in the 131st Kentucky Derby, returned to galloping this morning under exercise rider Mick Jenner.
The Out of Place colt will be among the more experienced entrants in the Derby, with a dozen starts, the most recent of which was a runner-up effort to Coin Silver in the Lexington Stakes April 23. Wilko is the only Derby entrant with more races, 14.
Brice Blanc has the call on Sort It out.
SPANISH CHESTNUT - Training in the quiet of Keeneland, the Horse Chestnut colt galloped a mile and a half around the main track there with exercise rider Rodolph Brisset aboard.
"He's doing well," trainer Patrick Biancone said. "No problems at all."
Spanish Chestnut, who won the San Rafael in January, was sixth in the Blue Grass Stakes last out after setting the pace for nearly a mile. He is owned by Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, who also have the Todd Pletcher-trained Bandini in the race.
A confirmed front-runner, Spanish Chestnut is expected to vie for the early lead in Saturday's Derby. He gets a new rider for the race in Joe Bravo, who had Grade I success with the Biancone-trained Lion Heart last year.
Lion Heart, who finished second to Smarty Jones in the 2004 Derby, was shipped to Churchill Downs from Keeneland on Saturday morning, and Spanish Chestnut will also arrive early on Derby Day.
WILKO - The Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner galloped a mile and a quarter around the oval Wednesday morning with exercise rider Sergio Martin in the boot.
Trainer Craig Dollase, who will be saddling his first Derby starter, said he's happy with the way the Awesome Again colt is coming up to the race and feels his foot problems are in the past.
"He was battling quarter-cracks all winter," Dollase said. "The weather in California was bad this winter with all that rain, and it was difficult to train.
"He popped a quarter-crack before the San Felipe (in March), but he's been going good ever since, and maybe the problems are behind him.
"I'm happy with where he's at today," Dollase said. "He's bred to get the distance, and he's a very durable, well-seasoned horse, which can help in a race like the Derby."
Wilko, now owned by J. Paul Reddam and Susan Roy, raced in England for trainer Jeremy Noseda last year, winning two of 11 starts before coming to the U.S. for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. In that race, he rallied to upset Afleet Alex and Sun King, two of the rivals he faces again in the Derby.
"He's had his two prep races now and I think he's ready for the Triple Crown," Dollase said.
Corey Nakatani, who has ridden the colt twice, has the call for Saturday.
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