Kentucky Derby Notes: Sunday, April 30

A daily update on the candidates for the May 6 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.

A.P. WARRIOR - Stan Fulton's A.P. Indy colt put in his final preparations for Saturday's Kentucky Derby with a six-furlong drill in company at Hollywood Park in Southern California Sunday morning.

The San Felipe Stakes winner had exercise rider Ramon Guerra up for the drill with the 4-year-old filly Yankee Million -- a non-winner -- alongside and he accomplished his exercise in 1:13.80. Yankee Million was timed in 1:15.

"He worked side-by-side with the filly, then pulled away from her at the end," trainer John Shirreffs noted from his Hollywood barn Sunday. "I was very pleased with the work."

Corey Nakatani is scheduled to ride A.P. Warrior in the Derby, but was not aboard for the colt's final drill.

"That was by design," said Shirreffs. "In that last work before a race, I don't like to put a jockey up. I prefer to put an exercise rider aboard so that the horse doesn't get too aggressive. I like to try to save something for the race."

A.P. Warrior is scheduled to fly from Los Angeles to Louisville Tuesday for his Derby date. Shirreffs is slated to do the same on a different airplane, but "...we'll be getting there about the same time," the trainer said.

BARBARO - One day after authoring an impressive four-furlong breeze in 46 seconds, Lael Stables' Barbaro enjoyed a quiet Sunday morning by walking and grazing. His major preparation having been completed, the undefeated Florida Derby winner will gallop up to Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

"We've been lucky. Nothing (in his training) has wavered at all. He hasn't missed any works," said trainer Michael Matz, stopping to give the wooden table behind him a superstitious knock at the Backside Media Center.

After winning his first three races on turf, Barbaro made a successful transition to dirt with back-to-back victories in the grade III Holy Bull Stakes and the grade I Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. Unfazed by an observation that the son of Dynaformer's action appears higher on dirt than it was on grass, Matz chose to look at Barbaro's potential for success in the Derby from a different perspective.

"He's had two races on dirt, so I think he has the right to improve in this race," Matz said.

Barbaro debuted last October with an easy victory over the Delaware Park turf course, which was followed by triumphs on grass in the Laurel Futurity and the Tropical Park Derby.

"Pedigree played a role (in starting Barbaro's career on grass). When you see Dynaformer, you think grass, and his mother won stakes on dirt and grass," Matz said. "But we were going to run him that day if the race was moved to the dirt."

Although Barbaro's performance and breeding showed him to be a potential superstar on grass, Matz figured there was nothing to lose by training him for dirt with the Triple Crown in mind.

"The plan all along was to try him on dirt, and if it didn't work out, we still had a horse to run in grass races for the rest of the year," said Matz, whose colt will be ridden by Edgar Prado.

BLUEGRASS CAT/KEYED ENTRY/SUNRIVER - Trainer Todd Pletcher had worked his trio of Kentucky Derby candidates Saturday morning and most conditioners would have had them walk the shedrow the following day. But Pletcher, the leading trainer in the country right now for money won and the Eclipse Award winner as the nation's leading trainer the past two years, is not most conditioners.

The 38-year-old graduate of the University of Arizona's Racetrack Industry Program and former protégé of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, had all three of his charges back at the track for "some light exercise" Sunday and the colts certainly seemed to enjoy the activity.

Bluegrass Cat, who has yet to have a rider officially named for next Saturday's classic, and Keyed Entry, who'll have the saddle services of California rider Patrick Valenzuela, were out early with the trainer's first sets. Sunriver, who is currently No. 22 on the Derby list from a collection that will go no higher than 20, came out later with the former rider Angel Cordero Jr. aboard.

All three horses jogged about a mile around the Churchill oval and Keyed Entry and Sunriver paid visits to the paddock.

Hall of Famer Cordero has been especially high on Sunriver in the weeks leading up to the big race, calling him "my Derby horse." Pletcher voices the same sort of confidence.

"I really, really hope the horse gets to run," the trainer said emphatically at his Barn 34 headquarters. "He deserves his chance and if he gets it I think he can do very well."

Entries for the Derby will be taken Wednesday morning. The No. 20 horse on the current list -- Mister Triester -- ran third in Saturday's Derby Trial and is considered an unlikely candidate to return for the big one. If true, that would mean there would have to be one more withdrawal for Sunriver to get his chance to run.

BOB AND JOHN/POINT DETERMINED/SINISTER MINISTER - Trainer Bob Baffert oversaw the works of two of his Kentucky Derby contenders Sunday morning at Santa Anita, watching Point Determined drill five furlongs in :59.80 and Bob and John go six panels in 1:11.40.

"It went well, very well," said the white-haired conditioner, who has designs on winning his fourth Run for the Roses this Saturday. "It went just as we planned it. The riders - Victor Espinoza on Point Determined and Garrett Gomez on Bob and John - were very happy with the moves and the horses came back and cooled out fine. I'm happy I stayed here with them. It has worked for the best."

Point Determined, whose time was the third fastest of 40 at the distance at the track this morning, worked in company with a 3-year-old non-winner named Evaluate, whom Baffert termed "the best 3-year-old maiden in the country." Evaluate was timed in 1:00.60 for the five furlongs.

Bob and John worked alone and his time was the fastest of nine six-furlong works recorded at the Arcadia oval Sunday.

Meanwhile, back at Churchill Downs, the third Baffert Derby candidate, Sinister Minister, simply walked the shedrow Sunday, according to the trainer's assistant Mick Jenner. The congenial Englishman noted that all was well with the Old Trieste colt following his five-furlong work in 1:00.20 the previous morning.

Jenner said he believed that Baffert would return to Kentucky on Tuesday, the same day that Bob and John and Point Determined were scheduled to be flown in from California.

BROTHER DEREK - Canadian Cecil Peacock's husky colt went to the racetrack just prior to the 8 a.m. renovation break Sunday and enthusiastically galloped a mile and one half around the big oval under exercise rider Luis Ortega. Trainer Dan Hendricks looked on at trackside as the son of Benchmark went about his business on a morning that threatened rain, but delivered only spritzes of the wet stuff for the most part.

Hendricks has a final Kentucky Derby workout scheduled for his charge for Monday morning - weather permitting. The Louisville area forecast is for rain throughout Sunday and on into Monday, but the trainer is being flexible in that regard.

"If we can go tomorrow, we'll go," he said. "If not, we'll wait another day or two. I've got time."

Alex Solis, the Southern California-based rider who has been aboard Brother Derek for all eight of his starts, was scheduled to ride the red eye from Los Angeles Sunday night and arrive in Louisville early Monday in time to work the colt.

CAUSE TO BELIEVE - The gray son of Maria's Mon enjoyed a lazy Sunday morning, walking under the shedrow the day after he breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 in his last serious Derby exercise.

Galen May, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, said Cause to Believe will return to the track Monday morning for a jog, and then will gallop up to the Derby.

Hollendorfer, who was on hand to supervise Saturday's workout, returned to Northern California Sunday morning, but is expected to be back at Churchill Downs on Tuesday.

Cause to Believe comes into the race with six lifetime victories (the same as Brother Derek and one fewer than Lawyer Ron) for co-owners Peter Redekop and Peter Abruzzo.

Last out, the Kentucky-bred was a distant third behind the runaway Sweetnorthernsaint in the Illinois Derby (gr. III), but in his previous start he won the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

"It was a deep track at Hawthorne that day," May said of the Illinois Derby, "and he didn't like it. But he trained good over this track, and he came out of yesterday's work in good shape."

Hollendorfer, the winningest trainer in the history of Northern California racing, has given the mount to Russell Baze, currently second only to Laffit Pincay Jr. in career winners with more than 9,200 victories.

This will be the second Derby starter for the trainer, who saddled Eye of the Tiger to finish fifth in 2003, and the second Derby mount for Baze, who finished 14th aboard Semoran in 1996.

DEPUTY GLITTERS - Assistant trainer Andy Rehm's spirits were given a boost by Deputy Glitters' 1-1/4-mile gallop over the Churchill Downs racing surface on Sunday morning. Despite the son of Deputy Commander's poor past performances over off tracks, Rehm was given reason for optimism by the "fast" condition of the track.

"It rained pretty good yesterday, and the track held up really well," said Rehm, who is supervising Deputy Glitters' training until trainer Tom Albertrani arrives in Louisville on Monday. "Unless there's a deluge, I think we'll be OK."

Deputy Glitters, who finished up the sloppy Aqueduct track in the Wood Memorial last time out, had previously romped to a two-length victory over favored Bluegrass Cat in the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby.

"I think the key for him was the two turns," said Rehm, whose charge had finished an improved second behind Bluegrass Cat in the Sam F. Davis Stakes in his first career start around two turns. "He'd never had the opportunity to get into a rhythm that two turns give him."

Jose Lezcano, who was aboard Deputy Glitters in his last three starts, will have the mount for the Derby.

FLASHY BULL/JAZIL - The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained pair walked under the shedrow Sunday morning, their day off after working five furlongs in 1:00.40 in company on Saturday.

"They worked well, and they came out of it in great shape," McLaughlin said.

Jazil, owned by the Shadwell Stable of Dubai's Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, was a fast-closing second in the Wood Memorial on April 8 to earn his way into the Derby field. He has a deep-closing style, and as the muddy Wood Memorial effort showed, would move way up on a wet track.

McLaughlin expects him to be far back in the early Derby going.

"He'll be last or next to last for a while," the trainer said. "Then we hope he can make his way through traffic in the stretch. He's got a great style for a race with this many speed horses."

Jazil's small size and handy way of going makes him an excellent candidate for a broken-field running style. Jazil, a son of Seeking the Gold, will be ridden by Fernando Jara, who was aboard in the Wood Memorial.

Flashy Bull races in the colors of West Point Thoroughbreds LLC and needs a defection to make it into the Derby field. Right now he's No. 21 on the list of graded stakes earnings. The gray colt comes off a troubled trip in the Florida Derby where he finished seventh behind Barbaro. Before that, the colt was placed second in the Fountain of Youth.

"Just throw out the last race," McLaughlin said, pointing to the fact that the colt was suffering from "the thumps," a problem with his electrolytes. "He's done well since he came to Kentucky."

McLaughlin said Flashy Bull is a grinder and expects him to be mid-pack most of the way in the Derby.

He has several connections to the Kentucky Derby. He's a gray son of Holy Bull, who sired last year's winner Giacomo, and he will be ridden by Mike Smith, who took his first Derby last year.

And that's not all. McLaughlin was reminded that Jazil and Flashy Bull are still eligible for the lowest allowance condition - "non-winners of a race other than maiden or claiming."

"So was Giacomo," the trainer said with a smile.

LAWYER RON - The Estate of James Hines Jr.'s Lawyer Ron walked the shedrow at Barn 32 Sunday morning, a day after working a bullet five furlongs in :58.80.

"He is doing well this morning," trainer Robert Holthus said of Lawyer Ron, who will be the veteran conditioner's fifth Kentucky Derby starter.

Lawyer Ron's work Saturday was the fastest of 48 at the distance and one of many sparking works turned in by Derby hopefuls. Holthus was asked if any of the others caught his eye.

"I thought that Sweetnorthernsaint was going pretty good for the ones that worked," Holthus said, adding with a chuckle, "He was the most impressive, other than Lawyer Ron."

John McKee will pilot Lawyer Ron in Derby 132, the third consecutive year McKee has ridden a Holthus entry in the Derby.

"All we can do now is get a good post (in the draw Wednesday) and get good position around the first turn," Holthus said.

PRIVATE VOW/STORM TREASURE - Mike McCarty's Private Vow and Storm Treasure each galloped two miles at Churchill Downs on Sunday on the eve of their final major works before the 132nd Kentucky Derby. Exercise rider Carmen Rosas was in the saddle for each of those gallops.

Trainer Steve Asmussen said that Private Vow and Storm Treasure would work five furlongs on Monday morning, regardless of track condition. Rosas will be aboard for both works and Asmussen said the moves would come shortly after the track opens for training at 6 a.m. (EDT). Those works with either be in the first or second sets of Asmussen-trained horses that go to the track on Monday, or the second and third sets.

Private Vow, third last time out in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) and winner of the Belmont Futurity (gr. I) and the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at two, will be ridden in the Kentucky Derby by Shaun Bridgmohan. Asmussen has yet to name a rider for Storm Treasure, the runner-up in the Toyota Blue Grass in his most recent start.

SACRED LIGHT - Amerman Racing Stables' racy gray colt stretched his legs at Churchill Downs Sunday morning at 6:30, jogging a mile under exercise rider Erin Buttigieg. The son of Holy Bull shipped in from California Saturday and had taken up residence in Barn 45 under the eye of trainer Grant Hofmans, the son of Sacred Light's true trainer, David Hofmans.

Grant now trains in Kentucky with a couple of horses at Churchill and about 20 head at the nearby Trackside Training Center. His father, who also conditions Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) candidate Balance, was due to arrive in Louisville Sunday evening from his Southern California base.

Sacred Light is currently No. 23 on the list of Kentucky Derby horses, with 20 runners the max for the mile and one-quarter classic. His connections are still hopeful he'll have his chance to run. Aaron Gryder has been given the tentative call.

SEASIDE RETREAT - Trainer Mark Casse was all smiles as Seaside Retreat was being led back to Barn 17 after his strong 1-1/2 mile morning gallop Sunday.

"He has to like his racetrack - that's the kind of a horse he is - and I have to say of all the places he's trained, he likes this surface the best," said Casse, pointing out Seaside Retreat's "effortless" five-furlong workout in :59.40 on Thursday as evidence of his colt's affinity for the Churchill racing strip.

As much as William Farish Jr.'s colt appears to relish the track, Casse likes the composition of the expected Kentucky Derby field.

"The key for him is that the other horses in the race run very fast early. It looks like there will be a lot of speed in this race - that's why he's here. I know he's a long shot in here," said Casse, whose colt finished a distant sixth in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland last time out. "If I didn't think the race would set up for us, we wouldn't be here.

Patrick Husbands, who previously rode Seaside Retreat to a wide, fast-closing second place finish in the grade II Lanes End Stakes at Turfway Park, will return to the irons Saturday.

SHARP HUMOR - Purdedel Stable and WinStar Farm lessee's Sharp Humor had the morning off from the track Sunday a day after working five furlongs in :59 flat under Derby rider Mark Guidry. The work was the second fastest of 48 at the distance.

"Everything is good this morning. I think I am going to give him two days off and he will go back to the track Tuesday," trainer Dale Romans said.

SHOWING UP - Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Barclay Tagg reported from Belmont Park Sunday morning that undefeated Showing Up continued to train forwardly during a 1-1/2-mile gallop.

"So far, so good," said Tagg, who continued to monitor the puncture wound that Showing Up suffered in his right front leg during his game victory in the grade II Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in only his third lifetime start.

Showing Up is scheduled to breeze at Belmont Park Monday morning and gallop Tuesday and Wednesday before Tagg will make the decision to enter the Lael Stables' colt in the Derby. Tagg, who saddled Funny Cide for a victory in the 2003 Derby, understands the demands that the 1-1/4-mile Derby will place on such a lightly raced colt. Yet, the New York-based trainer has been impressed by the uncommon seasoning Showing Up has shown from the very start.

"I've been amazed at how 'ungreen' such a green horse could be," Tagg marveled. "It's like he's done things a million times already. Nothing seems to bother him. I wouldn't even consider putting him through the ordeal of the Derby if it weren't for the aplomb and grace that's he shown."

Should Showing Up run in the Derby, it would mark the first time that an owner started two undefeated horses in the first jewel of the Triple Crown. Lael Stables also owns the Michael Matz-trained Barbaro, who holds a 5-for-5 lifetime record.

STEPPENWOLFER - Robert and Lawana Low's Steppenwolfer walked the shedrow at Barn 41 Sunday morning, a day after working six furlongs in 1:13 under Derby rider Robby Albarado. The work was the fourth fastest of 11 at the distance.

"Just give me a few more good days," trainer Dan Peitz said. "He is training beautifully and if he fires Saturday, he will be passing a lot of tired horses."

This is Peitz's second excursion into the Derby Week spotlight, having saddled Real Cozzy for the Lows to a second-place finish in the 2001 Kentucky Oaks.

"I had Capote Belle for the Lows in 1996 and she won the Test and then I had Real Cozzy in 2001 and now Steppenwolfer," Peitz said. "I only get 10 or 12 two-year-olds a year, but I think I have a better shot than some guys at getting here because they (the Lows) breed to stallions like Seattle Slew in the past and now Giant's Causeway ands Storm Cat."

Peitz said that Real Cozzy was a homebred but Capote Belle and Steppenwolfer were purchased as 2-year-olds.

"Steppenwolfer was the only colt we bought last year at any sale. He was the sale topper for $375,000 at Ocala in April," Peitz said. "They (the Lows) said to see if I could find them a colt who could go a mile and a quarter. Now they want me to do it again.

"Tom McCrocklin, who breaks my babies down in Ocala and goes to all the sales with me, liked him because he had worked fast, had a big, long stride and a nice pedigree."

SWEETNORTHERNSAINT - Joseph Balsamo and Ted Theos' Sweetnorthernsaint got a thumbs up from trainer Michael Trombetta early Sunday morning before the trainer flew back to Maryland for the day.

"Everything is good here," said Trombetta, who was returns to Louisville Sunday night.

The gelded son of Sweetsouthernsaint had worked six furlongs in 1:11.60 Saturday morning, the move being the fastest of 11 at the distance.

Two-time Kentucky Derby winning rider Kent Desormeaux will have the mount.

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