Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Tiago and Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) victor Stormello gave their connections encouragement for an anticipated date in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 5 with strong works at Hollywood Park Sunday.
Tiago, a half-brother to 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, worked a bullet six furlongs in 1:11 2/5 under jockey Mike Smith. Stormello breezed five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 under regular rider Kent Desormeaux.
Both colts are to be flown out of Ontario Airport early Monday morning on a Tex Sutton charter and arrive in Louisville around noon ET.
“He went dynamite,” said Smith, who rode Giacomo to an upset victory in Louisville two years ago. Tiago occupies the same padded stall in the John Shirreffs stable that Giacomo was in before he was retired to stud at the end of last year.
Tiago worked in company with a filly, Gem Palace. “I told Mike to wait, and he wouldn’t,” deadpanned Steve Willard, exercise rider for Gem Palace, after watching Tiago blow by him.
“I was not on Giacomo in his final work here before the Derby, but as soon as he got to Louisville, the first day he got on the track at Churchill, he was so happy on it,” said Smith. “It will be interesting to see how Tiago handles the track there.
“He’s grown up a lot, a whole lot,” said Smith of Tiago, who has started only four times. “I like his confidence level now.”
Smith, owner-breeders Jerry and Ann Moss, Shirreffs and his wife, Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs, racing manager for the Mosses, will fly to Louisville Tuesday.
Tiago will be accompanied by assistant Frank Leal and exercise rider Frank Herrart.
Jerry Moss noted that broodmare Set Them Free can become the first dam to produce two Derby winners.
“Two years ago, I couldn’t believe what happened," he said. "It was a big surprise. It was a whole sense of first time at the Derby for us. Having won that race, it would be at least as exciting to see a horse make Derby history as a sibling winning it.”
Stormello worked in company with a maiden. Bill Currin, the colt's part owner, breeder and trainer, labeled the effort “the most perfect work he’s ever had.”
Partner with Alvin Eisman, Currin's exuberance matched that of jockey Kent Desormeaux, who flew out to California to exercise his Derby mount.
“Kent got off the horse all bubbling over,” the trainer said, “really pumped up. There were some media people watching the work and Kent told them, ‘He will win the Kentucky Derby.’ They asked me how I felt, and I said ‘My jockey said it all for me.’”
Currin said the work was designed to teach Stormello a few lessons about rating behind horses and moving at the opportune time.
“I wanted to slow him down a little,” Currin said, “because I didn’t want him working :57 and change, like he’s done before. I wanted him to go at a good pace, but to get some schooling behind horses, on the rail and out in the middle of the track. Kent handled it perfectly. He was four or five lengths behind his workmate (the Currin-trained Eyesalrite) and on the inside for a quarter. Then Kent moved him to the outside, and Stormello took off, and kept going well past the wire. I got him the final eighth in 11 flat. Eyesalrite is a nice horse, but he’s no Stormello.”
Stormello’s move was eighth-best of 56 drills at the distance. Stormello ran fourth in the Florida Derby (gr. I) in his last start and could become the first Hollywood Futurity winner to annex the Derby since Real Quiet -- also ridden by Desormeaux -- in 1998. Giacomo finished second in the 2004 Futurity.