Morning at Churchill Highlighted By Derby Workouts

Morning at Churchill Highlighted By Derby Workouts
Photo: Anne Eberhardt
Keats, who is "on the bubble" for the Kentucky Derby, on the track Tuesday morning.
Millennium Wind turned in his last workout for Saturday's Kentucky Derby, working five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning. According to Churchill clockers, he went in splits of :23 2/5 and :48 for a half-mile and galloped out six furlongs in 1:16. Trainer David Hofmans timed the son of Cryptoclearance in the same 1:00 2/5, but got splits of :11 4/5, :24, and :48 2/5, and a gallop out time of 1:14 2/5.

"He handled it very well," Hofmans said of the workout that was observed by Tom Roach, whose family's Parrish Hill Farm bred Millennium Wind. "He didn't get tired. As you can see there is no sweat on him at all."

Hofmans said he has not wanted fast workouts for the colt leading up to the Derby because of the effort he gave in his Blue Grass Stakes victory. "The Blue Grass was such a strong performance I don't want to push him over the top." Hofmans said Millennium Wind will be schooled and go to gate later this week.

Exercise rider Martin DeRubin said the work was easy for Millennium Wind and that, without being asked, he switched leads after the quarter pole.

Fifty Stars worked a half-mile in :50 after a quarter in :25 3/5, but neither trainer Steve Asmussen nor jockey Donnie Meche were bothered by the time that is slower than many other horses have shown in the mornings at Churchill.

"He just does what he has to do," Meche said, noting the colt usually does not go fast in the morning. "I thought it was a great work. He kicked it in the last eighth of a mile, which is what Steve wanted. He felt a lot more aggressive this morning than the last time he worked."

"I'm trying to keep him on schedule as much as possible," Asmussen said. "He liked the track and is ready for Saturday. I am sure he will run an extremely good race. I have felt good about this horse for a long time because of the distance."

Also working Tuesday was Jamaican Run, who worked five furlongs in 1:01 (official Churchill clocking of 1:01 3/5) under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez. A California-bred son of Exemplary Leader, Jamaican Rum was timed in :25 2/5 for the opening quarter and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15 2/5, according to the clockers.

Trainer James Cassidy was upset that another horse joined up with the colt during the work, although it did not seem to bother the Derby hopeful.

"Another horse jumped in with him at the three-eighths pole; I am going back to try to find out who that idiot was," Cassidy said. "It didn't bothered the horse. He stayed well within himself. This work was just to familiarize him with the track. He keeps himself fit."

In workouts for two "bubble" horses, who may or may not be entered Wednesday, Lexington Stakes (gr. II) winner Keats was timed in :49 2/5 for a half-mile and Percy Hope went the same distance in a quicker :47 2/5.

Trainer Niall O'Callaghan said his clocking for Keats "shaded 48" seconds. He said a decision on whether to run Saturday will be made after he confers with owner Henry Pabst. "It was a good work, but it wasn't his best. It's a tough decision (on whether to enter for the Derby) because he's gotten so good and it's tough to find these kinds of horse. These are the kinds of horses that every day I am out there looking for to try to buy. My concern is that it is only two weeks back since his last race. Usually you have two to three works to look at. With two weeks, we only have one.

Trainer Tony Reinstedler said it is unlikely Percy Hope will run in the Derby. Unless he changes his mind before entries are taken Wednesday, "I think I'll take a pass," the Churchill-based trainer told TVG. Reinstedler said he would consider the Preakness Stakes or Peter Pan for his colt's next start.

After watching Monarchos gallop Tuesday, trainer John Ward was rethinking plans to have the colt blow out Thursday. "He did it well enough that I am thinking about not coming back on Thursday as I had planned," Ward said.

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