Robert LaPenta’s Cool Coal Man, a major contender for the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), prepped for a planned run in the April 12 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland with a sharp half-mile work at Churchill Downs April 3 (VIDEO, courtesy of Keeneland).
The son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft worked in company with Zito-trained stablemate Chris Got Even and covered four furlongs over a fast track in :47.40. The winner of Gulfstream Park’s Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) was ridden in the work by Megan Smillie and finished just in front of Chris Got Even, who was timed in :47.60 with assistant trainer Heather Stark up. The move by Cool Coal Man ranked as the fourth-fastest of 25 at the distance.
Zito was in New York to saddle LaPenta’s reigning 2-year-old champion War Pass in Saturday’s Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) at Aqueduct, but said by telephone that he was happy with the work that he had moved up by a couple of days because of a forecast for heavy rain in Louisville. There were only a few raindrops as Cool Coal Man worked over a dry surface shortly after the break for track maintenance. The work was the final major training move for Cool Coal Man before mile-and-an-eighth Toyota Blue Grass.
“This is actually how he did it before the Fountain of Youth,” Zito said. “He’s not a robust colt, but he’s a really flashy little guy. I always talk about letting them run through the lane a little bit (before a race) – kind of like a ‘blowout’ the old fashioned way. We’re still traditionalists, right?”
Zito would prefer to prep Cool Coal Man on traditional dirt rather the Polytrack surface he’ll compete over next week at Keeneland, but the two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer said he was encouraged by the success enjoyed last year by James Tafel’s Street Sense, who was upset by Dominican in the Toyota Blue Grass before coming back to win the Kentucky Derby. He decided to give Cool Coal Man an extra week to run at Keeneland rather than come back in last week’s Florida Derby at Gulfstream.
“I really wanted a fresh horse,” said Zito. “He’s two-for-two this year and he certainly looks good, so I just wanted some kind of chance for this horse in the Derby and I hope we get it. I would prefer to have run on a conventional track like Churchill Downs, but the Blue Grass is a good race and I’ve been lucky in it a lot of times, too. And I saw what Street Sense did last year, and if he could run that kind of race I’ll take it and then maybe we’ll get lucky in the big one.”
Cool Coal Man has a career record of 4-1-0 in seven races with earnings of $307,531.