(Edited press release)
Bo Hirsch’s homebred Papa Clem , winner of the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), breezed an easy five furlongs in the rain April 19 in his first serious training move over the track at Churchill Downs.
Jockey Miguel Mena was in the saddle for the work, which was planned for seven furlongs, but received an official five-furlong clocking of 1:04.60. A steady rain was falling as the colt work over a “good” track and was timed in fractions of :12.40 and :38.60. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:19.
The breeze ranked 25th out of 28 at the five-furlong distance, but trainer Gary Stute said he was more worried about how much ground Papa Clem actually covered than the time.
“I didn’t care, I just wanted to get seven-eighths in him,” said Stute. “It was a little slower than I probably originally wanted. This was just for him to get a feel of the track. I think I had him in 1:30-and-change for seven-eighths.”
Stute said Papa Clem would have one more work before the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Saturday is the most likely day for that move.
Although the Arkansas Derby was the first stakes victory for Papa Clem, the son of Smart Strike had competed well through the winter against California-based stars Pioneerof the Nile and I Want Revenge. Papa Clem finished between those two in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita Feb. 7. His only lopsided loss was a runner-up finish to Derby contender Friesan Fire in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds, where he finished 7 ¼ lengths back off the winner over a sloppy track.
“I definitely think I’ve got a shot,” Stute said. “I don’t think I’m just coming in here to run.”
The Arkansas Derby victory improved Papa Clem’s career record to 2-2-0 in six races with earnings of $790,940.
There was one other work by a possible Derby contender on Sunday at Churchill Downs as Starlight Partners’ Take the Points breezed four furlongs in :47:40 over a “good” track for trainer Todd Pletcher.
The gray/roan son of Even the Score worked with a stablemate as he covered the distance in fractions of :12 and :23 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.80. Horacio De Paz was aboard Take the Points, who worked just after the renovation break.
“He went very well, but I’m not sure where he is going yet,” said Mike McCarthy, assistant to Pletcher.
Take the Points has accrued $85,000 in graded stakes earnings, which may not be enough to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate
The workmate for the Sham Stakes (gr. III) runner-up was Schramsberg, an unraced 3-year-old by Storm Cat out of Serena's Song. The colts finished on even terms, and their work times tied as the fastest of 43 works at the distance.