D. Wayne Lukas, the dean of Kentucky Derby trainers with four winners from 42 previous starters, expressed confidence in Flying Private following the colt’s four-furlong work in :47 2/5 April 27.
One of many starters for the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on the track as Derby week kicked off, Flying Private was timed in fractional splits of :23 4/5 for a quarter mile and three-eighths of a mile in :35 4/5.
“He was really rolling in that last part of it, and that is what I really wanted to see,” said the Hall of Famer who has won the Derby with Winning Colors, Thunder Gulch , Grindstone, and Charismatic. “He’s dead fit and I just wanted to train a little speed into him. So I let him go a little quicker than most people would be comfortable with. He looked awful good.”
With $193,080 in earnings, Flying Private has one win and four seconds to his credit. He leaped onto the Derby scene following a second-place finish to Hold Me Back in the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park March 21. He subsequently finished fifth in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park.
Despite Flying Private’s lack of stakes success, Lukas is confident in the son of Fusaichi Pegasus , while at the same time acknowledging the colt must step up to be competitive in the Derby.
“The God-given talent has got to come from somewhere, but he’s got the pedigree. It’s distance all the way; it might even show up better in the Belmont (Stakes, gr. I). I don’t think I’m taking that big of a shot. Like I told them the other day, it’s not my first barbecue. I think I know a little bit about what it takes and I am watching the competition with interest. I don’t think we’re taking too big of a shot. We won’t embarrass ourselves.
“He’s got to step up and prove it,” Lukas continued. “He’s under the radar screen. But that’s OK. Of our four Derby winners, only one was a heavy favorite. I’m comfortable here. After being in this so many years, you get comfortable. You know what to do and you don’t let all the hype get to you. We don’t get affected by all the stuff. I am going to lead him over there perfectly relaxed.”
Referring to himself and Bob Baffert, who conditions Pioneerof the Nile , Lukas said, “There are only two trainers in the whole 20-horse field who have won the Derby. That’s huge."
A $700,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase, Flying Private races for Robert C. Baker and William L. Mack. He was bred in Kentucky by John and Martha Jane Mulholland. He is one of two winners produced from the winning Unbridled mare Beautiful Treasure.