Jockey Mike Smith will have the mount on Daddy Nose Best in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), according to assistant trainer Scott Blasi.
With regular rider Julien Leparoux riding Union Rags in the May 5 Derby, Blasi said Smith confirmed April 12 his intent to ride Daddy Nose Best, who is coming off consecutive victories in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) and Sunland Park Derby (gr. III). The son of Scat Daddy is trained by Steve Asmussen for Bob and Cathy Zollars.
Daddy Nose Best has 10 starts, with Leparoux riding him eight times and Kent Desormeaux the other two. Blasi didn’t know if Smith would work the colt leading up to the Derby, but isn’t at all concerned either way.
“He’s a Hall of Fame jockey; I don’t think he’s gotten to the point where he’s at by not watching replays and doing his homework. I think he’ll be pretty familiar with him by the time he gets on him in the Derby. Our horse is really seasoned too," Blasi said.
Daddy Nose Best is already at Churchill Downs. He had his first work over the track April 9, breezing an easy five furlongs in 1:02 2/5. He is expected to have three more works leading up to the Derby.
Smith will ride Bodemeister in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I) this weekend.
The other top Derby contender who is still potentially without a Derby mount is Godolphin’s Alpha. The Gotham (gr. III) winner and Wood Memorial (gr. I) runner-up has been ridden by Ramon Dominguez in his last three starts, but Dominguez is likely to choose champion Hansen for the Derby. Hansen is the favorite for this weekend’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
Alpha’s trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said a decision on a rider will be made sometime after Saturday.
“We’ll wait until what Ramon and his agent Steve Rushing decide, and (if they choose Hansen) we’ll put six or eight names out there and talk to Simon Crisford about who he prefers,” McLaughlin said. “It’s hard to say until after Saturday when we know who is available. We might just wait. Those six or eight names might be open Sunday and still might be there two weeks from Sunday.”
McLaughlin said Alpha will ship to Churchill Downs on April 16 and have two works before the Derby.