Blue Grass Contenders Tune Up in Kentucky
It was a busy morning at Keeneland April 6 as Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) contenders Rydilluc, Uncaptured, Undrafted, and Dewey Square all turned in pre-race works.
Keeneland clockers caught Rydilluc, a Gary Contessa trainee owned by Leonard Green and partners, going seven furlongs in 1:28 2/5 in preparation for the April 13 Blue Grass. The Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IT) winner worked alone under Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, going splits of :12 4/5, :25 4/5, :38 3/5, :51 flat, 1:15 3/5, and out a mile in 1:43 2/5.
"Nice, just right," Contessa said of the son of Medaglia d'Oro . "Gave him a taste of the two turns on the Poly, nice and steady, perfect. Exactly what I was looking for. If you look at his works, that's the way he is, he's not like your :46, a minute flat, he's just a horse that keeps going and going."
Rydilluc will require a top two finish in the Blue Grass, which awards points to the top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 scale, to make the field for the May 4 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I); he does not have any qualifying points yet.
Uncaptured, winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at Churchill Downs as a 2-year-old and most recently runner-up by 1 1/2 lengths to Black Onyx in the March 23 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III) in his sophomore debut, went five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 with jockey Miguel Mena in the irons.
Trainer Mark Casse was pleased with the effort of the Lion Heart colt, who broke off about two lengths behind stablemate Steel Dust Dancer and finished about three ahead after closing the gap strongly coming down off the turn.
"I thought he relaxed well and finished up good," Casse said. "The horse he worked with is a pretty good horse, too, and he handled him. When he got in front of that horse he started flicking his ears. He kind of does what he has to do. In fact, if you gallop him by himself, you've kind of got to get after him to get him to go around. He's just a real laid-back horse."
Also making up ground on a workmate was March 2 Swale Stakes (gr. III) third-place finisher Undrafted, who races for Wes Welker, the standout receiver with the New England Patriots who recently signed with the Denver Broncos.
The Purim gelding, also third in the Feb. 2 Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) and the Jan. 1 Gulfstream Park Derby, went five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 after closing from about eight lengths behind the Johannesburg filly Sunset Time.
"Broke off about 10 lengths behind that filly and closed up from the eighth pole down to the wire," said trainer Wesley Ward. "Everything looks good. Hope he comes back well. He's never had a problem running in his life. He ran his best number when he broke his maiden here (at Keeneland) going a short distance, so he has that going for him. The question is how far he's going to go. "
Another potential contender for the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass who appeared on the morning tab was Siena Farm's Dewey Square, most recently fifth in the Palm Beach. The homebred Bernardini colt went five furlongs for trainer Dale Romans in 1:03 and galloped out past the wire in 1:16 under Tammy Fox.
"It looked like he leveled off late, finished good, and galloped out strong," said Romans. "I'm not sure if we're going to run in the Blue Grass. We're going to talk about it. We could go to the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) or the Illinois Derby (gr. III)... but one of the benefits of running here is not having to ship. We'll probably make a decision Monday."
Dewey Square has two Kentucky Derby field points.
Other Blue Grass contenders working at other locations included Fear the Kitten at Trackside Training Center, five furlongs in 1:02 1/5 for trainer Mike Maker, and Casse trainee Dynamic Sky, five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 at Churchill Downs.
Dynamic Sky, runner-up to Falling Sky in the Sam F. Davis (gr. III) and most recently fourth behind Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr.II), worked on the fast main track at Churchill in company with Fly Gal. The dark bay son of Sky Mesa started three lengths behind his workmate, gained an advantage over her at the three-sixteenths pole, and then finished several lengths in front. Fly Gal was credited with a time of 1:02 3/5.
“We ended up working in company to make sure he had a target to run at," assistant trainer Norman Casse said. "They went off kind of slow, which was by design because we didn't want to work him very fast, but then he finished the last three-eighths (of a mile) in :35 flat and had plenty left galloping out. He looks like he's doing very well coming into the race.
"I really hope he runs well and gets a chance to run in the Kentucky Derby because he seems to really appreciate this racetrack."
Dynamic Sky has 13 points on the road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and is number 23 on the leaderboard. A top two finish in the Blue Grass would assure him a spot in the Derby. Uncaptured, number 12 on to make the Derby field, will assure himself a spot in the Derby with a top three finish in the Blue Grass and likely will still earn his way to Louisville on the First Saturday in May should he finish fourth.
Dynamic Sky and Uncaptured are owned by John Oxley, who won the 2001 Kentucky Derby with Monarchos .
"I think both horses have a legitimate chance to win the Blue Grass, which is pretty exciting," Norman Casse said. "Hopefully both of them can hit the board and we'll have a chance to have two horses in the Kentucky Derby."
"We have to run good enough to get enough points to get us there," Mark Casse said. "Uncaptured may regress just a touch off such a big effort in the Spiral, but hopefully we get a good post, and we just want to run well. We already know he likes Churchill Downs."
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