Three contenders for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I)—Wicked Strong, Samraat, and Uncle Sigh—had their final classic preparations in New York April 25.
Wicked Strong, the impressive winner of the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial (gr. I), worked seven furlongs in 1:27.11 over the Belmont Park training track. New York Racing Association clockers timed the Hard Spun colt in fractional splits of :13.30, :25.47, :49.91, 1:02.26, and 1:14.51 for six furlongs and he galloped out a mile in 1:40.44.
"It's always good to finish up a work like that," said trainer Jimmy Jerkens. "It's for stamina, and it just keeps him from getting too nervous. I like the way he worked. A lot of things have to work out. He's got to handle the crowd, he's got to handle the track, he's got to handle all the other things that go with it. At least he's going there in a good frame of mind and in good condition. As far as how he's doing, I couldn't be happier."
Wicked Strong leaves New York on a van for Louisville on April 26, arriving at Churchill Downs early the next morning.
"He's got a good work under his belt; I was happy to get this out of the way," said Jerkens. "We can afford to lose the day he's going to lose shipping. He can lounge a little bit, we can take him out in the afternoon to look at the place, and then he can gallop Monday morning."
Jerkens said Wicked Strong would most likely blow out a quarter-mile through the stretch on May 1 at Churchill Downs.
"If he gallops out in :37 and change, that should be all he needs," he said.
Also working over the Belmont training track was Uncle Sigh, who went five furlongs in 1:00.19 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.19 and seven furlongs in 1:29.09. NYRA clockers timed the son of Indian Charlie in fractional splits of :12.30, :24.37, and :36.09.
Uncle Sigh comes into the Derby off a fifth-place effort after a troubled trip in the Wood Memorial. Previously, the colt had consecutive runner-up finishes in the Withers and Gotham Stakes, both grade III.
Working toward the Derby at Aqueduct Racetrack was Samraat, the Wood Memorial runner-up who breezed a mile in 1:45.91, with an opening quarter in :27.79 and a half in :54.62. He galloped out 1 1/8 miles in 1:58.72.
"I really didn't want him to go too fast," said trainer Rick Violette. "We just wanted to get it done. Time was only important if he went too fast, and he didn't. He went great."
A homebred for My Meadowview Farm, Samraat won the first five races of his career, including the Withers and Gotham, before finishing second in the Wood Memorial.
"Now, we have eight days (until the Derby) with a travel day," Violette said. "We'll let him be happy and recharge his batteries. He'll have a light week, and he just has to feel like King Kong on Saturday. I think it's a wide-open race. California Chrome is the target, and the favorite, but there are going to be 19 horses to beat. You need a good trip, a little bit of luck here or there, and a good horse to win."