Another bright, mild morning saw the final flurry of Kentucky Derby works, as Millennium Wind, Fifty Stars, Jamaican Rum, and Keats all made the work tab. Now comes the task of sorting all through all the works we've seen over the past 10 days and trying to narrow down the three or four standout moves. We'll discuss these moves in Friday's Derby Report, along with the horses who have been the most impressive in their gallops and the ones who are flourishing physically and look to be sitting on a big effort. We'll combine all that with some logic, history, and speed figures, and narrow down the field to the three or four we feel will be peaking on Derby Day.
Horse racing and bourbon go neck and neck in Kentucky... Millennium Wind is the star of the Heerenspergers show...Gary Mandella to return to training.
Millennium Wind turned in his last workout for Saturday's Kentucky Derby, working five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning. According to Churchill clockers, he went in splits of :23 2/5 and :48 for a half-mile and galloped out six furlongs in 1:16. Trainer David Hofmans timed the son of Cryptoclearance in the same 1:00 2/5, but got splits of :11 4/5, :24, and :48 2/5, and a gallop out time of 1:14 2/5.
Cee Dee, a stakes-winning Ohio-bred son of Academy Award, died unexpectedly Monday. While an autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death, co-owner and breeder Bruce Hudson said the colt might have been the victim of a massive infection.
New York racing regulators on Monday slapped trainer John Dowd with a 120-day suspension after three Thoroughbreds he ran during races in 1999 and 2000 at Aqueduct tested positive for ergonovine. In another disciplinary matter, Thoroughbred owner Robert Perez was fined $3,000 following what officials described as a nasty confrontation with stewards last year at Saratoga in an incident the board said was "detrimental to the best interests of racing.''
Famous faces will be aplenty in Louisville as the Derby nears, but former NBA player Bobby Hurley will be a familiar one by Saturday. Monday morning he was stationed outside Songandaprayer's stall at Churchill Downs, looking like he just came off the hardwood.
Fusaichi Pegasus was the first favorite to win the Kentucky Derby in more than 20 years when he did so last year. Can Point Given follow in his footsteps as this year's likely Derby chalk?
The setting was the same as past years: Bob Baffert standing in the Churchill Downs grandstand, his white hair glistening in the morning sun like a fresh mound of snow. A two-way radio is held close to his mouth, as he surveys the post-renovation break scene and offers his first set of instructions to exercise rider Dana Barnes. Several minutes later, after watching his two Derby horses work, Baffert takes a deep, relaxing breath and breaks out into a smile and selection of one-liners. His horses once again have left a long line of smoldering hoof prints in the Churchill Downs surface.
The potential presence of the colt in the Derby field had proved controversial because the maiden would have faced more accomplished, seasoned foes.
Keats, foaled Feb. 14, 1998, dark bay or brown colt, by Hennessy--Alaska Queen, by Time for a Change
Tincin, bay colt, foaled March 26, 1998, Discover-Call Me Whitney, by Jade Hunter
Tincin, bay colt, foaled March 26, 1998, Discover-Call Me Whitney, by Jade Hunter
Kentucky Derby favorite Point Given and stablemate Congaree had their last workouts before Saturday's race, each posting fast times for their five furlong efforts. Point Given was timed in :58.50 seconds, as clocked by trainer Bob Baffert, who caught Congaree in :58.75 for five furlongs. Also Monday, Churchill officials announced that Tincin, winless in seven starts, was no longer being considered for the Derby after developing a cough.
Turf Paradise Derby winner Startac has been confirmed as a starter for Saturday's Kentucky Derby. Trainer Simon Bray said Alex Solis would ride Startac in the Derby. Startac will be the first Derby entrant for Bray, a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
No matter where Invisible Ink finishes in the Kentucky Derby, he will depart Louisville a winner. Just the fact that the son of Thunder Gulch, nicknamed "Inky," is here and considered a legitimate contender is enough of a miracle to those who stood by this colt and never gave up hope when all seemed hopeless. By all rights, Invisible Ink should be nothing more than a tragic memory in the hearts and minds of the people who raised him and broke him and treated him. Instead, he is at Churchill Downs, about to run in America's greatest race. And all because he refused to die, thanks to a handful of people who refused to let him die.
Throw 'em in a hat and pick one. Regardless of which one you choose you'll have the work of the day. That's how similar this morning's four Derby works were. In fact, the times of all four horses – Dollar Bill, Balto Star, Thunder Blitz, and Invisible Ink – were within a fifth of a second of each other. For the seventh morning in a row, since we arrived, the dawn brought bright skies and mild to crisp temperatures. More of the same is predicted through the week, with showers arriving, you guessed it, on Friday.
Two 3-year-olds being shipped to Churchill Downs for other races on Kentucky Derby (gr. I) week could join the field for the season's first classic. Trainer Tony Richey said Boyce Roberts' Arctic Boy may run in the Derby rather than a conditioned allowance race on Derby Day he is being pointed toward. Richey said a final decision on Derby plans for the son of Maria's Mon will be made following a Monday workout under jockey Calvin Borel. Meanwhile, Churchill officials said trainer Simon Bray could also decide to run Turf Paradise Derby winner Startac in the Derby rather than the Crown Royal American Turf (gr. III), a 1 1/16-mile grass test on Friday's Kentucky Oaks card.
Meetyouathebrig stalked the early leaders from mid-pack and blew by the field in the stretch to win Saturday's $100,000 Derby Trial Stakes (gr. III) by 6 1/4 lengths on opening day of the Churchill Downs meet. Under Robby Albarado, the Elliott Walden-trained winner completed the mile in 1:36.44 on a fast track.
We've seen some great works over the past week, but this morning we saw a super work; the best move by a Derby horse so far. Express Tour obviously has several questions surrounding him, such as having only one start this year, having missed several days training with a bruised foot, and a less than classic pedigree. But freaks have a way of overcoming such mundane obstacles, and everyone who was around this horse at Calder last year is convinced he indeed is a freak. After watching today's work, and the past few day's gallops, we're not about to argue with them.
Sorry, but we've got yet another terrific work to confuse you with. But even with all the top works we've seen this week, we'd have to give this morning's drill by Monarchos the highest marks. There was a great deal of confusion as to what time he actually worked, as the clockers somehow only caught the final three-eighths of his five-furlong work.
The Churchill Downs spring meet begins Saturday with the $100,000-added Derby Trial (gr. III), the final prep for the May 5 Derby. The race is being used by trainer Ken McPeek to determine whether Gift Of The Eagle will be sent back in the classic one week later.
Possible starters in the 2001 Kentucky Derby
It was a tale of two works at Churchill Downs this morning. The formula was something we see many times prior to the Kentucky Derby: two horses with similar running styles come off the same race, have two completely contrasting works, and both their trainers are ecstatic. It was a perfect example how different horses need different types of works. The beaming smiles on the faces of trainers Dave Hofmans and John Dowd told the story following Millennium Wind's five-furlong work in 1:01 3/5 and Songandaprayer's deceiving :59 drill over the same distance.
The song says the "sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home." But, the long range forecast from the National Weather Service is calling for showers in Louisville, Ky., on Kentucky Derby Day.
Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I) winner Songandaprayer turned in his final workout for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on Thursday when he worked five-eighths of a mile in :59 at Churchill Downs. Millennium Wind was timed in 1:01 3/5 for his five furlong workout.
It was one of those intoxicating spring mornings that only Churchill Downs in late April can bring: blue skies, crisp temperatures that put an extra jump in your step, and the sight of Kentucky Derby horses, decked out in their striking gold saddlecloths, strutting over the track with adolescent enthusiasm. Although there were no works on tap this morning, we were able to take advantage of the leisurely atmosphere to get excellent close-up studies of many of the contenders as they galloped against the picture-book backdrop of the Twin Spires.
With none of the horses being pointed toward the May 5 Kentucky Derby working out, it was a routine day on the backside of Churchill Downs on Wednesday. Trainer David Hofmans added Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner Millennium Wind to the list of horses scheduled to work Thursday.
With the defection of Godolphin Racing's Street Cry from the Kentucky Derby due to an injury, jockey Frankie Dettori has opted to remain in England to ride Tobougg in the Sagitta Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket the same day. Tobougg is also owned by Street Cry's owner, Sheikh Mohammend.
If opposing trainers were looking for any holes in the Baffert Brigade, they sure didn't find them this morning, as Point Given and Congaree both turned in brilliant works over a deep track that trainer Bob Baffert described as demanding. Baffert, always nervous before big works, was looking forward to getting these out of the way. Heavy rains at around 8 p.m. the night before didn't help soothe his nerves any, but morning brought bright blue skies and a drop in the temperature from the previous day.
Daily Kentucky Derby Notes From Churchill Downs
Each week since Jan. 22, Steve Haskin, the award-winning turf writer and senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse, has reported on the leading contenders and analyzed this year's Kentucky Derby. During his 29 years with the Daily Racing Form, Haskin became known for his insightful coverage of the Triple Crown races. Haskin won the Red Smith Award for Kentucky Derby writing in 1997, 1999, and 2000.and received the David Woods Award for best Preakness story in 1997. In 1999, he co-authored "Baffert: Dirt Road to the Derby" with trainer Bob Baffert and wrote the book, "Dr. Fager" for Eclipse Press' "Thoroughbred Legends" series in 2000.
Point Given: While there are questions surrounding most of the top choices, the only question people are asking about this big chestnut is whether he's going to win the Triple Crown. Work on April 24 should be interesting.
Welcome to Churchill Downs. Many of the names and faces change each year, but the same charge of electricity still ripples through the backstretch. Bob Baffert has two shotgun cartridges aimed right at the Twin Spires, while Nick Zito is back after a one-year absence, and for the first time since Genuine Risk captured the roses in 1980, D. Wayne Lukas will be a spectator.
Trainer Ken McPeek withdrew Illinois Derby (gr. II) runner-up Saint Damien from consideration for the Kentucky Derby after the son of Saint Ballado bled severely during a workout Monday. McPeek still has Gift of the Eagle, who also worked Monday, under consideration for the May 5 classic.
Kentucky Derby notes from Churchill Downs.
Godolphin's Street Cry, winner of the UAE Two Thousand Guineas and runner-up in the UAE Derby, will not run in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) after suffering an ankle injury Sunday morning. "He went out for a jog this morning," assistant trainer Tom Albertrani said, "and when he came back we noticed some filling in the right front ankle."
Godolphin Racing's Street Cry has sustained an injury to his right front ankle and will not contest the Kentucky Derby, according to an announcement on Godolphin's Website. The exact nature of the injury to the 3-year-old son of Machiavellian or how long he will be out of training were not revealed in the announcement.
Flamingo Stakes (gr. III) winner Thunder Blitz worked five furlongs at Churchill Downs Saturday morning, getting the distance in 1:00 3/5. Also working toward the Derby was Tincin.
Win More Stable's Marciano rallied in the stretch at Pimlico Saturday to catch pacesetter Talk Is Money en route to a 1 1/4-length victory in the $145,500 Federico Tesio Stakes. Buring Roma came home another 1 3/4 lengths back in third. Polar Ray was last in the four-horse field.
The talent pool of this year's crop of 3-year-olds runs deep, as witnessed over the last few weeks in major Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep races. An armada of lesser crafts set out April 21 at Keeneland for the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) to test the waters one final time before the main event takes place at Churchill Downs in two weeks. Instead of a boat race, the majority of them found choppy seas and roiling water that all but grounded their Derby dreams on the rocks. Just the opening of the starting gate alone had several starters bailing instead of sailing.
Burning Roma began his 3-year-old season by taking the Florida route to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), but not by way of the traditional starting points at Gulfstream Park.
When Arazi came to the 1992 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), it was his first appearance at Churchill Downs since winning the previous year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at the Louisville track. He was the 4-5 favorite and was expected to play an important role in the first Saturday in May. He finished eighth that day, while Lil E. Tee earned the rose blanket.
Santa Anita Derby winner Point Given and Wood Memorial (GII) winner Congaree drew many admiring glances at Churchill Downs Thursday as they galloped over the track's one-mile racing oval. Meanwhile, Champagne winner A P Valentine arrived at Churchill Thursday afternoon to continue his training toward the Derby.
There has been a lot of talk about Balto Star recently. His last two races – actually, last three -- have been so mind-boggling, especially his Thoro-Graph numbers, people simply don't know what to make of him. Balto Star is the horse Bob Baffert is afraid of, despite being a gelding, a son of sprinter Glitterman, and a confirmed front-runner. If you go by logic, all three of those factors should add up to Balto Star having too much going against him. Then again, maybe they shouldn't.
Ten 3-year-olds, some of which may be looking for a berth in the May 5 Kentucky Derby, will square off Saturday in the $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. The Lexington, a grade II event, was won in 1999 by Charismatic, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He then finished third in the Belmont Stakes even though he suffered a career-ending injury.
Leading Derby contender graded stakes earnings
A P Valentine, owned in part by University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, will arrive at Churchill Downs around 1 p.m. today, and be placed in barn 36.
Street Cry, Godolphin's main hope for the May 5 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), worked five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.
Churchill Downs officials report a record 798 nominations to its roster of 2001 Kentucky Derby Week stakes races that lead up to the 127th running of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on Saturday, May 5.
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