One day after being purchased by new connections, General a Rod breezed at Churchill Downs the morning of April 29, showing marked improvement over his work at the track last week as the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) draws closer.
The Roman Ruler colt who now races for Skychai Racing and Starlight Stable breezed a half-mile in :49 2/5, with fractional splits of :12 2/5, :24 3/5, and :36 4/5 over a track rated as fast. Under jockey Joel Rosario, who won the 2013 Derby with Orb, the Roman Ruler colt galloped out five furlongs in 1:03 4/5. At one point, a filly being aimed at the Longines Kentucky Oaks came up to General a Rod, and the colt got into the bit and was moved off the rail slightly by Rosario for a nice work.
Trainer Mike Maker labeled it a "maintenance move," noting that it was an improvement over the April 23 work of 1:03 2/5 for five furlongs.
"He was more his typical self today," the trainer said. "Everything went well. He went smooth."
Maker, who will also saddle Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Vicar's in Trouble in the Derby, said his two classic starters are "nose and nose" apart.
Maker said Vicar's in Trouble, a son of Into Mischief owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, is doing "dynamite. He has thrived and put on weight since the (March 29) Louisiana Derby and is doing really well."
In the Derby, Rosario will wear the orange and turquoise silks of James Shircliff, a partner in Skychai Racing that also is partners in another Derby horse, Harry's Holiday .
Starlight and Skychai announced April 28 the acquisition of the Gulfstream Park Derby winner General a Rod from Armando Rodriguez and that Maker would continue as trainer.
The colt who has won two of five starts and earned $282,200 also finished second in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and third in the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I).