Nehro, who rallied to finish second in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I), breezed five furlongs in 1:02 4/5 over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs the morning of April 25. The work was the 18th fastest among 25 working that distance, with the day’s best time of 1:00 turned in by last year’s 3-year-old turf standout Paddy O'Prado.
Nehro was sent out for the work around 6:15 a.m. (ET) despite the heavy thunderstorm that descended on the track as it opened for training.
He covered the distance in 1:02 4/5. Exercise rider Carlos Rosas was in the irons as Nehro worked in fractional times of :13 1/5, :25 3/5, :38 1/5 and :50 2/5. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:17 and seven-eighths in 1:32.
“He was smooth and easy all the way around,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “The weather comes into play a little bit and, as usual, Mother Nature doesn’t care how important we think it is.
“We’re just staying in a rhythm. The horse has had two hard races over the last month, and we’re staying in a rhythm and following pretty much the same (training) pattern as after the Louisiana Derby.”
Nehro, a 3-year-old son of Mineshaft produced from the Afleet mare The Administrator, entered the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) picture in a big way with his Arkansas Derby finish. Bred in Kentucky by Mt. Brilliant Farm, Nehro races for Ahmed Zayat’s Zayat Stables. A $170,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase, Nehro has a win and two seconds from five starts and earnings of $425,140. Previous to the Arkansas Derby, Nehro also closed well to finish second in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II).
Asmussen admitted that he is surprised that this colt turned out to be his Kentucky Derby contender, but his strong last month, starting with his close second-place finish to Pants On Fire in the Louisiana Derby, has put him in that position.
“That (Louisiana Derby bid) was 100% taking a swing,” Asmussen said. “The horse stepped up and he ran a big race, and I think he validated that performance in Arkansas. Hopefully, we’re still on the way up.”
Corey Nakatani is scheduled to ride Nehro in the Derby.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Comma to the Top, whose trainer ruled out the Derby following a second-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and a fourth in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), worked five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 over the artificial surface at Hollywood Park. That time ranked 30th of 39 at the distance. The gelding trained by Peter Miller was a grade I winner as a 2-year-old.