Trainer Todd Pletcher called an audible April 24 at Churchill Downs, deciding to delay a workouts for likely Derby favorite Eskendereya and Interactif until Sunday, April 25. Heavy overnight rains left the surface at Churchill Downs sloppy, and while Pletcher worked five of his Derby contenders, he opted to wait on his other two contenders.
“We’re hoping we get a break in the weather tomorrow for Eskendereya and Interactif,” Pletcher said mid-morning. “We want to do the right thing.”
Zayat Stables’ Eskendereya did go to the track just after the 8:30 a.m. renovation break and galloped 1 3/8 miles. While Eskendereya was on the track, Pletcher’s Rule, Mission Impazible , Super Saver , Discreetly Mine, and Devil May Care went through their final works for the May 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
“I don’t know if he likes a wet track,” Pletcher said of Eskendereya. “He hasn’t had any experience on it so that’s why I chose not to work him today. Now, we might be faced with an off track tomorrow, or Monday, or Tuesday, so I’m going to play it by ear. He’s a big, robust colt who I think I can get away with a work a little closer to a race than some of the others.”
A strapping chestnut colt by Giant's Causeway , out of the Seattle Slew mare Aldebaran Light, Eskendereya has won all three of his 2010 starts. He won a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park by 1 1/4 lengths, then crushed his foes by 8 1/2 lengths in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream before winning the Wood Memorial (gr. I) at Aqueduct April 3 by 9 3/4 lengths. He sports a 4-1-0 slate from six starts and has earned $725,700.
“His last two races separated him from everybody, but those were his last two races and we need it happen in this race,” Pletcher said. “It’s still a long way to get there. We’re keeping our fingers crossed all the time.”
Eskendereya was bred in Kentucky by Sanford Robertson.
Wertheimer and Frere’s Interactif galloped over the off going 1 1/4 miles earlier in the morning. The homebred son of Broken Vow —Broad Pennant, by Broad Brush, had a pair of seconds in stakes earlier this year before running an even fourth on the Polytrack in Keeneland’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). In all, the colt is 3-2-1 from eight starts and has $355,750 in earnings.
“It was sloppy,” Pletcher said of the surface. “But the one thing about it is we worked five horses earlier this morning and they all worked well and came out of it well. We worked two horses yesterday. That sort of eased my comfort level knowing that they worked well over it and came back in good shape.
"As a rule, this is a very good ‘wet track.’ It handles water really well. I wouldn’t be that comfortable working horses on sloppy tracks in a lot of places, but here I am.”