Churchill Downs has announced that beginning April 17, there will be a 15-minute training period devoted exclusively to contenders for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
Effective on that day, overall training hours will start at 5:45 a.m. – 15 minutes earlier than usual – and conclude at 10 a.m. The training session for Derby and Oaks horses will begin immediately after the mid-session break for track maintenance at approximately 8:30 a.m.
Official Kentucky Derby and Oaks saddle towels will be required for access to the track during that 15-minute period, although workmates will be allowed to wear regular stable saddle towels, the track said in a release.
Kentucky Derby and Oaks trainers may train their horses any time they wish and are not required to send their horses during that daily period. "But the daily 15-minute training segment for Derby and Oaks horses will allow them to train with both significantly fewer horses on the track and fewer potential distractions," the release said.
The Derby-Oaks training sessions will continue through April 29.