WinStar Farm’s Hold Me Back, winner of the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) and second in the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I), is scheduled to leave Keeneland on April 24 for Churchill Downs in preparation for his next start in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). In the morning, the Giant's Causeway colt galloped over Keeneland’s main track with trainer Bill Mott’s assistant Leana Willaford aboard.
Elliott Walden, WinStar’s vice president and racing manager, said Hold Me Back would work at Churchill either on April 26 or 27. That is the same schedule for WinStar’s Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) winner, Advice, a son of Chapel Royal who is trained by Todd Pletcher.
WinStar has a third Derby hopeful in California-based Mr. Hot Stuff, a colt by Tiznow who ran third in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). Trained by Eoin Harty, Mr. Hot Stuff is scheduled to work at Santa Anita on April 26 and fly to Louisville the following day.
“We’ll make a decision on Advice (running in the Derby), but the other two are definite,” Walden said.
When asked about whether he expected to have three possible contenders for the Derby as 2009 began, Walden said, “I didn’t at the first of the year. I think we’ve still got some work to do. There’s a lot of good horses that are going to show up there next Saturday, but I like our chances.”
Meanwhile, Pletcher’s assistant Tristan Barry reported that the Pletcher runners who are joining Advice on the trip to Louisville are Join in the Dance, fifth in the Toyota Blue Grass; Mission Impazible , an impressive 2-year-old maiden winner at Keeneland on April 16; and grade III winner Bittel Road. Join in the Dance is currently 21st on the list of Derby contenders by graded stakes winners; the Derby field is limited to 20 horses.
WinStar, which is owned by Kenny Troutt and Bill Casner and is located not far from Keeneland, currently has five wins at the track to rank as leading owner through April 19.