Santa Anita Derby winner Colonel John galloped today at Churchill Downs.

Santa Anita Derby winner Colonel John galloped today at Churchill Downs.


Daily Derby Notes: April 23

Pyro jogs a mile, change in work plans for Recapturetheglory, Tale of Ekati works

(from Churchill Downs)

ADRIANO – Lane’s End (GII) winner Adriano was one of the last Kentucky Derby hopefuls on the track Wednesday morning, coming on to the track at 9:20 and schooling in the paddock before galloping mile and three-eighths under Xavier Aizpuru.

“We have been taking him to the paddock every morning,” said Alice Clapham, assistant to trainer Graham Motion. “Tomorrow morning we will probably gallop a little more.”

Owned by Courtlandt Farm, Adriano is scheduled for his final Kentucky Derby work on Sunday.

Edgar Prado has the Derby riding assignment.

ANAK NAKAL/COOL COAL MAN – Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito is flying under the radar this year with Anak Nakal and Cool Coal Man, and he doesn’t seem to mind a bit.

“Hey, one of them could be this year’s Giacomo,” Zito said, referring to the 2005 Kentucky Derby winner who scored at 50-1 odds.

Cool Coal Man, who is owned by Robert LaPenta, galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break with Megan Smillie up and is scheduled to work Thursday morning after the break.

The son of Mineshaft is coming off a ninth-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI), which was the colt’s third mile and an eighth race of the year.

“He won two of those races and didn’t like the Polytrack,” Zito said. “He’s got a solid foundation coming into this race.”

Cool Coal Man is the only horse among the top-20 Derby contenders to have run three nine-furlong races. Halo Najib, who stands 22nd in graded stakes earnings among Derby hopefuls, has three such races also.

Julien Leparoux has the riding assignment on Cool Coal Man.

Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Anak Nakal, who galloped a mile and a half before the break under Heather Stark, won his only start at Churchill Downs and enters the Derby off a fifth-place finish in the Wood Memorial (GI).

“We are catching up a little bit with him, but he is improving,” Zito said. “Look at the chart of the Wood … ‘five-wide run second turn’. He was moving and had a horse stop right in front of him.”

Rafael Bejarano has the call on Anak Nakal.

COLONEL JOHN – Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Colonel John galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break with Karine Lhuillier up.

Trainer Eoin Harty plans to give the WinStar Farm homebred some schooling in the paddock and gate but has not firmed up a date for the colt’s final work.

“I’ve got an idea, but it will be determined by Mother Nature,” Harty said. “I’ll be watching the weather.”

Corey Nakatani, who has been aboard Colonel John in three of his four victories, has the call for the Derby.

COURT VISION/Z HUMOR – Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s pair of contenders for Kentucky Derby 134 – IEAH Stable and WinStar Farm’s Court Vision and Zayat Stables LLC’s Z Humor – galloped over the “fast” surface at Churchill Downs on Wednesday.

Mott said both colts would turn in their final pre-Kentucky Derby works on Monday or Tuesday.

“Both horses are doing well,” said Mott.  “We’re really happy.  It’s nice to have two horses that have no flies in the ointment right now.  Everything is going very well.”

Court Vision has racing experience at Churchill Downs in a stretch-running victory in last fall’s $150,000-added Iroquois Stakes (GIII).  Z Humor, the dead-heat winner of the $1 million Delta Jackpot (GIII), will race over the Louisville track for the first time in the Kentucky Derby on May 3. 

“Any horse that likes Churchill Downs is at some sort of an advantage,” Mott said.  “I believe there are horses for courses.  No matter what track it is, you’ll get the odd horse that just doesn’t handle the surface for whatever reason, then they’ll go to the next track and handle it just fine.  Fortunately, ours seem to be getting over it very well.  We’re pleased with that end of it.”

Mott is the all-time leading trainer at Churchill Downs with 583 career wins under the Twin Spires and a routine year at the track would take him past the 600 mark sometime in 2008.  But he has yet to come close in four attempts at the track’s biggest race, but his hoping for better in Kentucky Derby 134.

“Maybe this time next year we’ll still be looking for my first win, but we’re going to start with this one,” said Mott.  “We’ve had a couple of chances at it before and I think maybe we’re coming in with some of our most legitimate chances this year and we’ll try to make the best of it.  We’ll try not to make any foolish mistakes, get them over there and hope we have some racing luck.”

Garrett Gomez, the Eclipse Award winner as America’s top jockey in 2007, will ride Court Vision.  Z Humor is scheduled to be ridden by Rene Douglas.
DENIS OF CORK –Trainer David Carroll made it back to the track Wednesday after being home sick for two days and his Kentucky Derby hopeful, Denis of Cork, went back to the track, jogging two miles before the renovation break under Paul Griffiths.

Owned by Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr., Denis of Cork had worked five furlongs in 1:00 on Monday and walked the shedrow Tuesday.

Denis of Cork ranks 21st in graded stakes earnings among Kentucky Derby hopefuls with the top 20 earning starting berths. It is a position the Carroll barn is not worried about.

“If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be,” said Kim Carroll, David’s wife, who ran the barn in her husband’s absence. “That’s the only way you can look at it.”

Calvin Borel will ride if the colt makes the Derby field.

GAYEGO – Cubanacan Stables’ Gayego had the morning off Wednesday, walking the shedrow at Barn 33.

The Paulo Lobo trainee is scheduled to return to the track and gallop in the morning before the break.

Mike Smith has the Derby riding assignment.

HALO NAJIB – Trainer Dale Romans reported all was well with Zayat Stables’ Halo Najib, a day after the Halo’s Image colt got his first run over the turf with a half-mile work in :50.40.

Halo Najib is 22nd on the graded stakes earnings list among Kentucky Derby hopefuls and would need some defections from the prospective field to get in the starting gate. Romans said he would run Halo Najib in the May 2 Crown Royal American Turf (GIII) if he doesn’t go in the Derby.

PYRO/Z FORTUNE – Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pyro jogged one-mile Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs, his first exercise this spring under the Twin Spires since arriving from Keeneland on Tuesday afternoon.

Trainer Steve Asmussen also sent out Zayat Stables’ Z Fortune for a mile jog. Both colts are scheduled to gallop Thursday morning, leading up to easy breezes here Monday.

Pyro had worked at Keeneland on Monday and Z Fortune had a half-mile drill at Churchill Downs on Monday.

Shaun Bridgmohan, who has ridden Pyro in all seven of his starts, has the call for the Kentucky Derby. Robby Albarado, who rode Z Fortune for the first time in the April 12 Arkansas Derby (GII), is slated to ride the Siphon colt in the Kentucky Derby.

RECAPTURETHEGLORY – Trainer and co-owner Louie Roussel III has called an audible with Illinois Derby (GII) winner Recapturetheglory, postponing a scheduled Thursday work until most likely Saturday.

“I think he is fit enough right now and he doesn’t need it (to work on Thursday),” Roussel said after the colt galloped two miles under Lara Van Deren. “It will be Friday or Saturday, but most likely Saturday.”

Jockey E.T. Baird, who rode Recapturetheglory for the first time in the Illinois Derby, may come in to handle the work.
SMOOTH AIR – Mount Joy Stables’ Smooth Air jogged two miles with Susie Milne up before the renovation break Wednesday morning.

Trainer Bennie Stutts Jr. calls Smooth Air “obviously the best horse I’ve ever trained” and is living his Derby dream.

“I gave up on my Derby dream 25 years ago,” Stutts said. “I had chances to go to New York and other places, but I wanted to stay in Florida with my family.”

Smooth Air is scheduled to work five furlongs on Sunday.

TALE OF EKATI/BIG TRUCK– Charles Fipke’s Tale of Ekati worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 at Keeneland over the Polytrack on Wednesday morning. The move was the second fastest of 11 at the distance.

It was the colt’s second work at Keeneland since winning the April 5 Wood Memorial (GI). Tale of Ekati worked a half-mile in :49.20 on April 17.

Trainer Barclay Tagg plans to ship Tale of Ekati and Eric Fein’s Big Truck, who worked a half-mile in :48.80 at Keeneland on Tuesday, to Churchill Downs on Saturday with final works for the duo slated next Tuesday.