Adriano works April 20 at Churchill Downs.

Adriano works April 20 at Churchill Downs.

Reed Palmer

Daily Derby Notes: April 21

(from Churchill Downs)

ADRIANO – Courtlandt Farms’ Adriano had an easy morning on Monday, walking the shedrow at Barn 42 a day after working five furlongs in 1:01.80 in preparation for a start in the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).

Alice Clapham, assistant to trainer Graham Motion, said Adriano would return to the track in the morning to jog with his final pre-Derby work scheduled for Sunday.

Edgar Prado, who won the 2006 Kentucky Derby aboard Barbaro, has the riding assignment.

ANAK NAKAL/COOL COAL MAN – Trainer Nick Zito confirmed riders for his two Kentucky Derby hopefuls Monday morning, naming Julien Leparoux to ride Robert LaPenta’s Cool Coal Man and Rafael Bejarano to ride Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Anak Nakal.

“I’ve got two good kids that I’ve had success with,” Zito said. “Rafael won his first stakes for me on Sir Shackleton and Julien won the last two races of the fall here last year to win the riding title.”

Bejarano has not ridden Anak Nakal, but did post an allowance win on Cool Coal Man here last fall. Leparoux has not ridden Cool Coal Man, but did win the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) last fall aboard Anak Nakal.

Both of Zito’s hopefuls galloped after the renovation break with Heather Stark on Anak Nakal and Megan Smillie on Cool Coal Man. Zito plans to work Cool Coal Man on Thursday and Anak Nakal on Friday.

Zito’s third Kentucky Derby hopeful, 2007 juvenile champion War Pass, was knocked off the Derby trail Saturday with an injury.

“I am going to show my age a little bit, but I remember reading in the papers about horses like First Landing and Graustark getting hurt before the Derby and hoping it doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Zito said.

COURT VISION/Z HUMOR – Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott was at Churchill Downs on Monday to take a peek at his Kentucky Derby contenders – IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm’s Court Vision and Zayat Stables’ Z Humor – along with other members of his local stable.

Mott, Churchill Downs’ all-time leading trainer with 583 wins, is still looking for his first victory in the premier race at the Louisville track.  He said on Monday that the final pre-Kentucky Derby works for his pair of contenders would come in the next few days.

“We’ll have one more serious work in Court Vision – probably Monday or Tuesday (of Derby Week),” Mott said.   “We’ll probably have a good open gallop in between.  We’ll probably do a little something with Z Humor maybe on Wednesday.”

Garrett Gomez is scheduled to ride Court Vision, winner of the Iroquois (GIII) at Churchill Downs and the Remsen (GII), in the Kentucky Derby.  Rene Douglas will ride Z Humor.
DENIS OF CORK – Mr. and Mrs. William Warren’s Denis of Cork, a well-beaten fifth as the favorite in the Illinois Derby (GII), showed signs of a return to top form on Monday as the son of Harlan's Holiday breezed five furlongs in 1:00 under jockey Calvin Borel.

The David Carroll-trained colt, who suffered his only loss in four races in that most recent start, was timed in fractions of :12.80, :25, :37.20 and :48.60.  He galloped out six furlongs in a strong 1:12.40 and seven furlongs in 1:26.

“I let him finish up a little bit from the quarter pole to the wire,” Borel said.  “I was very impressed with the last quarter of a mile – very impressed.”

Carroll was ill and did not make it to Churchill Downs to witness the work by Denis of Cork, but he has been very pleased with the colt’s progress in recent days and liked what Borel had to say about the move.

“He’s been training good over the last four to five days,” said Carroll.  “Just looking at him out there, he seems to have picked it up again.  I just wanted to get a nice five-eighths in him, stretch his legs, and basically let him do what he wanted to do.”

Earnings in graded stakes remain a concern for Carroll, but Denis of Cork is close to making the maximum 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby.  The winner of Oaklawn Park’s Southwest Stakes (GIII) currently ranks 21st on Churchill Downs’ most recent list of Kentucky Derby contenders with $165,000. 

Borel piloted Denis of Cork to wins in his first two career starts, and would likely be back aboard the colt should he make the field for Kentucky Derby 134.           

COLONEL JOHN – WinStar Farm’s Colonel John, winner of the Santa Anita Derby (GI) in his most recent start, arrived at Churchill Downs around 1:40 p.m. (EDT) after he flew into Lexington from Southern California, then took a short van ride up Interstate 64 to the Louisville track.

The bay son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Tiznow  took a few spins around Barn 41 for trainer Eoin Harty before the colt settled into his new surroundings.  Harty, who was an assistant to trainer Bob Baffert for his Kentucky Derby victories with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002) – said Colonel John handled the journey from Southern California well.  Harty accompanied the horse on the plane.

“It was an early start for everybody out there (in California), but once we got on the road it was pretty uneventful,” said Harty. “Everything was pretty smooth.  It was the quickest way from Los Angeles to Louisville by far.”

Although he had extensive Kentucky Derby experience with Baffert, Colonel John will be Harty’s first Derby starter since he went out on his own five years ago.

“It’s still two weeks out and the pressure hasn’t really kicked in yet,” Harty said.  “But I’m sure as the days go by and we get closer to the kickoff, I’ll be a little more anxious than I am right now.”

Colonel John is coming into the Kentucky Derby off a dazzling come-from-behind victory in the Santa Anita Derby.  He won the Sham (GI) over Cushion Track at Santa Anita, and Harty has no major worries about whether his colt – who has never competed on a tradition dirt track like the one-mile oval at Churchill Downs – will handle the footing under the historic Twin Spires.

“I think the (synthetic) tracks are safer and certain horses have a chance of staying sound longer,” said Harty.  “From what I’ve seen, horses can ship off of the synthetic surfaces and run very competitively.”

Colonel John worked five furlongs in :59.40 at Santa Anita on Sunday morning.  Corey Nakatani has the riding assignment.

GAYEGO – Cubanacan Stables’ Gayego galloped 1 ½ miles after the renovation break with exercise rider Jody Pieper up.

Trainer Paulo Lobo, who won the Kentucky Oaks in 2002 with Farda Amiga, shipped Gayego to Churchill Downs two days after the colt won the April 12 Arkansas Derby.

“With Farda Amiga, we did not come here until three days before the race,” Lobo said. “With only three weeks between the Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby, I did not want to ship him twice.”

Gayego is scheduled to have his morning exercise earlier Tuesday as Lobo is planning to fly back to Southern California, where he has the rest of his horses stabled at Hollywood Park. Lobo plans to return to Louisville on Thursday, staying through the colt’s scheduled work on Saturday before another quick trip to California with an April 29 return to Louisville to stay through the Derby.

Mike Smith has the riding assignment.

HALO NAJIB – “We are planning to run if we can get in,” trainer Dale Romans said Monday morning of Zayat Stables’ Halo Najib.

With $157,996 in graded stakes earnings, Halo Najib sits in 22nd place in graded money among horses under consideration for the Kentucky Derby. The list of 22 includes the fillies Proud Spell and Eight Belles.

Should Halo Najib make the field, he would give Zayat three starters in the race along with Z Humor and Z Fortune.

The Halo's Image colt galloped after the renovation break Monday with exercise rider Gennero Garcia up. Romans, who has not named a Derby rider, said Halo Najib could work Tuesday.

PYRO/Z FORTUNE – An uncharacteristic 10th-place finish by Louisiana Derby winner Pyro in the April 12 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) left numerous horseplayers in the fog. The mystery surrounding the colt undoubtedly will continue into Kentucky Derby 134 after heavy fog early Monday morning prevented Keeneland Race Course clockers from recording his six-furlong workout in company with graded stakes-winning sprinter Noonmark.

“I was on horseback and it was so foggy that I only saw the last 50 feet of the work,” trainer Steve Asmussen said of the 6:30 a.m. move. “But from what I saw, it looked fine.”

The Louisiana Derby (GII) winner, with exercise rider Dominic Terry aboard, was positioned inside of the Shaun Bridgmohan-ridden Noonmark, according to Asmussen. Noonmark is slated to start in the $250,000-added Churchill Downs Handicap (GII) on the Kentucky Derby undercard on Saturday, May 3.

“When you work three-quarters (of a mile) with Noonmark, I’d call it a serious drill,” Asmussen said. “Their instructions were to go in 1:14 and they usually hit their mark. Pyro seems just fine to me.”

The son of Pulpit, owned and bred by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC, is scheduled to vacate Keeneland on Tuesday and will arrive at Churchill Downs in the afternoon. Bridgmohan has the return call aboard both Pyro and Noonmark.

Asmussen’s other Derby charge, Arkansas Derby runner-up and Lecomte (GIII) winner  Z Fortune, also worked Monday. His four-furlong breeze in :50.20 took place just after 6:45 a.m. at Churchill Downs with Corey Lanerie in the irons.

Churchill Downs’ clockers caught Z Fortune through fractions of :13.20, :25.60 and :38. The Siphon colt galloped out five furlongs in 1:04.20.

“He worked good,” Lanerie said. “I was told to go in :52 and I thought we went in :52. He did it that easy.”

Robby Albarado will have the mount on Z Humor in the Derby.

RECAPTURETHEGLORY – Ronnie Lamarque and trainer Louie Roussel III’s Recapturetheglory jogged a mile and then galloped two miles with Lara Van Deren up Monday morning after the renovation break.

Recapturetheglory would mark Roussel’s third Kentucky Derby starter. Beau Rit, who finished 13th in 1981, was Roussel’s first starter and Risen Star, the third-place finisher in 1988 before winning the Preakness and Belmont Stakes was the other.

Roussel came back in 1994 with Kandaly, but he scratched him the afternoon of the race because of track condition.

“The track was a sea of mud that day and I had a horse that couldn’t stand up in a puddle,” Roussel said. “Go for Gin won that day and I was happy for (trainer) Nick (Zito).”

E.T. Baird, who was aboard Recapturetheglory for the first time when the Cherokee Run colt won the Illinois Derby (GII), has the Kentucky Derby mount.

Recapturetheglory is scheduled to work Thursday.
SMOOTH AIR – Mount Joy Stables’ Smooth Air enjoyed the morning walking around his new surroundings in Barn 35 at Churchill Downs, a day after arriving from Florida.

“This horse is a trainer’s dream,” trainer Bennie Stutts Jr. said as the colt walked by led by groom Adelaida Geigel. “He’s a little horse that doesn’t think he’s so little.”

Stutts said that Susie Milne, Smooth Air’s regular exercise rider, would be here Tuesday to handle the regular morning duties and Jodi Gelb, who handles the colt’s works, would be here Sunday for Smooth Air’s work. Smooth Air is scheduled to jog two miles in the morning.

Manoel Cruz, who has ridden Smooth Air in all of his starts, has the Derby mount.

Smooth Air comes into the Kentucky Derby off a runner-up finish in the Florida Derby (GI) behind Big Brown.

“I told people there were two Florida Derbys that day,” Stutts said. “Big Brown won one and we won the other. We couldn’t get near that horse.”