(edited press release)
Mid-morning on Turfway Park’s backside March 21, Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) contenders were pulling at hay nets or dozing, blanketed against the morning chill. Horses and trainers alike are, as trainer Grant Hofmans said, “on cruise control” until March 22.
Hofmans’ Lane’s End entry, Halo’s King, was on the track the morning of March 21 for “an easy mile, just to keep him busy,” the trainer said. With post time for the Lane’s End at 6:49 p.m. EST, Hofmans said Halo’s King will go an easy six furlongs in the morning to “have something to do.” The trainer’s entry in the Rushaway Stakes, Acting Out, galloped a mile and a half.
Grant Hofmans' father, trainer David Hofmans, also was in the shedrow with his Lane’s End entry, Medjool. Medjool stood in the gate this morning and galloped a mile and a half.
“He would have to be first or second [in the Lane’s End] for us to go forward toward the Kentucky Derby (gr. I),” said the elder Hofmans. “It depends on the money, since he doesn’t have any graded earnings. But he’s happy, and he seemed to like the track this morning.”
Business as usual also kept the Todd Pletcher trio happy March 21. Chitoz galloped a mile and a quarter while Duke of de Buqe and Holidaze, the latter Pletcher’s Rushaway entry, both jogged. Assistant trainer Whit Beckman said the three would walk the shedrow the morning of March 22.
Lane’s End contender Cannonball arrived in Kentucky March 19 from Florida and has been training over Polytrack at Keeneland.
“He shipped in unbelievably," said trainer Wesley Ward. "He's doing fantastic and is all set for (Saturday). He's a turf horse and turf horses usually like the Polytrack. He's never even worked on the surface before, but if how he's training on it is any indication, then he should run very well. "
Racecar Rhapsody will make his first start since the Dec. 7 Delta Jackpot (gr. III), where he was fourth behind fellow Lane's End contender Turf War, the dead-heat winner with Z Humor. Turf War returned to finish ninth in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn, while Z Humor's best finish since was a fourth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park.
Commenting on the Delta Jackpot, trainer Ken McPeek said, "Horses haven't run too well out of it, but we did run back in 13 days and I think we were a little aggressive with that. The trip in and out of Delta Downs is hard and I think it takes a horse a while to adjust to it. He's had more time for this. Even if we just run well it’s a good spot for him.”