Kentucky Derby 131 Headlines:
* California Arrivals Visit Track
* Andromeda's Hero Here from KeenelandAFLEET ALEX - Cash is King Stable's Afleet Alex returned to his two-a-day training regimen on a clear Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.
With exercise rider Salomon Diego up, Afleet Alex left the barn at 6:15 for a two-mile jog with trainer Tim Ritchey alongside on a pony. Upon returning to Barn 41, Ritchey was forced to run an end around to avoid traffic congregated on the road back to the barn.
Afleet Alex was unperturbed by the detour, nor was he affected by the surge in human traffic when he came out a second time at 8:30.
"If I ever retire this pony, I will donate him to the New York Police Department for crowd control," Ritchey said as Afleet Alex parted the crowds heading to the six-furlong gap.
This time out, Afleet Alex jogged a mile and galloped a mile and a half in what Ritchey described as a "controlled exercise."
Afleet Alex will exit post 12 under Jeremy Rose in Derby 131 on Saturday. Ritchey used the second pick in the draw sequence to secure the 12 hole after 15 was taken.
"I didn't want the one, two, three or four, or the 19 or 20," said Ritchey, who was able to sneak in nine holes of golf Wednesday afternoon at Valhalla Golf Club, site of the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championship and the 2008 Ryder Cup matches.
"I could have played all 18 but had to come back for the draw," Ritchey said with a laugh. "It's a great course. I am not a serious player, but it is nice to have a little diversion."
MEDIA ADVISORY: Ritchey has requested that media members with questions about Afleet Alex gather at 8 a.m. (EDT) Friday. Afleet Alex is stabled in Barn 41.ANDROMEDA'S HERO/BELLAMY ROAD/HIGH FLY/NOBLE CAUSEWAY/SUN KING - It was a morning of galloping and schooling for trainer Nick Zito's Churchill Downs-based quartet of Derby entrants.
Kinsman Stable's Bellamy Road, the morning-line Derby favorite, visited the paddock and galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Carlos Correa. Bellamy Road will break from post 16 under Javier Castellano in the Derby.
The Live Oak Plantation's High Fly, who will exit post 11 under Jerry Bailey, visited the paddock and galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Maxine Correa.
High Fly could be part of an historic weekend for Live Oak, as stablemate In the Gold is entered in Friday's Kentucky Oaks. An Oaks-Derby double for an owner has been accomplished three times, but not since 1952.
"I think that would probably be the ultimate of ultimates," said Charlotte Weber, the head of Live Oak. "It's really exciting. It's my wish, obviously, and then go on and pick up the big Visa check ($5 million for sweeping the Triple Crown)."
My Meadowview Farm's Noble Causeway visited the paddock and galloped a mile and a half under Carlos Correa. Noble Causeway will break from post four under Gary Stevens.
Tracy Farmer's Sun King visited the starting gate and galloped a mile and a half under Carlos Correa. Edgar Prado, who has ridden Sun King in his past four starts, has the Derby call and will break from post three.
Prado will be going for his own Oaks-Derby double with the Oaks mount on morning line favorite Sis City. No rider has swept both races the same year since Bailey in 1993.
Sun King enters the Derby off a fourth-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) on April 16 at Keeneland.
"The Blue Grass is definitely a throw-out," Prado said. "We had planned something, and it worked out the other way. Nothing went our way. You did not see the real Sun King that day, and hopefully we see him Saturday."
Prado first rode Sun King to a third-place finish in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Lone Star Park, and he likes the progression he has seen in the Charismatic colt in 2005.
"He ran good when he first came back at Gulfstream (Park on Feb. 26), and he galloped at Tampa when he won the Tampa Bay Derby (GIII)," Prado said. "He was training super before the last race and Nick is very happy with his works and training."
Robert LaPenta's Andromeda's Hero galloped Thursday morning at Keeneland under exercise rider Megan Smillie and was due in Zito's barn at Churchill Downs around noon. Rafael Bejarano will ride Andromeda's Hero in the Derby and break from post two.
MEDIA ADVISORY: Zito has requested that media members who wish to discuss his Derby 131 contenders gather at 8:30 a.m. Friday for a question-and-answer session. His horses are stabled in Barn 36.BANDINI/COIN SILVER/FLOWER ALLEY - All three Todd Pletcher-trained hopefuls were on the track for gallops Thursday morning, and Coin Silver was schooled at the gate.
Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's Bandini, who starts from post 15 after getting the first selection, was made third choice at 6-1 on the Kentucky Derby morning line. Exercise rider Frederic Buscail was aboard for Thursday morning's mile and three-eighths gallop.
Coin Silver, owned by John Fort's Peachtree Stable, had Hall of Famer Angel Cordero Jr. aboard as he galloped a mile and three-eighths, and then stood in the starting gate for a few minutes. The son of Anees goes from post 5 because Fort noted that two of the last three Derby winners (War Emblem and Funny Cide) had come out of that spot. Despite that fact, Coin Silver is 20-1 on the line.
Eugene Melnyk's Flower Alley, named for a spot in Barbados, had Michelle Nihei aboard for his gallop. The colt by Distorted Humor (who also sired Funny Cide) will start from post 7, which is Melnyk's lucky number.
"They're all coming up to the race really well," Pletcher said. "I expect all three of them to be running in the second tier, and I hope there's a hot pace up front. As for race strategy, I'm going to leave that up to the riders. They're all experienced professionals and they'll make the decisions as the race unfolds."
John Velazquez, last year's Eclipse Award winner as outstanding jockey, will be looking for his first Derby victory aboard Bandini. Pat Valenzuela, who rides Coin Silver, and Jorge Chavez, who will be aboard Flower Alley, already have Derby victories. Valenzuela scored in 1989 aboard Sunday Silence, while Chavez won in 2001 with Monarchos.BUZZARDS BAY - The surprise winner of the Santa Anita Derby, Buzzards Bay, who arrived Wednesday afternoon from California, visited the Churchill Downs track for the first time this morning for trainer Jeff Mullins.
With the trainer's wife, Amy, in the saddle, Buzzards Bay jogged a mile and then had a light gallop of the same distance after the renovation break. Usually, Mullins has the colt gallop a mile and one-half after he jogs, but since the Fog City Stable hopeful arrived less than 24 hours earlier, he cut back on the gallop.
Mullins seemed relatively unconcerned that Buzzards Bay wound up in the 20 stall in the starting gate for the Derby Saturday, saying, "There seems to be enough speed inside him that he can follow them across and then drop in behind the first flight going to the first turn.
"He's been on the outside before, so I'm not worried." Indeed, the son of Marco Bay broke from the 10 post position in an 11-horse field in the Santa Anita Derby and started from the outside 10 stall in his previous race, finishing third in the El Camino Derby at Bay Meadows.
Mullins plans on schooling Buzzards Bay in the Churchill Downs paddock on Friday, Oaks day.
This is the fourth straight year Mullins has had a horse in the Kentucky Derby. His Lusty Latin was 15th behind War Emblem in 2002, Buddy Gil was sixth to Funny Cide in '03 and Castledale ran 14th to Smarty Jones a year ago.
Mark Guidry rides Buzzards Bay, 20-1 on the morning line of Mike Battaglia.CLOSING ARGUMENT - Philip and Marcia Cohen's consistent colt - never worse than third in seven career starts - galloped a mile and three-eighths under exercise rider Danny Wright Thursday morning.
"And he looked great doing it," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said with enthusiasm.
The trainer, a native of Lexington, Ky., who will be saddling his first Derby starter, selected post 18 for the son of Successful Appeal.
"That way I have two things going for me," McLaughlin said."First-time trainers have won the last two Derbys, and horses starting from the auxiliary gate have won five of the last 10 Derbys."
Regular rider Cornelio Velasquez will be aboard in just his second Derby ride. Closing Argument is pegged at 30-1 on the morning line.DON'T GET MAD - B. Wayne Hughes' Derby Trial winner jogged two miles the opposite direction just after 6:30 a.m. with exercise rider Shane Borel in the saddle. Trainer Ron Ellis said that all signals are "go" for Saturday's Derby despite only a single week between starts for Don't Get Mad."He's eating good, acting good and is an all-around happy horse," Ellis said. "That's all you can ask for."Besides winning the Derby, Ellis' biggest challenge may be accommodating family and friends who want to attend the Derby. His wife, Amy, is a Louisville native and the demand to see Don't Get Mad run in the Derby has been strong. "We're trying to get everyone taken care of," Ellis said. When asked how many ticket requests he's received, he joked, "About 52,000...but everyone's been very patient and gracious."Jockey Tyler Baze will ride his second Kentucky Derby when he takes his seat Saturday aboard Don't Get Mad, who will break from post 17 in the "Run for the Roses."GIACOMO - Owners Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss were on the scene at Churchill Downs this morning to watch their Giacomo as he familiarized himself with his new surroundings prior to the 131st Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
Trainer John Shirreffs, a Derby first-timer, sent Giacomo to the track under regular exercise partner Frankie Herrate for a gallop and visit to the starting gate.
"He seemed fine this morning, not too upset with the new track," said Shirreffs. "He just went through his regular routine."
Giacomo will break from the number ten post position Saturday. "It's a good spot," said Shirreffs, "the one Mike (jockey Mike Smith) wanted. He's in the middle where he should be OK after the speed clears off."
Asked why Giacomo remained in California until mid-Derby Week before arriving, Shirreffs said, "It had mainly to do with the weather which was rainy in Kentucky last week and he didn't miss a day of training in California, so it worked out perfectly."
Giacomo, fourth to Santa Anita Derby winner Buzzards Bay, with whom he traveled from California Wednesday, is one of several Kentucky Derby entrants scheduled to school in the Churchill Downs paddock prior to the second race today. GOING WILD - Bob and Beverly Lewis' Sham Stakes winner galloped a mile and five-eighths this morning under exercise rider Derek Smith. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas reported that everything was well in his camp, but it was an eventful morning around Barn 44.As Lewis family members and well-wishers were posing for pictures with the Hall of Fame trainer, backside visitors scurried for cover as a loose horse came barreling through the barn area. As the gray horse came into view, Lukas realized it was one of his own and checked immediately to see if the exercise rider was OK and the horse was corralled. The two-year-old Giant's Causeway colt Gray Star (a half-brother to 1997 Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Free House) was the unruly youngster. Gray Star came to a halt at Barn 47 not far from the Lukas stable and was unharmed.As for Going Wild, he will break from post 19 in the Derby and have jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr. aboard for his second career Derby mount.GREATER GOOD - The Bob Holthus trainee galloped a mile and a half before the renovation break under exercise rider Betsy Couch.
"He went really good this morning," Holthus said of the Intidab homebred who will be ridden by John McKee and break from post eight in Derby 131.
Greater Good schooled in the paddock Wednesday afternoon.
"He didn't turn a hair, so we are going to let him rest today," Holthus said. "He is done schooling. We just hope we can get him through there (Saturday)."
On hand as he has been most mornings this week was Lewis Lakin, owner and breeder of Greater Good and also the owner of the 2005 Hummer often seen parked by Barn 32.
Would a win Saturday pay off the Hummer?
"Probably, yeah," Lakin said with a laugh. "But I have another one in there; Sort It Out, whom we bred in New York."
That could make for a banner day for Lakin if that exacta hit, plus the trophy to the winning breeder.
"I'm just happy to be here," said Lakin, who like Holthus is 70."It's an honor to be here. We are part of folklore. We never dreamt that we could get here. We started six or seven years ago with my partner Becky Thomas."GREELEY'S GALAXY - The $200,000 Kentucky Derby supplemental nominee, Greeley's Galaxy, walked under the shed this morning after having breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 Wednesday for his trainer, 83-year-old Warren Stute.
The son of Mr. Greeley, victor in the Illinois Derby, will break from post position nine Saturday and is 15-1 on the Derby morning line. Kent Desormeaux has the call.
Like several other entrants in the Derby, Greeley's Galaxy will school in the Churchill Downs paddock prior to the second race this afternoon.HIGH LIMIT - Gary and Mary West's High Limit, who completed his significant preparation for the 131st Kentucky Derby with a half-mile workout in :48.20 Wednesday, walked under trainer Bobby Frankel's shed this morning.
High Limit, who was six lengths behind Bandini in the runner-up spot in the Blue Grass Stakes after winning the Louisiana Derby previously, will school in the Churchill Downs paddock prior to the second race this afternoon.
Post position six was selected for High Limit at the draw Wednesday and the Maria's Mon colt is 12-1 on the morning line. Ramon Dominguez rides.SORT IT OUT - Sort It Out, 50-1 on the morning line for the 131st Kentucky Derby, galloped a mile and one-half this morning under exercise pilot Mick Jenner.
Sort It Out, second to Coin Silver in the recent Lexington Stakes, schooled in the Churchill Downs paddock Wednesday afternoon and acquitted himself well, according to trainer Bob Baffert.
Brice Blanc, 18th on Ronton in 2000 in his only previous Kentucky Derby experience, rides Sort It Out, a stretch-runner who will break from post position one.SPANISH CHESTNUT - The son of Horse Chestnut, expected to provide some speed up front for the Derby, galloped a mile and a half over the main track at Keeneland under exercise rider Rodolph Brisset.
Trainer Patrick Biancone chose post 13 for the colt, owned by Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, after selecting 12th of 20.
"I didn't really have much choice. I could have gone outside or inside, but I chose a spot nearer the middle," Biancone said. "It should be fine for him. He's doing very well here."
Spanish Chestnut, who set most of the pace in the Blue Grass Stakes that was won by the Tabor and Smith-owned Bandini, is one of the outsiders in this year's Derby, sitting at 50-1 on the morning line. Joe Bravo will ride him for the first time Saturday.WILKO - The diminutive son of Awesome Again, who will be battling some demons in trying to win the Kentucky Derby, galloped a mile and a half Thursday morning under exercise rider Sergio Martin and then schooled at the gate.
The son of Awesome Again, owned by J. Paul Reddam and Susan Roy, won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year, and no winner of that race has won the Derby. He's also been plagued by quarter-cracks, popping one before the Hollywood Futurity, when he ran third, and another before the San Felipe when he ran fourth.