Trainer Todd Pletcher was all smiles at Churchill Downs Sunday morning after watching two of his three Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contenders record their final works for the May 7 Run for the Roses. Bandini
was clocked in 1:00 4/5 while working in company with stakes winner winner Lion Tamer. Flower Alley stopped the clock in 1:00 3/5 working alongside champion Ashado. Pletcher's third starter, Peachtree Stable's Coin Silver, is scheduled to work Monday.
Besides the Derby, Pletcher will have runners on the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) undercard. Lion Tamer is set to start in the May 7 Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II) while Ashado is pointed toward the May 6 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II)
Pletcher, 2004 Eclipse Award winning trainer, said he was pleased with both Bandini and Flower Alley's efforts on the track. "Between 1:00 and 1:01 was what I asked for and that's what we got," he said. "We got the works in that we wanted, we got them the right way, and both horses seemed to move over the track well. We're happy."
The trainer said he was especially pleased with the mental maturity shown by Bandini in the days leading up to the Kentucky Derby. "He's an enormously talented horse, and he's shown a lot of mental maturity since the (grade II) Fountain of Youth Stakes (finished second, beaten 2 ¾ lengths by High Fly)," said Pletcher who conditions the colt for Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith. "He's doing all of the things you like to see a 3-year-old do at this time of year, he's physically getting stronger, mentally maturing, learning how to run, and just doing all the things you want to see."
A son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus
, Bandini has won three of five lifetime starts, including his six-length score in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
Eugene and Laura Melnyk's lightly raced Flower Alley also impressed his trainer. Sunday's work was Flower Alley's first with blinkers, which he will again wear in the Derby.
"It seemed like the blinkers had him totally focused," the trainer said. "I was a little concerned the first hundred yards or so he would be too focused, but he came back off the bridle and maintained his focus throughout the work."
Flower Alley, a son of Distorted Humor
, broke his maiden Feb. 19 at Gulfstream Park before notching a half-length win in the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park. He most recently finished second in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), beaten eight lengths by fellow Derby starter Afleet Alex.
"I think today will maybe show people why we went from a maiden race to the Lane's End," Pletcher said. "He works with a champion 3-year-old filly heads up and, that's kind of what we were seeing this spring when we decided to make that leap."
Pletcher said both Bandini and Flower Alley would gallop every day and have several schooling sessions in the paddock during the six days leading up to the race.