Kentucky Derby 131 Notes - Saturday, April 30

Kentucky Derby 131 Headlines:
* Wilko works 5/8 in :59.80 at Hollywood
* Blanc named to ride Sort It Out
* Five horses to work Sunday

On a crisp, overcast morning at Churchill Downs, Cash is King Stable's Afleet Alex made two visits to the main track with exercise rider Salomon Diego up. Accompanied by trainer Tim Ritchey on a pony, Afleet Alex hit the track at 6:10 for a two-mile jog. After the renovation break, Afleet Alex returned to the track at 8:35 and jogged a mile before galloping two miles. The winner of the Arkansas Derby (GII) has been at Churchill Downs since April 20. He worked a bullet five-eighths in :59 on April 26 and Ritchey said Afleet Alex may work next week. "It depends on the weather," said Ritchey, who never has saddled a Kentucky Derby starter.

"If I work, fine. If not, it is no big deal. It would be an easy half if he goes." Ritchey said he is not sure if he would do any paddock schooling with Afleet Alex, who, with $1,315,800 in earnings, is the top money earner in the prospective field for Derby 131. "I may stand him in the gate sometime next week," Ritchey said, "He has always been real good there." Jeremy Rose has the Derby mount.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Ritchey has requested that media members with questions about Afleet Alex gather each day at 10:15 a.m. (EDT). Afleet Alex is stabled in Barn 41.

"We will try again tomorrow," trainer Nick Zito said of his work plans for Bellamy Road, High Fly and Noble Causeway. "Even if the weather gets bad, I can wait until Monday. Why take a chance?" Rain that pelted the Louisville area for most of the day and night Friday had left the track muddy and Zito instead had his three scheduled workers gallop a mile and a half. Carlos Correa was on Bellamy Road and Noble Causeway, and Maxine Correa was on High Fly. A fourth Zito Derby hopeful at Churchill Downs, Sun King, also galloped a mile and a half with Carlos Correa up. Zito said that Andromeda's Hero, who is stabled at Keeneland, galloped this morning under Megan Smillie and that a decision on a Derby rider likely would be made by Monday. Other riding assignments for the two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer are Gary Stevens (Noble Causeway), Edgar Prado (Sun King), Jerry Bailey (High Fly) and Javier Castellano (Bellamy Road).

MEDIA ADVISORY: Zito has requested that media members who wish to discuss his Derby 131 contenders gather each morning for a question-and-answer session beginning at 9:30 a.m. His horses are stabled in Barn 36.

The Blue Grass Stakes winner galloped a mile and three-eighths over the muddy main oval Saturday morning, and trainer Todd Pletcher said the colt will have his final Kentucky Derby drill on Sunday morning. A son of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, Bandini ran away with the Blue Grass Stakes, scoring by six lengths over High Limit. "That was a monster race," Pletcher said. "Hopefully it wasn't too big." Bandini, owned by Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, has won three of his five lifetime starts. The Blue Grass was his first stakes victory following a second behind High Fly in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream. Pletcher said that after Sunday's workout, the high-strung Bandini will gallop every day and have several schooling sessions in the paddock during the week. John Velazquez, who has been aboard in all Bandini's starts this year, will be riding in his seventh Derby. His best finish was a second aboard Invisible Ink in 2001. That was also the best effort for Pletcher, who has sent out seven Kentucky Derby starters, including four in 2000 who finished behind Fusaichi Pegasus. He has three starters for this Derby.

Santa Anita Derby upset winner Buzzards Bay jogged a mile and galloped a mile and one-half today at Santa Anita, according to trainer Jeff Mullins. Buzzards Bay, who earned his way into the 131st Kentucky Derby with a 30-1 surprise in the Santa Anita Derby, is scheduled to breeze six furlongs at Santa Anita Monday morning under Derby rider Mark Guidry. Mullins said the son of Marco Bay will work in company. "He'll have a horse in front of him as a target," said the trainer. Asked how his horse was progressing, Mullins said succinctly, "Excellent." Buzzards Bay is scheduled to be shipped to Churchill Downs on Wednesday.

hil and Marcia Cohen's Derby hope galloped a mile and three-eighths over the all-weather training track at Keeneland Saturday morning, and was shipped to Churchill Downs in early afternoon. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said the colt likely will have his final Derby breeze at Churchill Downs on Monday morning. "I'm sure the track will be in great shape by then," McLaughlin said. "Danny Wright will be up for the workout." The colt by Successful Appeal put himself in the Derby picture by winning the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream in February. Last out, in the Blue Grass stakes, trouble at the start compromised his chances and he finished third, nine lengths behind Bandini. Cornelio Velasquez, his regular rider, will be riding in his second Derby. He was 11th aboard Scrimshaw in 2003. Closing Argument will mark McLaughlin's Derby debut as a trainer.

The winner of last week's Lexington Stakes at Keeneland galloped a mile and three-eighths over the muddy Churchill strip Saturday morning with Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero Jr. aboard. Trainer Todd Pletcher said the Peachtree Stable color bearer will have his final Derby breeze on Monday. Pletcher announced Friday that Pat Valenzuela will ride the Anees colt for the first time in the Kentucky Derby. "P Val was the first choice of John Fort (owner of Peachtree Stable)," Pletcher said. "He's ridden some horses for me before, and you have to love his enthusiasm. Pat is known as a speed rider, so I had a talk with him so that we go in with the same plan. We hope Coin Silver can duplicate his trip in the Lexington." In that mile and a sixteenth race, the colt sat off the pace and came running through the stretch as he drew off to win by 3 1/2-lengths over Sort It Out. Cordero is the agent for jockey John Velazquez, who is Pletcher's main rider. The Hall of Famer, who reluctantly retired from race riding 10 years ago, won three Kentucky Derbys, scoring with Cannonade in the centennial running in 1974, with Bold Forbes in 1976, and with Spend a Buck in 1985. He's been galloping horses this year because he enjoys it. "He keeps things light around the barn," Pletcher said of Cordero's presence. "He makes it a lot of fun, which helps in a potentially tense situation like this."

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas' two hopefuls for Derby 131 galloped before the renovation break. Stacy Maker was on Consolidator and Derek Smith on Going Wild. Both colts are owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis. Lukas has not named a rider for Going Wild. Rafael Bejarano has the call on Consolidator.

DON'T GET MAD - Entered in today's Derby Trial.

The lightly raced colt by Distorted Humor galloped a mile and three-eighths through the mud early Saturday morning, and is slated to drill Sunday morning for the Kentucky Derby, which will be just his fifth lifetime start. The colt, who runs in the colors of Melnyk Racing Stables, won the Lanes End Stakes at Turfway in March, and last out was a distant second behind Afleet Alex in the Arkansas Derby. Trainer Todd Pletcher said he is adding blinkers to the colt's equipment for the Derby, and Flower Alley will wear them for the first time in Sunday's breeze. "I think he needs them," Pletcher said. "He needs focus. I would have liked to put blinkers on him after he won the Lanes End Stakes, but I couldn't do it then. "I just don't want to wake up the morning after the Derby saying, 'I wish I had put the blinkers on.'" Pletcher said Flower Alley was a little lazy in the mornings and exercise rider Michelle Nihei had to get after him. "We have to lean on him a little more in the mornings," Pletcher said. "Bandini is a willing worker, but Flower Alley needs to be pushed more." Jorge Chavez will again be aboard Flower Alley. Chavez, who won the Derby aboard Monarchos in 2001, will be riding in his sixth Kentucky Derby. Flower Alley has another Derby connection through his sire, Distorted Humor, who also sired 2003 winner Funny Cide.

Mr. And Mrs. Jerome Moss' Giacomo, a consistent contender in important three-year-old stakes on the West Coast this year, galloped two miles at Hollywood Park this morning for trainer John Shirreffs. The son of Holy Bull, fourth but beaten only two lengths by Buzzards Bay in the Santa Anita Derby, is scheduled to have his final major Kentucky Derby prep Sunday morning. "He'll either go five or six furlongs, I haven't decided," said Shirreffs, who added that Giacomo will work in company. Prior to the Santa Anita Derby, Giacomo was third to Going Wild in the Sham Stakes and then runner-up to Consolidator in the San Felipe. In his final start of 2004, the colt was beaten only a length by Eclipse Award-winning juvenile Declan's Moon in the Hollywood Futurity. Giacomo is scheduled to be shipped to Kentucky next Wednesday.

Lewis Lakin's Greater Good was one of the first horses on the muddy track Saturday morning, jogging a mile and a half under exercise rider Betsy Couch. "He didn't have the Derby saddle towel on this morning because we went so early just to jog," trainer Bob Holthus said. "He will have it on tomorrow when he gallops." Holthus said that Greater Good, the only prospective starter for Derby 131 to have won a stakes race at Churchill Downs, would school in the paddock "at least twice, maybe three times and may go to the gate just to stand and back out." John McKee, who rode in his first Derby on the Holthus-trained Pro Prado last year, has the riding assignment.

B. Wayne Hughes' Greeley Galaxy, a likely $200,000 supplemental to the 131st Kentucky Derby, galloped one mile over the muddy Churchill Downs track this morning under exercise rider Mikki Fincher. The impressive winner of the Illinois Derby worked a mile Thursday in 1:40.60 for 83-year-old trainer Warren Stute who is due to return to Kentucky from California in mid-week to supervise the chestnut colt's final Derby preparations which will include a five-furlong breeze Wednesday. Unshaded, pointed for the 2000 Kentucky Derby won by Fusaichi Pegasus, was an intended supplemental but failed to draw in when a full complement of 20 three-year-olds passed the entry box. At this point, it appears likely Greeley's Galaxy, who has graded stakes earnings of $300,000 thanks to his win in the Illinois Derby, will be able to run in Saturday's Derby. Storm Surge and General John B. are Derby defections and Don't Get Mad, also owned by Hughes, is favored in today's Derby Trial and reportedly is unlikely to run back in a week. Stute's only other Derby starter was Mr. And Mrs. J. Hal Seley's Field Master, who finished 13th and next-to-last under jockey Alvaro Pineda to Proud Clarion in 1967. Thus, it will be 38 years between Derby starters for Stute, believed to be a record.

Gary and Mary West's once-beaten High Limit, runner-up to Bandini in the Blue Grass Stakes, returned to the track this morning to jog a mile over a muddy Churchill Downs surface for trainer Bobby Frankel. The son of Maria's Mon, who scored his third triumph without a defeat in winning the Louisiana Derby by four lengths in March, worked in company with Horse of the Year Ghostzapper on Thursday, traveling six furlongs in 1:13.80. Ghostzapper's time for five furlongs was 1:00.40. "He might work again in mid-week," Frankel said at the barn. "It depends on the weather. Either three-eighths or a half." High Limit, along with Greeley's Galaxy the most lightly-raced of contenders in the 131st Derby with only four starts, will be Frankel's eighth runner in the race, his best finish being Empire Maker's second to Funny Cide two years ago.

Trainer Bob Baffert, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner who didn't have a runner in the race for the first time since 1996 a year ago, said today that Sort It Out probably will compete in the 131st Derby next Saturday. "I'm leaning toward running, " said Baffert who won Derbys with Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in '98 and War Emblem in 2002. "I like what I see, how he came out of the Lexington (second to Coin Silver). He came out of the race better than he went in. It's like he woke up. He looks good, like he's blooming in Kentucky. "He needs to improve another five lengths to have a chance, but I know he'll get the mile and a quarter and if he gets the right trip and the big horses don't show up, who knows? If he does win, he'll pay more than War Emblem ($43) because he might be the longest shot on the board." Baffert said Brice Blanc, who rode Sort It Out in the Lexington, probably will retain the mount. The Out of Place colt galloped a mile and one-half this morning and a workout is planned for early next week, either Monday or Tuesday, depending on the weather, probably a half-mile, according to the trainer.

The colt by Horse Chestnut galloped a mile and a half Saturday morning at Keeneland. Trainer Patrick Biancone said Spanish Chestnut will ship to Churchill Downs early Monday morning and breeze five-eighths of a mile here after the break Monday. The colt, sixth in the Blue Grass Stakes last out, is owned by Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, who also own Blue Grass winner Bandini. Spanish Chestnut is not a confirmed Derby starter yet, but a decision is expected after the colt's breeze Monday. Joe Bravo will have the mount if he goes.

The Awesome Again colt made trainer Craig Dollase happy Saturday morning as he breezed five furlongs in a brisk :59.80 at Hollywood Park. "It was a good, strong work," Dollase said. "We caught him galloping out six furlongs in 1:11.80, so the last quarter was in 22 and change. He went really well." Wilko, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year, was a closing third in the Santa Anita Derby last out, finishing a half-length behind Buzzards Bay. He was ridden by Frankie Dettori in that race, but Corey Nakatani will take the reins for the Kentucky Derby. Nakatani rode Wilko in the Hollywood Futurity (third) and San Felipe Stakes (fourth). Dollase, who took over the colt's training in December, said Wilko is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs late Sunday afternoon after a flight from California. The trainer is also coming in Sunday evening. Wilko turned in an identical work at Hollywood on April 19, 10 days after the Santa Anita race, and Dollase is encouraged that the colt is maintaining his sharp form.