Kentucky Derby Notes - Monday, April 26

By: Derby Notes Team
ACTION THIS DAY/MINISTER ERIC - Trainer Richard Mandella's Derby pair went to the track on a crisp and bright Monday morning as they ready themselves for 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby.

Mandella is currently in California and in his stead his right-hand man, Paul Nilluang, handles the stable business as well as galloping all the runners. He had Diamond A Racing Corporation's Minister Eric out first at 6 a.m. for a light jog of a mile around the Churchill Downs oval, which played fast and kind despite the heavy rains of Sunday morning. The Old Trieste colt, a racy chestnut who has never been off the board in eight career starts, handled the exercise well and was "feeling plenty good," according to Nilluang.

Following the 8 a.m. renovation break, Nilluang returned to the track with last year's juvenile champion, B. Wayne Hughes' Action This Day, for a combination jog and gallop of about a mile and a quarter, along with a short spell of standing in the starting gate. The Kris S. colt, a bay Kentucky-bred, was "doing super" in Nilluang's opinion.

Nilluang, 55, is a native of Thailand who went to the racetrack in Bangkok at the age of 12. Some 20 years ago he immigrated to the United States, working initially for Ross Fenstermaker, who then was training Fred Hooper's horse. Nilluang was the regular work rider for Precisionist among other Hooper stars. In 1986 he signed on with Hall of Famer Mandella and has been a regular with that stable since. Both Action This Day and Minister Eric are scheduled for short blowouts at some point this week.

"There's a chance they might even go in the morning," Nilluang said. "Richard will call and let us know first thing tomorrow."

BIRDSTONE/THE CLIFF'S EDGE - Likely morning-line Kentucky Derby favorite The Cliff's Edge put in his final pre-Derby workout, breezing five furlongs in the company of stablemate Mazhouz in 1:01 after the renovation break. Regular exercise rider Maxine Correa was up.

The Nick Zito-trained duo picked up some company that was not planned. "It was an unusual work, as you can imagine," said Zito, who watched the work from the front side of the track. "But as it turned out, it worked out great.

"All week I told Maxine that this work I just wanted him to come home as good as he could, just get me the last eighth. As it turned out, we had a workhorse with him that I am going to run Derby Day, Mazhouz, and I thought everything was going to be OK and here came two horses of Dallas Stewart's. They just came up, but those things happen. You can't plan those things, but my two riders did a great job, especially Maxine. She just sat back there and waited and just came with the last eighth. "I got his last half in 47 2/5 and his gallop out was as strong as could be. He galloped out almost the way he breezed. I just know what I saw and I know what I've got. He went the last eighth in 11."

The Cliff's Edge, a son of Gulch owned by Robert LaPenta, stood quietly at the gap posing for photographers waiting for the renovation break to end.

"On Derby Day, that's a big factor," Zito said of the colt's demeanor. "Whatever happens, happens. I know I have two Grade I winners, one (Birdstone) whose dad won the Derby and his sister won the Oaks, and one Grade I winner who just won the Blue Grass and two stakes here. They are coming up to the race great, and I couldn't ask for anything else."

Marylou Whitney's homebred Birdstone, a son of Derby winner Grindstone, galloped a mile and a half under Correa before the renovation break.

BORREGO - The husky chestnut Borrego is feeling good. Very good. In fact, if he was feeling any better, somebody might have to call the sheriff.

The El Prado colt had worked five furlongs on a "good" track in 1:03.60 Sunday morning and most horses merely walk the day after a drill like that. But Borrego isn't most horses and Beau Greely, who is also his co-owner and co-breeder, sent his charge back to the racetrack with exercise rider Andy Durnin up at 6:45 a.m.

"I figured I had to get him out this morning and let him do something," Greely said.

Borrego jogged around the track one time in the wrong direction, then came off at the six-furlong gap snorting and rearing, telling the world he was feeling good - and then some. His conditioner clipped a shank on his runner and held tight.

"He's feeling good and coming right along," Greely stated. "There are no surprises with him and I don't want any of those at this point."

Greely indicated he would return Borrego to the track Tuesday morning "for some light galloping."

EDDINGTON - Trainer Mark Hennig reported from Belmont Park that Willmott Stables' Eddington came out of his five-eighths work of 1:00 on Sunday in good order and that the waiting game was still on.

Eddington, a son of Derby winner Unbridled, needs one defection from the roster of Derby hopefuls to make the starting gate Saturday and Hennig has indicated if the colt gets in, he would ship to Louisville on Wednesday.

FRIENDS LAKE - The son of A.P. Indy just walked under the shedrow and grazed outside the barn Monday morning, the day after he had his final serious move for the Derby.

The New York-bred, who has not started since winning the Florida Derby (gr. I) on March 13, breezed five furlongs in 1:03 through a driving rainstorm Sunday with Amanda Roxborough aboard. Trainer John Kimmel said he was satisfied with the work under those conditions.

"I know he's very fit," the trainer said, "and that was similar to his work before the Florida Derby."

Friends Lake, who is out of the millionaire mare Antespend, was bred by his owners, Mary and Chester Broman Sr. He is scheduled to have an easy gallop Tuesday morning as soon as the track reopens from the renovation break at 8:30 a.m.

Regular rider Richard Migliore will be aboard.

IMPERIALISM - Trainer Kristin Mulhall had a busy morning with double graded stakes winner Imperialism.

"We went to the gate and the paddock and then galloped between a mile and five-eighths and a mile and three-quarters," Mulhall said of the exercise after the renovation break. "Everything is going fine."

Mulhall indicated Imperialism, a Langfuhr  colt, would school in the paddock Tuesday afternoon and "if he does well may wait to go again Friday afternoon."

LIMEHOUSE/POLLARD'S VISION - Trainer Todd Pletcher's Kentucky Derby tandem went as a pair to the track Monday morning, beating the sunrise for a bit of leg stretching at 5:45. Pletcher ponied Pollard's Vision with exercise rider Patti Krotenko up, while Limehouse and Michelle Nihei traveled solo in their wake.

The sophomore colts jogged approximately a mile together, visited the paddock and returned to Barn 42 in good order.

Pletcher indicated that both runners had come out of their Sunday morning workouts in fine fettle. Each had worked in company with other horses - Limehouse drilling five furlongs in 1:01, while Pollard's Vision covered the same distance in 1:00.80.

The Pletcher pair is nothing if not consistent in most all they do. Limehouse, a chestnut by Grand Slam, has five wins and three thirds in nine starts. Pollard's Vision, a dark bay or brown by Carson City, has run 10 times and shows three wins, two seconds and three thirds.

LION HEART - Trainer Patrick Biancone had Lion Heart ship to Churchill Downs on Monday morning from Keeneland Race Course for a schooling session in the paddock as well as a four-furlong workout. The son of Tale of the Cat toured the paddock for approximately a half an hour in very professional fashion and was then the first Derby worker on the track following the break.

Under exercise rider Jean Claud, the chestnut colt covered the half mile in :47.80, with splits of :11.80, :23.80, and :35.80. He galloped out the five-eighths in 1:01.40.

"I just wanted to let him see the track and the paddock," said Biancone. "He moved well on it. I'm trying to keep him away from the pressures of this track [this week] and just trying to be safe."

Lion Heart was to return to Keeneland later in the morning. "I'll see how he handled the trip today and then determine when he'll come back." Regarding today's work, Biancone commented, "When he works, you know he can do :45, so this was nice and easy for him. He is a lamb when he works and a lion when the gate opens. He just loves to cannot gallop him enough."

MASTER DAVID - The chestnut colt Master David was out for some exercise at Churchill Downs Monday as his date with destiny - that is, the 130th Kentucky Derby - looms this Saturday afternoon. The son of Grand Slam who has been a model of consistency in seven starts (7-2-4-1) in England and the U. S. since was looking and feeling good on a sun-splashed Kentucky morning. Exercise rider Jose Cuevas took his charge trackside at approximately 8:15 following the renovation break and galloped him about a mile and five-eighths, including a strong open gallop - or two-minute lick - down the Churchill Downs backside. Master David came off the track bucking, telling one and all he was just fine, thank you.

Trainer Robert Frankel noted that Master David would have his final Derby work Tuesday morning "right after the break." "He'll probably go five-eighths," the Hall of Famer added.

PRO PRADO - Pro Prado, who chased the undefeated Smarty Jones in three races this year at Oaklawn Park (gr. II), stood in the starting gate and then galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Lee Lockwood before the renovation break.

Trainer Robert Holthus, who watches the activity of his 22 horses stabled here from the viewing stand by the 5 ½-furlong gap, was asked what Derby horses had caught his eye.

"There's two horses, The Cliff's Edge and Smarty Jones," Holthus said. "And you can throw that horse of Beau Greely's, Borrego, in there, too." Pro Prado, a son of El Prado, is scheduled to have a three-eighths blowout Thursday.

QUINTONS GOLD RUSH - Padua Stables' Quintons Gold Rush, who won his way into the 130th Kentucky Derby with an impressive triumph in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland April 17, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 this morning at Churchill Downs.

With regular exercise partner Scott Blasi in the saddle, Quintons Gold Rush was taken to the track shortly after it opened at 5:15 a.m. by trainer Steve Asmussen.

Clockers gave the Wild Rush colt the following splits :13.20 for the first quarter, :38 flat for three furlongs, :49.60 for the half-mile. Thus, he stepped his final eighth in :11.80. His gallop out time for six furlongs was 1:14.80.

"The track was in excellent shape and he got over it very well," said Asmussen. "This is a talented horse and he's doing exceptionally well physically. We just want to continue to have a good week and hope the race Saturday unfolds well for him. "He has a tendency to get wound up, but I want him to be relaxed and comfortable and off the bridle early Saturday. He was perfect this morning but it will be an entirely different scenario in the Derby with the crowd and all."

Asmussen, who took over the training of Quintons Gold Rush only 11 days prior to the Coolmore Lexington Stakes, continues to express his gratitude to the colt's former conditioner, West Coast-based Mike Mitchell, for his assistance.

"The help that Mike has given has been above and beyond. Everything from the horse's diet to equipment and how to gallop him. We've stayed in constant contact and we wouldn't be where we are now without Mike's help."

Quintons Gold Rush schooled in the Churchill Downs paddock last Saturday and Asmussen said more schooling is scheduled this week "We've got some work to do in that area."

Corey Nakatani, who rode the colt twice this winter at Santa Anita, has the call Saturday.

READ THE FOOTNOTES - The Smoke Glacken colt had his final Derby trial Monday morning, breezing a relaxed half-mile that the clockers caught in :47.60 over the fast main track. Read The Footnotes was out five furlongs in 1:01.80 with regular exercise rider Morna McDowall aboard.

"It was his normal effortless breeze," trainer Rick Violette Jr. said. "He just went along smoothly and then accelerated when she (McDowall) whispered in his ear. "It was just what he needed. He had a tour of the course, he changed leads well and he had good acceleration to the wire. He's done plenty, and it was just perfect."

Violette said he caught the move in :48.20, but it was the last furlong that he was most happy with.

"He went that last eighth in 11 and change, which is what we were looking for."

Read the Footnotes, a New York-bred who won the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) in February, has not started since running fourth in the Florida Derby on March 13.

The Klaravich Stables color-bearer worked five times at Palm Meadows in Florida before shipping to Kentucky last week. He had two solid one-mile drills over the Florida training track that Violette feels set him up well for the mile and a quarter of the Derby.

"Today was just a nice little exercise to show him where the wire was and to let him blow off some steam," the trainer said. "He's ready."

Robby Albarado will be aboard Read the Footnotes for the first time in the Kentucky Derby.

ROCK HARD TEN - Mercedes Stables LLC and Paulson's Rock Hard Ten worked five furlongs in :59.40 under 1990 Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Craig Perret after the renovation break Monday morning.

Fractions on the move were :12, :24.20, :36.60, :48.20 and out the six furlongs in 1:13.20.

"He worked really good," trainer Jason Orman said. "Craig said he never moved his hands and he did it very easy."

Rock Hard Ten, a son of Kris S., would need two defections from the ranks of current Derby hopefuls to make Saturday's field.

"We are still waiting, but if he does not get in, it may be a blessing," said Orman, who never has saddled a Kentucky Derby starter. "If we don't get in, I may work him back either Derby Day or next Monday and stay here and train. It would not make any sense to ship back to California and then go to Baltimore."

ST AVERIL/CASTLEDALE - St Averil (by Saint Ballado) and Castledale (by Peintre Celebre) were expected to arrive early this afternoon from California, have been assigned the following stalls: St Averil, trained by Rafael Becerra, will be in Barn 42, while Castledale, conditioned by Jeff Mullins, will be stabled in barn 17.

SMARTY JONES - Someday Farm's undefeated Smarty Jones was on the track at 6:35 to jog a mile under exercise rider Pete Van Trump with trainer John Servis alongside on a pony.

"This was planned," said Servis of the exercise that was the first for Smarty Jones since he worked a bullet five furlongs in 58 seconds on Saturday.

"When I jog him, I take him with the pony, because he seems a lot more relaxed and he jogs a lot farther as opposed to breaking into a gallop. Hopefully I will gallop him the next few days, and the closer he gets to the race, I may have to gallop him with the pony, because he knows the race is coming, so he really starts to get tough."

Willie Martinez worked the colt Saturday and was impressed with his confident air.

"He has changed so much," Servis said of the Elusive Quality colt, "I don't know if it is a confidence thing or a maturity thing. He does things now ... he will stand on the racetrack all day if you let him, where early on it took a lot to get him to stand. I don't know if it is confidence where he goes out there and thinks 'here I am guys, and I am going to stay out here,' or if it is more a maturity thing where he is settled and he is relaxed and confident."

Servis is happy with what he has seen from the colt since shipping to Churchill last Thursday from Keeneland.

"This is not a knock on Keeneland, but I don't think he really cared for that racetrack," Servis said. "He just didn't seem to me like he was training quite as good as he was in Arkansas. The last day there it poured, so we did not take him to the main track, but to the training track and, ironically, Pete got off him and said, 'man, that's the best he has trained all week.' That helped us decide to bring him in here a day early."

SONG OF THE SWORD - Paraneck Stable's Song of the Sword (by Unbridled's Song) galloped at Keeneland on Monday morning with exercise rider Kevin Grau up. Trainer Jennifer Pedersen said the colt is doing "very well so far." He will ship to Churchill Downs on Tuesday.

Despite his impressive 5-3-1-1 record, Pedersen said, "He's still green and he hasn't given me 100 percent yet. He's a little kid still, but the good thing is that he's improving. He got a good feel in the Lexington (race at Keeneland) with 32,000 people and all the excitement there and should be all right this time, too."

There have only been 10 female trainers to have starters in the Kentucky Derby. This year will be the first year for two female trainers to compete in the race as Kristin Mulhall will have a contender in Imperialism.

Pedersen, a racetracker since she was a teenager who has certainly paid her dues, is proud to be part of this special group.

"It's very important," she said Monday morning. "It's a real challenge and it's important to show the little girls that it can be done. This is for all girls who dream."

TAPIT - Ronald Winchell's Wood Memorial winner breezed five furlongs over the all-weather track at Tapeta Farm in Maryland Monday morning with jockey Ramon Dominguez aboard.

"He broke off four lengths behind three workmates," trainer Michael Dickinson said, "and he finished one length ahead of them, on the bridle. "It was just an easy maintenance breeze. He'll be on the plane to Kentucky on Wednesday."

Tapit, a gray son of Pulpit, was sixth in the Florida Derby in March, his first start as a 3-year-old, and came out of that race to win the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 10. Dominguez, who was aboard that day, has the mount again.

WIMBLEDON - Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Wimbledon, who breezed five furlongs in :59.40 over a sloppy Churchill Downs surface Sunday, emerged from the drill in good fashion and had a quiet morning today, walking underneath the shed for trainer Bob Baffert.

At this point, it appears Jerry Bailey will remain aboard Wimbledon (by Wild Rush) since Eddington still is "on the bubble" for running in the Kentucky Derby. If there is a defection from the top 20, Eddington will qualify for the race by earnings, Bailey would be his jockey and Baffert would have to find a rider for Wimbledon.