"I wouldn't mind winning the Oaks, believe me. But had she come back and been as flawless as she was last year I would have thought very seriously about the Derby. But we have had a few bumps in the road and we are not quite where we were last year. We are going a little more conservatively, although the Oaks has drawn a great bunch of fillies."
Richard Mandella's champions Action This Day and Halfbridled looked sharp while breezing six furlongs in tandem in a quick 1:12 2/5 at Churchill Downs Thursday morning.Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day was aboard Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contender Action This Day and exercise rider Paul Nilluang was up on Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) probable Halfbridled. Day is scheduled to ride the pair's stablemate Minister Eric in the May 1 Derby. The workout times were the best of the day among nine horses working that distance over a track labeled "sloppy.""It was obviously a pretty strong time, and I feel great about the way they worked," a relaxed Mandella said. "They both needed a good work this week in order to go to their races. He needed a little more than her and he galloped out just a little bit stronger than she did on purpose. It worked out pretty well. Working by themselves, I felt they might be distracted a little and working together makes them focus a little bit."Mandella said he hopes the good workouts Thursday indicate that Action This Day and Halfbridled are both ready to rebound from losses in their most recent races. The trainer said the move by 2003 champion 2-year-old male Action This Day is an indication the Kris S. colt has recovered from some soreness he experienced in his rear legs after finishing sixth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). "We have done some chiropractic and therapeutic work on him he has responded very well. His work today showed that he is pretty good shape. Obviously tomorrow will tell us whether we have gotten rid of it or not. Hopefully, it won't be there in the morning."Owned by B. Wayne Hughes, Action This Day has won two of six starts and earned $822,084, with his biggest victory coming in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).Mandella said that had Wertheimer Farm's Halfbridled been as impressive this year as she was during her 2-year-old championship season he would have considered running the filly in the Derby. Halfbridled finished second in the Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland in her last start.