Friday's Derby Notes from Churchill Downs

ATSWHATIMTALKNBOUT - Trainer Ron Ellis led his Kentucky Derby charge Atswhatimtalknbout from Barn 41 to the six-furlong gap Friday morning at 7:10 for his colt's last bit of serious leg stretching prior to his start in the 129th running of the Run for the Roses. Regular exercise rider Raul Vizcarrando stood with the A.P. Indy colt and Ellis in the center of the gap for several minutes before setting off for a mile and one-half tour of the big Churchill Downs oval. "Ats" was clean-headed for the exercise, despite the fact he'll go to the post with a "blinkers on" notation next to his name in the program Saturday. "He wore his blinkers yesterday because he went to the gate," Ellis noted. "Today we just wanted to let him take it all in. It's not going to matter all that much."

BRANCUSI - The Blue Grass Stakes runner-up got his first look at the Churchill Downs track today, and his exuberant French trainer Patrick Biancone said, "He took possession of the track." The Deputy Commander colt jogged, then went to the paddock and walked for 15 minutes, jogged 1 ΒΌ miles the right way and walked once around the track.

BUDDY GIL - With exercise rider Amy Mullins up, Santa Anita Derby winner Buddy Gil jogged three-quarters of a mile and then visited the starting gate before galloping a mile and a half shortly before 7 a.m. It was Buddy Gil's second straight day to visit the gate and "he did a lot better today," trainer Jeff Mullins said. Buddy Gil will represent Mullins' second Derby starter, the first being Lusty Latin, who finished 15th last year.

DOMESTIC DISPUTE - New owners Chuck Winner and David Bienstock, neighbors in Beverly Hills, were on the scene at Churchill Downs Friday morning to watch their recent purchase, Domestic Dispute, go through his final preparations for the Kentucky Derby 36 hours away. The Unbridled's Song colt, winner of Santa Anita's Santa Catalina Stakes and $280,687, galloped about a mile under exercise-rider Joe Deegan at 6 a.m., then was set down at the eighth pole for a two-furlong blowout through the stretch. "I didn't time him, but just looking at him go I'd guess he went somewhere between 25 and 26 seconds," said trainer Patrick Gallagher. "We're real happy with his preparations."

EMPIRE MAKER/PEACE RULES - "He's making a soap opera of it. The drama rises!" Trainer Robert Frankel was having a chuckle about his horse Empire Maker, who just happens to be the favorite for the 129th Kentucky Derby. He's and also the star of a weeklong cliff hanger about his health and attitude that has livened up a Derby week that otherwise has been mostly mellow. See the accompanying story for details of the latest cause for concern. Meanwhile, Peace Rules merely jogged a mile around the racetrack and nobody noticed at all. In his daily press session following the close of training at 8 o'clock on Kentucky Oaks morning, Frankel merely rolled with the punches concerning his big horse and expressed full confidence in him for Saturday's classic. "He pulled one of his acts," the trainer said. "But it's not a big deal, believe me. The whole family does it. Bet against him at your own risk. He's going to run a big race."

EYE OF THE TIGER - John Gunther's homebred colt Eye Of The Tiger went trackside Friday morning at 6:45 with assistant trainer Art Calva aboard and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings. "He's doing well," the Northern California- based trainer stated. "He's doing real well. He paddocked good yesterday and everything is going right." Hollendorfer and his rider, Eibar Coa, will be getting their first taste of Derby action Saturday.

FUNNY CIDE - The Wood Memorial runner-up jogged and cantered two miles the wrong way today. "He's doing great. Everything's going very smoothly. I'm very pleased," trainer Barclay Tagg said. Nevertheless, Tagg said he was trying not to get too high. "I've had a lot of disappointments in this life. I don't like to let myself get too excited," he said. "I'm happy to have a nice horse, and I'm happy to be in the Kentucky Derby. But it seems like in this business every day something goes wrong so I try not to let myself get too high or too low."

INDIAN EXPRESS - Santa Anita Derby runner-up Indian Express was on the racetrack at Churchill Downs Friday morning at approximately 7:15 for a leg-stretching session prior to his date in the Kentucky Derby Saturday afternoon. The quick, bay colt by the young stallion Indian Charlie had exercise rider Mick Jenner aboard as they galloped about a mile and one half, according to assistant trainer Jim Barnes.

LONE STAR SKY - Buddy New's Lone Star Sky completed his Kentucky Derby preparations Friday morning by galloping a mile and a half under exercise rider Kathy Sanchez shortly before 6 o'clock. "He won't go to the track in the morning," said trainer Tom Amoss, who will be saddling his first Kentucky Derby starter. Shane Sellers has the mount Saturday. Amoss was asked what the key would be to success for Lone Star Sky in Derby 129. "I am convinced he is going to run his best race," Amoss said.

OFFLEE WILD - The Blue Grass Stakes third-place finisher galloped today, and as he cooled out, trainer T.V. Smith talked about his expectations and hopes for him in the Derby. "You want the horse to perform at his best - everything else is secondary," Smith said. "If his best isn't good enough, you can live with that. ... There will be another race." Smith was asked if he hoped he could win or believed he could win. "It's a little bit of both," he said. "I really believe he's qualified. It's both hope and knowing I've got a good, nice horse." Then, Smith joked, "If the rest of them run slow enough he'll win."

OUTTA HERE - Delta Jackpot winner Outta Here walked the shedrow Friday morning and will again Saturday as he awaits Derby 129. The Dehere colt blew out down the lane in 24.13 seconds Thursday morning under Derby rider Kent Desormeaux. Co-owner and trainer Bill Currin was asked what the key to success would be for Outta Here on Saturday. "A good, clean break where we can run," Currin said. "His last race (the UAE Derby on March 29 in Dubai), he never really got to run."

SCRIMSHAW/TEN CENTS A SHINE - Trainer D. Wayne Lukas' two Kentucky Derby hopefuls galloped before 6 a.m. with exercise rider Stacy Maker up on both. Scrimshaw, owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis, will be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, making his Derby debut. Calvin Borel, who will be riding in his fourth Derby, has the call on Ten Cents A Shine. Ten Cents A Shine enters the Derby after a dismal showing in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, after which a tooth problem was discovered and corrected. A week after the Blue Grass, Ten Cents A Shine worked a bullet five-eighths in :58 3/5 with Borel up.

SUPAH BLITZ - Bee Bee Stables and Jacqueline Tortora's Supah Blitz walked the shedrow Friday morning and will do so again in the morning according to trainer Manny Tortora. Supah Blitz will be ridden by Rosemary Homeister Jr., who will become the fifth female jockey to participate in the Derby. Homeister was asked what the key would be to a successful Derby run. "A very good break and get myself in good position early so I don't get wiped out coming out of the 1 hole, because I know everybody is going to be turning left coming inside," Homeister said.

TEN MOST WANTED - Illinois Derby ace Ten Most Wanted went to the racing strip Friday morning at 6:45 with exercise rider Enrique Alferez on his back and trainer Wallace Dollase at his flank on his stable pony. The good-looking son of Deputy Commander then went off on his own and proceeded to gallop a mile and one eighth, presenting a picture of health and eagerness with his neck bowed and his reins taut as he pulled hard in the exercise. "All's well," said Dollase afterward.