Thursday's Derby Notes from Churchill Downs

ATSWHATIMTALKNBOUT - Trainer Ron Ellis sent his horse out for a morning session on the big Churchill Downs oval Thursday at approximately 7:45 with regular exercise rider Raul Vizcarrando. The conditioner took a spot on the outer rail near the five and one-half furlong pole and let things unfold in front of him on a sunny and warm Louisville morning.

BRANCUSI - The Blue Grass Stakes runner-up galloped a mile and a half at Keeneland today. "I don't handicap, but I know it's a tough race," trainer Patrick Biancone said. He's pleased he was able to get the No. 2 post. Not only was it the post from which Affirmed broke in his Derby, it is a statistically good breaking spot, he said. Nine horses have won from the 2 hole, tying it with the No. 10 for fourth-most victories since 1900. The last time was Affirmed in 1978.

BUDDY GIL - Santa Anita Derby winner Buddy Gil was on the track shortly before 7 a.m. Thursday to jog a mile, pay a visit to the starting gate and then gallop a mile under exercise rider Amy Mullins. "He was good at the gate, but I think he got wound up a little because the only times he has been to the gate has been to race," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "He will go the gate again in the morning and we will school him in the paddock Friday afternoon."

DOMESTIC DISPUTE - Trainer Patrick ("Paddy") Gallagher sent his Kentucky Derby charge Domestic Dispute through a mile and one-half gallop Thursday morning shortly after Churchill Downs' mid-morning renovation break. The Unbridled's Song colt was handled by regular exercise rider Joe Deegan. Gallagher termed the move "just grand." "I'm going to take him to the paddock again this afternoon," the conditioner said. "He went yesterday and got a little hot. Nothing serious, mind you, but we'll get him more comfortable this afternoon."

EMPIRE MAKER/PEACE RULES - It was either going to be walk or jog Thursday morning for Kentucky Derby favorite Empire Maker and, after some evaluation, trainer Robert Frankel chose to go the jogging route with exercise-rider Jose Cuevas aboard at approximately 6:30 a.m. The racy son of Unbridled, a solid morning line favorite for Saturday's classic at 6-5, had been a little ginger on his right front foot Tuesday morning and veterinarian Ken Reed had suggested to Frankel that he give the horse a day or two off from his Derby preparations. The trainer went with the vet for Wednesday, but went with his own instincts Thursday and had Cuevas jog Empire Maker a mile around the Churchill oval. Edmund Gann's Peace Rules went to the track Thursday, galloping a mile and one quarter under Cuevas at approximately 8:15 following the renovation break. The husky son of the young stallion Jules pulled hard in his gallop, obviously full of himself as he comes up to Derby 129 Saturday.

EYE OF THE TIGER - Accompanied by a pony, exercise rider and assistant trainer Art Calva took Kentucky Derby starter Eye Of The Tiger to the Churchill Downs' strip Friday morning at approximately 7:30. The homebred colt proceeded to gallop a mile and one half as trainer Jerry Hollendorfer stood to watch trackside. The conditioner, who gets to the point with his statements and his horses, said both his colt and conditioning were going "fine."

FUNNY CIDE - The Wood Memorial runner-up got his first look at the Churchill Downs track, gate and paddock and was "just fine," according to exercise rider/assistant trainer Robin Smullen. "He was a little, tiny bit anxious, but it was his first time out there. He was looking around in the paddock, then he took a deep breath and he was fine," she said. "I wouldn't want to rule him out. I think he has a pretty good chance." Trainer Barclay Tagg echoed his assistant's remarks. "He bounced out of the Wood very well. All signs are perfect," he said.

INDIAN EXPRESS - The horse many figure will set the pace in Saturday's 129th Kentucky Derby, Phil Chess' Indian Express, galloped a mile and one half Thursday morning at approximately 8:15 shortly after the track reopened following the mid-morning training break. The dark son of 1998 Kentucky Derby favorite Indian Charlie navigated the distance with exercise rider Mick Jenner aboard.

LONE STAR SKY - Buddy New's Lone Star Sky was on the track at 6:15 to gallop a little more than a mile under exercise rider Kathy Sanchez. Trainer Tom Amoss has had to pay extra attention to all the Derby horses this week for his duties with TVG's "The Works" show. And who has impressed Amoss the most this week? "Obviously the horse that hasn't missed a beat and comes in with good credentials is Ten Most Wanted," Amoss said. "I think Indian Express is also doing well, and finally Sir Cherokee. I really think that he has a big, big chance. With a 17-horse field, I believe there will be an honest, fast pace. "

OFFLEE WILD - Trainer T.V. Smith pushed back Offlee Wild's gallop time from 8:15 to 8:30 a.m. to wait for traffic to diminish a bit. "This horse had a day off yesterday, and I think he might be a little fresh. I don't want him to get into a speed duel," Smith said. Exercise rider Rob Smith made sure that didn't happen as he steered Offlee Wild through a 1 ΒΌ-mile gallop that pleased the trainer. Trainer Smith explained he hasn't always been called T.V., which stands for Thomas Victor. "First horse I trained it came out in the program T.V. Smith," he said. "It's been that ever since."

OUTTA HERE - With jockey Kent Desormeaux up, Bill Currin and Al Eisman's Outta Here blew out down the lane in 24 seconds after the renovation break. "I got him in 24.13," Desormeaux said. "He went fine." Outta Here will break from post position 15, a spot that has produced three Derby winners, all since 1984. The most recent winner from the 15 hole was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000, ridden by Desormeaux. Outta Here will be Desormeaux's 10th Derby mount.

SCRIMSHAW/TEN CENTS A SHINE - Trainer D. Wayne Lukas' two Derby 129 hopefuls galloped early Thursday morning under exercise rider Stacy Maker. "Everything is good," said Lukas.

SIR CHEROKEE - Trainer Michael Tomlinson said Arkansas Derby winner Sir Cherokee galloped a mile Thursday morning at Trackside Training Center with assistant trainer D.W. Fries up. "He will gallop a mile and a half in the morning. We have done all we can and I am pretty pleased with how the week has gone," said Tomlinson, who will be saddling his first Kentucky Derby starter. Terry Thompson, riding in his first Kentucky Derby, will break Sir Cherokee from post position three, a spot that has produced eight Derby winners.

SUPAH BLITZ - With jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. up, Supah Blitz jogged and then galloped before the renovation break. Trainer Manny Tortora said Supah Blitz would not have any paddock or gate schooling sessions prior to Derby 129. "He has been to the paddock more than enough," Tortora said of Supah Blitz, who has more starts (15) than any of his 16 Derby rivals. "He doesn't need to go to the gate." Homeister, the 1992 Eclipse Award winner as the nation's top apprentice, has ridden at Churchill Downs only once.

TEN MOST WANTED - It was just prior to 7 a.m. on a warm and slightly muggy Louisville morning when trainer Wallace Dollase rode shotgun for his Kentucky Derby hope Ten Most Wanted for a gallop and a gate session beneath the famous Twin Spires at Churchill Downs. "He's OK in the gate, but he doesn't like waiting for them to load," the trainer said. "He gets a little tight. That's why I took 16. He won't have to wait long out there." When Ten Most Wanted returned from his morning's activities, Dollase pronounced himself pleased with it all. Following the gate session, the Illinois Derby winner galloped a mile and one quarter.