Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) runner-up Indian Express turned in his first work since arriving at Churchill Downs for Kentucky Derby 129 and jockey Robby Albarado was named to ride Holy Bull (gr. III) winner Offlee Wild in this year's Run for the Roses.
Another member of the Kentucky Derby cast arrived at Churchill Downs later in the day as Chisholm, Horizon Stable, Jarvis and Reddam's Illinois Derby (gr. II) winner Ten Most Wanted completed a short van ride from Keeneland Race Course in Lexington.
The Wally Dollase-trained Ten Most Wanted arrived at Churchill Downs just after 1:00 p.m. (EDT). He had shipped to Keeneland after his Illinois Derby victory and breezed four furlongs in :48.40 at the Lexington track on April 16.
INDIAN EXPRESS – Phil Chess' Utah-bred son of Indian Charlie had exercise rider Dana Barnes in the irons as he breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 over a track that was rated "good" despite nearly daylong rains on Thursday. The move by the Bob Baffert-trained colt was the seventh fastest of 21 at the distance.
"He felt great," said Barnes. "He handled it fine. You forget how this track can take so much water. He galloped out strong and came back good."
Indian Express had worked with a stablemate throughout the winter in California, but was by himself on the track for his initial breeze in Kentucky.
"Dana said he was looking around a little bit," said Baffert. "He's the kind of horse that actually won't impress in the morning - but he's a totally different horse in the afternoon. He really surprised us in his last two outs."
Indian Express easily won a pair of races last year in Panama before Baffert purchased the colt and then sold him to his current owner. Since he joined Baffert's barn in January, Indian Express finished fourth in the 6 ½-furlong San Pedro in late March and then finished second, beaten a head by Buddy Gil, in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby. Baffert said it was Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. - racing's all-time win leader - who called his attention to the colt. "Laffit Pincay is the one who put the heavy press on me to buy him," he said. "That was going to be Laffit's Derby horse. You see, Laffit's thinking ahead. When you're 57 years old, you've got to start buying your own Derby horses. It's too bad Pincay got hurt because it would be his mount in the Derby and it would be fun."
Tyler Baze has ridden Indian Express in his two starts for Baffert.
Baffert also sent The Thoroughbred Corp's Kafwain to the track for a 1 3/8-mile gallop on the day after the son of Cherokee Run arrived at Churchill Downs following a flight from Southern California. Baffert missed some time with Kafwain when the colt became ill after a third-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby and he's not sure about his training schedule in the two weeks remaining before the Kentucky Derby. "Kafwain got sick and I missed about nine days with him," he said. "He looked great out there today, so we're just going to let him get his feet under him a little bit. I don't want to knock him out right away, so he'll probably work twice before the race."
Baffert said Kafwain's time off should not be a problem in the days leading up to the Derby.
"He looks great now," he said. "He's been running hard all along, so it's not going to hurt him. He's a pretty tough horse."
Baffert has two more "possible" Derby starters in his barn. Gary Garber's Domestic Dispute could earn a trip to the Derby with a big effort in Saturday's Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) at Keeneland and Robert and Beverly Lewis' Senor Swinger, fifth in the Wood Memorial (GI) in his first start for Baffert, is also "possible."
"Domestic Dispute would have to win it and then come back here and look well here," said Baffert. "He likes this track and looks great here. Santa Anita racetrack this year was sort of weird, it didn't have a lot of bounce to it. You'll see a lot of horses are going to move up when they leave there. You notice all these preps have been won by horses that left California."
Baffert said the Derby status of Senor Swinger depends on how he trains at Churchill Downs over the next few days. He arrived at the track on Sunday, one day after his run in the Wood Memorial.
"He didn't get the trip I wanted and he hated the track at Aqueduct - he ran down on all four (heels)," said Baffert. "He needs to be up closer and put into the race earlier. Gary (jockey Gary Stevens) didn't get a chance to do that because that one horse (New York Hero) came out and squeezed everybody out. That day you couldn't come from out of it."
The three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer said it's too early to know exactly what kind of hand he has for this year's renewal of the "Run for the Roses." Last year at this time Baffert's lone Derby hope was a long shot and a new member of his stable named War Emblem - and that worked out well.
"Whoever's working well here and training well in that last five days - when you see that last work it usually tips you off if you have a chance," he said. "Right now it's still early and a lot of things can happen, but that last work is the key work and you want to see how a horse comes out of that." ALBARADO TO RIDE OFFLEE WILD - The search for a Kentucky Derby rider for Azalea Stable's Offlee Wild, winner of the Holy Bull and third in the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I), has ended. Trainer T.V. Smith said Churchill Downs-based Robby Albarado would ride the son of Wild Again in Derby 129.
Pat Day had ridden the colt in the Toyota Blue Grass, but he is committed to ride Illinois Derby winner Ten Most Wanted in the Kentucky Derby. Albarado had been the regular rider on Badge of Silver, who was knocked off the Derby trail by injury last week.
Offlee Wild galloped 1 ½-miles on Friday. Smith said the colt would likely work next Tuesday or Wednesday. EMPIRE MAKER/PEACE RULES - Trainer Bobby Frankel's formidable Kentucky Derby duo of Juddmonte Farm's Empire Maker and Edmund Gann's Peace Rules galloped Friday for the first time since their arrival at Churchill Downs.
Each galloped 1 3/8 mile.
Gann's Midas Eyes, who will run in the Derby Trial (gr. III) at Churchill Downs on April 26, galloped 1 ¼-miles under Jose Cuevas. Midas Eyes is scheduled to work on Saturday and Cuevas said Frankel is expected to be at Churchill Downs for the work. BUDDY GIL - Desperado Stable's winner of the Santa Anita Derby jogged a mile and galloped a mile on Friday in his third trip to the Churchill Downs track since his arrival in Louisville on Tuesday. The gelded son of Eastern Echo is expected to work on Monday, according to Amy Mullins, the wife of trainer Jeff Mullins. ATSWHATIMTALKNBOUT - San Felipe (gr. II) runner-up Atswhatimtalknbout galloped a mile under exercise rider Raul Vizcarrondo in his first trip to the track for trainer Ron Ellis since a half-mile breeze in :49.60 on Wednesday.
"I usually jog him the first day back, but he's just feeling good," Ellis said. "That work was so easy on him we just went ahead and galloped."
The son of A.P. Indy has been outfitted with blinkers for that work and his gallops on the two days prior to it. But he galloped on Friday without them.
"I don't think those blinkers are going to make much difference to him until he's in there with other horses," said Ellis. "He's pretty professional about doing everything, but when he gets with other horses he starts paying attention to them."
SCRIMSHAW - Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Robert and Beverly Lewis' Scrimshaw had a "routine gallop" in his first trip to the track since a work on Wednesday. The son of Gulch will run in tomorrow's Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) at Keeneland.