SCRIMSHAW--Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas was beaming over the sharp half-mile :46.60 turned in by his son of Gulch under exercise rider Stacey Maker. The move was the fastest of 45 at the distance and was his final serious training move for the colt's schedule run in Saturday's Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) at Keeneland. Lukas has successfully used that race in recent years as a last-second prep for 1999 Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic and 2002 runner-up Proud Citizen. "It was an impressive work," said Lukas. "It was encouraging to see him have that zip. He came home in :11 flat and he went off in 12-and-two, so that was encouraging." Lukas said the rapid work was a bit out of character for Scrimshaw, who has not raced since a fourth-place finish in the Hutcheson (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 15. The colt had what Lukas describes as "minor throat surgery" after that race and missed 21 days of training while he recovered. "He's very laid-back and very, very reserved," said Lukas. "He's very hard to read, this horse. He's got a good mind and he's such an easy horse to be around. You can almost always read the 'hyper' ones and the lazy ones, but this horse just does it so effortlessly and easily that you say, 'Wow, was that enough? Did he get enough out of that?' But if he is good enough to make it (to the Derby), he's going to be a joy to take over there. He really handles himself well."
While he's on the fringe of the Derby 129 picture for now, Lukas has closely observed the field that is taking shape and headed by the pre-race favorite, Florida Derby (gr. I) and Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Empire Maker. But he is not ready to concede "superhorse" status to the favorite just yet. "He's done the most lately, but I don't see Spectacular Bid or Seattle Slew here," he said. "I think that the race is going to be more competitive than that - and I could get a surprise. But I see the race as being a little bit more competitive than most." And if Empire Maker were to fall out of the Derby picture in the next two and a half weeks, Lukas said it is anybody's race. "I think you can just pick 'em," he said. "There's probably about four or five horses, in my opinion, that can run a mile and a quarter in the race and there's another eight or 10 that I would have serious doubts about. Their hearts will pound for a little ways, but I don't that they will be around at the quarter pole. That's just my opinion. But that's okay, too. We need that blend - we need everybody in there. I've tried some horses that were dead at the top of the stretch, too."