Johannesburg, Castle Gandolfo Arrive in Lexington

by Steve Bailey

Johannesburg and Castle Gandolfo finally arrived in Kentucky on Tuesday, under the same shroud of secrecy that has characterized the Irish-based 3-year-olds for months.

The horses stepped off a chartered plane and on to a partitioned ramp at Blue Grass Airport about 6:10 p.m. EDT, and were immediately loaded into a horse van for the short drive to a quarantine barn at Keeneland. They arrived at the barn about 40 minutes later with Castle Gandolfo stepping off the van first, followed by Johannesburg. The two, wearing maroon blankets that covered them from shoulder to tail, were quickly examined and rushed into the barn as several photographers tried to get pictures before they disappeared.

The two are expected to clear quarantine as early as Wednesday evening and work once or twice at Keeneland before shipping to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby early Saturday, the morning of the race. Neither trainer Aidan O'Brien nor owners John Magnier and Michael Tabor of the Irish-based Coolmore partnership appeared at the airport or the barn Tuesday night.

The two colts remain a mystery to even the most dedicated horse racing fans as Derby day approaches.
Johannesburg's only race on U.S. soil resulted in a victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last fall. He won all seven of his starts as a 2-year-old, but was returned to Ireland to train for the Derby.

He has raced only once as a 3-year-old -- finishing second to 4-year-old filly Rebelline in the seven-furlong Gladness Stakes at The Curragh in Ireland on April 7.

The 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby will be Castle Gandolfo's first start in this country.

Earlier Tuesday, U S S Tinosa arrived from California at approximately 3:45 p.m. EDT. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained colt is currently 22nd on the Derby graded earnings list.

(Also, Italian Guineas May Shed Light on Castle Gandolfo's Form)