Churchill Notes: Baffert Horses Gallop Over Track; A P Valentine Arrives

From Churchill Downs
Santa Anita Derby winner Point Given and Wood Memorial (GII) winner Congaree drew many admiring glances at Churchill Downs Thursday as they galloped over the track's one-mile racing oval.

It was the first trip the track for the Bob Baffert-trained Kentucky Derby contenders since they arrived at the track. Congaree had been in Louisville since Sunday, while Point Given arrived on a flight from California Wednesday afternoon.

Point Given put in a very impressive appearance as he galloped about 1 1/4-miles over a "fast" track under exercise rider Pepe Aragon. The Thoroughbred Corp's massive chestnut son of 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch was under a firm hold by Aragon as he galloped strongly in the middle of the track as assistant trainer Jim Barnes watched from his vantage point aboard a pony.

"He looked very good," said Barnes. "He handled everything well. We just gave him a light gallop this morning and we couldn't have been happier. The first day we just wanted to get him on the track, get him around there, and get back to the barn. Tomorrow will be much better."

Stonerside Stable's Congaree was the first of Baffert's Derby hopefuls to hit the track just after the mid-morning break for track maintenance. Aragon was also in the irons aboard the son of Arazi as he galloped about 1 1/2-miles.

"Congaree was very fresh," Barnes said. "He's been off since the Wood, just because we were shipping in and everything, so he was really on his toes. He looks very good."

While Point Given trained at Churchill Downs last fall, today's effort marked the first time that Congaree had set foot on the track.

"He's fine," said Barnes. "That's not a problem for him. He should handle this racetrack. He'll run on an off track or a fast track. It shouldn't be a problem at all."

A P Valentine Arrives
Champagne winner A P Valentine arrived at Churchill Downs Thursday afternoon to continue his training toward Kentucky Derby 127.

Owned by the Ol Memorial Stable and Michael Tabor and trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Nick Zito, A P Valentine traveled by van from Keeneland and arrived at 2:35 p.m. (EDT). The son of A.P. Indy finished fifth in Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass (GI) at the Lexington track.

He was accompanied on his van ride from Lexington by Tracy Farmer's 4-year-old Albert The Great and the 3-year-old It's So Simple, the fourth-place finisher in the Wood Memorial.

Express Tour Remains in Barn; Others Gallop
Godolphin Racing's Express Tour spent another day in the barn as he nurses a bruised left front foot. He has been away from the track since the problem surfaced following a gallop on Saturday. Stablemate Street Cry worked five furlongs on Wednesday and walked under the shedrow on Thursday... Stronach Stable's Flamingo winner Thunder Blitz galloped 1 1/2-miles under regular exercise rider Keith Ricks. The Holy Bull colt is scheduled to breeze on Saturday... Kentucky Jockey Club winner Dollar Bill galloped 1 1/4 miles... Lexington contender Turnberry Isle turned in a "routine gallop" for trainer D. Wayne Lukas... Florida Derby (GI) winner Monarchos galloped 1 3/8-miles under exercise rider Brian Beccia ... Jamaican Rum, second in the Arkansas Derby galloped... Gift of the Eagle and Saint Damien each galloped 1 1/2-miles for trainer Ken McPeek. Gift of the Eagle will run next in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs on April 28 and McPeek said that he will be ridden by Mike Smith... Tincin, the winless 3-year-old who is being pointed to Derby 127 by trainer Steve Larue, was scheduled to work six furlongs Thursday at Churchill Downs, but Larue told track officials that the colt "blew a shoe" so he decided against the trip from his base at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. Larue said the colt will work at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Nasty Storm Appears Headed to Oaks
Golden Rod runner-up Nasty Storm, who made a successful return to racing Wednesday in a romp in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Keeneland, is the latest name that can be added to a powerful list of potential starters for the Kentucky Oaks on May 4.

The daughter of Gulch, who is owned by a partnership that includes former University of Louisville basketball coach Denny Crum, won by 5 3/4-lengths and covered the distance in 1:44.74 under jockey Pat Day. The Dallas Stewart-trained filly had not run since her runner-up finish to Miss Pickums in the Golden Rod in late November.

"You love to see them come back strong and she did that yesterday," said Stewart. "So I think we'll probably go ahead and give her a shot (in the Oaks)."

Stewart said Nasty Storm had trained very well over the winter at the Fair Grounds and had continued her strong morning efforts since her return to her home base at Churchill Downs.

"She's trained over the two best surfaces in America: the Fair Grounds and here," Stewart said. "We got her ready the right way and she came off a layoff just like (stablemate) Dollar Bill. She stepped up in a big way, I thought. She was just motoring."