Edited from a release
Fountain of Youth (gr. II) winner Read the Footnotes breezed a mile Thursday morning for trainer Richard Violette at the Palm Meadows Training Center, where he continues his preparations for the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
The beaten Florida Derby (gr. I) favorite drilled the mile in 1:40 and was the only horse clocked training at that distance.
"This was a terrific breeze today," said Violette. "It was either :39 4/5 or :40 flat depending on who was looking at it. He got the last quarter in :23 and change and he did it quite easily. This was the last of his foundation works for the Derby. He'll get a couple shorter and faster works as we get closer."
Both Read the Footnotes and Friends Lake (who won the Florida Derby) have stayed out of the spotlight and remained in Florida to train up to the Derby. Since no horse has won the Derby without a race in the month of April since Needles in 1956, many have discounted both colts' chances. There were also knocks against them because the final time of the Florida Derby was considered slow. That opinion was quieted when fellow Florida Derby entrants Tapit won last Saturday's Wood Memorial (gr. I) and The Cliff's Edge won the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
"We've been very much below the radar here, but it's quite amusing that the Florida Derby is coming up a key race and my horse or even Friends Lake aren't even really mentioned as a top contenders," said Violette. "It's mind boggling to follow some of these people's train of thought, but there's no question the Florida Derby was a key race and I'm glad to be coming out of it. I wouldn't change anything."
Violette is also confident the decision to train rather than race during these seven weeks after the Florida Derby will prove to be the right move.
"I think the seven-week thing is overblown, especially in this day and age," he said. "This is not seven months that he's coming back from. I'm looking forward to going up there and having some fun."
Jockey Jerry Bailey rode Read the Footnotes in the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby, but as is typical at this time of year, Bailey also has other options. Violette has yet to speak to Bailey or his agent, Ron Anderson, about making a commitment, but knows the world's leading jockey could take another mount because of the unorthodox route Read the Footnotes has taken this spring.
"They all want to ride the winner," said Violette. "That's their option. We would love to have Jerry, but on the other hand, there are other riders who would be very interested. I'm not worried too much about it, although I hope we can make a decision soon."
Read the Footnotes and Friends Lake, who has been with trainer John Kimmel at Payson Park, have both been booked on a charter flight to Kentucky on April 23.