The first day of the special training time at Churchill Downs—reserved for entrants in the Louisville oval's two biggest races—was busy April 21, with several 3-year-olds turning in their penultimate workouts for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) or Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1).
John C. Oxley's Flameaway, the runner-up in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2), worked five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 outside of Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) runner Ride a Comet, who recorded the same time. Splits included :11 4/5 for the eighth, :23 2/5 for the quarter, and :35 1/5 for the three-eighths.
As impressive as anything to Nicholas Tomlinson, trainer Mark Casse's Churchill assistant, was the gallop out to six furlongs in 1:14 2/5. That's because Flameaway has been known for just doing what he needed as opposed to being flashy.
Saturday's Churchill work "was the best that he's ever galloped out. And for him, that's pretty rare," Tomlinson said. "So we think that he's coming into the Derby right now in great form, and he's doing really well, and we think that the first Saturday in May he's going to be on his game."
Tomlinson said Flameaway will have a final maintenance work most likely April 28 or possibly the day before.
"He's doing really well right now, and we can't be happier," he said.
Robert J. Baron's Promises Fulfilled, the winner of the Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), finished in :59 1/5, with splits including :11 3/5 and :23 for the quarter mile. The six-furlong gallop out was clocked in 1:11 4/5.
Romans said Albaugh Family Stables' Free Drop Billy jogged a mile and galloped a mile before his five-furlong work, which was :59 flat. The splits for the Blue Grass third-place finisher were :12 1/5, :23 3/5, :35 flat, and :46 4/5 for the half. He galloped out to six furlongs in 1:12 and seven furlongs in 1:25 2/5. Romans said the colt "looked like he didn't get tired at all."
Romans said both Derby horses and his Kentucky Oaks contender Coach Rocks, who also went five furlongs, all "worked super."
Coach Rocks, the winner of the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), worked in :59 flat, with split times of :11 3/5, :22 4/5, :34 4/5, and :46 3/5. She galloped out to six furlongs in 1:11 4/5 and seven furlongs in 1:25 2/5.
"She was just skipping over the racetrack," Romans said. "She looked really good. When she came back, she wasn't tired. Starting to get excited."
Coach Rocks is owned by Roddy J. Valente, Rick Pitino's RAP Racing, and West Point Thoroughbreds.
Romans said he's encouraging Pitino, the fired University of Louisville basketball coach, to come to the Oaks despite the coach saying he won't because of bad feelings toward a couple people at U of L.
"I've begged him to come," Romans said. "He wants me to make sure he lets the people in Kentucky know how much he loves Kentucky and the people of Kentucky. There's just a couple of people he has issues with."
As for the begging, Romans said, "I told him two days ago, I said, 'I wish you'd come to town and take the pressure off of me. I get to talk about you more than I do the horses.'"
Romans said Coach Rocks will work April 27, followed by his Derby contenders April 28.
Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1) winner Monomoy Girl worked four furlongs in :47 2/5, with splits including :12 2/5, :24 1/5, and :36 flat. She galloped out to five furlongs in :59 4/5. She was outside of allowance winner Compass Zone, who worked in :47 2/5 as well.
"She gives you a good feeling after you watch her breeze," trainer Brad Cox said. "So she lets you know she's ready to run."
Monomoy Girl, who will be one of the top betting choices in the Oaks, likely will work next in a week, Cox said.
"She's got to, obviously, take another step forward, and we think it's definitely possible, especially the way she's training here at Churchill," he said.
Possible Oaks entrant Kelly's Humor, who would be in the second position on the also-eligible list, worked four furlongs for Cox in :48 3/5, with splits including :12 3/5 and :24 2/5. She galloped out to five furlongs in 1:01 3/5. If she doesn't make the Oaks, Kelly's Humor will run in the Eight Belles Stakes Presented by Kentucky Trailer (G2), Cox said.
Cox's Sassy Sienna, winner of the Fantasy Stakes (G3), also galloped in advance of her Oaks start.
Sunland Park Oaks winner Blamed also worked five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 at Churchill for trainer Joel Marr. Splits included :13 flat, :25 2/5, and :37 1/5. She galloped out to six furlongs in 1:14 2/5.