A number of contenders for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) continued their preparations April 19 at Churchill Downs.
One of the first Derby contenders on the track Thursday morning was Zayat Stables’s Bodemeister, who is now considered one of the favorites following his breakout performance in the April 14 Arkansas Derby (gr. I). The bay son of Empire Maker jogged a mile shortly after the track opened under Peter Hutton, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert. Hutton said Bodemeister will gallop Friday shortly after 6 a.m.
A trio of Derby contenders galloped after the break Thursday morning.
John Oxley’s Prospective, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) in March, galloped 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Juan Bernardini. After a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) at Keeneland in his last start, Prospective was considered to be only 50/50 to enter the Derby; however, assistant trainer Norm Casse confirmed that Prospective will run.
“We wanted to see how he came out of the Blue Grass and he galloped great yesterday (Wednesday),” Casse said. “Ultimately, the decision was up to Mr. Oxley and he wanted to run.”
Brereton Jones’ homebred Mark Valeski, second in both the Risen Star (gr. II) and Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds, galloped 1 1/4 miles under trainer Larry Jones, who confirmed the bay son of Proud Citizen will breeze at Churchill on April 23 after the renovation break. Rosie Napravnik, who will ride Mark Valeski in the Derby, will be aboard for the work.
Donegal Racing’s Blue Grass winner Dullahan visited the track for a 1 1/2-mile gallop under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar. Dullahan is expected to work April 28 for the first time since his Blue Grass triumph.
At nearby Trackside Training Center, Dr. Kendall Hansen and Sky Chai Racing’s Hansen galloped 1 1/4 miles. Hansen finished second, 1 1/4 lengths behind Dullahan, in the Blue Grass.