Harlan's Holiday Displays Derby Readiness With Fast Workout

Harlan's Holiday Displays Derby Readiness With Fast Workout
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
With jockey Tony D'Amico aboard, Harlan's Holiday worked a fast five furlongs at Churchill Downs.
Probable Kentucky Derby favorite Harlan's Holiday turned in a fast workout at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, with trainer Ken McPeek expressing satisfaction in how the colt is coming into the season's first classic.

With jockey Tony D'Amico aboard, Harlan's Holiday stopped the timer in :59 1/5 for five furlongs. He carved out fractions of :12, :23 2/5, and :35 1/5 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 1/5.

"It was very fast; I actually didn't really want him to go that fast," said McPeek, who is getting around the track on a golf cart and crutches due to a broken ankle he sustained playing basketball. "He is a nice horse who works fast. What can you say. I think the track is a little quicker today anyway."

With one more workout scheduled, McPeek said he is following the same routine with Harlan's Holiday that he did before the colt's victory in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Jockey Edgar Prado will be aboard when Harlan's Holiday goes to the track next Tuesday for his final five furlong work.

"He is very sharp right now," McPeek said.

Harlan's Holiday was one of only two Derby probables working over the main track at Churchill Wednesday, with War Emblem also going through the paces for trainer Bob Baffert. At Churchill's Trackside training center elsewhere in Louisville, Perfect Drift worked for trainer Murray Johnson.

With Dana Barnes up, War Emblem was timed in 1:12 2/5 for six furlongs, with fractional splits of :12 2/5, :25, and :48 3/5.

"He worked good," Baffert said of the horse who will be making his first start for the trainer. "Dana probably learned more about him today, about how he needs to be ridden. He is a big horse with a long stride."

Baffert said he continues to learn more about War Emblem's personality and traits. "He is not mean, but he is tough," Baffert said. "He is very aggressive. He is very talented. He loves what he does."

Baffert said War Emblem, who will be ridden by Victor Espinoza in the Derby, has only one running style: go to the front. "This is the first time I have been in the Derby with a horse with no tactical running style. If he doesn't get out of the gate (quickly) then I don't have to watch the rest of the race."

The training center workout time for Perfect Drift's half-mile breeze was :49, with fractions of :12 4/5, :25 3/5, and :37 4/5. He continued on to gallop out five furlongs in 1:02 under jockey Joe Deegan.

"I couldn't be more pleased," Johnson said. "It looked perfect to me. He (Deegan) came back and said he did it on his own and that is what we were looking for. One more work to go and we will be in good shape."

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