California Chrome leads Derby worktab
On Saturday at Santa Anita, Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Candy Boy drilled five furlongs in :59 4/5 under Hall of Famer Gary Stevens. The John Sadler pupil will ship to Churchill Downs on Monday along with Hoppertunity.
Louisiana Derby winner Vicar's in Trouble posted a five-furlong breeze in 1:00 2/5 on Saturday morning at Trackside Louisville, the training facility located approximately five miles from Churchill Downs.
"He worked very well and was well in hand," trainer Mike Maker said. "He had a nice gallop-out, which is what we were looking for, and everything was perfect.
Maker (5-0-0-0 in the Derby since 2010) indicated that the Louisiana-bred colt would likely breeze again next Saturday but it would come over the Churchill Downs oval.
Florida Derby runner-up General a Rod is slated for breeze at Churchill Downs "either Tuesday or Wednesday," according to Maker.
Maker, a five-time training champion at Churchill Downs, could have a third Derby starter in Spiral Stakes runner-up Harry's Holiday if there are further defections among the current Top 20. After Cairo Prince (left front ankle) was withdrawn from Derby consideration on Saturday, Harry's Holiday now stands at No. 21 on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com" preference list with 20 points and $152,622 in non-restricted stakes earnings.
"We'll see if he gets in," Maker said. "I'll have to talk to the connections and go from there but I'm sure they'll want to run if they can get in. If that's the case then he'll work Saturday at Churchill, too."
Saturday was the first day of exclusive training for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders from 8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. (EDT) at Churchill. Gallopers during that window included Chitu, Danza, Medal Count and Ride on Curlin.
Trainer Todd Pletcher was particularly fond of 41-1 Arkansas Derby surprise Danza.
"I loved the way he trained this morning," Pletcher said. "He looked dynamite out there today. So hopefully the next couple of weeks go as well as the last one did.
"I think he got lost in the shuffle a little bit and most people that went back and looked at his PPs (past performances) after he won the Arkansas Derby were like 'This horse really hadn't done anything wrong.' Trying to get to that two-turn race (into him), we felt the best way was to start back in a seven-furlong allowance.
"I think it set him up well for (the Arkansas Derby), but I was still pleasantly surprised at how well he handled the mile-and-an-eighth. He finished up really strongly and had his legs up underneath him at the end and galloped out strongly. That's encouraging stuff for here."
Pletcher's other two confirmed Derby runners -- Intense Holiday and We Miss Artie -- will travel on a Tuesday flight originating from Palm Beach, Florida. Wildcat Red, from the Jose Garoffalo barn, will hop on the same plane.
A New York flight on April 28 will include Wicked Strong, Samraat and Uncle Sigh.
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