Leading Kentucky Derby (G1) candidate McCraken worked five furlongs in 1:00 under Brian Hernandez Jr. over a fast track at Keeneland on Monday in advance of his final prep for the Derby, the $1 million Blue Grass (G2) on April 8.
“It was a maintenance work, just what we were looking for,” trainer Ian Wilkes said. “Everything’s good.”
Keeneland clockers recorded internal fractions of :12.60, :26.20, 37.20, and :48.20 with a six-furlong, gallop-out time 1:12.80.
This was the first record work by McCraken since he shipped to Keeneland several days ago, and only his second since suffering a minor ankle injury while preparing for the March 11 Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
“We decided to come up a bit early and get him a few works over the track here,” Wilkes said. “I wanted to get him up here to get him acclimated, a little cooler weather. The horses love it.”
Undefeated in five career starts, including the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Sam F. Davis (G3), McCraken was forced to miss the Tampa Bay Derby due to the aforementioned injury.
“Maybe missing that race was a blessing,” Wilkes said. “He’s a different horse. He’s filled out, stronger. Things happen for a reason. You may not agree at the time; you may not want it to happen. But things happen for a reason. I think he’s a bigger, stronger horse right now. Just in that short time, he changed on me. Maybe (missing the race) was a good thing.”