March 4, 2024

Gunnevera, Always Dreaming and Gormley work on opposite coasts for Kentucky Derby

Gunnevera winning the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on March 4 (c) Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography

Multiple Grade 2 scorer Gunnevera took a spin around the fast main track at Gulfstream Park West on Saturday.

The Antonio Sano-trained son of Dialed In breezed five-eighths in 1:00.60 in his first move since finishing third as the even-money favorite in the Florida Derby (G1) on April 1.

Edgard Zayas was aboard for the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) winner’s move.

“It went very well. He galloped out very, very good,” Sano said. “He was very relaxed, very quiet, very good.”

Gunnevera is expected to have one more work at Gulfstream Park West before shipping to Churchill Downs on April 22 for the May 6 Kentucky Derby (G1).

“I know the next race is not going to be an easy race, but my horse is working very good,” Sano said.

Gunnevera’s jockey for the Triple Crown has yet to be finalized. Jockey Javier Castellano has been aboard ever since the chestnut captured the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) to close out his juvenile campaign last November 19.

“I need to wait for the race today at Oaklawn for Castellano,” explained Sano, referring to Saturday’s Arkansas Derby (G1) in which Castellano was named to ride the undefeated Malagacy.

On Friday, Always Dreaming breezed four furlongs in :49.55 over the fast track at Palm Beach Downs in his first work since romping by five lengths while making his stakes bow in the Florida Derby.

Regular rider John Velazquez was aboard as Always Dreaming posted a quarter-mile split in :26.44 and galloped out in 1:02.55 while working in company with stablemate All Included, who captured the Appleton Stakes (G3) on the same day as Always Dreaming’s Florida Derby victory.

“I thought he settled well considering the first part was a little on the slow side. He finished up strongly, galloped out impressively,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Based from what we were seeing in the morning the track is not super-fast.

“The longer you’re here the more you kind of get used to this track. It’s a little bit quirky in some ways, in can be a little inside bias, sometimes not produce real fast times. But we like it a lot. Knock on wood, it’s been a very safe surface for us. It seems like a lot of horses thrive through the winter here.

“(Always Dreaming) is one of the exceptions in terms of horses who consistently win breezes whether he’s on the inside or outside of horses. It was, I thought, a very good breeze. I liked the way he finished the last quarter in :23-and-change and seemed to cool out quickly and recover quickly.”

Pletcher remains undecided on whether Always Dreaming will have one more work at Palm Beach Downs before shipping to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.

At Santa Anita Park on Saturday, Gormley traveled three-eighths in :37.80 in his first move since rallying for a half-length score in in the April 8 Santa Anita Derby (G1).

John Shirreffs trains both Gormley and Santa Anita Derby third-placer Royal Mo, who is scheduled to work on Sunday.

In other Kentucky Derby news, trainer Doug O’Neill is planning on working Blue Grass Stakes (G2) winner Irap the next two Fridays at Keeneland before departing for Churchill Downs.

Tampa Bay Derby (G2) hero Tapwrit, fifth in the Blue Grass last out, was scheduled to move to Churchill Downs Sunday but will remain at Keeneland a little longer.

“(Trainer) Todd (Pletcher) has some horses flying in here Monday from Arkansas, and Tapwrit will go to Louisville with the horses that are going there,” assistant trainer Ginny DePasquale explained.