Trainer Kelly Breen called an audible Thursday morning while preparing multiple Grade 2 heroine Miss Sky Warrior for the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Originally scheduled to go to the track at 8:30 a.m. (ET), Miss Sky Warrior instead breezed a half-mile in :49.20 an hour and a half earlier with jockey Paco Lopez aboard.
The change in work time came after a small shower dampened the track about 5 a.m. Breen sent out his first horse to exercise at 6 a.m., noting the surface was “pretty good. I’ll take it.”
As more clouds moved into the Louisville, Kentucky, area, he tacked up Miss Sky Warrior and sent her out to record splits of :12.40, :24.80, :36.80 and :49.20 on Churchill’s fast dirt. The First Samurai filly galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.40 and three-quarters in 1:15.80.
“When she got to the seven-eighths pole, I could hear the rain hitting the tents in the turn from the grandstand,” Breen said. “Then, when she started her work, the rain stopped.”
“I thought it was perfect. She got over the track really good,” said Lopez, Miss Sky Warrior’s regular jockey who was also aboard for her last four-furlong breeze in :49 on April 20.
Miss Sky Warrior and Lopez are riding a five-race win streak that includes a 13-length romp in the Gazelle Stakes (G2) most recently as well as triumphs in the Davona Dale Stakes (G2), Demoiselle Stakes (G2) and Tempted Stakes (G3). The Gazelle and Demoiselle were each contested at the Kentucky Oaks distance of 1 1/8 miles.
“The work went well,” Breen said. “It was just maintenance. We already have our mile and eighth and some of those other guys don’t. We have eight days to go. She will walk tomorrow. All we have to do is just stay steady.”
Cross-country at Santa Anita Park, Paradise Woods worked a bullet six furlongs in 1:12.40 for trainer Richard Mandella. Regular rider Flavien Prat, who guided the bay daughter of Union Rags to a record-setting 11 3/4-length victory in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) last out, was in the pilot’s seat for the move.
Mandella summed up Paradise Wood’s final breeze before the Kentucky Oaks in one word – “Beautiful.”
Paradise Woods, who worked in company with Milhaud, is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on May 1 and gallop up to the Run for the Lilies.
“Today was her serious work,” Mandella explained. “She galloped out (seven furlongs) in (one) 25 and change. It looked like a morning gallop. I’m pretty excited. She’ll gallop and school at Churchill.
“She’s a young filly who’s still learning. She’s got speed and will probably be on the lead in the race. We’re not going to fight her.”
In other Kentucky Oaks news:
Multiple Grade 2 vixen Farrell, who tops the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard with 170 points, was doing well one day after posting a three-quarter mile work in 1:13 with jockey Channing Hill aboard for trainer Wayne Catalano.
“She cleaned the feed tub…licked it clean,” Catalano said. “She is fine this morning.”
Farrell walked the shedrow Thursday at her conditioner’s barn. Her work on Wednesday was just the second under the Twin Spires since the Malibu Moon filly completed a sweep of Fair Grounds’ series of three-year-old filly stakes with a 3 1/4-length victory in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) on April 1.
The Wednesday move also ducked intermittent rain showers on Thursday.
When asked which was tougher, waiting eight days until the Kentucky Oaks or dodging the weather, Catalano replied, “The waiting. You can work around the weather and dodge some things and squeeze in what you have to do.”
Jordan’s Henny, placed in both the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) and Davona Dale in her past two, jogged a mile under Edgar Cano after the renovation break on Thursday, one day after getting into the main body of the Oaks field thanks to the defection of Chanel’s Legacy.
“We had pretty much been training like we were going to get in,” trainer Mike Tomlinson said. “We kept plugging along. If she had not made the Oaks, we were looking at the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) two weeks later at Pimlico.”
Jordan’s Henny is scheduled to work Friday with jockey Joe Rocco Jr. in the irons.
Also scheduled to breeze Friday morning is Gulfstream Park Oaks heroine Salty, who galloped 1 1/2 miles Thursday morning with Froylan Garcia up.
Forward Gal Stakes (G2) victress Tequilita arrived Wednesday afternoon at Churchill Downs from Keeneland and took her first spin around the track Thursday morning with Joe Saville aboard.
Tequilita boasts a pair of breezes at Keeneland since running second in the Gulfstream Park Oaks – a half-mile in :50 on April 16 and five furlongs in 1:02.40 on April 21 – and could work on Friday at 8:30 a.m.
“I’ll be watching the weather and whatever day looks best, she’ll work,” trainer Michael Matz said.
Trainer Neil Drysdale is also waiting on the weather to see when Vexatious will work. Third in both the Fantasy Stakes (G3) and Fair Grounds Oaks, the Giant’s Causeway filly galloped 1 1/2 miles toward the end of training hours on Thursday with exercise rider Freddy Quevero aboard.
Fair Grounds runner-up Wicked Lick, who galloped 1 1/2 miles under Leo Garcia shortly after 6 a.m. on Thursday, has a work scheduled for Friday morning, according to trainer Brendan Walsh.
Fantasy winner Ever So Clever galloped Thursday morning with Angel Garcia aboard for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Busanda Stakes winner and Gazelle runner-up Lockdown jogged before the renovation break on Thursday with exercise rider Jo Lawson aboard.
“We changed things up a little and took her out early and caught a break from the rain,” trainer Bill Mott said.
Multiple Grade 1-placed Daddys Lil Darling is scheduled to breeze at Keeneland Friday morning with jockey Julien Leparoux aboard. The Kenny McPeek trainee is expected to arrive at Churchill Downs either Saturday or Sunday.