Three Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls from the barn of trainer Steve Asmussen, as well as Calumet Farm’s third Derby entry, the maiden Sonneteer, braved the wet conditions of Churchill Downs’ main track Monday morning for their final major tune-ups before Saturday’s 1 1/4-mile classic.
The first two Asmussen workers, Untrapped and Lookin at Lee, both worked a half-mile over a track labeled sloppy after overnight rains. Untrapped, under Juan Vargas, went first, covering the distance in :50.40. Untrapped recorded internal splits of :12.60, :25.20 and :37.60, and galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.80.
Vargas was also aboard Lookin at Lee, who got the distance in :50.20. His internal splits were :12.80, :25.40 and :37.80, with a gallop-out time of 1:03.60 for five furlongs.
“I love the way both are doing,” Asmussen said. “They both ran in the Arkansas Derby (G1) three weeks ago, so they’re plenty fit. I like how they’re traveling over the track right now.”
Sixth in the Arkansas Derby while wearing blinkers, Untrapped will not wear them on Saturday.
“He has a Classic horse presence,” Asmussen said of Untrapped. “He gets over the ground very well. We have taken the blinkers off. That was an experiment that did not work out. We’re very happy with how he’s training over the Churchill track.”
Working after the 8 a.m. (EDT) renovation break, after which the track was upgraded to good, Sunland Derby (G3) winner Hence covered a half-mile in :48.40.
Under Angel Garcia, Hence earned splits of :12.20, :24.40, :36.60 and he galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.80 and six furlongs in 1:16.40. The half-mile time was the eighth fastest of 22.
“We know he’s fast,” Asmussen said. “It’s just a matter of managing his speed. Angel (Garcia) has done a great job with him.”
Hence is owned by Calumet, which also owns Derby participants Patch and Sonneteer. The latter breezed a half-mile in :47 under Corey Lanerie for trainer Keith Desormeaux.
“It was a good work,” Lanerie said. “Keith said he wanted a good stiff work and hopefully he got it. He did everything I asked and seems like a nice laid back horse. He galloped out real nice.”
Sonneteer had splits of :11.80, :23.20, :35.20 and galloped out five furlongs in :59.60 and six furlongs in 1:13.60 over the good track. The half-mile work was the fastest of 22 at the distance Monday.