A flurry of final works ahead of the Kentucky Derby (G1) occurred across the country Saturday morning, with drills by last year’s leading two-year-olds topping the tab.
Champion juvenile Good Magic breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 at Churchill Downs under exercise rider Walter Malasquez. Churchill Downs clockers recorded splits of 12.80, 24.80, 36.60 and 49.40. Trainer Chad Brown timed the work in 1:00.80 with a six-furlong gallop-out of 1:13.80 and seven-eighths in 1:27.20.
“This is as good as he’s ever worked,” Brown said. “He won the Breeders’ Cup last year off of a really, really good breeze. It’s really taken all winter and spring to get him right to what we see today, at his very best.
“He’s the best horse we’ve ever taken to the Derby, for sure,” Brown said. “He has all the qualities that I think it would take. He’s a highly regarded two-year-old champion, has the right pedigree, good looking, sound, and enormous ability.
“Coming into a big race you try to read their body language and see how they’re doing overall. If you know your horses individually then you know what their par is and this horse looks to be in his zone right now, mentally and physically. He’s giving me all of the right body language that I’ve seen from other horses going into big races over the years. In a way, you try to treat this race like any other big race and that’s what we’re doing and he’s giving us all of the right signs.”
Bolt d’Oro, meanwhile, had his final pre-Derby work at Santa Anita, getting four furlongs in :48.20. Three-time Derby-winning jockey Victor Espinoza was aboard.
“Victor never moved a hand on him,” owner-trainer Mick Ruis said. “He went around there easy as could be. We didn’t need any more with him. We put that seven-eighths (work) into him last week (April 22) and he’s got all his air now.”
Winner of the San Felipe (G2) via disqualification and second in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Bolt d’Oro is scheduled to ship from California to Kentucky on Monday.
Also working at Churchill Downs on Saturday were Flameaway, My Boy Jack, Bravazo, Promises Fulfilled, and Free Drop Billy.
Flameaway worked four furlongs in company in 47.80 for trainer Mark Casse. His splits were 11.60, 22.80 and 34.80, galloping out in 1:02.
“I honestly couldn’t ask for anything better,” Casse said of the work that was the second fastest of 83 at the distance. “We had radios on the rider, so we stopped him at about the three-sixteenths pole to slow him down because he was going to work faster than I’ve ever seen him work. He’s not much of a workhorse normally, but he’s gotten a little more aggressive and worked better here I would say.”
Lexington (G3) and Southwest (G3) victor My Boy Jack clocked five furlongs in 1:03.20. Churchill Downs’ clockers assigned splits of :13.60 and :38.40 along the way and tacked on a gallop out time of 1:16.60.
“He started out slow, but he picked it up pretty good at the end,” trainer Keith Desormeaux said. “That’s just what we wanted him to do.”
Risen Star (G2) winner Bravazo breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Breezing inside maiden Berko, Bravazo started two lengths behind and worked through splits of :14, :26 and :37.80 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:15, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.
Lukas revealed Saturday that Bravazo would be ridden by Luis Contreras in the Kentucky Derby.
Front-running Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Promises Fulfilled breezed a half-mile in :48 through splits of :12 and :24.40 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.40 and six furlongs in 1:13, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.
“I think most people know our plan in the Derby,” trainer Dale Romans said. “This horse is naturally fast and so we’ll be up front early and hope we can stay there late.”
Free Drop Billy worked a half-mile in :49.40 with splits of :12.60 and :37, according to Nichols.
“He worked really good,” Romans said. “He already has a lot of foundation in him from the Blue Grass (G2) so he doesn’t need anything major to get him ready.”
Longshot Firenze Fire worked a half-mile on his own in :51.02 over the Belmont Park training track Saturday morning.
“It was just a maintenance move,” trainer Jason Servis said. “It was fine. He is supposed to leave at 11 in the morning and be at Churchill Monday.”
Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) winner Blended Citizen, currently 21st on the leaderboard, worked one mile in 1:41.60 at Keeneland for two-time Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill.
Sunday’s scheduled workers include Hofburg at Churchill Downs and Solomini at Santa Anita.
European invader Mendelssohn is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Monday at 5:30 p.m. (EDT), after which he will be placed in quarantine for 42 hours. He could train Thursday for Aidan O’Brien.
Kentucky Derby, Oaks workouts streamed live
Churchill Downs, in conjunction with TwinSpires.com, is providing live online streaming of Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks (G1) contenders’ workouts.
The live stream presented by TwinSpires.com will begin at 7 a.m. (EDT) daily through May 3 and is available at multiple sources including on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kentuckyderby; on Twitter via @KentuckyDerby; on YouTube at www.youtube.com/kentuckyderby; and www.kentuckyderby.com/works.
The live video will include graphics to identify each horse and commentary from an array of industry experts, including Churchill Downs Host and Racing Analyst Joe Kristufek, TwinSpires.com Racing Analyst Ed DeRosa, Brisnet.com Racing Analyst James Scully, and TwinSpires.com Clocker Brandon Stauble.
Different from year’s past, training hours at Churchill Downs will be 5:15-10 a.m. daily through May 3 with 7-7:30 a.m. and 8:30-9 a.m. breaks to renovate the racetrack. A special 15-minute session from 7:30-7:45 a.m. (formerly 8:30-8:45 a.m. in years past) is exclusive to Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks participants and any workmates. The specially-made Derby and Oaks saddle towels must be worn to gain access to the racetrack during that window.