Kentucky Derby (G1) contender Lone Sailor lit up the track at Churchill Downs Thursday morning, as the Tom Amoss pupil overtook his workmates in a blistering :57.60 for five furlongs on a fast track.
Churchill clocker John Nichols had to dig back in his memory more than 10 years to think of another work that fast over the distance.
“The last horse I can recall going that fast was Hard Spun on April 30, 2007, when he went :57.60 with opening splits of :22 and :33.40 before running second in the Derby,” Nichols told track publicity.
Lone Sailor didn’t flash as much early speed since he had two others to chase. His pacesetters were a pair of three-year-old maidens, the filly Pearl’s Opinion and Blaze a Trail, who began with a nine-length head start.
Settling into stride before taking off for Derby rider James Graham, Lone Sailor was caught in splits of :11.80, :22.60, :34 and :45.60 and blew past his company. He was two lengths up on Pearl’s Opinion and far ahead of Blaze a Trail, who finished in :59.80 and 1:01, respectively.
Lone Sailor then galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.60.
— TomAmossRacing (@TomAmossRacing) April 19, 2018
Amoss, who kindly posted that workout clip on Twitter, wasn’t allowing himself to get carried away by the time.
“The work was very fast,” the trainer said. “However, the track was also really fast. So, you have to take that into consideration more than the time.”
Campaigned by Gayle Benson’s G M B Racing, Lone Sailor earned his Kentucky Derby ticket when just missing in the TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2). The son of Majestic Warrior was outdueled late by Todd Pletcher’s Noble Indy, but in turn held second from My Boy Jack, who came back to win last Saturday’s Lexington S. (G3).
Amoss knows that Lone Sailor must move forward to contend in Derby 144.
“I think the Kentucky Derby has had some significant preps,” Amoss said. “The Santa Anita Derby (G1) and the Florida Derby (G1) were both significant races. Lone Sailor is a horse that rightfully belongs in the Derby. He earned his way in there, but to win this race he has to improve.”
The other four Derby hopefuls already at Churchill have works on the docket. Bravazo may turn in a move either Friday or Saturday for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The Mark Casse-trained Flameaway and Dale Romans’ duo of Free Drop Billy and Promises Fulfilled are set to go Saturday, when the exclusive training window begins for Derby and Kentucky Oaks (G1) horses. You can watch their exercise live, from 7:30-7:45 a.m. (EDT) daily, on the dedicated works page on kentuckyderby.com.
Also working Thursday was Godolphin’s homebred Enticed. At his Palm Meadows base in Florida, the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee drilled in company with Oaks contender Take Charge Paula. Enticed collared her late while completing five-eighths in 1:01.20, and the filly clocked 1:01.30.
McLaughlin revealed his delight on Twitter:
Enticed at Palm Meadows just had one of his best works this year! pic.twitter.com/yKkJMrxUa2
— Kiaran McLaughlin (@KPMRacingStable) April 19, 2018
Hero of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Gotham (G3), Enticed was most recently second to Vino Rosso in a rough-and-tumble Wood Memorial (G2).
And across the pond in Newmarket, European Road invitee Gronkowski strode out for trainer Jeremy Noseda, the morning after the sports world learned that New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski bought a share in his namesake.
‘The gronk’- Kentucky Derby hopeful Gronkowski cantering up the newmarket gallops this morning. pic.twitter.com/xxOID4JaMy
— Derek Thompson (@tommoracing) April 19, 2018
Plans call for the equine Gronkowski to ship out for Churchill Downs on April 28.