Trainer Todd Pletcher sent his Kentucky Derby (G1) contingent out for their final major moves under the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs on Friday.
“This was an important day and we got perfect conditions. All four handled the surface well,” Pletcher said. “Sometimes you come in and worry that they won’t like the track, but they all got over it well.”
Three took to the fast main track to breeze a half-mile during the special 7:30-7:45 a.m. (ET) training period for Derby and Kentucky Oaks (G1) horses.
Undefeated Magnum Moon, a four-length hero of the Arkansas Derby (G1) last out, was caught in :47.40 with Nick Bush aboard. The Malibu Moon colt worked in company with Grade 3 scorer Maraud and posted splits of :12.40, :23.80 and :36 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.40 and three-quarters in 1:13.80.
“Magnum Moon was very good and had good energy,” Pletcher said. “He galloped out strong and I was very happy with him.”
“I’m lovin’ it, just like McDonald’s,” quipped Bush, who was the exercise rider for last year’s Derby winner, Always Dreaming.
Once-beaten Florida Derby (G1) victor Audible and jockey Javier Castellano clocked a time of :49.40. The bay son of Into Mischief also breezed in company, working with Bay Shore Stakes (G3) romper National Flag, and turned fractions of :12.20, :24.20 and :37.40. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:02 and three-quarters in 1:14.60.
“Audible was very good,” Pletcher commented. “Javier was happy with him.”
Wood Memorial (G2) romper Vino Rosso and regular rider John Velazquez blazed the half-mile in a bullet, best-of-75, :47.20. The Curlin chestnut worked in company with stakes victor Outplay to record splits of :11.40, :23.40 and :35.40 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.40 and six furlongs in 1:13.40.
“Vino Rosso was good and Johnny was happy with him,” Pletcher noted. “All three of those were similar with Magnum Moon and Vino Rosso quicker and Audible a good gallop out.”
The trainer’s fourth Kentucky Derby hopeful, Louisiana Derby (G2) scorer Noble Indy, took a five-furlong spin around the track under jockey Florent Geroux in 1:01.60 around 9 a.m. The Take Charge Indy bay colt worked in company with maiden winner Regal Quality, clocking splits of :13.20, :25.60, :37.40 and :49.60. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60.
“Noble Indy showed good energy and Florent got along well with him,” Pletcher reported, adding that the Geroux will ride Noble Indy in the Derby. The horseman’s other jockey is Luis Saez for Magnum Moon.
Also recording his final major move at Churchill Downs on Friday ahead of the 144th Run for the Roses was Lone Sailor.
That Tom Amoss-conditioned bay colt had jockey James Graham in the pilot’s seat as he breezed a half-mile in :48. Lone Sailor posted fractions of :11.80, :23.80 and :36.40 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.60, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.
“A lot of people get caught up in his fast workout times,” Amoss said. “That’s just who he is. He naturally works that fast so I’d be worried if he went slower. He will still need to improve. It’s a very deep field this year.”
Expected to breeze at Churchill Downs on Saturday are Flameaway, Free Drop Billy, Good Magic, Promises Fulfilled and My Boy Jack, while Bravazo is possible. Hofburg is set to work on Sunday.
Trainer Bob Baffert’s unbeaten Justify continued his Kentucky Derby 144 preparations over the fast dirt at Santa Anita Park on Friday, working seven furlongs in 1:25.20 under jockey Drayden Van Dyke.
The Santa Anita Derby (G1) hero worked in company with maiden winner Longden, breaking about three lengths behind that stablemate. Justify collared the Godolphin homebred to cross the wire on even terms before pulling away into the clubhouse turn. He turned splits of :24.60, :36.40, :48.40, 1:00.60 and 1:12.60. Baffert had his Scat Daddy charge galloping out a mile in 1:39.80.
“He hit the ground good. He’s like a Cadillac,” Van Dyke said.
“That’s what you want to see,” Baffert confirmed. “You want to see a horse that’s enjoying what he’s doing. He worked well and got something out of it. I was either going to work him tomorrow or today and I moved it up an extra day because he’s going to leave on Monday.
“This track at Santa Anita is a very deep, demanding track and they get really fit here,” Baffert addressed the decision to have Justify’s final work in California instead of over the Churchill Downs surface Thursday on a NTRA National Media Teleconference. “We’ve shipped all over and I don’t think there’s a big difference. We used to go there a few weeks early but last year we went in the week before and won the Kentucky Oaks. I don’t think it makes a difference.”
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has the Derby mount on Justify.
Baffert’s other Kentucky Derby runner, multiple Grade 1-placed Solomini, is expected to work Saturday or Sunday at Santa Anita Park.
“The talent is there but he’s going to have to get some breaks go his way,” Baffert said. “He’s been training well, looks happy, came out of the last race (third in Arkansas Derby) well. He’s a little bit slower than some of the horses in there but they all deserve a chance. Crazy things happen in the Derby.”
Dual Grade 1 scorer Bolt d’Oro is set to work a half-mile at 7:45 a.m. (PT) at Santa Anita Park on Saturday morning under Victor Espinoza for owner/trainer Mick Ruis.
Grade 3 victor Instilled Regard, fourth in the Santa Anita Derby and Risen Star Stakes (G2) in his past pair, is scheduled to work under Van Dyke on Sunday for the Kentucky Derby, according to Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
“We’re excited about the Derby,” Ward said. “It’s going to be a big field, not four or five, and with more pace up front, that will help him.”
Instilled Regard is scheduled to ship for Kentucky early Monday morning on April 30.