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Derby prep aftermath: Zulu, Flexibility off the trail

By TwinSpires Staff

Edited press release from NYRA

Trainer Todd Pletcher reported this morning that Repole Stable’s Outwork, winner of Saturday’s $1 million Wood Memorial (G1), returned from his efforts in fine fettle and likely will be one of two representatives from his barn, along with Destin, for the May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1).

“He seemed very happy with himself, and I’m pleased with the way he’s come out of the race so far,” said Pletcher, adding that none of his Blue Grass contenders – Zulu, Cards of Stone or Donegal Moon – ran well enough at Keeneland to warrant consideration for the Run for the Roses.

Although pleased with the Uncle Mo colt’s development this year – going from a sprint allowance to the Tampa Bay Derby to a 1 1/8-mile race over a demanding, muddy track with a quick opening quarter of :22 4/5 –  the trainer said he still has some learning to do as he moves forward to the 1 1/4-mile Derby.

“He definitely has a tendency to idle,” said Pletcher. “In his mind the race was won when he got to the top of the stretch and made the lead. Thankfully, it didn’t cost him the win yesterday. His ears go straight forward and he’s looking around. Hopefully that’s something he’ll continue to mature through and get better and learn how to really polish off his races.”

One of the more satisfying aspects of Outwork’s victory, said Pletcher, was that he made some amends for his sire’s loss in the same race five years ago.

“A son of Uncle Mo out of a mare named after his grandmother, it was really a family win for Mike Repole,” said Pletcher. “It was extra special in many ways.”

Travel plans for Outwork remain undecided, said Pletcher, other than he definitely will not be getting on Monday’s flight to Kentucky.

“There’s another one on the 19th that could be a possibility,” he said. “It’s in the process of being sorted out. We have to work out when he’s going to breeze and where his two breezes will be. One of them could be here, and I anticipate one, possibly two, will be at Churchill.”

Outrun by only a head by Outwork, maiden Trojan Nation has emerged from his near-upset of the Wood in fine order, California-based trainer Paddy Gallagher told NYRA by phone Sunday morning.

Trojan Nation, owned and bred by Julie Gilbert and Dr. Aaron Sones, has been winless in six starts with three third-place finishes in addition to Saturday’s explosive runner-up performance at 81-1, but now boasts more than $200,000 in earnings and 40 points towards a berth in the Kentucky Derby.

“He’s a horse that always trains really well, we kind of hoped that he was putting everything together racing wise and it was another big step up,” said Gallagher. “It was his first cross country ship and he got [to New York] early, two or three days out from the race, so he got a chance to settle in real good.”

He added that Trojan Nation, a well-bred bay colt by Street Cry out of 1996 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Eclipse Award winner Storm Song, will regroup at Gallagher’s training base at Santa Anita, but could well make his next start in the “Run for the Roses” May 7 at Churchill Downs.

“I talked with the owners last night, and he’s definitely in consideration for the Derby,” he said. “We’ve got about a month until the race so he’s going to ship back here back to California either Tuesday or Wednesday and we’ll train him here before making a final decision and deciding when to ship to Kentucky.”

With a bevy of runners in yesterday’s stakes races from Aqueduct and Keeneland, trainer Chad Brown ended the day pleased with winning performances from Lewis Bay in the Gazelle (G2) at the Big A alongside a second-place finish at Keeneland with My Man Sam in the Blue Grass S. (G1). He also looked to regroup with Wood Memorial entrants Shagaf and Flexibility who finished in fifth and seventh-place respectively.

 Virtually locking a spot in the Derby starting gate after accumulating 40 Kentucky Derby qualifying points with his performance in the Blue Grass, Sheep Pond Partner’s promising colt My Man Sam has earned his way there as long as he remains healthy according to Brown.

“I thought he ran great considering that difficult post position (14),” Brown said. “He finished strong and got up for second and earned enough points if we want to run in the Derby, which we do, so if he comes out of the race OK which so far he has he’ll also move over to Churchill on the 19th and have two workouts over the track.”

Brown commented on Shadwell Stable’s Shagaf, who entered the gate in yesterday’s Wood as the 9-5 post-time favorite only to finish a disappointing fifth over the muddy and sealed track while Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawerence’s Flexiblity would be taken off the Derby trail in another direction following his seventh-place finish.

“Shagaf didn’t really appear to handle the track as well,” Brown said. “He made a good move into the turn, he ran up into a wall of horses and he had to pause. When he tried to re-rally again he was very one paced and tired and encountered a lot of mud and kickback. (Jockey) Irad (Ortiz Jr.) said the track wasn’t just for him. So far he looks good this morning. If he has a good week, he’ll go to Churchill on the 19th as well.

Flexibility was disappointing, Manny Franco said down the backside he wouldn’t handle the inner of the track. He was off the bridle by the midway marker and he had no horse under him at all. We’ll regroup with him but for now he’s off the Derby trail.”

Trainer Leah Gyarmati remained encouraged from the effort of Wood third Adventist, despite another difficult trip encountered by the colt and continued hope for a possible next start in the Derby.

“I thought he ran a huge race as he always does,” said Gyarmati. “Starting out (jockey) Kendrick (Carmouche) had to ask him going into the first turn and then had to ask him again towards the finish after having to move out from the rail four-wide and into the seventh path towards the finish.”

With three straight third-place finishes in New York’s road to the Kentucky Derby in the Withers (G3) and Gotham (G3) along with yesterday’s finish in the Wood, Adventist currently sits on the bubble for Kentucky Derby starting entrants 32 points in the 20th place heading into next Saturday’s Arkansas Derby (G1), Gyarmati plans to watch what happens before making any final decision towards any Derby plans.

“We’ll let everybody else’s plans dictate the decision we make on the Derby. I haven’t talked to Jeff [Treadway] yet, but if it happens that would be great. He came out of the race great, ate up all his feed and we know he can get the 1 1/4-mile distance with the trips he’s encountered so we’ll see.”

From Santa Anita notes

Trainer Keith Desormeaux was realistic bordering on ecstatic Sunday morning discussing Exaggerator’s 6 1/4-length triumph in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) Saturday, earning the son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.

“Here’s a news flash,” Keith said by phone after attending church, a Sunday ritual: “Everything looks good this morning. I said after he was third in the San Felipe (G2) that maybe the reasons he didn’t finish were that maybe he was a miler, maybe it was one of those crazy bounce theories, but not now.

“I think his impressive win can be attributed to a combination of several things: his fitness, his pedigree, but most of all, his demeanor before the race. He’s never been a fidgety horse, but yesterday before the race he was calm and never turned a hair.”

Trainer Cliff Sise Jr. said Danzing Candy came out of his fourth-place finish after leading past the three-quarter mark in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby in good order but had “no plans” on what might be next for the San Felipe winner.

Trainer Gary Sherlock had no word the next race for Uncle Lino, who outran his odds in the Santa Anita Derby by finishing third at 26-1, other than “he won’t run in the Kentucky Derby.”

Sise called Exaggerator’s powerful rush from next to last after a half mile to a runaway victory in the Santa Anita Derby “an Arazi-type move.”

Meanwhile, in the What-Have-You-Done-For-Me-Lately Department, Brian Beach, agent for Victor Espinoza, winner of five of the last six Triple Crown races who was seventh, beaten 37 1/2 lengths on Smokey Image in the Santa Anita Derby, said his rider is “now officially open in the Kentucky Derby.”

From Keeneland notes

The Albaugh Family Stable’s Brody’s Cause made off with the $600,000 top prize from Saturday’s $1 million Blue Grass and soon after was back in his stall at Churchill Downs at trainer Dale Romans’ barn.

Brody’s Cause, a graduate of Keeneland’s 2014 September Yearling Sale, became the fourth horse to win both the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and the Blue Grass, joining the likes of the Romans-trained Dullahan four years ago.

Also returning to Churchill Downs was stablemate Cherry Wine, who finished third, only a head behind My Man Sam for the runner-up spot.

Trainer Eric Guillot is considering options for Laoban, who led the Blue Grass in the early part of the race before being overtaken in the stretch and finishing fourth. The Uncle Mo colt, still a maiden in five races for owner Southern Equine Stable and McCormick Racing, has 32 Derby qualifying points, good for 21st on the leaders list.

Guillot said Laoban is to remain at Keeneland for the time being until he moves his stable to Churchill.