Edited press release
As a little drizzle began to fall, major Kentucky Derby (G1) contenders Exaggerator and Brody’s Cause turned in five-furlong works Saturday morning at Churchill Downs
Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Exaggerator worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 with three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard for his brother, trainer Keith Desormeaux.
“The track was a little loose, but he had a good work,” said a slightly breathless Kent Desormeaux, who jumped off the Curlin colt and into a car for a dash to the airport and a 9:30 flight back to his California base where he was scheduled to ride Saturday afternoon at Los Alamitos.
Churchill clockers caught Exaggerator in splits of :12.80, :25.20, :37.80 and :50.40 en route to his final time. They followed him on the gallop out with fractions of 1:15.60 and 1:29.60.
Kent had jetted in from California Friday night and crashed on brother Keith’s couch in Louisville. They spoke by phone Saturday after the work as Kent was airport bound.
“Kent told me he thought the track was a little loose and that the horse labored just a bit getting started,” the older Desormeaux brother said at Barn 25 afterward. “But he also said he got into a good rhythm and he finished up very strong. He said he never asked him but that the colt had good energy from the eighth pole to the seven-eighths; that he did it all on his own. Then he galloped out well and finished up the way you’d like him to.”
Keith likened the drill to a similar one his charge had just prior to winning the Santa Anita Derby on April 9.
“He worked at Santa Anita in a similar time (1:02.80) and fashion before winning their big race,” he said. “That tells me he’s still at least at the level he was before his big effort in that one. I don’t work my horses fast; I prefer to go the stamina route. I know that goes against the general grain, but that’s what I prefer to do. I want them to go on and I train them that way. I think he’s in a good place right now and I’m glad to have this last (work) done.”
Brody’s Cause, winner of the Blue Grass (G1), worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 under Tammy Fox for trainer Dale Romans. Churchill Downs’ clockers caught the son of Giant’s Causeway in eighth-mile splits of :11.60, :23.40, :35.40, :50.40, galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.60 and seven furlongs in 1:29.60.
“I think Brody’s Cause worked great,” Romans said. “He came back great and looked like he had never done anything. It’s a great sign, he’s ready. All the heavy lifting is over. We just have to keep him happy and fresh until next weekend. This is what we were looking for this morning. He galloped out nice and relaxed and went fast even though he was relaxed and came back like he had never done anything.”
Also breezing for Romans was Cherry Wine, third to Brody’s Cause in the Blue Grass. The son of Paddy O’Prado breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 in fractions of :11.80, :23.40, :35.60, :47.60, galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.60 and seven furlongs 1:27.60. He is No. 25 on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 25 points.
“If Cherry Wine gets in, he will be a contender. He worked that good. Otherwise, Preakness (G1),” Romans said.
Working shortly after the track opened at 5:45 a.m. (EDT), Dazzling Gem, 24th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, worked five furlongs in 1:00.40.
“He worked super good,” trainer Brad Cox said. “He couldn’t have worked any better. He seems to have cooled out good. I’m super encouraged by it. Hopefully, we’ll draw in.”
Cox said if Dazzling Gem doesn’t draw into the Kentucky Derby, he’ll be considered for the Preakness at Pimlico or the Peter Pan Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park. However, he has no fears about taking their chances in the Derby if they luck out.
“Fitness certainly won’t be a problem,” Cox said. “He’s had two 1 1/8-mile races. We just have to see what happens.”
Danzing Candy put in his final workout for the Kentucky Derby with a five-furlong breeze going :59.60 at San Luis Rey Downs Training Center with exercise rider Rolando Quinones in the irons.
“He worked very good and breezed very nice,” trainer Cliff Sise Jr. said following the work. “I was looking for 1:01 but the horse just did it so nicely, and he galloped out very, very good in 1:12.60.”
Danzing Candy, a winner of the March 12 San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita two starts ago but unplaced in the Santa Anita Derby, will give Sise his first Kentucky Derby starter.
“It’s going to be very exciting for us,” Sise said. “I don’t think it’s really going to hit us until the walkover though.”