The general rule for many horsemen training toward a big race is that the last timed workout isn’t the most important. The big work often comes the week before, while the final breeze serves as more of a tune-up.
With that in mind, the weekend’s works for Kentucky Derby contenders around the country were notable.
The only timed Derby work at Churchill Downs (although expected favorite Omaha Beach, off his victory in the Arkansas Derby [G1] galloped over the Churchill main track Sunday) this weekend came from a horse who would need help to get into the field – Blue Grass Stakes (G2) third Signalman. The General Quarters colt trained by Kenny McPeek needs two defections from the current field of 20 to get in, but logged at bullet :59 3/5 five-furlong drill Saturday. Sunday morning, UAE Derby (G2) winner Plus Que Parfait breezed a half-mile, but the fog prevented clockers from ascertaining a time.
Seventy miles or so down the road at Keeneland, Code of Honor logged his second work since his third in the Florida Derby (G1) with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01 Saturday. A day before, War of Will flashed some nice speed at the same distance in Lexington and went on the worktab at 1:00 1/5.
Out West the Bob Baffert-trained duo of Game Winner and Roadster put in stiff drills at Santa Anita Park on Saturday. Roadster, the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner, logged six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 from the gate, while 2018’s champion 2-year-old male Game Winner covered five furlongs in 1:00 4/5. Farther south, UAE Derby runner-up Gray Magician put in a half-mile work in :48 2/5 at San Luis Rey Training Center for trainer Peter Miller.
On the East Coast on Friday, Wood Memorial (G2) third and Gotham (G3) winner Haikal put in a half-mile breeze in :47.59 at Belmont Park, and Blue Grass second Win Win Win covered five furlongs in 1:01 on the synthetic track at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland on Sunday, but the lion’s share of workouts took place in Florida.
Palm Beach Downs hosted Blue Grass winner Vekoma (four furlongs in :50.17 Thursday), Sunland Derby (G3) victor Cutting Humor (five furlongs in :59.58 Friday), and Louisiana Derby (G2) second Spinoff (five furlongs in :59.99 Friday), while claimer turned Florida Derby winner Maximum Security galloped his way to a :42 clocking for three furlongs at Palm Meadows Training Center on Sunday.