Stay up to speed on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a weekly roundup of all the latest news and developments:
Changes on the Leaderboard
Two expected Kentucky Derby contenders were removed from consideration last week due to ill-timed setbacks. Travers (G1) runner-up Caracaro withdrew after suffering a minor injury during his final pre-race workout, while undefeated Marine (G3) winner Shirl’s Speight exited the scene after coming down with a cough.
In addition, Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up Dr Post is skipping the Derby to target Saturday’s Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga instead, and Rushie will forego the Run for the Roses in favor of Saturday’s Pat Day Mile (G2) at Churchill Downs. This leaves a field of 18 horses expected to enter the Kentucky Derby, with Mr. Big News and Money Moves the final qualifiers pending any late additions.
On the Work Tab
Art Collector: Clocked 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 on Friday at Churchill Downs. The son of Bernardini started out in casual fashion, completing the first quarter in :25, but steadily picked up the pace thereafter and galloped out strongly through 6 furlongs in 1:13.80 and 7 furlongs in 1:27.20, even with jockey Brian Hernandez standing in the saddle.
“He really loves this track here at Churchill,” remarked trainer Tommy Drury. “He galloped pretty strong yesterday on his first day back at Churchill and turned in a really strong work today. The difficult part is out of the way and now we just need to keep him happy and healthy until Saturday.”
Attachment Rate: On Sunday at Churchill Downs, the Ellis Park Derby runner-up clocked 5 furlongs in 1:01.20, a final maintenance move leading up to the Run for the Roses. Attachment Rate posted splits of :12.60, :24.60, :37, and :48.80 before galloping out 6 furlongs in 1:14 under encouragement.
“I thought his race at Ellis made him worthy of trying the Derby,” said trainer Dale Romans. “This was his second work back from the [Ellis Park Derby] and we wanted to put a nice five-eighths move in him.”
Authentic: Worked a stiff mile in 1:38.60 on Tuesday at Del Mar, then followed up with 6 furlongs in 1:12.40 on Sunday, his fourth consecutive bullet workout.
“Authentic is really doing well. I see him turning the corner,” said trainer Bob Baffert, who is seeking a record-equaling sixth victory in the Kentucky Derby. “Both of my horses [Authentic and Thousand Words], I think they’re live. We just need some luck, you never know what is going to happen with that many horses in there.”
Enforceable: Breezing over a good track on Saturday morning at Churchill Downs, Enforceable traveled a half-mile in :49.60, posting splits of :12.80, :24.80, and :37.20 before easing up through 5 furlongs in 1:03.20.
“I think he is really improving at this stage of his career. He’s maturing; he’s ready to go,” said trainer Mark Casse. “I thought he looked super. If you said to me three months ago you could have him where he is today and you’d be in the position you’re in, I would have taken it. I just think he’s at the top of his game right now. That’s all you can ask for.”
Finnick the Fierce: Clocked a bullet 5 furlongs at The Thoroughbred Center on Wednesday, traveling in company and going the distance in 1:00.60. “He worked well,” said trainer and co-owner Rey Hernandez. “He worked behind another horse.”
Honor A. P.: Wrapped up his serious Kentucky Derby preparations by breezing 7 furlongs in 1:27.20 on Saturday afternoon at Del Mar. With jockey Mike Smith in the saddle, the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner cruised the opening quarter-mile in :25.80, then accelerated through splits of :37.80, :50.20, 1:02.80, and 1:14.80 before galloping out a full mile in 1:40.80.
“I just wanted an easy seven-eighths,” trainer John Shirreffs told Del Mar. “He got it; we’re good to go now. Now we just need a bit of luck. You need some of that in that race.”
King Guillermo: After turning in a bevy of fast workouts in the two months leading up to the Kentucky Derby, King Guillermo took things easier in his final pre-race breeze. Over a good track at Churchill Downs, the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner waltzed through a slow half-mile in :52.20, putting in splits of :14.40 and :27.20 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:05.20.
“[Trainer Juan Availa] asked me to go easy and it was exactly what the horse needed,” said exercise rider Edgar Garcia. “I thought he galloped out around the turn well and was moving very easy on the track. He doesn’t need to do much, he’s pretty fit.”
Major Fed: Turned in the bullet time for 5 furlongs on Friday at Churchill Downs, sprinting the distance in :59 off fractions of :12.20, :23.80, and :47. He carried his head a bit high throughout the exercise, but responded nicely when asked to continue past the finish line, completing 6 furlongs in 1:12.
“I wanted to put a good work in him this morning, and focus on making sure he finished through the wire, said trainer Grey Foley. “He was moving pretty good around there. James [Graham, jockey] tapped him on the shoulder once and he lowered his body to continue galloping out well. The big relief was how easy he seemed to do it because back at the barn he really wasn’t tired.”
Max Player: Completed his Kentucky Derby preparations with a straightforward half-mile in :49.80 on Monday at Churchill Downs, his third workout since being transferred to the care of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Assmusen. Beginning with fractions of :12.40 and :24.40, Max Player wrapped up with 5 furlongs in an easy 1:02.80.
“He’s continuing to do well,” said Asmussen. “I’m extremely excited about how he’s going to run in the Kentucky Derby. I love how he looks going over the racetrack. His attitude is really good. He came in with a really good attitude and was moving really well. That has stayed the same.”
Money Moves: Took to the Saratoga main track for a 5-furlong workout on Friday, breezing the distance in 1:00.14. Most recently runner-up in a Saratoga allowance race, Money Moves will make his stakes debut in the Kentucky Derby, a rare occurrence made possible by the less-than-full field taking shape for the Run for the Roses.
“The horse ran well last time and he’s been training sharply,” two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher told the New York Racing Association. “I felt like this is an opportunity that you don’t get very often, so we’re taking a shot.”
Mr. Big News: Breezed 5 furlongs in an easy 1:04.40 over the Churchill Downs turf course on Sunday, after which owner Chester Thomas of Allied Racing Stable announced the Bret Calhoun-trained colt will enter the Kentucky Derby. Gabriel Saez has been named to ride.
“I know we don’t have some of the numbers like Tiz the Law, Art Collector, and Honor A. P. but this horse is improving,” said Thomas. “I think he is absolutely going to love the distance and will make a big run late.”
Necker Island: In his first work since finishing third in the Ellis Park Derby, Necker Island clocked a straightforward half-mile in :48.40 on Friday at Churchill Downs. Starting a couple of lengths behind his Grade 1-placed stablemate Kurilov, Necker Island started slowly with splits of :12.60 and :25, then picked up the pace to rally inside his stablemate and cross the wire a length in front.
“I thought it was a great work,” said trainer Chris Hartman. “He finished well and other than the little hiccup at the start with the ‘25’ it was exactly what I wanted to see.”
Ny Traffic: Clocked 5 furlongs in a quick :59.45 on Friday at Saratoga, settling behind a stablemate before cruising to the finish line in front.
“I thought he went super. It’s just what we wanted,” trainer Saffie Joseph told the New York Racing Association. “I got him in 59 and change and out [6 furlongs] in 1:12. I just wanted to see him cool out good and scope good. With our fingers crossed and with a good eight days [before the Derby], we have a very good chance. Today was important. I just wanted to see him come out of the work good.”
Sole Volante: Burned up the Palm Meadows turf course on Friday, rocketing 5 furlongs in a bullet :57.80. “He breezed really well and cooled out perfect,” noted trainer Patrick Biancone. Sole Volante arrived at Churchill Downs on Sunday and visited the track for the first time on Monday morning.
“Normally, he’s the quietest horse in the barn, so yesterday [Sunday] when I took him off the van, I didn’t even use a lip chain and he dragged me off the van,” said co-owner, assistant trainer, and exercise rider Andie Biancone. “This morning [Monday], he felt better than he ever has.”
Storm the Court: Clocked 6 furlongs in a quick 1:12.80 on Saturday at Del Mar, traveling the opening half-mile in a rapid :47.60 before coming home the final quarter-mile in :25.20.
“A good work, all we were looking for,” trainer Peter Eurton told Del Mar. “If he comes out of it well, we’re headed east.”
Thousand Words: Blazed 5 furlongs in :59.80 on Saturday at Del Mar, the second-fastest move of the morning. Owned by the partnership of Albaugh Family Stables and Spendthrift Farm, the Shared Belief S. winner worked in company with stablemate Tapitution and posted fractions of :11.80 and :36 before leaving his companion behind through 6 furlongs in 1:11.40 and 7 furlongs in 1:25, all per Del Mar. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert caught the colt going a mile in 1:39.20.
“Bob said it was a great work, he was really happy,” said Jason Loutsch, racing manager for Albaugh Family Stables. “It looks like we’re trying to teach him to sit back a little bit. He was right off the workmate, about 5 or 8 lengths, and that’s probably going to be our style this week since there is a lot of speed in [the Kentucky Derby]. I think there will be three or four horses up near the lead and hopefully we’re in the second pack that sits behind them.”
Tiz the Law: The Kentucky Derby favorite completed his major pre-racing training with yet another sharp workout at Saratoga, breezing 5 furlongs in a bullet :59.21 on Saturday. Heading to the track at 5:45 a.m. to avoid impending rain, Tiz the Law clocked the first 3 furlongs in :36.01, flew home the final quarter-mile in :23.20 without being urged, and galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:12.01.
“Everything went fine,” said trainer Barclay Tagg. “He came back well. It may have been a little faster than he needed to go but the track was very fast, too. It went perfect, he’s a pleasure to train.”
Winning Impression: Blazed 5 furlongs in :59.20 on Friday at Churchill Downs, the second-fastest time of the morning. Working alone, the gray colt flew along through fractions of :11.80, :23.40, :34.60, and :47 before continuing past the finish line for 6 furlongs in 1:12.60. “I thought he really cruised around there well,” said trainer Dallas Stewart. “We’re ready to go. You got to be in it to win it.”