In the Money

Horse racing insight that's loose on the lead

What trainers said Tuesday: Derby/Oaks gallops

April 30th, 2013

Kelly Breen, Black Onyx: It was a little bit longer gallop, a little bit stronger at the end. He came out of it looking dynamite.”

Joe Bravo, Black Onyx: This is going to be my third Derby and the trainer’s third Derby, so hopefully three’s a charm. He keeps improving day by day, just looking at him. Don’t know how good he is but we’ll find out real soon. It looks like we have plenty of pace in there. Another factor is going to be this weather. We don’t know who is going to get ahold of a muddy track but we’re going to find out about 7 o’clock Saturday night.”

John Terranova, Falling Sky: “He was really into it. He’s always into it. He’s great. He likes to go out there and train. He just loves it. It’s all good. . . .“He’s a real honest horse. He obviously has real talent. He’s a horse that’s a free-runner who likes to be out there. And he’s been pretty competitive in each start.”

Kenny McPeek, Java’s War: “Today was probably as good as I’ve ever seen him go over this surface. He really had great energy. He had a couple of light days in a row and I may go light with him the rest of the week because I want to see that kind of energy on Saturday.”

Kenny McPeek, Frac Daddy: “I was worried he was going to run off that second mile there. Victor (Lebron) had a tough time pulling him up. . .He’s had a couple of episodes where things didn’t go his way and he didn’t perform all that well. But I think we’re in a good spot. His last race was super and he handled everything really well and I’m anticipating he’ll do it again. He still needs to show he can handle adversity a little bit better but physically he’s doing terrific.”

Dallas Stewart on announcing a jockey for Golden Soul: “Well, I think I’ve got it pretty much narrowed down. I mean, we’ve got a couple of guys – one guy we’re real solid on. We’re just going to wait. If something was to happen (further defections), then the owner (Charles Fipke) wouldn’t step in and say, ‘Hey, how come we’re not using one of these guys?’ ’’

Eddie Plesa on not schooling Itsmyluckyday: “Nothing bothers him, so I don’t see any reason to do that.”

Tom Amoss, Mylute: “We made a conscious change in his style – try to take him back off the pace and make one run – and it worked well. So we’ve followed that same pattern for the Kentucky Derby. He’s had his big work, three weeks out, and he’s had his two minor works, which is how we did it for the Louisiana Derby. His big work here was really nice, just as it was before the Louisiana Derby, so we’re real comfortable with where we are.”

“I have no fear regarding his fitness level or his understanding of getting a true distance of ground. I know that he’s physically ready to do that and that he’s had the training to do that.”
Chad Brown, Normandy Invasion: “I thought he went super. I was anxious to see him come out of that work to see how he would be moving and he couldn’t be moving any better. I’m getting excited about him.”
“He galloped today the way he did prior to his last work. That’s all I was looking to see because he was moving super since he has been at Churchill and in the week leading up to his final workout. When you’re breezing a horse for a big race like this and he has a serious work like he did, as a trainer you’re always curious to see how they’re coming out of there and how they’re moving. He’s moving just like he was prior to the work and I was excited to see him galloping today.”
Shug McGaughey, Orb: “He had an awfully good work yesterday and he’s done awful well since he’s been at Churchill. Even before all that I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d been the post-time favorite. But Verrazano very much deserves to be the (morning-line) favorite. He probably deserves to be the post-time favorite.”
D. Wayne Lukas, Will Take Charge: “He lays a little closer than you think. When you look at him physically in the paddock, you’d say, ‘This horse is definitely going to come from way out of it.’ He’s got a little bit of a lick to him. I would say mid-pack. He’ll be in touch.’’
Bob Baffert, Midnight Lucky: “She’s only had two outs; her weakness is her foundation. There are some good fillies in there. She has to break well. She ran a sprint and went a mile. Now she’s going a mile and an eighth against the best fillies. She has her work cut out for her.”
Kenny McPeek, Pure Fun: “She came out of it good,” McPeek said of the Lexington Stakes. “I felt like she really needed the race over there. She was a bit behind the eight ball. We maybe laid her up a little longer than we should have or needed to. When we brought her back she gained more weight. The race did her more good than sitting on her and working her a couple more times so that sets her up good.”
Sal Santoro, Rose to Gold:  “She will walk the next two mornings and not go to the track Friday morning. I have done the same thing for all of her races and if it isn’t broken I am damned sure not going to change it now.”


Pitino to visit Kentucky Derby contender Goldencents Wednesday

April 30th, 2013

Trainer Doug O’Neill reported to the Churchill Downs press office that University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino will visit his Kentucky Derby hopeful, Goldencents, on Wednesday.

Pitino. who owns five percent of the colt as part of a partnership, is expected to watch the son of Into Mischief during his training. O’Neill said Goldencents will likely have his usual gallop.

“No, he’s not going to do anything special,” O’Neill said when asked if the colt would do anything different. “He’ll just train along as he has been doing. But each of his gallops is pretty special all on their own. He puts a lot into his mornings; a lot to each time he goes out on the track.”

Giant Finish to enter the Kentucky Derby

April 30th, 2013

Churchill Downs press release

Giant Finish, who was third in the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, will be entered in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

The New York-bred colt’s inclusion in the field for the Run for the Roses makes him the 20th horse on the Derby leaderboard for the 1 ¼-mile classic and knocks Frank Irvin’s Fear the Kitten, who was believed to be the final entrant with six leaderboard points.

The connections for Giant Finish contacted Churchill Downs officials Tuesday and indicated their desire to run. Under the new qualifying system for the race, their point total was 20th best on the Derby list and made them eligible to fill the last spot in the field.

Trainer Tony Dutrow, who has handled Giant Finish for the Sunrise group, told Churchill officials that he “has agreed to support my owners’ decision to run in the Kentucky Derby.”

“I am so surprised at all of this,” Dutrow said. “I was pleasantly surprised and happy to see he ran as well as he did (in two Kentucky starts during March). We’ve kept an eye on him since and have made sure he’s had good energy since those races.”

Prior to his third in the Spiral, the chestnut colt had finished second in the March 2 Battaglia Memorial, also at Turfway Park.

Dutrow noted that – prior to the surprising Derby inclusion – he had been pointing Giant Finish toward an allowance race at Belmont Park in early May.

The trainer said the horse would ship by van from Fair Hill Wednesday and arrive at Churchill Thursday morning, in time to meet the requirement for Derby horses to be on the grounds in advance of the race. He said the owners were trying to line up a rider for the race and that he would have someone other than himself saddle the horse Saturday.

Sunrise Stable ownership is listed as Andrew Cohen, who is also the breeder of Giant Finish.

Fear the Kitten was fifth in the Blue Grass Stakes in his most recent start. He is trained by Mike Maker and is currently stabled at the nearby Trackside Training Center.

Additionally, the partnership group that now owns Carving is considering a run in the Derby. The horse is based at Emerald Downs with trainer Mike Puhich, who told Churchill Downs officials that a Thursday morning flight to Louisville is on standby should there be any defections. He is ranked No. 22 on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by” Leaderboard with two points. The new ownership group is headed by Dr. Mark Dedomenico, who was co-owner of 2010 Kentucky Oaks winner Blind Luck.


Videos: Tuesday Derby/Oaks gallops

April 30th, 2013


Normandy Invasion


Charming Kitten



Unlimited Budget

Princess of Sylmar

Flashy Gray


Kentucky Oaks field

April 30th, 2013

1. Silsita (G. Stevens / T. Pletcher) 20-1

2. Midnight Lucky (R. Bejarano/B. Baffert) 9-2

3. Beholder (G. Gomez/R. Mandella) 7-2

4. Unlimited Budget (J. Castellano/T. Pletcher) 7-2

5. Seaneen Girl (R. Napravnik/B. Flint) 20-1

6. Princess of Sylmar (M. Smith/B. Baffert) 20-1

7. Pure Fun (J. Leparoux/K. McPeek) 30-1

8. Dreaming of Julia (J. Velazquez/T. Pletcher) 3-1

9. Rose to Gold (C. Borel/S. Santoro) 15-1

10. Flashy Gray (J. Alvarado/B. Mott) 15-1

11. Close Hatches (J. Rosario/B. Mott) 6-1

What trainers said about Monday’s works/gallops

April 29th, 2013

Shug McGaughey on Orb: “I wanted to work him a half-mile to put him in the game. He left his workmate pretty easily and finished up well. He’s had a little bit of a tendency in his races when he’s made the lead he thought he’d done enough. So we wanted him to finish and go by the other horse and he did it. (Exercise rider) Jenn (Patterson) was happy, so that makes me happy.”

“Churchill is a bit different sometimes, so I was hoping this is what I’d see. I’ve been a little bit nervous hoping he’d work well, and I think it did go well. He dropped his head and walked home the way you’d want him to and he didn’t break a sweat. She (Patterson) felt he didn’t get out of a high gallop.”

“He went to the gate Friday; that went perfect. He went to the paddock Saturday night and that went perfect, as well as you could expect the first time over there, especially at night. He’ll go again on Wednesday. He’s fit in here as well as I could expect. As of right now, I’ve got no qualms. We have four, five more days to go.”

Todd Pletcher on a jockey for Charming Kitten: “We’ve got somebody in mind, but it isn’t official yet.”

John Terranova on Falling Sky: “He’s a good feeling colt. It looks like he came out of the breeze really well. He’s hitting the ground great. He galloped from near the quarter pole to about the five-eighths pole. It was just to stretch his legs a little bit. It was a light day, first day back after he walked yesterday.”

“He’s handled himself well in the paddock each time we’ve run him. Of course, it will be different for all of them. It’ll be a scene that they’ve never seen before and ever will see again. It’ll be something, but he handles himself well. He’s a smart colt.”

Phil Bauer, assistant to Kenny McPeek, on Java’s War:  “Java is kind of a lighter-framed colt so we gave him an easier day. We’re thrilled with the way they came out of their works. They have plenty of energy so we’re on to tomorrow.”

Jockey Victor Lebron on Frac Daddy: “Since Oaklawn, looking at him, he’s filled out and body-wise he’s gotten bigger. He’s gotten a lot stronger, way stronger. He’s been a way different horse since landing here. He got way stronger than what he was over there. He’s just been getting tougher and tougher.”

Dallas Stewart on Golden Soul, who made the Top 20 on Monday: “I’m very happy. I’m so happy for the horse to get the opportunity. I’m happy for Mr. Fipke. He’s going to have two horses in there. I really think (Golden Soul) is going to represent us well.’’

“You want to maintain,’’ Stewart said of what he’s doing with Golden Soul this week. “You don’t want to necessarily get them fit, but you want to keep them sharp, continue to take it to them, prepare them. You’ve got a day or two here – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – back off Thursday and Friday, something like that . . . You just have to see. You like to see them pick it up earlier in the week, then kind of take it down a notch Thursday and Friday.’’
Exercise rider Peter Shelton on Itsmyluckyday:  “He loved it. He bounced all the way around the racetrack. He handled the surface really well — that’s what I liked the most about it. His energy level is 100 percent.”
“He has tactical speed and a big kick when you ask him. He’s not like a lot of horses that really want to go on the bit. He just holds the bit enough so you can keep a perfect balance with your body. You don’t even have to move on him. You just have to move your wrist and he switches his lead; you move your other wrist and he switches his lead. That’s hard to find horses like that. He loves to train.”
Tom Amoss on Mylute: “I’ll be frank. He’s going to have to run the best race of his life to be competitive Saturday. But when it comes to the Kentucky Derby, that same statement applies to the other 19 in the race. Somebody’s going to really step forward and the one that does is going to be the winner.”
“It took a long time for him to show me that he was a proper horse so a lot of those starts were important in terms of his learning curve. He was never a horse that broke well from the gate and a lot of times that cost him his races. It took him a long time to catch on and understand racing. Even in the Louisiana Derby, he passed the winner, Revolutionary, inside the sixteenth pole, but he still didn’t quite understand. He hasn’t quite shown that killer instinct you need to be a top racehorse. But he learned from the Louisiana Derby just like he’s learned from each of those races.”
D. Wayne Lukas on Oxbow and Will Take Charge:  “A work’s a work. I’ve always said we put a little too much emphasis on works. When you do it at 8 in the morning, it’s a lot different from the afternoon, but it’s a barometer of where you’re at with a horse in a lot of ways. As a trainer you get a chance to evaluate maybe the energy level of where you’re at, the soundness, all the things that go into maybe winning the darn thing.
“I don’t get caught into it so much, but I told Gary (Stevens) in the tack room here, I said, ‘59-and-4 to a minute would fit me today,’ and that’s my opinion – I didn’t discuss it with the horse at all – and he hit it right on the head, which I know is an accident, but it was good.
“Will, I thought worked a little bit slower, but Rudy was afraid. I’d pretty much beat up on him in there about going too fast this close (to the race), so less is always better. Always better. If you’re going to err on any side of a work, you always err on the slow side, never err on the fast side.’’
Rudy Rodriguez on Vyjack: “It’s good. He’s not nervous. He’s relaxing and enjoying himself. That’s a big plus, I think. You want your horse to be able to relax and be comfortable.”
“He’s doing pretty much the same thing that we do back home. He’s doing everything we ask of him and he’s very, very comfortable. I’m kind of surprised myself, but I’m very happy where we’re standing right now.”
Richard Mandella on Beholder, who wears special ear muffs: “They mute sound for her. She hears well – too well. She’s a bit high-strung and she’s an awful good-feeling filly, so we need to tamp her down some.  When we take her to the track in the mornings, or over to the paddock to race in the afternoon, we use them. For racing itself, she’s fine with that part and they aren’t necessary. She handles herself just fine with that.”
Bob Baffert on Midnight Lucky, if there’s a sloppy track: “They say always bet a gray horse in the mud.”
Jockey Rosie Napravnik on Seaneen Girl: “I wasn’t sure for a while that I would even have a mount, and I kind of feel like this is my race since last year, so I didn’t want to miss out on it. This filly has not done a lot wrong, and my first time on her, I was very impressed with the way she moves, and she worked very well.

“She’s real responsive, she rated well, and I really didn’t ask for anything. She worked very easily.’’



Orb steals the show with top-notch work Monday

April 29th, 2013

The talk of the backstretch Monday at Churchill Downs was Florida Derby winner Orb’s pre-Kentucky Derby work for trainer Shug McGaughey.

Orb went four furlongs in :47.80 under exercise rider Jennifer Patterson. Orb’s jockey, Joel Rosario, was on the work mate.

Orb dusted his work mate and glided over the track with ease. This is a comfortable, confident, playful horse who seems well-adjusted to his new surroundings. He also appears to appreciate the surface more than many of his competitors.

Here’s the work on video:

Orb photos











Videos: Saturday Derby/Oaks works and gallops

April 27th, 2013

Black Onyx


Palace Malice and Overanalyze


Unlimited Budget



Govenor Charlie

Dreaming of Julia

Close Hatches