04/29/2013 9:57PM

It's Kentucky Derby time again!


It's Kentucky Derby time again, and that means new horses, people, sights and experiences to photograph.  Here are some photos from the past week or so - Derby and Oaks contenders as well as a few extras tossed in.  Enjoy!

Above:  Todd Pletcher is SO hot nowadays that he doesn't even need his cell phone to snap a photo - just his fingers!

Above:  Todd checks out some of his 4,203 Derby/Oaks entrants...in this case, Overanalyze (foreground), Charming Kitten and Verrazano.

Above:  Before Todd Pletcher was Todd Pletcher, he assisted the master D. Wayne Lukas.  Here's Wayne with one of his two Derby entrants, Will Take Charge.  As Lukas states with a smile, he's the only trainer to match his pony with his racehorse!  (note the blazed faced chestnuts)

Above:  Wayne's even stylish on crappy days - and check out those Kentucky Derby-winning signs on his barn.  Not bad!

Above:  I don't want to think of how many years I've photographed Wayne taking his Derby horses out to graze.

Above:  While the Derby/Oaks stuff may be old hat to Lukas, it's a new experience for the affable Denis Roberson, assisting trainer Sal Santoro with Rose to Gold. Gotta root for a filly like this!  Great story...which, of course, you can find on DRF.com! ;-)

Above/below:  Bob Baffert's lovely Midnight Lucky turned in one of the most impressive Oaks' contender workouts recently.  

Above:  Lest we forget last year's grey Oaks filly....  On Fire Baby's back at Gary Hartlage's Churchill barn.  She   recently returned a winner in the G1 Apple Blossom.

Above:  Hall of Famers Gary Stevens (left) and Mike Smith go through their paces on Overanalyze and Palace Malice.

Above:  And Overanalyze isn't the only Derby horse Stevens worked.

Above: Speaking of Hall of Famers, a heartfelt congratulations to Calvin Borel!...here up on Revolutionary, working beside Charming Kitten and Patti Krotenko.  If there were a Hall of Fame for exercise riders, Krotenko would be in it.

Above:  Hello, handsome!  How beautiful is the flashy Black Onyx?

Above:  Yes, Black Onyx, we're talking about you!

Above:  Two classic Hall of Famers, Mike Smith and Bill Mott (shout-out to the gorgeous pony Daniel!).  I asked Mike how long he and Bill have paired up, and I think he said since he was 18.  He's 47 now.  You can do the math.

Above:  Hello, kitty!  

Above:  Noble Tune does his best Don King impression....

...but, despite that first photo, he's a true beauty.  

Above:  Chad Brown, a newcomer to Derby-week frenzy, keeps a watchful eye on Normandy Invasion....

Above:  ...as does Normandy Invasion's attentive rider Javier Herrera.

Above:  And hey, Nick Bush, what exactly are you whispering to Revolutionary?  He looks so surprised - shocked, I say!

Above:  Dreaming of Julia, Humberto Zamora, and a shadow cast.

Above:  Charming Kitten, who has not always been completely charming.....

Above:  ...like, uh, last summer at Saratoga, when he unintentionally ran over Ken Ramsey in the winner's circle.  Hey, Javier Castellano, a penny for your thoughts at that moment!  Todd, how about yours?  Ken Ramsey, how about yours?  

Above:  Back to Churchill Downs and 2013!  Overanalyze feeling his oats....

Above:  ...and Unlimited Budget (Patti Krotenko up) feeling hers.

Above:  Unlimited Budget: "Stop making me look stupid!  Can't you see there are cameras around?"

Above:  Meanwhile, Verrazano won't let a little rain keep him from looking proud.

Above:  Palace Malice and Jake Nelson stride out perfectly past the classic Churchill Downs twin spires' backdrop. 

Above:  Assistant Whit Beckman trying to think of how to tell Todd Pletcher he's super-glued his fingers to Palace Malice's nose.

Above:  Hot, hot, hot, Joel, Joel, Joel.

Above:  Rudy Rodriguez's horsemanship - shown off by the hackamore on Vyjack - is one of the week's hottest topics.

Above:  The handsome Itsmyluckyday wears a St. Francis medal.  St. Francis is the patron saint of animals.

Above:  Falling Sky (outside), trained by John Terranova, had a highly unusual and photogenic workout in company with his stablemates Balance of Power and Swift Warrior.  In the background (right), Rudy Rodriguez sets Vyjack down for a work while, left back, Verrazano gallops.

Above:  Assistant Jack Sisterson and Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents take a peaceful stroll around Doug O'Neill's shedrow.

Above:  This older horse letting off steam at the track is multiple Grade I winner Point of Entry, looking pretty as a picture.

Above:  The beautiful bang-tailed Normandy Invasion says, "Hey, look, it's Orb!"

Above:  Florida Derby winner Orb is sure turning heads this week.  Who doesn't like connections like Shug McGaughey, Stuart Janney and the Phipps family?

Above:  Orb's easy to identify in the deep sea of barely- or unmarked McGaughey bay horses.  Just check out the slit at the top of his nose.  They don't know quite how he did that, in his stall...but goodness nose, it hasn't slowed him down.

Above:  Jenn Patterson gives Orb some loving after their Monday workout....

Above:  ....and Orb gets cranky during his bath soon thereafter.

Above:  Oxbow gets even crankier that same day.  

Till next time....