03/25/2012 10:55AM

2012 Kentucky Derby: Went the Day Well may prep in Keeneland's Lexington

Patrick Lang Photography
Went the Day Well earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory in the Vinery Racing Spiral.

FLORENCE, Ky. – The 3 1/2-length victory by Went the Day Well in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes on Saturday at Turfway Park certainly has his connections pumped for the 138th Kentucky Derby on May 5. What remains to be answered in the coming weeks, however, is whether the colt will have another race in the interim before proceeding to Churchill Downs.

Barry Irwin, who heads the Team Valor International partnership that owns Went the Day Well, initially was inclined to get another race into the colt after talking to jockey John Velazquez after the Spiral. “Johnny said he’s a good horse, but he’s not all there mentally yet,” Irwin said in winner’s circle interviews at Turfway.

But a half-hour or so later, trainer Graham Motion said there was no need to make a decision for a while.

“He's lightly raced, and I think it was definitely a good experience for him today. I think he'll learn from this race,” said Motion, who was headed to Dubai on Sunday and sent Went the Day Well and some of his other horses to Keeneland, where the spring meet begins April 6.

Both Irwin and Motion specifically mentioned the Grade 3, $200,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes on April 21 at Keeneland as the logical race for Went the Day Well if in fact they conclude he will race again before the Derby. The Lexington goes at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack.

Although there are obvious similarities between Animal Kingdom, who won the Spiral and Derby last year, and what Went the Day Well accomplished Saturday, one of their primary differences at this point is that Went the Day Well already has raced twice on dirt, having finished fourth, then first, in 1 1/8-mile maiden races at Gulfstream Park this winter. Animal Kingdom went into the Derby unraced on dirt.

“That’s a huge difference,” said Motion. “I’m very comfortable with how this horse handles the dirt.”

Went the Day Well, a New York-bred by Proud Citizen, earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 92 in the Spiral. By comparison, Animal Kingdom got a 94 Beyer in his 2 3/4-length victory here last year.

By earning $282,000 of the $500,000 purse, Went the Day Well is assured a berth in the Derby based on the criteria using graded earnings for the 20 starters.

Meanwhile, Todd Pletcher and his clients will have decisions to make about Holiday Promise and Heavy Breathing, the respective second- and third-place finishers in the Spiral. Holiday Promise, owned by WinStar Farm, earned $94,000, while Heavy Breathing, owned by Starlight Racing, earned $47,000. The graded earnings were the first for both.

As of late Sunday morning, Turfway still had not released attendance or handle figures for Spiral Day, although the ontrack crowd seemed comparable to years when nearly 20,000 turned out.