04/24/2008 11:00PM

Clocker's Report 4/24: Serious works begin

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Under normal circumstances, Thursday would have been a pivotal and extremely exciting morning at Churchill Downs, with the likely favorite for this year's Kentucky Derby scheduled for his final serious workout prior to the big event. Unfortunately, that particular drill came about 900 miles away at Palm Meadows training center in Boynton Beach, Fla., where Big Brown zipped five furlongs in 58.60 seconds under exercise rider Michelle Nevin.

In contrast to his two previous five-furlong works at Palm Meadows, which were a series of effortless 12-second eighths, Big Brown posted fractions of 11.80, 23.00, and 34.80 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:11.80, according to track clocker Bryan Walls.

With Big Brown absent, things were relatively quiet during training hours at Churchill. Cool Coal Man turned in the morning's only recorded Derby workout, going four furlongs in company with stablemate Chris Got Even, while Court Vision got a little extra air into his lungs by open galloping seven furlongs.

Cool Coal Man (four furlongs in 47.51 seconds) - Trainer Nick Zito waited until the first wave of traffic had passed by after the break before sending Cool Coal Man, the Fountain of Youth winner, out to the track under exercise rider Megan Smillie along with fellow 3-year-old Chris Got Even. The pair galloped easily to the half-mile pole but were full of run once breaking off, posting opening fractions of 11.70, 23.11, and 34.90, with Cool Coal Man the widest of the duo turning into the stretch while well in hand. Both horses appeared to tire slightly nearing the wire, with Cool Coal Man never put to urging at any point. He pulled up fairly abruptly, galloping out five furlongs in 1:02.80.

Having worked a brilliant half-mile with the addition of blinkers April 17, Court Vision will have only one more serious prep early next week. To bridge that gap, trainer Bill Mott allowed Court Vision to stretch it out a little more than usual at the end of his regular morning routine on Thursday. Dropping down near the rail at the five-furlong pole as if preparing to breeze, Court Vision, sans blinkers, proceeded to post a steady series of effortless 14-and-change eighth-mile splits, getting to the wire in 1:10.92 for five furlongs before pulling up at the six-furlong pole after covering seven-eighths in 1:38.84. He couldn't be doing better.

Colonel John looked a little more comfortable over the surface than he had the previous morning, when he gave the appearance he was still testing the footing as he acclimates to dirt after training and racing exclusively on artificial surfaces in California.

Gayego, another who has had the bulk of his experience on artificial tracks, seemed to handle the Churchill strip nicely during a fairly energetic gallop under the cover of darkness.

Pyro, according to assistant trainer Scott Blasi galloped a mile shortly after the track opened at 6 a.m.

The South American Tomcito galloped along at a strong and steady clip with his long-legged rider out of the irons, nearly scraping his feet along the track while handling the horse in a manner one observer described as "gaucho" style.