04/28/2008 12:00AM

Clocker's Report 4/27: Colonel John passes test


LOUISVILLE,Ky. - Colonel John dispelled any notions that he was strictly an artificial surface specialist by working five furlongs in 57.61 seconds at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning.

Colonel John was one of five prospective Kentucky Derby starters to work over a fast racetrack on Sunday. He was joined on a busy tab by the Bill Mott-trained duo of Court Vision and Z Humor, Adriano and the filly Eight Belles.

Colonel John waited several minutes before some of the early traffic had subsided after the break before beginning his work. He went in splits of 11.57, 23.16, 34.67 and 45.63, then galloped out six furlongs in 1:10.99.

"The time was fast but I was happy with the way he did it. I was very pleased with the way he handled the track," said trainer Eoin Harty less than an hour after the work. "The track was very fast this morning, Unnecessarily fast. At the moment it doesn't look like the work took a lot out of him. He got a good blow but he appears to be well back to himself. Fortunately we have plenty of time to play with between now and the Derby."

Harty had originally scheduled Colonel John's final Derby prep for Monday but moved it up 24 hours due to the forecast of rain in the local area on Sunday evening.

Trainer Larry Jones worked both of his top 3-year-old fillies, Eight Belles and Proud Spell. Jones indicated Eight Belles would likely run in the Kentucky Derby with Proud Spell expected to start in Friday's Kentucky Oaks.

Proud Spell was the first of the Jones fillies to work, going in 11.28,22.72, 34.22 and 46.08 before completing five furlongs in 58.50 and galloping out in 1:13.22.

Eight Belles followed with a similar effort, posting fractions of 11.33, 22.76, 34.01 and 45.73 before completing five furlongs in 58.26 and galloping out in 1:12.23.

"I think Eight Belles deserves a shot at going a mile and one-quarter against the boys in the Derby," Jones said afterward. "I don't think any of the boys stand out above the rest. Even Big Brown, who could have an issue going a mile and one-quarter."

Court Vision was the only Derby horse to breeze before the renovation break, working five furlongs in company with a stablemate in 1:00.89, then galloping out three-quarters of a mile in 1:13.97. As was the case in his previous work 10 days earlier, Court Vision was equipped with blinkers.

Z Humor also worked in company with a stablemate, Radius, going five-eighths in 1:01.31 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:00.57.

Adriano worked with stablemate Cherokee Artist and went five-eighths in 1:00.57 with a gallop out time of 1:14.07.

Smooth Air returned to the track for the first time in three days on Sunday but did nothing more than jog a slow mile alongside a pony. Smooth Air missed the previous two days of training while being treated for a slight temperature discovered by trainer Ben Stutts Jr. on Thursday evening. Stutts remains hopeful Smooth Air will be able to start in the Derby.

Pyro galloped two strong miles before dawn and was scheduled to have his final Derby prep along with stablemate Z Fortune on Monday.