04/28/2009 11:00PM

Dunkirk gets his first gallop at Churchill

Barbara D. Livingston
Dunkirk, under regular exercise rider Patty Barry, gets his first look at the Churchill Downs track on Wednesday morning.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - All the important work is over, the post positions have been drawn, and now it's just a matter of keeping all 20 starters for this year's Kentucky Derby happy and healthy over the next 72 hours.

All the participants were on the grounds as of 2 a.m. Wednesday, with the arrival of Atomic Rain from Monmouth Park, and 19 of the 20 starters in this year's Derby field went to the racetrack during the course of the morning. The lone exception was I Want Revenge, who had worked four furlongs the previous day.

Churchill Downs

Cloudy, track sloppy, 68 degrees

With a wet track greeting horsemen when they arrived Wednesday, there were a variety of itineraries on display during the course of training hours. Some trainers opted just to jog their Derby contenders a la Regal Ransom and Desert Party, while several others sent their charges to the starting gate, where Friesan Fire and Chocolate Candy could be found schooling at the same time shortly after the renovation break.

The most important sighting on Wednesday was of Dunkirk, who arrived at Churchill Downs the previous afternoon after completing the majority of his Derby training at Palm Meadows in Florida. Dunkirk is a slightly built colt who does not carry a lot of weight, and there is some thinking that he could still be feeling the effects of his hard effort in the Florida Derby. But he did look healthy and appeared to gallop with good energy under regular exercise rider Patty Barry shortly before 7 a.m.

Mr. Hot Stuff also got in his first gallop over the local strip after merely jogging alongside a pony Tuesday. Unlike Dunkirk, Mr. Hot Stuff is a relatively imposing looking sort who made a very nice appearance Wednesday while putting in a strong gallop of his own.

I was eager to see how Friesan Fire bounced back out of his extremely fast and taxing workout Monday, and he passed the test with flying colors. He was on his toes and very happy during a busy morning that included the aforementioned visit to the gate and a brief trip to the paddock. He looked like he wanted to do much more than trainer Larry Jones had scheduled and actually seemed to come out of his work looking a bit more fluid than he went in.

Chocolate Candy spent several minutes in the gate before cantering around to the backstretch and got a bit hot, lathering up noticeably prior to leaving the track. He was the only Derby starter who showed a hint of neck sweat during the course of the morning.

Pioneerof the Nile also paid a visit to the starting gate before turning in another very relaxed, smooth-looking gallop.

Following two mornings of easy one-mile gallops coming out of Sunday's workout, Hold Me Back reverted to some serious work, making a couple of passes under the grandstand while continuing to look sharp. General Quarters, likewise, also received another high mark for his composure and willingness during his routine 1 1/2-mile gallop.

* One of the highlights of Wednesday's training session was the late appearance by Zenyatta, who had arrived 48 hours earlier for her 2009 debut in Friday's Louisville Distaff. Zenyatta is a tall, lanky mare who looked calm and relaxed making one easy pass around the mile oval shortly after 9 a.m.



ADVICE - Galloped 1 3/8 miles

ATOMIC RAIN - Arrived at 2 a.m. from Monmouth Park, jogged one mile at Churchill Downs

CHOCOLATE CANDY - Visited starting gate, jogged one mile

DESERT PARTY - Jogged one mile

DUNKIRK - Galloped 1 3/8 miles


FRIESAN FIRE - Stood in starting gate, visited paddock, jogged, and galloped five furlongs

GENERAL QUARTERS - Galloped 1 1/2 miles

HOLD ME BACK - Galloped 1 3/4 miles

JOIN IN THE DANCE - Galloped 1 3/8 miles

I WANT REVENGE - Walked the shedrow

MINE THAT BIRD - Galloped two miles

MR. HOT STUFF - Galloped 1 1/2 miles

MUSKET MAN - Galloped 1 1/2 miles

NOWHERE TO HIDE - Visited the starting gate, jogged with the pony

PAPA CLEM - Galloped 1 1/2 miles

PIONEEROF THE NILE - Jogged one mile, visited starting gate

REGAL RANSOM - Jogged one mile

SUMMER BIRD - Galloped 1 1/2 miles

WEST SIDE BERNIE - Galloped 1 1/2 miles