04/29/2012 11:03AM

Kentucky Derby 2012: Less than ideal conditions for Gemologist, El Padrino

Barbara D. Livingston
El Padrino worked more slowly than trainer Todd Pletcher wanted to see during pre-dawn hours over a muddy track Sunday at Palm Meadows.

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Maybe next year, trainer Todd Pletcher will send his horses to Southern California to train for the Kentucky Derby.

Hoping to avoid the wet weather that plagued him in Kentucky last year, Pletcher opted this spring to keep his Kentucky Derby hopefuls Gemologist and El Padrino in south Florida for as long as possible. Given the beautiful weather here all winter it seemed like a good idea.

In reality, not so much.

After juggling his training schedule multiple times, Pletcher elected to work both Gemologist and El Padrino in the dark Sunday morning over a muddy Palm Meadows surface.

While Gemologist worked a decent half-mile, El Padrino went a pedestrian four furlongs in their final major training session before Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

Gemologist, the undefeated Wood Memorial winner, worked four furlongs in 50.49 seconds under exercise rider Hector Ramos. Working in company outside of last  year’s Demoiselle winner Disposablepleasure, the pair went virtually together through an opening eighth in 13.58 seconds, a quarter in 26.18 and they came home their final quarter in 24.31 seconds, with a final eighth of 11:59. Gemologist galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.16 and six furlongs in 1:18.53.

 “Basically that was a mirror image of Gemologist’s work prior to the allowance win here,” Pletcher said, referring to one-mile race at Gulfstream Park on March 16 he won by seven lengths. “He hadn’t run since November and he ran very well that day.”

Shortly after Gemologist finshed, El Padrino worked outside of Windsurfer, a maiden winner who was sixth in the Louisiana Derby. The pair went off slowly and picked it up only slightly, getting their last three-eighths in 39.79 seconds. Humberto Zamora was aboard El Padrino.

 “El Padrino’s [work] was slower than we wanted but based on this type of track you’d rather go a little on the cautious side than way too fast,” Pletcher said.

Pletcher’s decision to work before daylight did seem wise because as soon as El Padrino and Windsurfer finished galloping out it started to rain heavily.

Pletcher maintained that even had conditions been perfect this weekend, he wasn’t looking for fast workouts from either colt. He said both horses had their most serious move on April 20, a work that was moved up two days because of wet weather.

 Pletcher noted that both horses worked strong five furlongs that day, with Gemologist galloping out a mile in 1:42 and El Padrino galloping out a mile in 1:41.

Pletcher had opted to train in south Florida this year in part because last year he had to train his horses over a wet Churchill strip for the bulk of 2 1/2 weeks. Churchill’s main track was wet during training hours Sunday following Saturday night’s storm in Louisville.

 “The weather’s been spotty everywhere,” Pletcher said. “We got a little unlucky that the rain happened to fall on the two weekends. Last year, went to Kentucky and regretted that. You never know what the weather’s going to do for sure.”

 Take Charge Indy, the Florida Derby winner, jogged over the sloppy track Sunday after walking the shed row the last two days. Trainer Pat Byrne got Take Charge Indy’s final work in on Thursday over a fast track.

Brilliant Speed works for Woodford Reserve

About 30 minutes after Pletcher’s horses worked, Brilliant Speed, third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup turf, worked four furlongs in 52.74 seconds over what became a sloppy Palm Meadows main track Sunday in preparation for Saturday’s Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs.

Like Pletcher, trainer Tom Albertrani had to alter his training schedule this weekend and wasn’t even sure the horse would work right up until the time that exercise rider David Wallace turned him around.

Brilliant Speed went his first quarter in 27.56 seconds and his second quarter in 25.18 seconds.

“This horse is training extremely well,” said Albertrani, noting that Brilliant Speed’s fifth-place finish in the Appleton on March 31 “put him back in the game.”

A plane taking all the above horses as well as others still here is scheduled to leave south Florida at 6 a.m. Tuesday.