Updated on 05/03/2011 2:27PM

Kentucky Derby: Animal Kingdom, Shackleford shine in morning workouts

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Saturday proved to be both the prettiest and driest morning since activity on the Kentucky Derby front began to pick up last weekend, with the racetrack listed as fast from the time it opened at 5:45 a.m. until closing four hours later, the first time that has happened at Churchill Downs in eight days. It was also the busiest morning with four likely Kentucky Derby starters and another still hopeful of making it into the race turning in recorded workouts under clear and seasonably cool skies.

 KENTUCKY DERBY WORKOUTS: Watch Mike Welsch's previous clocker report videos

Kentucky Derby workoutsAnimal Kingdom (six furlongs in 1:13.17): Arguably the most important work of the morning and perhaps not so arguably the best of the bunch. With jockey Robby Albarado aboard, Animal Kingdom broke off a couple of lengths behind stablemate Meistersinger while beginning the drill in leisurely fashion, covering his opening quarter-mile in 24.60 seconds and three furlongs in 37.40. The duo entered the stretch on even terms but did not stay that way for long. Albarado gave Animal Kingdom the cue to pick up the pace nearing the eighth pole, at which point he leveled off almost instantaneously, drawing five lengths clear of his mate at the wire after covering his final quarter-mile in 24.01. Animal Kingdom then proceeded to gallop out very willingly around the turn, pulling up seven-eighths in 1:26.24.
Trainer Graham Motion was looking for a positive sign that Animal Kingdom would handle the dirt as well as he does both turf and artificial surfaces and there should be little doubt he found it considering the manner in which the Spiral winner moved over the surface and finished once Albarado let him drop his head a little down the stretch.

KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Track all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail

Shackleford (five furlongs in 58.83): The Florida Derby runner-up easily turned in the fastest work of the morning amongst the Kentucky Derby contenders, further strengthening the favorable impression he has made here all week.
With regular exercise rider Tammy Fox aboard, Shackleford was flying from the moment he broke off at the five-furlong pole, zipping through opening splits of 11.58, 22.88, and 34.41 around to the quarter pole. He came out slightly while switching leads readily entering the stretch and despite the strong pace was able to complete his final quarter in 24.42 with Fox giving him just mild encouragement with the left rein. Better yet, he did not shut down during the gallop out, completing six furlongs in a crisp 1:12.58.

While keeping in mind that his exercise rider cannot weigh more than 100 pounds, giving Shackleford a bit of an edge when comparing his works with other Derby rivals carrying up to 30 pounds of additional weight, there is no denying the fact he seems to be thriving. The question remains whether he can carry his speed 10 furlongs on Derby Day against a field that will include several others with similar running styles.

Mucho Macho Man (five furlongs in 1:00.46): With showers in the forecast for Sunday, trainer Kathy Ritvo decided to take the weather out of the equation by moving Mucho Macho Man’s final work up a day, giving him the opportunity to work over a fast racetrack after sending him out to go seven furlongs in the slop here last Sunday.
Mucho Macho Man is the youngest member of this year’s Derby field (he doesn’t officially turn 3 until mid-June). And he still shows his immaturity at times both when racing and during his workouts as seemed to be the case this morning. With regular rider Rajiv Maragh in town to handle the assignment, Mucho Macho Man broke off at a relaxed pace, completing his opening quarter in 25.16. He began to pick up that pace approaching the stretch, fanning about three paths off the rail exiting the turn. Maragh shook the reins at him a couple of time at the head of the stretch for encouragement but the Risen Star winner suddenly began to lose his focus near the furlong marker when eyeing a large contingent of people passing through the infield in the midst of a marathon race.

Maragh reached down and cracked Mucho Macho Man with his stick about four or five times through midstretch, a tactic which did serve to get his horse’s attention where it should be. Mucho Macho Man surged forward noticeably once getting his mind back on business and was able to complete his final three-eighths in a nifty 35.30 before easing up just a bit while galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.82.

This was a better work than it seemed at first impression. Mucho Macho Man was put under severe pressure near midstretch but he did come home a very strong three-eighths and that he was able to quickly re-assert himself and level out again once regaining his focus was encouraging.

Twice the Appeal (six furlongs in 1:15.62): Twice the Appeal did not look comfortable jogging over the track on Friday morning but he did go a little smoother when able to really stretch his legs with new rider Calvin Borel aboard for a test run shortly after 6 a.m. Twice the Appeal went off slow, his opening quarter in 26, and while he did pick up the pace somewhat through the latter stages under mild, and almost imperceptible, encouragement from Borel, he didn’t show the same late acceleration as the others. The best part of Saturday’s move appeared to be the gallop-out as Twice the Appeal did continue on with interest all the way around the turn to the six-furlong pole, where he pulled up a mile in 1:43.36.

Sway Away (six furlongs in 1:13.98): Twice the Appeal’s stablemate is still 24th on the graded earnings list and not likely to get into the field but he did look the better of the pair this morning, roaring through the stretch to complete his final quarter-mile in 23.13 and three-eighths in 35.07 with the lone caveat the fact he did switch back to his left lead nearing the wire.

* There were a handful of Kentucky Oaks workers on Saturday’s tab the best of whom were R Heat Lightning (a very easy four furlongs in 48.32 around some traffic) and Summer Soiree (four furlongs in 48.76), who was under cruise control from start to finish and looked very smooth and sharp gliding over the track to complete a good morning for trainer Graham Motion. 

KENTUCKY DERBY ACTIVITY REPORT
Saturday, April 30, 2011

Animal Kingdom: breezed 6 furlongs in 1:13.17 at Churchill under Robby Albarado
Anthony’s Cross: Works Sunday at Hollywood; would ship Tuesday
Archarcharch: Schooled in gate after working 5 furlongs in 59.26 Friday
Brilliant Speed: Galloped during 8:30 a.m. Derby/Oaks break in first day at Churchill
Comma to the Top: Works Sunday at Hollywood, ships Tuesday
Decisive Moment: Walked after working 5 furlongs in 1:01.46 Friday
Dialed In: Scheduled to arrive at Churchill Saturday after breezing Thursday at Palm Meadows
Master of Hounds: Arrives Tuesday from Ireland
Midnight Interlude: Galloped during 8:30 a.m. Derby/Oaks break at Churchill; works Monday
Mucho Macho Man: Breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00.46 at Churchill under Rajiv Maragh
Nehro: Galloped early at Churchill; works Mon.
Pants On Fire: Galloped during 8:30 a.m. Derby/Oaks break at Churchill; works Sunday
Santiva: Galloped during 8:30 a.m. Derby/Oaks break at Churchill; works Monday or Tuesday
Shackleford: Breezed 5 furlongs in 58.83 under Tammy Fox
Soldat: Scheduled to arrive at Churchill Saturday after working Friday at Palm Meadows
Stay Thirsty: Galloped 1 1/2 miles during 8:30 a.m. Derby/Oaks break at Churchill; works Sunday
Toby’s Corner: Works Sunday at Fair Hill; ships Tuesday
Twice the Appeal: Worked 6 furlongs in 1:15.60 early at Churchill under Calvin Borel
Twinspired: Worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 at Trackside, ships to Chrchill Tuesday
Uncle Mo: Galloped 1 1/2 miles during 8:30 a.m. Derby/Oaks break at Churchill; works Sunday
Watch Me Go: Galloped during 8:30 a.m. Derby/Oaks break at Churchill; works Sunday