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Kentucky Derby Clocker Report - Friday, April 28
Strong first appearance for Barbaro
FRIDAY, APRIL 28
Clear, track fast; 56¦
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Kentucky Derby favorite Brother Derek and the undefeated Barbaro got their first feel for the Churchill Downs racetrack Friday after shipping to town the previous afternoon, and they were a study in contrast during their morning routines. The appearance of two of the leading candidates for this year's Derby highlighted Friday's training session, which also featured workouts by three prospective members of the Kentucky Oaks field.
Barbaro came on the track at 6:30 a.m. accompanied by trainer Michael Matz aboard his stable pony. Barbaro jogged the wrong way to the half-mile pole just to stretch his legs a bit, then turned around and proceeded to put in an energetic and eye-catching 1 3/4-mile gallop. His distinctive stride made him easy to spot as he bounded along in the middle of the racetrack under regular exercise rider Peter Brette.
Barbaro unquestionably displays the high leg action of a horse better suited to turf than dirt, but he definitely appeared comfortable over the main course throughout Friday's gallop. Not only did he go strong and straight, he was also a handful to pull up after turning into the backstretch the final time around and appears to be coming up to the biggest race of his career in peak form.
Brother Derek, on the other hand, looked a bit lethargic from the time he entered the racetrack shortly after the renovation break until he completed an easy 1 1/4-mile jog in the company of a pony. He even needed a bit of prodding by exercise rider Luis Ortega just to break into a jog after taking a short walk from the gap to the 6 1/2-furlong pole. I expect to see a much higher energy level from the division leader Saturday.
Like Barbaro, Sunriver and Storm Treasure scored high marks Friday.
Sunriver could prove a live longshot, although he still needs several defections to break into the Derby lineup. With Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero Jr. aboard, Sunriver galloped a strong but relaxed 1 1/2 miles while kept close to the inside rail and traveling at just a shade slower than a two-minute clip for much of the trip.
Storm Treasure is one of the best-looking horses in this year's Derby field. A powerfully built chestnut, he went along with his neck bowed while pulling on his rider, as if he wanted to do more. This was in contrast to his stablemate Private Vow, who did not appear as willing during a similar 1 1/2-mile gallop 30 minutes earlier.
The final two horses on the track during the first of the morning's two training sessions were Derby candidates Lawyer Ron and Keyed Entry, a couple of headstrong colts whose connections were hoping might settle a bit easier with less traffic about them. Unfortunately, those plans went awry when the pair crossed paths nearing the end of their respective 1 3/8-mile gallops.
Lawyer Ron was the first to break off and seemed a bit more relaxed than he was in his previous two sessions, galloping along at an even pace about a quarter-mile in front of Keyed Entry. Keyed Entry, on the other hand, was rank from the outset and a handful for his rider to control, especially through the stretch, where he accelerated and was able to catch and pass a surprised Lawyer Ron coming out of the clubhouse turn. Lawyer Ron reacted to the impromptu challenge by really grabbing hold of the bit, forcing his rider to reach down and take another hold to keep him under control.
Little Kim, Itty Bitty Pretty, and Top Notch Lady all tuned up for the Oaks by working after the renovation break, although none of the trio was overly impressive.
Little Kim was the best of the group, going six furlongs in 1:13.28 under relatively little pressure, but she did switch back to the wrong lead nearing the wire.
Itty Bitty Pretty worked six furlongs from the five-eighths pole, going in a leisurely 1:16.86 before galloping out in a slow 1:31.49.
Top Notch Lady was under a drive for most of her five-furlong work, finishing in 1:00.83. She got her final eighth in a disappointing 12.99 despite pressure, before shutting down badly to gallop out six furlongs in 1:15.28.
Balance, the winner of the Las Virgenes Stakes and Santa Anita Oaks earlier this year, worked six furlongs in 1:11.60 over a fast track Friday, the second-fastest of nine recorded works at the distance.
Ridden by jockey Victor Espinoza, Balance started several lengths behind stablemate Investingold. Balance drew closer to Investingold at the top of the stretch and quickened noticeably, finishing the final quarter-mile in 23.40 seconds, according to trainer David Hofmans's stopwatch.
"I hope she does this every time," Hofmans said of the finish.
Balance galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25.20. "Today, I was very impressed by her," Espinoza said.
On the way back to the barn, Hofmans said he noticed that Balance had bled slightly from her nose, but attributed that to a burst blood vessel in her nose, and not a more serious incident of bleeding from the lungs.
"She's done that two or three times," he said. "She's got a little blood vessel in there that breaks."
An hour after the workout, Balance was scoped and showed no presence of blood in her lungs, Hofmans said.
- additional reporting by Steve Andersen
A.P. Warrior: Galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs.
Barbaro: Galloped 1 3/4 miles at Churchill Downs.
Bluegrass Cat: Galloped 1 1/4 miles at Churchill Downs.
Bob and John: Galloped 1 1/2 miles at Santa Anita.
Brother Derek: Jogged 1 1/4 miles at Churchill Downs.
Cause to Believe: Jogged one mile, galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs.
Dawn of War: Walked.
Deputy Glitters: Jogged one mile at Churchill Downs.
Flashy Bull: Galloped 1 1/4 miles at Keeneland. Vanned to Churchill Downs.
Jazil: Galloped 1 1/4 miles at Keeneland. Vanned to Churchill Downs.
Keyed Entry: Galloped 1 3/8 miles at Churchill Downs.
Lawyer Ron: Galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs.
Mister Triester: Galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs.
Point Detrmined: Galloped 1 1/2 miles at Santa Anita.
Private Vow: Galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs.
Sacred Light: Jogged at Hollywood Park.
Seaside Retreat: Walked the shed row after working Thursday.
Sharp Humor: Jogged two miles at Churchill Downs.
Showing Up: Galloped 1 1/2 miles at Belmont Park.
Sinister Minister: Galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs.
Steppenwolfer: Schooled in paddock, galloped 1 5/8 miles at Churchill Downs.
Storm Treasure: Galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs.
Sunriver: Galloped 1 3/8 miles at Churchill Downs.
Sweetnorthernsaint: Galloped 1 1/4 miles at Churchill Downs.
- Mike Welsch