04/27/2005 11:00PM

Kentucky Derby clocker report for Thursday

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Horsephotos
High Limit (outside) works in company with stablemate Ghostzapper on Thursday morning at Churchill Downs. Daily Racing Form's Mike Welsch clocked High Limit's six-furlong move in 1:13.30 while Ghostzapper was timed five furlongs in 1:00.76.

Weather: Cloudy, Temp. 45
Track: Fast

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Thursday turned into one of the busiest and most unusual Kentucky Derby training sessions in recent memory. After all, when can anybody recall seeing one Derby contender, Greeley's Galaxy, work a mile from the eighth pole to the eighth pole after first schooling in the starting gate, and a second contender, High Limit, breeze in company with no less a workmate than reigning Horse of the Year Ghostzapper? Add in three other works that included a neatly choreographed effort by Sun King, a strange performance from Greater Good, along with a somewhat surprising open gallop by Flower Alley, and the morning had just about every element imaginable to keep the railbirds thoroughly entertained.

The weather was brisk, but fortunately remained dry despite some forecasts to the contrary. The racetrack was fast, although would probably best be classified as being a bit on the dull or cuppy side.

Work of the day

This one was a tough decision, with Sun King finally eeking out a nose decision over High Limit.

Trainer Nick Zito sent Sun King (five furlongs in 59.88 seconds) out in company with not one but two stablemates, breaking him off about six lengths behind the pair of Indy Storm and Chief Commander.

With exercise rider Maxine Correa aboard, Sun King gradually caught up to his workmates after posting opening fractions of 11.81 and 23.50. Correa wheeled Sun King out about six paths wide as they passed the quarter pole in 35.69 and joined the two leaders entering the stretch. Sun King then gradually edged well clear of both horses through the final furlong, covering his opening half-mile in 47.06 before completing a final eighth in 12.82 under mild urging. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.98.

Sun King's final time of 59.88 was all the more impressive when considering the nature of the track surface and the considerable amount of ground he lost into the stretch. The less than spirited gallop-out can probably be attributed to the combination of his fast early pace and the somewhat cuppy nature of the strip and should not be cause for concern.

High Limit (six furlongs in 1:13.30) - A change in schedule resulted in the intriguing pairing of Derby contender High Limit and Ghostzapper, who had already been penciled in to breeze Thursday.

With Joe Deegan aboard High Limit and regular rider Javier Castellano aboard Ghostzapper, the pair broke off at the 5 1/2-furlong pole and breezed along in tandem, with High Limit keeping pace without need of any additional urging from Deegan. The pair cut out fractions of 12.34 for the opening furlong, 36.39 for three furlongs, and 1:00.76 to the sixteenth pole, at which point Ghostzapper began to ease out of his work. Deegan allowed High Limit to continue on with the drill, and High Limit edged about a head clear under just the slightest urging at the finish line before completing six furlongs midway around the turn in 1:13.30 and galloping out a strong seven furlongs in 1:27.26.

The pace and final time may not have matched up with Sun King's clocking, but it's hard not to be impressed that High Limit was able to match strides with Ghostzapper without the need of any urging.

Andromeda's Hero (five furlongs in 1:01.47) - Like Sun King, Zito sent Andromeda's Hero out in company but with only one workmate, the recent first-level allowance winner Pinpoint. With jockey Rafael Bejarano aboard, Andromeda's Hero went along comfortably, posting early fractions of 12.66, 25.39, and 37.92 before easily overtaking his mate with a very strong closing burst of speed that resulted in a final quarter split of 23.71. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.40.

This was just the kind of work one would expect from a strong finisher like Andromeda's Hero, who galloped out past Afleet Alex shortly after the finish in the Arkansas Derby.

Greater Good (six furlongs in 1:16.96) - A strange and disappointing effort from the multiple graded stakes winner, whose form appears to be heading in the wrong direction at the wrong time.

After coming to the pole a bit rank, Greater Good broke off about a length behind stablemate River Mountain Rd. but suddenly found himself falling farther and farther back down the backstretch following a lackluster opening three furlongs in 38.75. With jockey John McKee applying pressure, Greater Good managed to run by the staggering workmate through the stretch, but despite the soft early pace, Greater Good completed his final quarter-mile in only 26.05, with a seven-furlong gallop-out in 1:31.41. Not the type of performance one would like to see this close to the big event.

Greeley's Galaxy (one mile in 1:40.28) - A rather unusual final Derby prep that began with a visit to the starting gate at the head of the stretch. After being walked out of the gate in the hands of an assistant starter, Greeley's Galaxy began to gallop to the eighth pole, where he broke off under exercise rider Mikki Fincher for a one-mile work that included fractions of 24.12 for the quarter, 48.27 for the half, and 1:14.34 for the opening six furlongs. Both Greeley's Galaxy and his rider began to tire as they entered the stretch, completing the final quarter in 26.71 before shutting down and barely managing to stagger to the finish line.

Flower Alley didn't turn in an official workout but came pretty darn close after galloping 1 3/8 miles at better than a two-minute clip, during which he covered a mile once around from the seven furlong pole in 1:56. His stablemate Bandini, after several days of jogging and walking the shedrow, was also full of himself during his pre-dawn gallop, bucking and kicking for several yards upon being released from the pony before eventually setting into a brisk but comfortable stride.