03/26/2012 3:19PM

Kentucky Derby: Went the Day Well, Daddy Nose Best solidify credentials

Coady Photography
Daddy Nose Best (left), under Julien Leparoux, rallied late to beat out Isn't He Clever (right) to win the Sunland Derby on Sunday. The 100 Beyer figure Daddy Nose Best earned was the first time he hit triple digits in his career.

With their lucrative victories over the weekend, both Went the Day Well, who won the Spiral Stakes on Saturday at Turfway Park, and Daddy Nose Best, who captured the Sunland Derby on Sunday, gleaned enough graded stakes earnings to practically assure themselves starting spots in the May 5 Kentucky Derby.

But whether either runs again before the Derby is not certain just yet.

Went the Day Well, who earned $282,000 for his victory under jockey John Velazquez, got a Beyer Speed Figure of 92. He could make another start before the Derby, according to Barry Irwin, the chief executive of Team Valor International, the partnership that owns the majority interest in Went the Day Well.

“Johnny said he’s a good horse, but he’s not all there mentally yet,” said Irwin, who mentioned the Grade 3, $200,000 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 21 as a possibility for Went the Day Well.

But Graham Motion, who trains Went the Day Well, wanted to wait a bit before deciding what to do.

“I think he’ll learn from this race,” Motion said.

Irwin, Motion, and Velazquez teamed to win last year’s Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom, who was making his first start on dirt after his victory in the Spiral. Went the Day Well already has won on dirt, against maidens at Gulfstream Park.

“That’s a huge difference,” Motion said. “I’m very comfortable with how this horse handles the dirt.”

Daddy Nose Best earned $400,000 in the Sunland Derby and now has a healthy $545,558 in graded stakes earnings. He got a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 while making his first start since winning the El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 18, five weeks earlier. The Derby is six weeks away.

“He runs very well with a good break in between races,” his trainer, Steve Asmussen, said following the race. “He had a good break and responded.”

Daddy Nose Best was scheduled to ship to Kentucky on Tuesday.

Isn’t He Clever, who was second to Daddy Nose Best, was a late nominee to the Triple Crown for $6,000 before the deadline Saturday night. He is being considered for the Kentucky Derby, but if earnings become an issue, the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 14 at Oaklawn Park is a possibility, according to trainer Henry Dominguez, who said he would discuss all options with owners Kirk and Judy Robison.

“Those are just options, those are things we’re looking at,” Dominguez said. “We haven’t made any final decisions as of today. I’ve got to check back with the owners about what our plans are.”

This week’s Derby preps are the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, and the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby on Sunday at Fair Grounds. The Grade 2, $2 million United Arab Emirates Derby is Saturday night in Dubai.

Union Rags, considered the current favorite for the Kentucky Derby, is scheduled to run in the Florida Derby, along with Risen Star winner El Padrino. Entries for that race will be taken Wednesday.

A full field of 14 was entered on Monday in the Louisiana Derby, with Risen Star runner-up Mark Valeski topping the field.

There were 17 entered on Monday in the UAE Derby, but only 14 can run. The field includes Wrote, who would be making his first start since capturing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last fall.

– additional reporting by David Grening, Marty McGee, and Mary Rampellini