04/26/2013 3:54PM

Kentucky Derby workouts: Golden Soul breezes brisk five furlongs


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – With Kentucky Derby Day just more than a week away and rain in the forecast for the weekend, workout activity began to pick up at Churchill Downs on Friday. Three potential Derby starters, including the once-beaten Vyjack, breezed during the special session following the renovation break, with at least a half-dozen more works now on the schedule for Saturday.

Barbara D. Livingston
Falling Sky (from left) works in company with Balance of Power and Swift Warrior Friday morning.

For the second day in a row, bone-chilling cold greeted horses and horsemen alike when the track opened at 5:45 a.m. Veteran trainer Larry Jones said he doesn’t remember it being this cold at Churchill Downs a week before the Derby since Easy Goer and Sunday Silence slugged it out 24 years ago.

“This weather is obviously Shug’s [McGaughey] fault, since he’s back again this year with Orb,” Jones said with a smile.

Friday at Churchill

39 degrees, clear, fast

Golden Soul (five furlongs in 1:00.74) isn’t in the Derby field just yet, but trainer Dallas Stewart said he was eager to run after watching his colt cruise through an easy five-furlong drill Friday that began with splits of 12.30 seconds, 24.33, and 35.77 for the opening three-eighths.

Golden Soul hugged the rail and switched leads a trifle late, but continued on willingly down the stretch without urging, completing his final quarter in 24.97 before galloping out six panels in 1:14.45 in what can be described as an average move from a horse still on the outside looking in for Derby Day.

[KENTUCKY DERBY WORKOUTS: Video analysis, news, and times]

Vyjack (five furlongs in 1:00.36), with trainer Rudy Rodriguez aboard, turned in pretty much a carbon copy of Golden Soul’s drill from a time standpoint but while under considerably more urging both to finish and gallop out.

After completing an opening three-eighths in 35.86, Vyjack appeared to struggle over the surface, with Rodriguez taking out the stick and tapping him several times right-handed while also attempting to coax a little more run out of his horse both with the reins and with what can best be described as considerable verbal encouragement approaching the wire.

The Gotham and Jerome stakes winner continued to feel the stick from Rodriguez while galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.16 in a somewhat disappointing drill, considering the favorable impression he’d made galloping here earlier this week.

Falling Sky (six furlongs in 1:13.49) was given plenty of company for his final Derby prep, breaking off a length behind both his regular workmate, Balance of Power, and Grade 3 turf stakes winner Swift Warrior. The trio moved along at a crisp early pace, with Falling Sky covering his opening three-eighths in 35.04 while joining up with Balance of Power at the quarter pole.

The pair raced as a team down the stretch, with Falling Sky under more pressure to reach the wire a head in front after completing five furlongs in a crisp 59.62. Falling Sky ultimately edged clear of his partner while under continuous encouragement from exercise rider Cassie Garcea around the clubhouse turn, tiring a bit through the final furlong before galloping out seven-eighths in 1:28.01.

Orb had his busiest morning yet, galloping 1 1/2 miles interspersed with a visit to the starting gate at the head of the stretch while continuing to make a very favorable impression.

Govenor Charlie, on the other hand, was not striding out well at all during his routine gallop while also struggling to finally change leads into the clubhouse turn the second time past the grandstand. The Sunland Derby winner has not had the best of weeks and is behind the eight ball from a training standpoint, without a published workout in more than two weeks.

Both Frac Daddy and Java’s War continue to thrive over their home course for trainer Ken McPeek. Frac Daddy turned in another in a series of eye-catching gallops. Java’s War, who two-minute licked more than 1 1/4 miles Thursday, was under a strong hold while seeming eager and willing to do it again Friday.

Trainer Todd Pletcher’s quartet of Verrazano, Revolutionary, Palace Malice, and Overanalyze once again had a relatively uneventful morning, turning in another in a series of routine gallops. All four and stablemate Charming Kitten now are scheduled to work after the break Saturday due to a forecast calling for potentially heavy rain Sunday.

Kentucky Oaks works

Rose to Gold (four furlongs in 47.68) was the only Oaks filly to breeze Friday, registering arguably the most impressive move during the Derby/Oaks training session. With regular rider Calvin Borel aboard, the three-time graded stakes winner posted a 23.51-second opening quarter-mile split, was under little to no encouragement to finish, and looked even better during the gallop-out, getting five-eighths in 1:00.27 before pulling up six furlongs in a very sharp 1:13.37.