04/25/2013 4:18PM

Kentucky Derby workouts: Normandy Invasion continues to impress


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The rain was gone, but remnants of Wednesday’s downpours remained as the racetrack still had moisture in it and was designated as good during training hours Thursday at Churchill Downs. The rain, which disrupted normal training to some degree the previous morning, was replaced by frigid temperatures, low enough for frost to form on windshields and horses to be on their toes.

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Rudy Rodriguez gallops Vyjack underneath the spires of Churchill Downs.

One recent arrival, Orb, especially relished the cooler air, having trained extensively throughout the winter in southern Florida.

Thursday at Churchill

36 degrees, clear, good

For the third straight day, none of the Kentucky Derby hopefuls stabled locally turned in an official workout. Several did open up in their regular gallops, a group led by Normandy Invasion, who was really enjoying the colder temperatures that still prevailed after the renovation break.

The Wood Memorial runner-up looked razor sharp as he cruised around while kept out near the center of the one-mile oval under exercise rider Javier Herrera, stretching out beautifully, changing leads on cue, and keeping up the high energy from start to finish.

Trainer Chad Brown indicated how he felt about the morning not in words but by flashing a big thumbs-up as he passed by in the midst of a telephone conversation just outside his barn a short while later.

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

In a bit of role reversal, it was Java’s War and not his stablemate, Frac Daddy, who got a chance to “two-minute lick” for trainer Ken McPeek on Thursday. Java’s War may be a bit on the smallish side and does not have the prettiest action, but he sure was stretching out well while clicking off a steady series of 14-second-and-change one-furlong splits for more than 1 1/4 miles, the fastest of which came just before he finally pulled up midway down the backstretch the second time around.

Frac Daddy, who turned in a couple of similar open gallops earlier in the week, was a lot more reserved for the second straight morning.

Falling Sky is another who continues to really open up in the mornings since his arrival here last week. He let loose some of that stored-up energy, the result of Wednesday’s abbreviated session due to rain, when back in full flight, open galloping 1 3/8 miles under exercise rider Cassie Garcea.

Orb obviously loved the 36-degree blast of air that greeted him when he left the barn and entered the racetrack at 6 a.m. Stepping up his game a little more after galloping a relatively easy mile in his first visit to the track Wednesday, Orb pulled and played his way through a very impressive-looking 1 1/4-mile gallop while just skipping over the wet ground, according to regular exercise rider Jenn Patterson.

“I think he really relished this weather,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “Did you see him this morning, with his tail up? I asked Jenn if something was the matter, or was he just playing? She said he was playing. I think he’s gotten over the track well, and he handled the water in the track too, so that shouldn’t be a problem. He’ll go a mile and one-half tomorrow.”

Vyjack continued to make a very good visual impression while having another solid session, galloping once again in a hackamore (bitless bridle) with trainer Rudy Rodriguez aboard.

Mylute was the first Derby starter out on the track at 5:45 a.m. and had a busy morning for trainer Tom Amoss, jogging a mile before turning around and galloping nearly two more.

Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out the “big four” of his six possible Derby starters – Verrazano, Revolutionary, Palace Malice and Overanalyze – after the break, the group producing nearly carbon-copy and very routine gallops as they segue to their final Derby works Sunday.

Govenor Charlie, who did not reach out well when given the opportunity to gallop over the track for the first times Tuesday and Wednesday, looked a little smoother Thursday, especially toward the end of his session after switching leads shortly after passing the finish line the second time around.

At Calder, Florida Derby runner-up Itsmyluckyday worked a slow half-mile in 53 seconds Thursday, posting nearly matching 26-and-change quarter-mile splits, according to the official track clocker.

“I told the rider to take it easy with him, and I guess he got a little Derby fever and was just too cautious, and he went too slow,” trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said by phone from his barn shortly after the work. “But it might have been a blessing anyway, since I really wasn’t sure I even wanted to breeze him again this morning.

“He didn’t need to do anything. He had a hard mile work last week, and anything I do between now and next Saturday isn’t going to make any difference. I really didn’t want to distress him at all prior to putting him on the van Friday for the long trip to Churchill Downs, so better too slow than too fast this morning.”

Plesa said Itsmyluckyday would arrive at Churchill on Saturday morning and go to the track for the first time Sunday. Plesa said a decision on whether to have the Grade 3 Holy Bull winner blow out next week will not be made until after the trainer arrives in Louisville on Monday.

At Santa Anita, Goldencents breezed a slow six furlongs in 1:16.20 while never being asked for a significant effort by exercise rider Jonny Garcia.

Working alone, Goldencents broke off at the half-mile pole and worked through the stretch and to the three-quarter pole at the start of the backstretch. He was timed in 40 seconds by trainer Doug O’Neill for the first three-eighths and in 36.20 for the final three furlongs.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

“The one thing I didn’t want to see was for him to go fast early and be slower late,” O’Neill said. “That was pretty solid.”

O’Neill timed Goldencents galloping out a mile in “1:43 and change.” O’Neill typically works horses into the first turn, trying to replicate a stronger gallop.
“I try not to have them put too much energy into a workout,” he said.

Goldencents is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on Saturday and will not have another work prior to the Derby.

– additional reporting by Steve Andersen

the horseshoe More than 1 year ago
Java's War will be the longhot in the mix....deep closer will be there this year...serious speed could develop early!
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
Normandy Invasion is the annual Wise Guy disaster.
Infinity More than 1 year ago
If you haven't run a 95 beyer yet, your off my list. Pletcher is loaded, my goodness. Underfeated colt, and other solidly breed for 10 panels. Pletcher five and Orb. Will Take Charge willbe my longshot.--Lukas upset his old apprentice.......
Vince Murphy More than 1 year ago
Itsmyluckyday will be in my exotics, hopefully with 2-digit odds. My favorite Saturday of the year...good luck to all!
April Boney More than 1 year ago
This KD is actually a bit boring. There is about six horses that are gonna get hammered. The trick will be to pick the 20 to one that will make the tri pay. Overanaylze iis the horse. He is the top 2 year old. Back on the beam as he proved in the AK derby. Only other horse close to him in Normandy Invasion. You only need one more horse out this bunch to get the try or super if you want to go big. Thats my take. Good luck.
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
First sentence, agreed.
Phil West More than 1 year ago
As the training continues, Orb will be very hard to beat but I still keep Oxbow winning. It is the 20 horse field of the derby so most of my money goes to a 4 horse exacta box hoping for value, Orb, Revolutionary, not Departed destroyed the Illinois derby, Oxbow finally gets a clean trip, and Lines of Battle. Anyone remember Arcagune in the breeders cup. whole year training for one race. Taking. Back up boxes Change is coming over top 4 plus Palicice Malice, Overanalyze, Verranzo, and Golden Cents. Orb over all of thethem as with oxbow. Boxing oxbow and orb over couple others. Look for a 5-1 favorite and a huge exacta. Mylute will run huge but odds got killed with rider.
JeanK More than 1 year ago
I used to have a hall of fame trainer that told me that good horses can go farther than they should given they run with a less talented company. Such is Goldencents. None of the horses he ran against in his last race are going into the same race nor had they accomplished anything of value prior to that race(Santa Anita Derby). As for Itsmyluckyday, all I can say is that some trainers care more about their horse than the race. Mr. Plesa strikes me as such a trainer. Nothing wrong with that but why run in the hardest race on planet earth if you're not giving the horse every chance to win? Maybe a blow out next week for the horse, but going into the Derby with a 53breze 8 days out is not gonna shake it. Orb is the only horse mentioned here that may go into the race primed for the 4th of May. Can Normandy Invasion keep same level of high energy till then? seen many horses peak before the race. Such was Dullahan prior to the Belmont last year. He peeked too soon and not on race day.
Jason Zeber More than 1 year ago
I've like how both Orb and NI have finished up there races. Definately very confident that each horse is sitting on a even bigger race come derby day. I hope both get a middle gate so they have some time to find a nice position mid pack. NI I've been very high on from the very beginning of the prep races. I liked his Remesen move and looking forward to the longer distance with him. Orb has been coming into his own and has impressed each race against the best competition. I liked the new dynamic he showed in the florida derby to be much closer to the pace. He seems to have matured more in the past couple of months and is my pick to take the roses thus far. Had NI won a stake in additon to the maiden they'd be a toss up.
JeanK More than 1 year ago
Agree, totally.
Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
This thing is shaping up like there will be about 6 horses in a blanket at the wire. Don't you just love it? (I do...)
Jason Zeber More than 1 year ago
Shaping up to be a great race. Can't wait!
John More than 1 year ago
Well, all I can say is Good Luck everyone, I dont have a clue ! Ill maybe box Goldencents with a couple deep closers, maybe he will get an ideal trip, open up and either "get nailed" on hold on for dear life ! Hope its just a clean safe race, Id like to see anyone step up !
Paul F More than 1 year ago
when the post positions come out...lets try and come up with 4 to box......there are a ton of factors to play ..but we need 4 horses who will be LIVE...at the post .......ready to give there best effort......