Updated on 04/26/2013 9:52AM

Kentucky Derby workouts: Normandy Invasion has strong gallop at Churchill Downs


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The weather is beginning to warm up here, but action on the racetrack cooled down for Kentucky Derby prospects Tuesday at Churchill Downs following a flurry of activity the previous two mornings.

Barbara D. Livingston
Two days after an official workout, Normandy Invasion galloped around the track.

There were no official workouts from prospective Derby starters here Tuesday, although several did turn in strong gallops worthy of putting on the watch during the special training session that began at 8:30 a.m.

After a couple of frigid mornings, temperatures moderated nicely Monday afternoon and remained in the low 50s when the track opened for training at 5:45 a.m. Tuesday. The forecast did call for a 90 percent chance of rain Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.

Tuesday at Churchill

51 degrees, cloudy, fast

Normandy Invasion was the star of the show Tuesday. Coming out of his half-mile workout just 48 hours earlier in good order, the Wood Memorial runner-up was full of himself from the moment he turned around to begin an energetic gallop that took him past the finish line twice and not only impressed onlookers but brought a smile to the face of trainer Chad Brown.

“He bounced back out of his work well, and every day he’s trained here, he’s gotten stronger and stronger,” Brown said. “He’s maintaining his energy, and that’s what I want going into the Derby. I’m right where I want to be with him.”

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

Normandy Invasion is a light-framed horse, leading some to believe that he might have lost weight coming out of the Wood, but that’s of no concern to Brown.

“He’s a light horse; he’s always been this way,” Brown said. “After having a hard race in the Wood, we’re just trying to fill the gas tank up a little more until we hit Derby Day.”

For the second straight morning, Frac Daddy cruised around the track at better than a two-minute clip following a brief visit to the paddock along with his stablemate, Blue Grass winner Java’s War. Frac Daddy completed a quarter-mile down the stretch in 28 seconds and continues to give the impression that he’s on top of his game.

“He likes this racetrack,” trainer Ken McPeek said. “He’s a big, long-striding horse, and I think it suits him. He’s improving.”

Java’s War didn’t have as spirited a gallop as his mate but also looked good during his session Tuesday.

Falling Sky also caught the eye as he cruised past the finish line the first time shortly after the track reopened following the renovation break. Falling Sky, who could be the pacesetter in the Derby, continued at better than a two-minute pace for nearly 1 1/4 miles, shading 1:55 for a mile when timed from the seven-furlong pole back around.

Vyjack, who simply jogged an easy mile Monday, looked sharp when given the chance to stretch his legs and gallop here for the first time Tuesday. Like Frac Daddy and Java’s War, he has higher action that would seem more conducive to turf or synthetic surfaces. Vyjack trains in a hackamore, a bitless bridle designed for horses who don’t respond as well to more conventional equipment.

After simply jogging for several days following his belated arrival here last week, Govenor Charlie also got the opportunity to gallop for the first time over the track and made just an average appearance. His trainer, Bob Baffert, is due in town Thursday.

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

As noted Monday, Palace Malice again trained in blinkers, even though he did not work in blinkers at Palm Meadows, nor has the Blue Grass Stakes runner-up worn them in any of his starts. Trainer Todd Pletcher said Tuesday that Palace Malice would work in blinkers Sunday, after which a decision would be made whether to run him with blinkers in the Derby.

Orb, who arrived on the grounds from Florida on Monday, walked Tuesday and was expected to train over the track for the first time early Wednesday morning.

Broken Spell turned in the only official workout of Tuesday’s Derby/Oaks session, breezing a very average half-mile in 50.36 seconds and tiring late under some pressure. Afterward, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said she wouldn’t run in the Oaks and is being pointed to the Edgewood Stakes.

Among the Oaks runners who impressed Tuesday were Pletcher’s Dreaming of Julia and Unlimited Budget. Bill Mott’s Close Hatches made another strong impression coming out of Sunday’s sharp half-mile work.

soto More than 1 year ago
Verrazano is still unbeaten.....the way people are talking lately, he will be 20-1! Does anyone remember him?
Steve Wilson More than 1 year ago
Didn't run as a 2YO - Toss him,
John Putz More than 1 year ago
He's gonna scratch. Bum ankle.
Holybull More than 1 year ago
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
If I recall correctly, Skip Away had a high action and he ran okay on dirt [deliberate understatement]. And His Felinity, My Own True Love, Cougar II had a high action, too; he was an excellent switch-hitter, winning lots of turf races plus the Santa Anita H and Woodward (one of the weakest DQs in history) on dirt. But it is worth noting that Skip Away never showed his best at Churchill.
Kevin More than 1 year ago
Close Hatches with Oxbow Revolutionary and Normandy Invasion. One sweet oaks derby double ticket
Ron Stone More than 1 year ago
Palice Malice in blinks. I like it.
Edward More than 1 year ago
Does anyone ever work poorly in Mike's eyes? No offense but you don;t ever make a statement about a workout. Every top contender looks good to you all of the time. The Works on TVG with Frank was the only time I ever heard a guy consistently pick out a SINGLE horse that was working gangbusters. He did it so many times, I have no confidence in a clocker who submits such general, basic, he looked good commentary. Who looks special?
David Sias More than 1 year ago
I disagree. You have to read into what he's saying sometimes as well as what he's not saying. Watching the video helps too so you can pick up his tone and inflection. This dude is a gem as far as I'm concerned. especially the closer we get to the big day, or if you are unsure of how your top picks will handle the service. Plus keep in mind that these are the pick of the litter for 3 year olds...most of them look phenomenal!
Wonderagain More than 1 year ago
I disagree also. It's not Mike Welsch's job to hand feed us the Derby and Oaks winners each year. He's there to report on what he sees every morning and to give us his impressions. His reports help me form my own opinion. I distinctly remember him pointing out Super Saver training best of his stablemates, Animal Kingdom's great work over the track and everyone liked how Street Sense was training coming up to the race, including Mike Welsch. Thanks for the daily reports, Mike!
Peter Northcott More than 1 year ago
Thanks Mike for the information. Great work!
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
Dreaming of Julia will be the post time favorite in the Oaks, 5/2 range, the likely winner and a lock to hit the board. Last year she was overpraised and overbet in the BC Juvenile Fillies. She has finally met the lofty expectations of her in the last race.
zkid9914 More than 1 year ago
Maybe 1/5 iis more likely.
Perl More than 1 year ago
no chance in heck she is 1/5.
David Sias More than 1 year ago
I hope not...
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
No filly is ever 1/5 in a big competitive Oaks field. You would have to go back to Silverbulletday in 1999 in a 7h field, even Rachel Alexandra was 3/10 in a 7f field. Dreaming of Julia does not have their resume and she'll have to vie for favoritism with a few others, you might even see 3-1.
Joe Rockhold More than 1 year ago
No chance in the universe you will see 3-1. I'm thinking 6-5 or 7-5. That last Beyer will guarantee some major play - whether it's justified or not.
Chris More than 1 year ago
she reminds me of bellamy road.
David Sias More than 1 year ago
Do you think she'll regress then?
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
Firstly she could regress a bit and still win. Bellamy Road had run a clunker before, while Dreaming of Julia tried hard every time, disappointed in the BC Juvenile Fillies but she had a lousy Game on Dude, Awesome Feather kind of trip on an extreme speed bias track.
Rosie More than 1 year ago
ORB wins the derby followed by Normanday Invasion
Joe Trezza More than 1 year ago
no chance rosie.the filly,dreaming of Julia ran over 10 lengths faster than orb,florida derby day.same track same distance same day.sorry.
Edward More than 1 year ago
Amateur angle. ORB ran in a race that was a very slow pace so of course the final time is slow. A real handicapper would note that ORB comes from off of the pace so him being able to win a race in which the talented horses up front "walked the dog" and he was STILL able to run them down easily says more than a runaway victory in a race where not one other horse ran a step. For all of DoJ's brilliance that day, the truth is that the second place finisher got like a 70 Beyer. How many horses have you seen have the race all to themselves and run huge then come back, have to run challenged in the next race back, and lose? If you watch horse racing the answer is, a ton.
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
Lots of handicappers made Dialed In the favorite in Derby 2011. Mirror image of Orb.
Sir More than 1 year ago
But not the same race.
Chris More than 1 year ago
if you can read charts. slowwwwwwwwwwww
Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
I'm just not sold on Normandy Invasion. He seems to like to run 2nd or 3rd. I've always backed consistent winners in The Derby, and I'll go with ORB across the board this year...
Sam More than 1 year ago
What's wrong with second if you got Orb on top in the exacta?
Joe Trezza More than 1 year ago
too slow 10 lengths slower than the filly
Mitchell McMahon More than 1 year ago
Who? Normandy or Orb?
Chris More than 1 year ago
read the charts... sloooowwwwww
David Sias More than 1 year ago
I thought that about Nehro when I had Animal Kingdom so I put him solidly in my exotics...turned out great. probably a must use with this one as well underneath.
Dave Bell More than 1 year ago
Trying to stay away from Itsmyluckyday... Orb yes and normandy... Gov hoof?
Holybull More than 1 year ago