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Updated on 04/26/2013 8:52AM
Kentucky Derby workouts: Normandy Invasion has strong gallop at Churchill Downs
By Mike Welsch
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Verrazano is still unbeaten.....the way people are talking lately, he will be 20-1! Does anyone remember him?
JAVAS WAR LOOKED SUPERB
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.
Close Hatches with Oxbow Revolutionary and Normandy Invasion. One sweet oaks derby double ticket
Palice Malice in blinks. I like it.
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?
Thanks Mike for the information. Great work!
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.
ORB wins the derby followed by Normanday Invasion
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...
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