04/22/2013 3:21PM

Kentucky Derby workouts: Oxbow has strong five-furlong breeze


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After a hectic Sunday that featured workouts from five likely Kentucky Derby starters, including potential favorite Verrazano, things quieted down a bit Monday morning.

Only one horse presently committed to the race, Oxbow, turned in an official workout during the 15-minute session reserved for Derby and Kentucky Oaks starters, with two other potential starters, both from the barn of trainer Bob Baffert, Power Broker and Code West, also breezing.

Monday also featured the first local appearance by Vyjack, who suffered his lone defeat when finishing third behind Verrazano and Normandy Invasion in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, and a very impressive “gallop” by Frac Daddy that didn’t fall too far shy of becoming a recorded work.

As was the case the previous morning, the skies were clear and the temperature hovered around a chilly 40 degrees when the racetrack opened at 5:45 a.m.

Monday at Churchill

42 degrees, sunny, fast

Oxbow (five furlongs in 1:00.95) breezed closer to six furlongs than five as he took a long run at the pole after being released from the pony by trainer D. Wayne Lukas. With jockey Gary Stevens aboard, Oxbow showed a high energy level right from the start, and Stevens did well to slow him down to a 24.42-second opening quarter and 36.36 three-furlong split.

Running with his head cocked inward, Oxbow fanned out about four paths wide entering the stretch, switched leads right on cue, and was straight as a string to the wire, completing his final quarter in 24.59 without any urging by Stevens.

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

Although in past years, Lukas’s Derby runners rarely did much during the gallop-out, Oxbow continued on strongly into and around the turn, getting six furlongs in 1:14.48 before pulling up seven-eighths in 1:28.67. It was a sharp move for a horse who may fly under the radar a bit and figures to show much more early speed after being hauled back early and turning in a disappointing effort in the Arkansas Derby.

Power Broker’s (six furlongs in 1:12.36) final time is a lot more impressive than the work itself. Going in company with Baffert’s Kentucky Oaks contender, Midnight Lucky, Power Broker broke off at the 5 1/2-furlong pole about three lengths in front of his partner and quickly increased that advantage to nearly five lengths after a 23.51 opening quarter and 35.21 three-eighths split.

But Midnight Lucky, with jockey Mike Smith aboard, used a quick burst of speed to draw even at the quarter pole and, despite coming wider into the stretch, was much the best down the lane. Midnight Lucky readily edged away from Power Broker, who was put to the whip six times from the head of the stretch to the wire in a futile attempt to keep pace.

He was under continued urging through the end of the work at the 7 1/2-furlong pole, finishing about a length behind, and during the gallop out, ultimately completing seven furlongs in 1:26.68.

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

With only 10 qualifying points, it is unlikely that Power Broker will make the Derby lineup.

Code West (five furlongs in 1:01.06) did not work as fast as Power Broker but was easily the more impressive of the pair. Breaking off at the 4 1/2-furlong pole two lengths in advance of the 4-year-old, Grade 1-placed Fed Biz, Code West was allowed to go an easy opening three-eighths in 37.76, then readily kept pace with his older and more accomplished mate, with neither under any pressure to complete a final quarter to the 7 1/2-furlong pole in 23.30.

The two continued on even terms around the bend, with Code West galloping out six furlongs in a sharp 1:13.80 before pulling up seven-eighths in 1:28.77.

Frac Daddy did not work but came close to it, turning in a high-energy “open gallop” during which he clicked off a steady series of sub-14-second one-furlong splits from the five-furlong pole back around, covering a mile in 1:48.70.

Although he appears to have a stride more befitting a horse who’d prefer turf or synthetic surfaces, Frac Daddy certainly has shown an affinity for the Churchill Downs strip and obviously came out of his second-place finish in the Arkansas Derby as good as, if not better than, he went in.

Vyjack went to the track shortly after it opened for training and did little more than jog a mile on the outside fence to get acquainted with the surroundings, although he seemed on his toes and wanting to do more.