04/24/2013 3:10PM

Kentucky Derby workouts: Rain alters training plans


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The rains came a little later than expected at Churchill Downs on Wednesday. But once they arrived, shortly before 8 a.m, it rained in earnest for the remainder of the morning, dramatically altering the condition of the racetrack by the time it reopened for the special Kentucky Derby/Oaks training session 30 minutes later.

Barbara D. Livingston
Todd Pletcher sent out Revolutionary, one of his six Derby hopefuls, to gallop over a sloppy track.

As a result, some trainers changed their plans Wednesday morning, with many opting to send their Derby hopefuls to the track earlier than scheduled to beat the heavier rain. That group included Falling Sky and Normandy Invasion, both of whom came out just prior to the renovation break as the precipitation increased and it became evident that the track would be sealed during the break.

The temperature also dropped noticeably as the storm front moved over the area, from 64 degrees when the track opened for training at 5:45 to the low 50s by the time it closed for business four hours later.

Among the earliest visitors to train over a fast track, under the lights, were Mylute, Oxbow, Charming Kitten, and, perhaps most notably, Orb, who got his first feel for the Churchill Downs surface some 48 hours after his arrival from Payson Park on Monday.

Wednesday at Churchill

64 degrees, rainy, fast/sloppy

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

Orb jogged about three-eighths of a mile, then broke off at the three-furlong pole and galloped once around the one-mile oval under regular exercise rider Jenn Patterson, striding nicely with his head cocked slightly to the outside. He continues to make the same favorable impression he did when last seen breezing in southern Florida 10 days earlier.

Oxbow was his usual bundle of energy in his first day back to the track since working Monday, despite not being allowed to do more than jog twice around the course along the outer rail.

Vyjack and Black Onyx both trained during the early session, likely because of the weather, after galloping the previous morning following the break. Vyjack, a big, impressive-looking colt, looked very sharp Tuesday but was not quite as impressive Wednesday.

Black Onyx, on the other hand, was very eager and full of run, zipping around at slightly slower than a two-minute clip for the better part of 1 1/4 miles.

By the time Falling Sky and Normandy Invasion made it to the track, rain was beginning to come down heavily. As a result, Falling Sky had an abbreviated session, galloping less than a mile after training very aggressively the day before. Normandy Invasion looked great Tuesday but didn’t seem quite as sharp under the prevailing conditions Wednesday.

The racetrack was sloppy and not in very good shape once sealed during the break. As a result, the later sessions were seemingly scaled back, including that of Frac Daddy, who cruised around at a more leisurely pace following a couple of lively gallops Monday and Tuesday.

Revolutionary continues to make a great appearance. He bounced back from a very impressive work Sunday with a visually appealing gallop Wednesday while obviously taking readily to the wet track. This is a horse who appears to be peaking at just the right time.

Verrazano wasn’t very flashy, but it was hard to find fault with his very routine gallop in the slop.

Palace Malice’s appearance Wednesday was noteworthy because he came to the track without the blinkers he’d trained in the previous two days and will work in Sunday.

Govenor Charlie does not appear to have the smoothest action after watching him gallop on consecutive mornings, although Wednesday’s wet track could have contributed to that. Will Take Charge also seemed a little uncertain stepping over the sloppy going Wednesday.

Perhaps the most impressive training session in the wet conditions came from Close Hatches, who had another great morning and continues to flourish in preparation for the Oaks.

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