04/27/2013 3:56PM

Kentucky Derby workouts: Revolutionary continues to impress

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The threat of heavy rains, forecast to start sometime Saturday, forced the hands of several trainers looking to assure they would have a fast track for the all-important final Kentucky Derby works scheduled this weekend. A number of breezes originally penciled in for Sunday were moved up 24 hours, including five of trainer Todd Pletcher’s six potential Derby starters, and Chad Brown’s horse Normandy Invasion.

Barbara D. Livingston
In an early morning workout, Normandy Invasion covers five furlongs in 58.89.

As is apparently a local phenomenon, the temperature dropped significantly after sunrise from the relatively balmy 53 degrees that greeted horsemen when the track opened for business at 5:45. The racetrack was quick and yielded very fast times all morning long.

Saturday at Churchill
53 degrees, track fast

Work of the day
Revolutionary (four furlongs in 48.31 seconds) became one of the rare few to garner two “work of the day” honors in less than a week while continuing to really impress since shipping to Churchill Downs following his victory in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. With recently elected Hall of Famer Calvin Borel aboard, Revolutionary breezed in company with fellow Derby contender Charming Kitten, who held a half-length advantage turning into the stretch after the pair posted a 24.61 opening quarter. But Revolutionary dominated the latter portion of the drill, coming home a final quarter in 23.50 while just cruising to the wire a length clear before readily pulling away, galloping out five-eighths in 1:00.58. The only glitch was the fact he again switched back briefly to his left lead near midstretch. He really seems to be handling the surface here extremely well.

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

Normandy Invasion (five furlongs in 58.89) was the first to work just minutes after the track opened and, as was the case last Sunday, was really on his toes and full of run coming to the pole, sizzling through an opening quarter in 23.36 and three-eighths in 34.89. But unlike his previous work, this time Normandy Invasion finished up stronger while once again never being asked, hitting 24 right on the button for his final quarter before galloping out a decent six furlongs in 1:12.13 as he received several light taps from the stick approaching the clubhouse turn. Although it did sound like Normandy Invasion might have been hitting himself for several strides nearing the wire, trainer Chad Brown said his horse came back to the barn clean as a whistle and that his rider reported the sound was coming from a stirrup leather flapping against the saddle pad.

:: Kentucky Derby workouts slideshow for Saturday, April 27

Mylute (four furlongs in 50.60) came out right behind Normandy Invasion, but, unlike the swift drill that took place moments earlier, he just cruised through a very easy maintenance work under rider Rosie Napravnik after having turned in a couple of sharper runs over the past two weekends. With Napravnik sitting chilly throughout, Mylute posted nearly identical 25.30 quarter splits, although he did shut down rather abruptly once passing the wire, galloping out five-eighths in a slow 1:06.13.

Black Onyx (four furlongs in 48.59) was the third and final Derby hopeful to breeze before the renovation break, doing so over a pretty chewed-up track some two hours after the strip had opened. With regular rider Joe Bravo aboard and wearing blinkers, Black Onyx broke off about eight lengths behind his target, the veteran Nowhere to Hide, who finished 17th in the 2009 Derby, and continued to lag far behind until midway on the turn, when Bravo asked him to pick up the pace. Black Onyx quickly drew on even terms with his partner nearing the eighth pole, after which Bravo reined him in again through the wire and to complete a five-furlong gallop out in 1:02.49. Although he has the high action of a turf or synthetic horse, Black Onyx does stretch out well and is a vastly improved animal from the one I saw training most of the winter at Gulfstream Park.

Verrazano (five furlongs in 59.51) was first up after the renovation break while going in company with his regular workmate Authenticity. Verrazano turned in another very solid, albeit not flashy, drill, posting splits of 23.57 and 35.13 before edging about 1 1/2 lengths clear of his mate while in hand at the wire. The undefeated Verrazano galloped out well, getting six furlongs in 1:12.92 while under some mild encouragement at that point before pulling up seven-eighths in 1:27.51. All in all, a very nice work, but not the standout performance perhaps many observers had been expecting to see.

Charming Kitten (four furlongs in 48.31) proved no match for Revolutionary during the latter stages of their work, falling a length back despite being pressured to keep up nearing the wire, and galloping out five-eighths in 1:01.89.

Overanalyze (four furlongs in 46.90), under Gary Stevens, broke off a length behind Palace Malice and joined his partner turning for home, after which the pair went as a team to the wire. Neither appeared to be moving quite as fast as the final times indicated, which is always an encouraging sign. The duo galloped out nicely while continuing on even terms around the turn, with Overanalyze pulling up six furlongs in 1:13.47.

Palace Malice (four furlongs in 47.10), working in blinkers and with jockey Mike Smith aboard, both for the first time, broke off a length in front of Overanalyze and, as noted above, finished and galloped out on even terms with his partner while well within himself throughout, pulling up six furlongs in 1:13.67.

Frac Daddy (five furlongs in 1:02.00) breezed inside stablemate Java’s War and was clearly the better of the pair, finishing in hand while about a half-length the best at the wire, although his final quarter-mile was an average 25.43. He also galloped out well in front, drawing four lengths clear to complete six furlongs in 1:16.03.

Java’s War (five furlongs in 1:02.10) was a bit of a disappointment following a big week training over the track, as he struggled late to keep pace with a well-held Frac Daddy before falling well back during the gallop out.