04/21/2013 12:11PM

Kentucky Derby workouts: Revolutionary, Verrazano look sharp


CHURCHILL DOWNS  Sunny  Temp. 40  Track Fast

LOUISVILLE -   A busy morning got things rolling on the Kentucky Derby workout watch with five potential starters breezing at Churchill Downs on Sunday,  including Verrazano and Normandy Invasion, the first two finishers from the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, along with Revolutionary and Mylute, the first two across the wire one week earlier in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby.

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

As is usually the case in the weeks leading up to the Derby, it was a cold morning under the Twin Spires with temperatures in the high 30s when the track opened for training at 5:45 a.m. and barely inching above 40 for the special Derby/Oaks training session which began at 8:30. And as is also usually the case on busy work days, many of the breezes occur simultaneously,  as was the case this morning with Normandy Invasion, Verrazano, and Will Take Charge all running at virtually the same time.


Revolutionary (four furlongs in 48.73 seconds) had jockey Calvin Borel aboard for the first time as trainer Todd Pletcher and WinStar have re-assembled the same team that brought them their first Derby victory with Super Saver in 2010. Breaking off, as expected, nearest the rail under Borel while in company with WinStar’s undefeated 3-year-old Red Rifle, Revolutionary went a very easy opening eighth in 12.92 and quarter in 25.16, and then finished strong while scrapping the paint down the stretch. The Louisiana Derby winner completed his final two furlongs in 23.57 while well in hand, the only glitch the fact that he did switch back to his left lead nearing the wire as he has done in late stretch during some of his earlier races. Revolutionary continued on strong after the wire, galloping out a solid five-eighths in 1:01.36 before pulling up six furlongs in 1:15.13.

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

“You know where Calvin is going to want to be so we might as well let him [Revolutionary] get used to it,” said Pletcher. “I thought Calvin and the horse got along pretty well. This horse did a little bit of everything in the Withers. He was inside, outside, in between, behind horses. With the trip he got that day, I’d say there’s very little we can throw at him that he hasn’t seen before.” 

Verrazano (five furlongs in 59.95) broke off 1 1/2 lengths behind the recently graded stakes-placed mare Authenticity and loped through an opening furlong in 13.02 under jockey Gary Stevens. The Wood Memorial winner picked up the pace entering the turn but had to be asked a bit by Stevens to join up with his partner nearing the quarter pole. Verrazano fanned about four paths wide into the stretch and ultimately edged  a head in front at the wire while completing his final quarter in 23.28. He then galloped out willingly albeit with a little late encouragement from Stevens to keep up with Authenticity re-entering the backstretch. 

“We intentionally set him off the other horse,” said Pletcher. “She’s a very good work horse and already had the luxury of having breezed over this track. I thought it was a very excellent breeze, after which we got the gallop out we were looking for. I thought he got over the track nicely and responded really well when Gary asked him to pick it up a notch.”

Normandy Invasion  (four furlongs in  48.12) was a bit anxious getting to the pole and as a result, busted off an opening quarter in 23.16 before finally coming to hand once leaving the turn. The fast early pace took its toll a bit through the stretch although the Wood runner-up finished without need of urging and galloped out with interest, completing five -eighths in 1:01.41 before pulling up three-quarters in 1:15.66.

“The horse is really sharp right now and we worked him only a half so that’s okay,” said trainer Chad Brown. “He was tugging pretty good going to the pole but I thought my rider did a good job. He started off a little quick but settled through the lane and galloped out smooth. That’s why I’ve switched gears and started working him solo. He’s definitely gotten a lot sharper since exiting the Risen Star and I was real happy with what I saw today. He galloped out good, came back with his ears up, and wasn’t even blowing.”  

Will Take Charge  (one mile in 1:41.75) broke off at the wire, joined up with stablemate Channel Isle near the five-furlong pole, and then pulled away from his target when put to pressure in early stretch, shading 25 for his final quarter- quarter mile split albeit under urging from jockey Jon Court.

Mylute  (four furlongs in 47.80) came out shortly after the track opened, jogged six furlongs the wrong way, and then galloped another mile before breaking away from the pony at the 4 1/2-furlong pole. Despite taking a good run to the pole, jockey Rosie Napravnik got him to settle into a nice, comfortable stride almost immediately, posting a 12.48 opening eighth and 24.57 quarter-mile split. Napravnik continued to allow Mylute to go along on his own down the stretch, the Louisiana Derby runner-up completing his final couple of furlongs in a sharp 23.23 although he began easing up shortly past the wire, galloping out an average five furlongs in 1:01.86. He appears to have bounced out of last week’s longer and harder work in good order.

At Payson Park

Orb (five furlongs in 1:02.20 according to trainer Shug McGaughey) worked in company with Puzzling, reportedly edging away near the wire while completing his final quarter in 23.80 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.80.

“I thought it was a great work. He just galloped along early, then finished up strong and galloped out well, which is what I wanted to see,” said McGaughey. “It was perfect.”

Orb was scheduled to leave Payson later Sunday afternoon, arrive at Churchill Downs sometime Monday morning and will have his final Derby work here next Monday.

Oxbow was the first Derby starter on the Churchill Downs track for a routine gallop early Sunday. He’s not the most fluid of movers, travels with his head cocked out, and appears to be a tough horse to ride. But he does seem to have a high energy level and to be doing well at the present time the way he picked up momentum as he came down the stretch, continued strongly around the clubhouse turn and was a handful to finally pull up near the five-eighths pole.                

At Betfair Hollywood Park on Sunday, Tiz a Minister worked a half-mile in 50.20 seconds. There was no immediate word on whether he was still under consideration for the Derby, but his position on the points list fell by one spot, to 23rd, when Winning Cause leaped over him with his victory in the Lexington Stakes on Saturday at Keeneland.

At Santa Anita, trainer Bob Baffert said that both Den’s Legacy and Super Ninety Nine were scheduled to work at Santa Anita on Wednesday, and that their works would determine whether they fly to Kentucky the following day. Super Ninety Nine is currently 18th in the points list with 30, so those on the bubble will be watching his developments with keen interest.

Baffert said that Code West and Power Broker, both of whom traveled to Churchill Downs late last week, are both scheduled to work there on Monday. Baffert said he would not make a final decision on their Derby status until seeing them in person later this week. Code West is currently 22nd on the points list.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman