05/01/2012 12:45PM

Kentucky Derby workouts: Rousing Sermon looks more comfortable during five-furlong breeze

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Barbara D. Livingston
In contrast to his appearance on the track Monday, Rousing Sermon made a much more positive visual impression during a five-furlong workout Tuesday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Despite some heavy downpours the previous evening, the racetrack was in nice shape for training Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs with the course rated good for the early session before being upgraded to fast following the renovation break.

Rousing Sermon was the only prospective Kentucky Derby starter to work on Tuesday, breezing five furlongs under jockey Jose Lezcano after the break. Union Rags and Optimizer, who finally became an official member of the field later in the morning, were the only two Derby starters on the track prior to the special Derby/Oaks training session at 8:30 a.m.

Rousing Sermon (five furlongs in 1:00.13): The late-running California invader did not look all that comfortable galloping over the track for the first time on Monday but made a much more favorable impression when allowed to stretch out and work five furlongs 24 hours later.

Rousing Sermon was relaxed breaking away from the pole, beginning his breeze at an even pace, completing his opening eighth- and quarter-miles in 12.52 and 24.92 seconds, respectively. Rousing Sermon picked it up approaching the stretch, changed leads on cue while fanning several paths off the rail exiting the turn, and then charged home eagerly, completing his final three-eighths in a solid 35.21 despite bobbling momentarily inside the eighth pole and with Lezcano letting out and then tugging back on the left rein a number of times through the final furlong. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.23.

Hard to knock anything about this work or to discourage those who believe the late-running Rousing Sermon can come on and grab at least a share of the Derby spoils on Saturday.

Union Rags was equipped with a tongue tie for the first time on Tuesday and seemed just a bit uncomfortable during a routine one-mile gallop over a racetrack that still had some moisture in it shortly before dawn. Later that morning, trainer Michael Matz said he was not happy with the way Union Rags reacted to the tongue tie and that he would not wear one in the Derby. The same can be said for Went the Day Well, who changed leads a little reluctantly through the stretch, in his first gallop since Saturday’s big work.

Alpha left a very favorable first impression when finally getting an opportunity to test the local surface after finally arriving on the grounds the previous day. Not big in stature, Alpha looked both very sound and very happy during his energetic 1 3/8-mile gallop.

I’ll Have Another has really opened up during the tail end of each of his three gallop sessions since arriving from California over the weekend. Unlike the previous two local appearances, when doing most of his running down the backstretch before pulling up abruptly near the quarter pole, I’ll Have Another was allowed to continue on through the stretch this morning, clipping off a 12 and change final eighth to the wire before easing up around the turn. He appears to be very happy and feeling right at home over the Churchill Downs surface.

Bodemeister simply jogged once around returning to the track for the first time since Sunday’s eye-catching work and, as reported previously, is not a pretty mover under such circumstances. No reason to expect anything different today.