05/01/2006 11:00PM

Wet track alters some final tune-ups

Bob and John arrives in Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday for Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When trainer John Shirreffs won the Kentucky Derby last year with Giacomo, he brought the colt from California to Churchill Downs only days before the race. The weather at home, Shirreffs said, was ideal, so he kept to the same schedule this year with A. P. Warrior.

On Tuesday, A. P. Warrior - along with the Bob Baffert-trained duo of Bob and John and Point Determined - arrived around noon after an early morning flight from California, where the weather had been ideal in recent days. They were high and dry, while horses at Churchill Downs had to play in the mud for the fourth straight morning.

A wet, sticky track altered the training schedule of some runners headed to the 132nd Derby on Saturday. Other trainers, particularly those usually based at Churchill Downs, maintained business as usual with their stars. Mostly, though, it was a day for trainers to wait around anxiously.

Todd Pletcher pined for a last-second development that would put Sunriver, currently ranked 21st in graded-stakes earnings, in the 20-horse field by entry time Wednesday. David Hofmans postponed a scheduled workout for Sacred Light, currently 22nd on the earnings list. Tom Albertrani hoped the track would dry out by Saturday, since Deputy Glitters has run his two worst races on sloppy tracks. And all trainers just tried to coax their horses through another day as the big day fast approached.

Steve Asmussen, who has both Private Vow and Storm Treasure in the Derby, announced on Tuesday that David Flores would ride Storm Treasure. That was the last riding assignment that had been pending among the 20 horses expected to make up the final field.

Asmussen had no qualms about training over the sloppy surface on Tuesday.

"Being here a lot, I stay on course," Asmussen said. "I've found I've had more success doing that than adjusting. This track handles water well."

Pletcher, who has Bluegrass Cat and Keyed Entry in the Derby, kept to his planned schedule with those colts, as well as Sunriver.

"As a rule, when I can work around an off track, I try to, without completely uprooting a horse's schedule," Pletcher said. "This track holds water well. I didn't do anything different than if the track had been fast."

Dan Hendricks, however, exercised caution with Brother Derek. The Santa Anita Derby winner worked on Monday, and usually gets a day off after a work. But because Brother Derek merely went an easy half-mile on Monday, Hendricks wanted to take him to the track for some light exercise on Tuesday. However, Hendricks decided against taking a chance over a track that was sloppier than on Monday.

"I'm just glad I worked [Monday]," Hendricks said.

Mike Trombetta, the trainer of Sweetnorthernsaint, made a slight adjustment to his plans. Sweetnorthernsaint had done very little since his workout on Saturday, but went for a gallop on Tuesday after a schooling session in the starting gate.

"We went out a little later, after the renovation break," Trombetta said. "He had worked, walked the next day, then jogged, so he had to get out and do something. If he'd have galloped the last three days, I might have walked him under the shed."

Barbaro jogged and lightly cantered, the same schedule he had on Monday.

"I don't like to do too much on a track like that," said his trainer, Michael Matz.

According to The Weather Channel, showers are predicted every day this week but Friday. The possibility of an off track for the Derby throws another factor into a deep, well-matched field that seemingly has numerous runners capable of winning.

One horse that could be adversely effected by an off track is Deputy Glitters, who was sixth in the Wood Memorial on a sloppy Aqueduct track on April 8.

"Hopefully it'll hold off until after Saturday," said Tom Albertrani, who trains Deputy Glitters and is a former exercise rider. "This is a different kind of track compared to New York tracks. When I was galloping here, horses seemed to get a better footing. He seems like he's handling it fine this week. We've pretty much trained over wet tracks since we've been here.

"If it is a wet track, at this stage we probably have to run," said Albertrani, who said a final decision would be left to owner Joe Lacombe.

- additional reporting by Marcus Hersh and Mike Welsch