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Wednesday Kentucky Derby Photos

A young fan pets the cat at trainer Lynn Whiting's barn during the rennovation break Wednesday morning.
Date: 04/29/2009

Wednesday before the Kentucky Derby saw many of the horses for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks on the track to stretch their legs over the muddy track. Thankfully the rain that had been predicted missed Louisville, and the weather stayed clear with periods of sunshine.

Here are 11 of the Kentucky Derby horses, including the last minute entry of Nowhere to Hide who got in when Win Willy was withdrawn this morning, plus champion mare Zenyatta and Kentucky Oaks filly Flying Spur, with comments on what they did. Click the small photo to see a larger verson.

Atomic Rain got in the Derby when Square Eddie dropped out and Take the Points connections decided to wait for the Preakness. The Kelly Breen-trained colt breezed four furlongs at Monmouth Tuesday morning in a bullet :47 1/5, then boarded a van to Louisville a few hours later. "They left Monmouth at 12:30, and it's about a 13-hour trip," Breen said, "so they should get here about 2 in the morning." Despite the late arrival, he was out on the track Wednesday morning.

Chocolate Candy worked on Tuesday and recorded the second-fastest five furlongs of the day in :59 1/5. Wednesday he just galloped, but looked very sharp and ready despite the wet surface. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said on Tuesday, "I had told Mike 'Just like Santa Anita' (a reference to a :59 1/5 work turned in by the pair at the California track on April 12). He hit it right on. Now I think my horse has a chance to run well here. He can handle this track and now we know he can run well here. Handling the track is key and he's show us he can."

Desert Party galloped on Tuesday so he schooled in the paddock with stablemate Regal Ransom on Wednesday afternoon. His trainer Saeed bin Suroor said, "This is the hardest race in the world, and the best race in the world, a mile and a quarter for three-year-olds. It's hard to win. You need a special horse. Tough. Class. Speed. Everything in one horse. We tried coming from Dubai four times. Now, I think we have better horses than what we saw in Dubai. We're trying this year and it looks to me that our horses are doing much, much better than ever."

Friesan Fire worked a bullet five furlongs in :57.80 with jockey Gabriel Saez up on Monday, walked the shedrow Tuesday, and galloped under trainer Larry Jones on Wednesday. He got to select 11th in the draw today and took the #6 post. Jones commented on the 5-1 morning line odds he was assigned saying, "I thought we'd be a little higher (than 4-1 on the morning line), to be honest. But it's a very evenly-matched race."

General Quarters galloped again on Wednesday. Trainer Tom McCarthy said he won't change plans with his one-horse stable and will continue to just gallop up to the Derby. McCarthy said, "He's doing good, couldn't be any better."

Hold Me Back schooled in the paddock Wednesday afternoon and arrived with trainer Bill Mott (left). Speaking of his 2nd place finish in the Blue Grass, Mott said, "We're not about to say our horse can't run on the dirt just off one race We're going to give him the chance on Saturday and then we'll see."

Hold Me Back, Desert Party, and Regal Ransom in the schooling stalls in the Churchill Downs paddock during the 7th race Wednesday afternoon.

Mine That Bird will be Canada's first champion 2-year-old in the Kentucky Derby starting gate since Talkin Man in 1995. He was out for a gallop on Wednesday morning after working 5 furlongs in 1:02 on Monday. Trainer Chip Woolley said, "I'm really happy with my horse. It's pretty much exactly what I wanted - he started slower and finished up super-strong. He came back to the barn really playing. That's as good as you are ever going to see him feeling. He's not an animated horse."

Mr. Hot Stuff made his first appearance on the Churchill Downs racing strip Tuesday morning when he galloped, and he was back for another gallop on Wednesday morning, then schooled in the paddock during th 6th race in the afternoon. At the post position draw, WinStar Farm, with three horses in the Derby field, chose starting stalls five, four, and three, for Hold Me Back, Advice, and Mr. Hot Stuff, respectively.

Nowhere to Hide galloped with a pony shortly after they found out he could get in the Kentucky Derby field. Zito said owner Len Riggio left the decision up to the trainer. "I feel like Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in '48 Hours,'" Zito quipped, referring to the amount of time he now has to prep a horse for a 1 1/4-mile race. Nowhere to Hide's last published work was April 18, when he went four furlongs in :50 3/5 at Churchill Downs.

Pioneerof the Nile went out for a gallop Wednesday morning just after the break. At the post position draw, trainer Bob Baffert selected post 16, hoping the colt would not experience as much kickback as he would if he were to start more to the inside. Baffert said, "He hasn't had that dirt experience, so there will be less dirt on the outside than there will be on the inside."

Regal Ransom schooled in the paddock along with stablemate Regal Ransom under the supervision of trainer Saeed bin Suroor. bin Suroor said, "When they were in Dubai they improved all the time, but since the last race they look much better than ever. We come here with some confidence. We're looking to see our horses run a big race."

Undefeated champion mare Zenyatta arrived at Churchill Downs on Tuesday and was out this morning for a gallop. She is staying in trainer Larry Jones' barn, and apparently Freisan Fire, who is only 7 stalls down from her, has a bit of a crush on her. Jones said, "He was on his toes before he knew Zenyatta was here. He is quite taken with her."

Flying Spur will break from post 8 in Friday's Kentucky Oaks. The Bill Mott trained filly galloped Wednesday morning and schooled in the paddock in the afternoon during the 7th race.

Left: The Kentucky Derby Festival Princesses watch the morning workouts on Wednesday.

Right: The track was listed at muddy today and they floated it rather than harrowed it during the rennovation break at 8am.

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