Belmont Derby Day
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Turning down the backstretch on Thursday morning from left to right: Suddenbreakingnews, Creator, and Oscar Nominated.
Thursday morning was much cooler than earlier in the week, with overcast skies, a few spits of rain, a stiff breeze, and temperatures in the mid 40's. All of the Kentucky Derby and a few of the Oaks horses came out for their special private workout session at 8:30 after the break, although most of the Oaks fillies had come out earlier in the day. Oscar Nominated and Laoban arrived at Churchill Downs yesterday afternoon and made their first track appearances this morning. Below are photos for all 22 Derby horses and 5 Oaks fillies from this morning on the track with comments for each.
Nyquist drew post 13 on Saturday for trainer Doug O'Neill and is the 3-1 morning line favorite. Mario Gutierrez will be aboard for owner Paul Reddam. O'Neill said, "We like it. We see a good sign. We were post No. 13 when we won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile."
Brody's Cause drew post 19 for the Derby. Luis Saez will ride the 12-1 morning line chance. Trainer Dale Romans said, "At first, I was a little bit disappointed, but after looking at the draw with the speed (Danzing Candy) outside of us, we'll let him clear. I think it's going to be all right."
Creator drew post 3 and is 10-1 on Mike Battaglia's morning line. Ricardo Santana Jr. gets the call for trainer Steve Asmussen. Asmussen said, "Creator, he's kind of out the back early. He won't have a long ways to go left to find the fence early."
Danzing Candy is 15-1 on the morning line and drew the far outside 20 post for regular rider Mike Smith. Trainer Cliff Sise said, "At first you're kind of stunned when they say 20, but when you start thinking about it, it's not that bad. It's better than the one-hole, especially for a speed horse -- he can come over very gradually and he won't sit in the gate long. Actually, it might be in our favor. We're outside of any other speed horse, so we'll take it."
Destin will have Javier Castellano in the irons Saturday out of post 9. Trainer Todd Pletcher said of the 15-1 shot, I'm OK with the nine for Destin. The only thing that concerns me is the horse inside Destin (Lani, the Japanese representative). I have some concern about that horse acting up. But the posts themselves are fine."
Exaggerator is 8-1 second choice on the morning line and will have regular rider Kent Desormeaux in the saddle in post 11. Trainer Keith Desormeaux said, "I'm fine with it. Kent (younger brother) seems a bit concerned because he'll have to wait some after they load. But I don't see a problem. The horse is as cool as a cucumber. It'll be fine."
Gun Runner drew post 5 and is 10-1 morning line. Florent Geroux gets the call for trainer Steve Asmussen. Asmussen said, "It's looks like all the pace is to the outside. Hopefully, prerace, everything goes smoothly. Hopefully, he stands up in the gates. Hopefully, he's away from there really good. But, we're very anxious right now with a very good horse going into the Derby. He's a tremendous horse. You want a good trip to show who he is."
Lani is a 30-1 outsider on the morning line. Regular rider Yutaka Take will be aboard out of post 8. Trainer Mikio Matsunaga said, "It was a good draw, ideal. The middle was ideal so I have no complaints about drawing number eight."
Majesto drew post 18. Emisael Jaramillo will be in the irons aboard the 30-1 shot. Trainer Gustavo Delgado said, "I'd prefer a little more inside, but I cannot change it. But remember he's a strong horse."
Mo Tom drew post 4 and is 20-1 on the morning line. Corey Lanerie gets the call for trainer Tom Amoss, who said, "I think the two most significant things about the draw are we drew toward the rail but not so close that it's a problem, and that there's a lot of speed way on the outside in this post-position draw. Those horses are going to have to be used out of the starting gate, and that I think will ensure a good pace, which is what we need."
Mohaymen is 10-1 morning line and will have Junior Alvarado in the saddle in post 14. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "We're happy. He'll be the last one in the main gate, so it's great. There's a little space between the two gates. There are a lot worse posts, so we're happy."
Mor Spirit gets regular rider Gary Stevens aboard the 12-1 shot out of post 17. Stevens said, "I'm happy with it."
My Man Sam is 20-1 on the morning line. Irad Ortiz Jr. gets the call out of post 6. Trainer Chad Brown said, "I was looking for an inside post with My Man Sam so six will work just fine."
Oscar Nominated had to be supplemented into the Derby by owner Ken Ramsey, and is a 50-1 outsider out of post 7. Trainer Mike Maker said, "I'm pleased, obviously. It's better than the one-hole that we drew a couple of years ago. No complaints." Julien Leparoux gets the call Saturday.
Outwork will have John Velazquez in the saddle on Saturday. The 15-1 shot drew the 15 post for the Derby. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "We like the 15 for Outwork. It gives us some room inside between the gates."
Shagaf and Joel Rosario will load into gate 16 on Saturday. He is 20-1 on the morning line. Trainer Chad Brown said, "We were looking for something on the outside with Shagaf as big as he is so he'll stay out of trouble. Sixteen will work just fine. So now it's just up to the horses and the jockeys."
Suddenbreakingnews drew post 2 for jockey Luis Quinonez Jr. at odds of 20-1. Trainer Donnie Von Hemel said, "It's good with us. He's surrounded by horses with similar running styles and shouldn't get shuffled back. He should be able to get comfortable from there."
Tom's Ready is 30-1 on the morning line. Brian Hernandez Jr. will be aboard out of the 12 hole. Trainer Dallas Stewart said, "Great draw. Great field. We're ready to go. The Bensons are ready to go. We're ready to roll."
Trojan Nation drew the rail. Aaron Gryder will be aboard the 50-1 outsider. Trainer Paddy Gallagher said, "We're in! He's got no (early) speed. We're fine there."
Whitmore drew post 10 at 20-1 odds. New jockey Victor Espinoza looks to win three consecutive Derbies. Trainer Ron Moquett said, "We're tickled with it. All we've been wanting is a good post and a good trip. Last year, we didn't get a good post and I don't know if it would have changed anything, but this year we have a better post and a better horse."
Laoban is the first also-eligible (post 21) and if he draws in, the 50-1 shot will have Cornelio Velasquez aboard. Today was his first day at Churchill Downs, having been stabled at Keeneland prior to this. Unfortunately, this was the best view I got of him, as he went around twice the wrong way with the pony beside him.
Cherry Wine is the second also-eligible (post 22). If he draws in, Robby Albarado will ride the 30-1 shot.
|Kentucky Oaks Fillies|
Go Maggie Go drew post 4 for trainer Dale Romans. Luis Saez gets the call aboard the 12-1 shot on Friday. Romans said, "We didn't know she was going to be this good. Down in Florida this winter she really blossomed and came around to be a really nice filly. The four is an ideal spot. You'd probably hand pick right in there."
Mo d'Amour will have Joel Rosario aboard the 30-1 outsider, breaking from post 7 for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Mokat gets Flavien Prat to ride for trainer Richard Baltas out of post 6 at odds of 20-1 morning line. "She doesn't have a lot of early speed," Baltas said, "so I don't expect her to be close (to the lead) early. We'll just let her settle into the middle of the pack and then make a good late run."
Venus Valentine drew post 10 for trainer Tom Amoss as a 30-1 outsider. Shaun Bridgmohan gets the call on Friday. Amoss said, "Ideally, I'd like to have been one or two, because she's going to drop back. You want to save every bit of ground you can. But even from out there, I'm sure Venus is going to save a lot of ground in the race, coming from behind. (The speed) is definitely there. So we'll go from there. I'd love to see something like we saw in the race in New Orleans that she won, which is a pace that's absurdly fast."
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