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It was a busy session on Wednesday morning. From the rail out: State of Honor, Tapwrit, and Summer Luck.

Wednesday Kentucky Derby Workouts

Date: 05/03/2017

Wednesday morning was mostly overcast, although there was a brief period of sun, and colder than yesterday at Churchill Downs but the track was fast after the renovation break. Quite a few of the Kentucky Derby and Oaks horses came out for their special private workout session at 8:30 after the break, although some had come out earlier in the day. Below are photos for 20 Derby horses and 9 Oaks fillies from this morning on the track with comments for each. You can watch video of today's training session here.

Kentucky Derby

horse racinghorse racingAlways Dreaming - continued his early morning routine of training right when the track opens (5:45) and gallops under exercise rider Nick Bush with a special set of "draw reins" attached to give his pilot more control. The special reins were added Monday with a decent positive outcome, working their intended effect of forcing the high-strung son of Bodemeister to drop his head and concentrate on following his cues. Tuesday the transition continued and then Wednesday morning the sleek, dark runner looked especially sharp moving around the oval for a strong nine-furlong gallop three days ahead of Kentucky Derby 143. "He's good," said Bush afterward. "We've got him where we want him. He was professional today. Saturday can't come soon enough." Trainer Todd Pletcher, who again watched his colt exercise from the Churchill grandstand, was pleased with how his charge's adaptation was coming along. "I liked what I saw again today," Pletcher said. "He's full of himself; he's feeling good."

He also schooled in the paddock during the fourth race in the afternoon.

horse racingBattle of Midway - galloped 1 1/2 miles under regular exercise rider Edgar Rodriguez Wednesday morning. "He's been in the paddock every day and I stood him twice in the gate already," Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. "Today he just went in the paddock and galloped." Pundits have been harsh on the Southern California contenders this year, in large part because of how the Santa Anita Derby played out, with an unusually slow final time (1:51.16, slowest in 60 years) and a final eighth (:13.61), as well as the way the field was bunched up at the finish (the top five were all within two lengths). However, Hollendorfer who has 7,276 wins to his credit, third alltime and second among active trainers attributed those stats more to the racing surface than the quality of the entrants. "They can discount it all they want," Hollendorfer said. "The Santa Anita Derby has been a great indicator of horses that would run well in the Kentucky Derby and that's a proven fact. The time was not as fast as usual but the track was off about two seconds, and I got that from Gary Stevens, who thought the track was real slow that day. We thought we ran pretty good considering all that."

horse racinghorse racingClassic Empire - drew post position 14 for Saturday's race. "It's a good spot," Mark Casse said. "A couple of key contenders are outside of us, which is kind of nice." Morning line odds maker Mike Battaglia installed Classic Empire as the 4-1 favorite for America's Greatest Race with regular rider Julien Leparoux aboard. Both Casse colts galloped 1 1/2 miles Wednesday morning and schooled in the gate. The second photo is his bath afterwards.

horse racingFast and Accurate - after shipping over from nearby Trackside Louisville on Tuesday afternoon, had a fluid gallop shortly after 8:30 a.m. with trainer Mike Maker observing. The son of Maker-trained champion Hansen ninth in the 2012 Kentucky Derby (GI) went 1 1/2 miles and promptly returned to Barn 27. He is owned by Kendall Hansen and Skychai Racing, co-owners of his sire, as well as Sand Dollar Stable and Olympic gold medal-earning alpine ski racer Bode Miller. "It's great for Kendall to have a son of Hansen in the Derby," Maker said. "He put so much into Hansen and tried to support him as a stallion. It means a lot." Gifted with tactical speed like his sire, the gray colt drew well in post three and was assigned 50-1 morning-line odds. "I'm not too worried about stuff you have no control over, but I'm pleased with it," Maker said.

horse racingGormley - drew post 10 which was a bit of a disappointment for trainer John Shirreffs. "We wanted to be in the main gate (one through 14), but what are you going to do," he said. "We've got a very experienced rider (three-time Kentucky Derby winner Victor Espinoza) and he'll know what to do out there."

horse racingGunnevera - galloped 1 1/2 miles Wednesday morning, when he was allowed to roll while finishing up his morning exercise under Victor O'Farrel. "The horse galloped a mile and a half and the last half-mile he had an open gallop," said trainer Antonio Sano, who scheduled a paddock schooling session for Wednesday's first race. "He was very good and arrived back to the barn fine. The horse is 100 percent." The son of Dialed In drew No. 10 at Wednesday's post-position draw for Kentucky Derby 143.

horse racinghorse racingHence - drew post 8 after jogging 1 mile under exercise rider Angel Garcia. "Hence is on fire," Steve Asmussen said. "He's sharp, very sharp. He can get hot, which is why we did a little more with him off the work than the others, that and the fact that he's had a little more time since his last race. He walked out of the barn and was a little excited, but came back and cooled out beautifully. He is warm, but he just has a very high energy level right now."

He also schooled in the paddock during the fourth race in the afternoon and was very alert looking.

horse racingIrap - had a busy Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs, heading out for the 8:30 special training session with regular exercise rider Tony Romero at the controls. The husky son of Tiznow completed the morning trifecta a good gallop of a mile and one eighth, a trip to the paddock and a stand in the gate. Romero said it all went great. The Doug O'Neill stable is feeling good about their chances come Saturday and they'll have their guy Mario Gutierrez aboard as they point for their third Derby in six years. Later that morning they drew post nine in the 20-horse Derby field. "Just about perfect," O'Neill said afterward. "We wanted the 10, but nine is next best. The way they load them one and 11, two and 12 we wanted to stand in there the least amount of time. But this is next best. We're very happy with it."

horse racingIrish War Cry - galloped 1 5/8 miles under exercise rider David Nava Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs. "He was a little bit more settled this morning," said trainer Graham Motion, whose Kentucky Derby hopeful arrived from Fair Hills Training Center in Northeast Maryland late Monday afternoon. The son of Curlin drew No. 17 at Wednesday's post-position draw. "Animal Kingdom was 16, so I can't be disappointed with 17," said Motion, who visited the Churchill Downs winner's circle in 2011 after Animal Kingdom captured the Derby from No. 16. "It can be done from out there. I'm happy enough with it." Irish War Cry, who won the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct last time out, was rated fourth on the morning line at 6-1.

horse racingJ Boys Echo - drew post position 13 for the "Run for the Roses." "Thirteen is a lucky number," trainer Dale Romans said. "It's a good spot to be in. We just didn't want the one or 20 post. We have horses on both sides of us so, if given the option, we couldn't have hand picked a better spot." The Gotham (G3) winner will be ridden in Saturday's race by Luis Saez. J Boys Echo galloped 1 1/2 miles Wednesday morning at 8:30 with Tammy Fox aboard.

horse racingLookin at Lee - drew the dreaded rail. "I didn't want the one hole, but if any horse can handle the one hole in the Kentucky Derby, it's Lookin At Lee," said trainer Steve Asmussen, who also drew the rail with the Kentucky Oaks hopeful Ever So Clever.

He also schooled in the paddock during the fourth race in the afternoon.

horse racingMcCraken - galloped 1 1/2 mile after the morning renovation break with exercise rider Yoni Orantes aboard for trainer Ian Wilkes. McCraken had a paddock schooling session Tuesday afternoon that he passed with flying colors. "He did very well," Wilkes said. "I was happy with it and that will be his only session there." Listed at 5-1 on the morning line and the co-second choice, McCraken drew post position 15.

"It is a very good draw," Wilkes said. "They were trying to tease us a little bit with the one and 20 still out for the second half of the draw. We have a good spot because there is that small gap between the main gate and the auxiliary gate." Hernandez also liked the draw. "We got a little nervous with the one still out there," Hernandez said. "I told Ian this was the only time to get nervous because we couldn't control it. We drew well. I am very happy with it."

horse racinghorse racingPatch - with exercise rider Isabelle Bourez up, galloped a mile and a quarter. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "We're OK with (far outside post 20) There's nothing outside to bother him, so that's good. He's been a good gate horse and I don't see any problems. I'd rather have it than have the one."

Patch schooled in the paddock during the fourth race and was quite calm. I noticed he tended to walk with his head cocked so he could see ahead better.

horse racingPractical Joke - once again galloped about 1 1/2 times around the Churchill Downs oval under exercise rider Fernando Rivera during the Kentucky Oaks and Derby training session. "He did great today," trainer Chad Brown said. "He just continues to train so well over the surface. He's just moving smooth and happy. At this point that's all we can do is bring him in sound and happy. It now gets to the point where things are out of our hands." At the Derby post-position draw, Practical Joke landed in post 19. "I'm disappointed with the draw," Brown said. "Nineteen is obviously not where we want to be but we'll just have to work out a trip from there."

horse racingState of Honor - drew post position six and will be ridden by Jose Lezcano. "I love having State of Honor right outside Always Dreaming (who drew post five)," trainer Mark Casse said. Both Casse colts galloped 1 1/2 miles Wednesday morning and schooled in the gate.

horse racingTapwrit - galloped 1 1/4 miles under Silvio Pioli then schooled in the starting gate. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "Love the post (16) for him. He'll do fine from there. That's been a good starting spot in the past. We're glad to have it." (Four horses have won the Kentucky Derby from post 16 Animal Kingdom (2011); Monarchos (2001); Charismatic (1999) and Thunder Gulch (1995).

He also schooled in the paddock during the fourth race in the afternoon.

horse racingThunder Snow - cantered one mile during the Oaks and Derby training session under Godolphin exercise rider Daragh O'Donohoe. "The good thing about this horse is he handled the dirt really well," trainer Saeed bin Suroor said on his first morning at Churchill Downs this week. "I talked to his work rider and he's so happy with him and that's good for Saturday. The horse was doing really well in Dubai before he came here but it is not easy to send a horse to the Kentucky Derby unless you know he has the class. I know it's a tough race, the best horses in the world, but our horse has the class." After drawing post 2, bin Suroor added, "We're happy with that. We need to be handy in the race. The horse has a good turn of foot and he can be there and kick readily and that is the plan." In addition he will be first time Lasix on Saturday.

horse racingUntrapped - with Juan Vargas up, galloped during the special 8:30 training session. Trainer Steve Asmussen said, "With Untrapped, the four is a bit of a concern because Always Dreaming is just to his outside and he'll probably be the pace horse. The eight for Hence is one of the preferred spots statistically. I think, looking at the stats the last 20 years, the eight, 13 and 16 posts have produced the most in-the-money finishes."

He also schooled in the paddock during the fourth race in the afternoon.

horse racingRoyal Mo - is the first also-eligible for the Derby and needs someone to drop out by 9am Friday to get in the starting gate. He galloped 1 1/4 miles under Cisco Alvarado for trainer John Shirreffs.

horse racingMaster Plan - is the second also-eligible for the Derby and needs two horses to drop out by 9am Friday to get in the starting gate.

He also schooled in the paddock during the fourth race in the afternoon.

Kentucky Oaks

horse racingAbel Tasman - galloped 1 3/8 miles under regular exercise rider Dana Barnes. "It was very nice and she's settled in great," said Jimmy Barnes, lead assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. "We're looking forward to running her." The threat of rain on Oaks Day prompted questions about how the Quality Road filly would respond to a muddy surface. "I don't know what kind of weather we're going to get but we're ready for anything," Barnes said. "You really don't know until they get out there but it seems like with a sloppy track here horses do come from off the pace, from what I've seen. As long as the track's fair we'll be fine. She's trained over muddy tracks so it's not a factor."

horse racingFarrell - stood in the gate and then finally galloped 1 3/4 miles on the main track. "Everything was great again today," Catalano said. "We're happy." Jockey Channing Hill, son-in-law to Catalano, also was in attendance. After stating that he would prefer post seven or eight prior to the draw, he was pleased with receiving the former. "Hopefully it's all coming together," Hill said. "I'm really happy with the post. I'm just going to let her break and run into the first turn. I was happy Paradise Woods drew inside (post four) of us and I'm fine with Miss Sky Warrior being outside (post 10). We have an eighth of a mile going into the turn, so I think they'll already be in front of us if that's the case. If my filly decides to be forward and we're not 'rocket-shipping', then I'll stay where I'm at. They're really going to have to run into the turn to outrun me. They'll have to use horse to get there and I know my filly will come back to me or she'll just outrun them. My post is good because I can apply pressure and I can avoid pressure at the same time."

horse racingMiss Sky Warrior - galloped a mile under Aurelio Gomez. Escorted by trainer Kelly Breen on a pony and observed by Breen on horseback during her gallop, the Arlene's Sun Star Stable-owned Gazelle (G2) winner is joined in the barn by fellow Breen-trained 3-year-old Derek's Smile, who is slated to take on elders in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) earlier on the Oaks card. "It's nice to have a couple horses here with her," Breen said. "They enjoy it. When she shipped into New York (for the Gazelle), we shipped into someone else's barn and she liked being around them. They like the action and seeing horses walking around them. They really thrive on camaraderie and entertainment."

horse racingMopotism - was out with the rest of the Derby/Oaks runners taking advantage of the special 8:30 training period for a mile gallop under veteran rider Amir Cedeno. Trainer Doug O'Neill, who also had his Derby hopeful Irap out during the same session, did double duty watching both go through their exercises. "She's feeling good," said Cedeno, who has worked for the O'Neill outfit for about five years and whose history goes back to working with Hall of Famer Laz Berrera and galloping a mighty steed named Affirmed. Mopotism will break from post three Friday under Mario Gutierrez in the 143rd edition of the Kentucky Oaks (GI).

horse racingSailor's Valentine - galloped 1 1/2 miles under Kelly Wheeler. "Everything's perfect and I'm really happy," Eddie Kenneally said. "I really couldn't be happier, actually. She's doing as well as she can be." Like many Mizzen Mast offspring, Sailor's Valentine has shown ample speed, but displayed marked improvement stalking while attempting two-turn dirt company for the first time last out in the Ashland at Keeneland. In the Oaks, she drew favorably for such a style in post eight. "Ideally, we think stalking will be her running style going forward in two-turn dirt races," Kenneally said. "She has natural speed, but she's content to lay off leaders and relaxes beautifully, which was key in the Ashland. She wasn't quite as relaxed as a 2-year-old last fall, but she has matured. Whoever is on the lead, depending on how quick they're going, hopefully she relaxes nicely behind them.

horse racingSalty - galloped 1 1/2 miles and visited the gate Wednesday morning at 8:30 for trainer Mark Casse. The daughter of Quality Road will attempt to claim the opening leg of the Oaks-Derby double for Casse. "Let's just go one day at a time," Casse joked. "She's doing well and we're excited for Friday." One of Salty's co-owners, Chris Baccari, typically doesn't find himself in the position to have one of the horses he owns in a premier race. Baccari, along with longtime partner Chester Prince, bred Salty as part of their operation with Baccari Bloodstock. "I think it's a great feeling to have a filly in the Oaks," Baccari said. "Salty went through some growing pains when she was younger and we held onto her to make sure she developed more. I used to race a lot more than I should have, so I've since cut back and sell most of the horses we breed." Salty will break from post position 14 with morning line odds of 6-1.

horse racingTequilita - was sent to the Churchill Downs track Wednesday morning for some light exercise under Jo Robinson. "She backed up and jogged two miles. We took it real easy today," said Michael Matz, who trains the Kentucky Oaks hopeful for his wife. Dorothy Alexander Matz bred Tequilita, as well as her dam Sangrita, who won the seven-furlong Chilukki (G2) at Churchill Downs in 2006. Tequilita was sired by Union Rags, the 2012 Belmont Stakes winner trained by Michael Matz. "This is a real family affair," he said. The Union Rags-Sangrita mating turned out to be a match made in heaven. "Her dam won going shorter. She was a big mare but short-coupled. I felt like we needed to stretch her out a little bit, and I knew he also had speed. I just thought it would be a good physical combo and when you looked at it on paper, the cross was good too," Dorothy Alexander Matz said. "I've always been a big believer that Union Rags would make a nice sire. He has a great female side. He was a very sound horse, so I said, 'What the heck, why not try it?' "

horse racingWicked Lick - galloped 1 1/2 miles after the morning renovation break with exercise rider Leo Garcia aboard for trainer Brendan Walsh. Wicked Lick, listed at 30-1 on the morning line for the Oaks, will break from post position nine. Brian Hernandez Jr. has ridden Wicked Lick in six of her eight starts. "She is a hard-trying filly and is always right there," Hernandez said. "The one time she was off the board with me (a fourth in the Rachel Alexandra), that was pilot error. I got pushed out wider but she came back running. She tries every time." Hernandez was aboard for the filly's first two starts that were on grass. "She started on the grass and we wanted to run in a stake at Kentucky Downs, but she didn't get in," Hernandez said. "On dirt, she has been getting better each race. She has been second to (Oaks rival) Farrell twice and that is nothing to sneeze at."

horse racingSummer Luck - is the also-eligible for the Oaks, and needs someone to scratch by 4pm Thursday for her to get in the starting gate. She galloped 1 1/2 miles Wednesday and still hopes to sneak into the race with a defection.

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