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Monday of Derby week and the stands are empty. Normally they would be full of people there to see the workouts.
Monday morning, five days before the rescheduled and spectator-free Kentucky Derby, was overcast with temperatures in the mid 60's during training at Churchill Downs and the track was rated as fast. Many of the Kentucky Derby and Oaks horses came out for their special private workout session at 7:30 after the break, although a few had come out earlier in the day. Below are photos for 4 Derby horses and 3 Oaks fillies from this morning on the track with comments for each. You can watch video of today's training session here.
The Kentucky Derby post postion draw will be on Tuesday.
Kentucky DerbyArt Collector had another solid, routine morning in advance of the Kentucky Derby as he jogged a mile, then galloped 1 1/8 miles during the special training period reserved for Derby and Oaks horses at 7:30.
"Today was his first day back galloping since his breeze (five furlongs on Aug. 28) and I thought he looked fantastic," trainer Tommy Drury said. "Everything seems to be in good order. From here on out, we're back in a normal gallop routine and just try to stay out of his way for a few more days."
|Major Fed jogged about 1 5/8 miles and schooled in the new Kentucky Derby 20-horse starting gate. Major Fed was accompanied to the track by 50-year-old exercise rider Margarito Fierro. The Mexico City-native Fierro has worked for Foley for more than 15 years and Major Fed is the first Derby contender he has ridden.
"Horses are my life," Fierro said. "I grew up in Mexico and lived and breathed horses from a young age. I credit them with everything I've done in my life. A couple of years ago I was battling cancer and the horses were my therapy. When I'm around them, all the stress of life goes away."
|Max Player was the last Derby horse to complete his final work Monday morning, breezing an easy half-mile in :49.80 at 5:50am with regular exercise rider Juan Vargas aboard. The Honor Code colt put up splits of :12.40 and :24.40 before completing his work and galloping out in 1:02.80. "He's continuing to do well," Hall of Fame trainer Steve
Asmussen said. "I'm extremely excited about how he's going to run in the Kentucky Derby. I love how he looks going over the racetrack. His attitude is really good. He came in with a really good attitude and was moving really well. That has stayed the same."
|Necker Island jogged once around under Hillary Hartman and then stood in the starting gate in the mile chute. Necker Island was claimed by trainer Chris Hartman in June out of an optional claiming race for $100,000 in which he finished fourth behind Art Collector, who figures to be one of the top choices for Saturday's Run for the Roses.
"The initial goal was we hoped to hold his previous form and not ugly it up," Hartman said. "We knew we were getting a nice horse who was already proven and obviously we were hoping he would be a Derby horse."
|Sole Volante got his first feel of the Churchill track Monday, one day after vanning from his base at Palm Meadows in South Florida. With his co-owner aboard, the Karakontie (JPN) gelding jogged one mile around the track. Andie Biancone, also the daughter of trainer Patrick Biancone, said she's seeing signs that her horse is ready for a top effort in the Kentucky Derby. "Normally, he's the quietest horse in the barn, so yesterday (Sunday) when I took him off the van, I didn't even use a lip chain and he dragged me off the van. This morning (Monday), he felt better than he ever has."
Kentucky OaksDream Marie jogged once around the Churchill Downs track under exercise rider Ian Craven on her first morning under the Twin Spires since arriving from South Florida Sunday.
This is also the first trip to Churchill Downs for Dream Marie's Florida-based trainer Matthew Williams, who was happy to learn his Graydar filly has been given a "lucky" stall. She is in the same stall as 2016 Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia and 2018 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Jaywalk. "Let's hope some of that rubs off on her," Williams said.
|Shedaresthedevil galloped about 1 1/2 miles Monday with Edvin Vargas up for trainer Brad Cox.
Shedaresthedevil drew post No. 7 in the Oaks. "Everything is great," Cox said. "Nothing more we can do now."
Swiss Skydiver had a "basic" gallop and walked through paddock Monday morning. "We're just doing enough to let her stretch her legs," trainer Kenny McPeek said.
Later in the morning, the multiple stakes winner drew post one of nine for the Oaks and was installed as the 8-5 second choice. "It's the shortest trip around there," McPeek said. "I'd rather have the one than the nine. It's out of my hands. We'll just let Tyler (Gaffalione) do his thing. He's a great jock. We'll probably just let her run into the first turn."
Left: Looking down on the Kentucky Derby winner's circle from high in the grandstand.
Right: No roses in the Aristides garden this year, wrong season!
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