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Likely Derby favorite Essential Quality watches the morning gallops on Saturday.

April 24 Kentucky Derby 2021

Date: 04/24/2021

Saturday morning at Churchill Downs was less than ideal as overcast skies at sunrise gave way to rain at 10AM, with temperatures in the low 50's. The main track remained fast during training but was downgraded to sloppy for the opening night race card.

Below are photos for 8 Derby horses and 4 Oaks fillies from this morning on the track with comments for each. You can watch video of today's training session here.

Click the small photo to see a larger version.

Kentucky Derby

horse racinghorse racing Essential Quality worked 5f in 1:00.21 uncer exercise rider Edvin Vargas in company with Godolphin stablemate Spa City, out 6f in 1:14.60 as timed by clocker John Nichols. Trainer Brad Cox said, "We keep radios on all of our riders so that way we can stay in contact throughout the work. Galloping out around the turn, I got on the radio to Edvin and told him not to let him go too strongly. Spa City is a horse we used as a workmate for Essential Quality the last three or four works. He's a good matchup for him because he's a good work horse."

horse racing Highly Motivated worked 5f in 1:10.40 under exercise rider Peter Roman in company with stablemate Southern District, out 6f in 1:14.20 and 7f in 1:28.4. Trainer Chad Brown said, "I thought he breezed really well and it went exactly how I wanted. I wasn't afraid to give him a good solid breeze and he did it and he did it well, with some in reserve too. He got over the track well, which I really wanted to see. He had been galloping well over it, but really, when you get to see a breeze, you can see more, obviously."

horse racinghorse racing King Fury worked 5f in 1:00.20 under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., out 6f in 1:12.80 and 7f in 1:26.60. Hernandez said, "Everything was good. He did it with his ears up and he seems like he's a happy horse. He's got a little confidence in himself coming out of the Lexington. He's coming into the Derby with some confidence." Trainer Ken McPeek added, "It was all up to a higher power (that he drew in), if we didn't get in, then it was to go on to the Preakness. Those things are out of our control. What other people do with their horses, it's not something we spend a lot of energy on. We would have worked him the same today, if he was going to Baltimore or if he was staying here."

horse racing Mandaloun worked 4f in 1:00 under jockey Florent Geroux in company with stablemate Joe Frazier, out 6f in 1:12.60 and 7f in 1:27.20. Geroux said, "Going into the pole, Joe Frazier was a little bit strong and I didn't want to ask Mandaloun to catch up to him too much. I didn't want to get him in the bit too early so we started six or seven lengths behind but going around the turn he really picked up the pace. He has a big stride to him and was full of himself getting over this track." Trainer Brad Cox added, "Glad that's over. Now, let's hope the Racing Gods have a little luck they pass down to us."

horse racinghorse racing Medina Spirit jogged one mile alongside a pony for his first trip over the Churchill track. He arrived Friday afternoon after working 6f in 1:12.20 at Santa Anita on Thursday. Trainer Bob Baffert arrives Sunday.

horse racing Super Stock worked 5f in 1:01.20 in company with stablemate Max Player, out 6f in 1:14.60 and 7f in 1:28. Trainer Steve Asmussen said, "He went perfect and he gave us exactly what we were looking for. I think that the horse's confidence level is at an all-time high, he goes really well over this racetrack, and I couldn't feel any better about him going into the Derby."

horse racing Concert Tour is not entered in the Derby by trainer Bob Baffert but shipped over from California. He will go next in the Preakness instead.

Kentucky Oaks

horse racing Clairiere galloped on Saturday and is expected to have a timed work Sunday. Trainer Steve Asmussen said of the Oaks contender, "Obviously we're expecting some rain (Saturday) so I don't know if we'll go right away or wait for a break or two."

horse racing Millefeuille worked 5f in a bullet 59.60 under exercise rider Ailsa Morrison in company with stablemate Obligatory, out 6f in 1:13 and 7f in 1:27. Trainer Bill Mott said, "It looked good to me."

horse racing Crazy Beautiful worked 4f in 49.20 under exercise rider Danny Ramsey, out 5f in 1:02.60. Trainer Ken McPeek said, "She had a breeze last week in :59, which was a bullet work. So today I just went a half with her, something simple, again just a basic maintenance work. She's eating good, and like King Fury, she's doing super good, fingers crossed. We had an issue with her last year, what we call scalping. Her front toes were cutting her in her back ankles. It is kind of a blacksmith issue, of leveling the feet. This year, it hasn't been an issue; we had to actually give her a little bit of a break, some turnout time, and she stopped doing it completely."

horse racing Pauline's Pearl galloped on Saturday and is expected to have a timed work Sunday. Trainer Steve Asmussen said of the Oaks contender, "Obviously we're expecting some rain (Saturday) so I don't know if we'll go right away or wait for a break or two."

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