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Abel Tasman was a bit spooky Thursday morning. To her right is Lockdown and behind them is Tequilita.
Thursday morning was cool with light rain, but the track was still fast after the renovation break as the main rain hadn't moved in yet. Because of the threat of bad weather, not as many of the Kentucky Derby and Oaks horses came out for their special private workout session at 8:30 after the break, with some coming out early to beat the rain. The weather also kept the crowd of people down on the backside, with far fewer there to watch the works than the past two days. Below are photos for 16 Derby horses and 7 Oaks fillies from this morning on the track with comments for each. You can watch video of today's training session here.
Kentucky DerbyClassic Empire - galloped 1 1/2 miles Thursday morning for trainer Mark Casse. Classic Empire will be ridden by jockey Julien Leparoux, who will be riding in his 10th Derby in the past 11 years. "The first Derby I watched was in 2002 on TV in France," Leparoux said. "Since then I was hooked. The first Derby I actually saw live was when Smarty Jones won in 2004. It's an amazing experience and has been a dream from then on to win the race." Leparoux is no stranger to riding the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, doing so in 2011 with Dialed In. "It's always better to have the favorite than the longshot," Leparoux said with a smile. "I think Classic Empire can put me intothe race more than Dialed In. With Dialed In we were so far back and took a lot of dirt that he didn't like. If we can avoid the traffic wehave a chance to win."
|Girvin - galloped twice around under assistant trainer and retired jockey Rosie Napravnik. Promptly walking back to Barn 33 after pulling up, the Louisiana Derby (G2) winner handled everything professionally. "He's coming in great and doing very well," trainer Joe Sharp said. "I was very happy with how he trained today. The shoes he has on now are the shoes he's going to race in and they're polyflex glue-on shoes. Today was our first day training in those, so we're glad to see he responded well to them and he should move forward." "He feels excellent," Napravnik said. "Today was the first day that he went with the new shoes and he felt great. I think there was a difference with the shoe. I definitely felt a difference and he's really doing well."
To the right is a close-up of his right front foot which has a quartercrack. You can see the repaired area on it.
|Gormley - Trainer John Shirreffs led both his horses (Royal Mo is the other who went out early) trackside aboard a borrowed pony and had his man Cisco Alvarado in the saddle for both trips. The colts also followed a same pattern on the track, galloping around the big Churchill oval twice. Alvarado gave both a thumbs up afterward, noting that Gormley especially seemed to take kindly to the surface.
|Gunnevera - galloped 1 1/4 miles under exercise rider Victor O'Farrel. "He went very good, very quiet," trainer Antonio Sano said. "He's ready." Sano's son and assistant Allessandro added, "Every year during sale season, my dad tells me to look over some pedigrees I might like. That year for the September sale, my dad sent me a bunch of horses that he might be interested in, 60 or 70 horses, more or less. I was able to narrow it down to about 20 horses, and Gunnevera was one of them. One of the reasons Gunnevera was included in the 20 was because his sire, Dialed In, won the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. That caught my attention. Also, Unbridled on the dam's side is a nice pedigree, so I thought it was worth giving it a shot. He wasn't on the top of my list. He was one that I thought was worth experimenting with."
|Hence - galloped 1 mile and schooled in the starting gate under exercise rider Angel Garcia. "Untrapped looks beautiful on the racetrack," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "I love the way they're all traveling." Hence is a good looking horse, but seems a bit flighty.
|Irish War Cry - schooled in the starting gate and galloped 1 5/8 miles under exercise rider David Nava. "He was pretty relaxed. When there's nobody else on the track, he's very relaxed. When he gets behind another horse, he'll get a little bit on the muscle," trainer Graham Motion said. "I'm glad to see him so relaxed. He's kind of settled every day. He's settled in."
Many people seem to like Irish War Cry and he could wind up going off lower than his 6-1 morning line odds.
|J Boys Echo - galloped 1 1/2 miles and schooled in the gate with exercise rider Tammy Fox aboard. "We had a good group of horses that came in last year," Dale Romans said. "Not This Time was the one that was my Derby
horse. After he was injured, J Boys Echo stepped it up. The Albaugh's are big Cowboys fans. When (Tony) Romo went down, Dak (Prescott) stepped up."
|McCraken - was accompanied by a pony to the starting gate where he stood before galloping 1 1/4 miles under exercise rider Yoni Orantes. "Everything is good this morning," trainer Ian Wilkes said. "I'm so proud of him," Carl Nafzger said of trainer Ian Wilkes, his former assistant. "It is like watching your son score the winning touchdown in the big game for the home team. Ian was a big influence with Unbridled and Street Sense. We always bounced stuff off each other. ‘Ian, what do you think?' We always worked together."
|Patch - galloped 1 3/8 miles under Isabelle Bourez. "If you'd have told me when I started out," trainer Todd Pletcher said, "that when I was 49 years old I'd have won a Kentucky Derby, I'd have signed on for that right on the spot."
|Practical Joke - galloped 1 3/8 miles under exercise rider Fernando Rivera according to trainer Chad Brown. "The horse did terrific," Brown said. "He continues to train really well here." Practical Joke has no wet-track races in his past performances, which leaves handicappers little to go on should the Derby surface come up muddy. "He doesn't have any experience on it but there's nothing about the horse that tells me he wouldn't love it," Brown said. "It's an unknown. I'd prefer clear conditions for everybody just because it makes a more enjoyable day, first and foremost, for the people
and the horses. But if it were to come up a wet track, I'd be just as curious as anyone else to see how my horse would handle it."
|Sonneteer - galloped 1 mile under Maurillo Garcia. "The horse looks great," trainer Keith Desormeaux said. "That's the other thing that takes the pressure off, he's doing so well. (Maurillo) gets along with him great. The horse is relaxed and hitting the ground fine. There's nothing to be stressed out about. What keeps me positive is the fact that the Derby favorite (Classic Empire) only beat him two lengths in the Arkansas Derby and we were coming. Add another eighth of a mile and a good trip and it could get fun. I think I have a stronger horse this week than in Arkansas."
|State of Honor - galloped 1 1/2 miles Thursday morning for trainer Mark Casse. "We treated State of Honor like he was a new horse," assistant trainer Norm Casse said. "Horses that are based on synthetic need time to acclimate to the dirt. We thought he was a true dirt horse since the winter." State of Honor will attempt to be only the third Canadian bred to win the Kentucky Derby, first since Sunny's Halo in 1983 and after Northern Dancer in 1964.
|Tapwrit - galloped 1 3/8 miles under Silvio Pioli. Trainer Todd Pletcher said. "The Derby is the goal for many of our young horses. It will continue to be the goal. It's like a shooter in basketball: Just because they're not going in all the time, you don't stop shooting. The only way you're going to make a basket is to shoot. Forget what your percentage is, keep shooting."
|Thunder Snow - seemed pretty excitable during his 1 1/4 mile gallop under Daragh O'Donohoe and not too sure he liked that wet stuff falling on him. "He was very happy, very fresh," trainer Saeed bin Suroor said. "He's in good form and looks very well. The way he's received exercise, the way he moves, I think he'd be fine (on a wet track). He's really brilliant."
|Untrapped - galloped 1 mile and schooled in the gate under Juan Vargas. "Untrapped looks beautiful on the racetrack," Asmussen said. "I love the way they're all traveling."
|Master Plan - is the second also eligible and will need 2 scratches by 9am Friday to draw in. He galloped 1 3/8 miles under exercise rider Nick Bush. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "Certainly, more than once we've run horses in the Derby that really didn't stand much chance to win it. But it's hard to tell an owner who has that chance not to do it. They may never see that opportunity again."
Kentucky OaksAbel Tasman - galloped 1 1/2 miles under regular exercise rider Dana Barnes. "It was a normal, right-before-the-race type of gallop," said Jimmy Barnes, lead assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. "We're very happy and looking good. We're on a different racetrack and everyone's had to ship so you never know. It's an all new ballgame now coming to a new racetrack. A lot of it will depend on how the track is playing. If they back up we'll be rolling, that's for sure. I think she's going to enjoy the long stretch."
|Lockdown - galloping just over a mile under exercise rider Jo Lawson during the special 8:30 a.m. training session. The First Defense filly broke her maiden by more than three lengths on a track rated "good" at Aqueduct last December, so the chance of an off track Friday was not a concern to her Hall Fame trainer Bill Mott. "It's not a worry with this horse," Mott said. "It's more of a concern with my turf horses. Churchill is usually a good track even when it's wet."
|Sailor's Valentine - jogged and galloped Thursday morning under Kelly Wheeler. On Friday, the Ashland (G1) winner will break from post position eight in the $1 million race. "Everything is going well," Eddie Kenneally said. "She schooled really well yesterday. Today she jogged 3/4 mile and then galloped 1 1/2. I think we're all set."
|Salty - galloped 1 1/2 miles Thursday morning at 8:30 with Janelle Castonguay aboard for trainer Mark Casse. "She doesn't have a lot of speed so I'm not worried with post position 14," Casse said. "Hopefully she settles into the first turn and has a good target to run at." Salty is listed as 6-1 on the morning line with her last victory coming in a closing effort in the April 1 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).
|Tequilita - was given 2 miles of light exercise under exercise rider Jo Robinson for the second morning in a row. "She jogged and cantered backwards," trainer Michael Matz said. "She's plenty fit enough. We just need her to stay settled."
|Wicked Lick - galloped 1 1/2 miles after the renovation break with exercise rider Leo Garcia up for trainer Brendan Walsh. "She is doing well and is in as good a form as she can be," said Walsh, noting that Wicked Lick would train in the morning. "I just hope she runs her race. There are a lot of nice fillies in there. I hope she gets a good trip as I am sure everybody else does."
|Summer 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 Thursday morning with Froylan Garcia aboard.
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