Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Verrazano gallops at Churchill
Kentucky Derby contender Verrazano galloped at Churchill Downs the morning of April 15 as trainer Todd Pletcher outlined the training regimen for the colt and his other probable Derby starters.
"Everything went perfectly," Pletcher said following the exercise routine. "He seemed to settle in really well overnight and I thought he galloped very nicely over the track today."
Verrazano, impressive winner of the Wood Memorial Stakes after taking the Tampa Bay Derby, ranks second to Orb on the points list that will determine the 20-horse field for the May 4 Derby.
"We've gotten to this point with him as well as we could have hoped," Pletcher said. "He's maintained his condition really well and looks phenomenal. His appetite is good and he's moving well. We're really pleased and we're hoping for another 19 days of what we're seeing right now."
Contingent upon the weather, Verrazano and Louisiana Derby winner Revolutionary will breeze at Churchill Downs April 21 and April 28. The trainer said Overanalyze, Palace Malice, and Charming Kitten are scheduled to work just once before the Derby.
Normandy Invasion also arrived from New York April 14 and is stabled in Barn 42 for trainer Chad Brown.
"He came out of the Wood OK and arrived fine," Brown said. "I just walked him this morning, but I'll send him to the track tomorrow [Tuesday] for the first time. He'll work the next two weekends, depending on weather."
Also on the Tex Sutton flight from New York was Close Hatches, the Gazelle winner ranked No. 6 in the Kentucky Oaks points standings who is stabled in Barn 19 for trainer Bill Mott.
Assistant trainer Kenny McCarthy reported Close Hatches, who was stabled at Churchill Downs for several months as a juvenile, arrived in good order and jogged around the Churchill Downs oval Monday morning. "She went over the track fine," McCarthy said. "It was like coming home for her."
Two Derby contenders trained by four-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas -- Will Take Charge, winner of the Rebel Stakes; and Lecomte Satkes winner Oxbow -- both arrived from Oaklawn Park in good order and are stabled in Barn 44.
"They got settled in and got around here good this morning," Lukas said. "They got some of that bluegrass in them early and that will help them more than anything. We've got three weeks to tweak the situation a little bit and then we'll see what we can get done."
Lukas, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1988, '95, '96 and '99, has started a record 45 horses in the "Run for the Roses."
"The Derby is the Derby," Lukas said. "People say that when you win one, it means less when you win a second one, but I think my enthusiasm is greater for it now after winning four of them. I enjoyed the fourth one more than the first one. The other thing is that you're dealing with different people. I've got a different assistant and different clientele. You want to give them that experience."
Lukas added that Will Take Charge is scheduled to work twice in advance of the Derby. Oxbow will have one work for sure, but he also could work twice.
Scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs this week are Sunland Derby winner Govenor Charlie, Toyota Blue Grass Stakes winner Java's War, and Arkansas Derby runner-up Frac Daddy (No. 15).
Govenor Charlie's Tex Sutton flight from California is scheduled to land in Lexington Tuesday, April 16 at 11:30 a.m. EDT and then he will be vanned to Churchill Downs. He is expected to arrive at Bob Baffert's Barn 33 at Churchill between 1-1:30 p.m. EDT.
Joining Govenor Charlie on that flight will be Sunland Park Oaks winner Midnight Lucky, a Kentucky Oaks contender who also will be stabled in Barn 33 for Baffert.
Trainer Ken McPeek, who has stalls in Barns 6 and 7 at Churchill Downs, said Java's War and Frac Daddy exited their races in fine form and will van to Louisville this week. Frac Daddy is scheduled to van from Oaklawn Park to Churchill Downs on Tuesday and Java's War will ship from Keeneland later in the week, most likely on Thursday.