Destin, Outwork Complete Serious Derby Preparations

Destin, Outwork Complete Serious Derby Preparations

Coady Photography

On an extremely busy morning at Churchill Downs, the Todd Pletcher-trained pair of Destin and Outwork completed their major preparations for the May 7th Kentucky Derby (gr. I) by turning in timed workouts on April 29th.

Destin, unraced since winning the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) on March 12th, worked in company with the exciting allowance winner Stradivari and went five furlongs in 1:01.20. With Javier Castellano in the saddle, Destin started off with fractions of :12.60, :24.80, :37.40, and :49.60, and although Destin switched back to his left lead just before the wire while under more urging than Stradivari, he galloped out strongly while Castellano continued to urge him, posting fractions of 1:14.20 for six furlongs and 1:27 flat for seven furlongs.

Video courtesy of Churchill Downs

“Destin worked very well,” Pletcher was quoted as saying in a Churchill Downs press release. “I had him in company [with Stradivari]. I thought it was very good. He seemed enthusiastic for him. I particularly liked the way he finished up and galloped out. I was very happy. We wanted to make sure we got a good solid work today. He’s had a good series of solid works, but we wanted to make sure he worked solid today and had a good gallop out.”

Regarding the decision to train Destin up to the Kentucky Derby off an eight-week layoff, rather than run in one more prep race, Pletcher said “It was a tough decision. Part of it was we were passing up a good opportunity. The Wood Memorial, the Blue Grass and the Arkansas Derby are all in between and Grade Is and significant races in their own. We just felt like, for us, we have had success in the past with giving horses a little extra time. Looking back to last year’s Breeders’ Cup with Liam’s Map, we didn’t race him in between Saratoga and the Breeders’ Cup [Dirt Mile] and the same thing with Stopchargingmaria and even Rachel’s Valentina who didn’t win but ran a good second to Songbird. We just felt like sometimes our horses run well fresh and that should apply to the Kentucky Derby just as much as any other race.”

Even without a final prep race, Destin has run three times this year, with his only defeat coming when he finished fourth in the LeComte Stakes (gr. III) in January at Fair Grounds. “A part of that race was simply him not focusing,” Pletcher said. “We made a blinker adjustment for the Sam Davis [which Destin won] and tried to close him up a little bit, trying to get him to focus. The thing we did like about the LeComte was that it was a sneaky good race. He really never leveled off and ran until the last sixteenth of a mile and when he did he finished up with enthusiasm so it was a much more professional race in the Sam Davis and more so in the Tampa [Bay] Derby. If we can keep him focused, I think he’ll get the distance.”

Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Outwork, who finished second to Destin in the Tampa Bay Derby, breezed five furlongs in company with the graded stakes winner Azar. Outwork posted fractions of :13.20 and :37.40 on his way to an official time of 1:01.20, identical to Destin. Outwork then continued on three six furlongs in 1:14 flat.

Video courtesy of Churchill Downs

“I had him going just a little faster [than Destin],” Pletcher said. “What I really liked was the way that he finished up. He can sometimes tend to idle a little bit, as he did in the Wood Memorial, when he gets past the last horses. Today, I thought he looked much more professional and more focused. He was concentrated throughout the gallop out.”

Outwork is one of three Kentucky Derby contenders sired by the 2010 Eclipse champion two-year-old male Uncle Mo, a talented runner that was trained by Pletcher.

“It’s kind of a cool thing anytime you have an offspring of one of the horses you’ve trained, Pletcher said. “I think there’s extra satisfaction with that. In this case we trained the sire and the dam [Nonna Mia]. It’s just a lot of fun for us to see how great Uncle Mo is doing as a stallion. It’s phenomenal what he’s been able to accomplish in only his first crop. You see a lot of similarities in some of his offspring and Outwork has kind of the same physique and look. It makes it even extra special.”

Outwork will be ridden in the Kentucky Derby by John Velazquez, who has teamed up with Pletcher to win many of the biggest races in the country, but not the Kentucky Derby.

“It would be great,” Pletcher said “It’s one of the few races that we haven’t won together, but we’re both fortunate enough to have won one. It would be nice to win one together.”

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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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