Kentucky Derby Countdown 4-15-16

Kentucky Derby Countdown 4-15-16

Coady Photography

With just over three weeks remaining until the Kentucky Derby, things are starting to heat up at Churchill Downs, where many of the Derby contenders are starting to get serious with their pre-race training.

However, the day’s most notable bit of training came at Keeneland, where the unbeaten Derby favorite Nyquist breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60. The full details of the workout, along with videos, can be found here.

Other notable horses to exercise in recent days include Louisiana Derby (gr. II) runner-up Tom’s Ready, who breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 on April 14th (click here for details); Mo Tom, who went a half-mile in :48.40 on April 13th (click here for details); and UAE Derby (UAE-II) winner Lani, who has been galloping at Churchill each morning (click here for a story). Mo Tom also galloped at Churchill Downs this morning, and a short video can be viewed below.

According to a press release from Churchill Downs, Derby runners that are already stabled at the track include the following horses:

Brody’s Cause (Barn 4)
Cherry Wine (Barn 4)
Fellowship (Barn 36)
Gun Runner (Barn 38)
Lani (Barn 17)
Mo Tom (Barn 29)
Tom’s Ready (Barn 48)

The press release also detailed the shipping plans for several other Derby contenders:

Mohaymen is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Sunday around 10 a.m., according to Churchill Downs’ stall manager Steve Hargrave. Arkansas Derby participants could arrive Monday. Chad Brown’s duo of Shagaf and My Man Sam are scheduled for arrival on Tuesday. Trainer Bob Baffert plans to send Mor Spirit to Churchill Downs on Friday, April 22, while Todd Pletcher is scheduled to send his charges to Louisville on Monday, April 25.

There were also several new developments today in regard to which horses are or are not targeting the Kentucky Derby. San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) winner Danzing Candy, who finished fourth over a sloppy track in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), has been confirmed as a Derby runner and will conduct the majority of his pre-race training at the San Luis Rey Training Center, while Azar–runner-up in the Spiral Stakes (gr. III) at Turfway Park–will skip the Kentucky Derby. One colt that remains questionable is Fellowship, who finished third in the Florida Derby (gr. I) last time out. Recently transferred from trainer Stanley Gold to Mark Casse, Fellowship is currently expected to run in the Derby, but his participation is not definite.

“It’s not like we’re really 100 percent sure just yet,” assistant trainer Norman Casse was quoted as saying in a press release. “We’re going to breeze him and if he’s doing well then we’ll run, and if we don’t think he’s training well then there’s no pressure to run him. But so far so good. He’s been training well since he got here. He’s just been galloping for the past couple of days we’ll probably breeze him Sunday or Monday if he continues to do well.”

Should Fellowship skip the Kentucky Derby, it is uncertain where he would run next. “I don’t know any back up plans yet, we’ll just see how he trains and then pick something out for him,” Casse said. “But right now it’s the Derby and if he’s not training well then maybe we’ll back off of him and find something else for him.”

Tomorrow is expected to be a big day on the road to the Kentucky Derby, with the final two prep races scheduled to be held. Leading the way is the $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park, in which Bob Baffert’s talented Cupid will seek his second straight graded stakes victory (click here to read my analysis of the race), while at Keeneland, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) runner-up Swipe will make a last-minute bid to qualify to the Derby in the $150,000 Lexington Stakes (gr. III) (click here to read my race analysis). Stay tuned to The Turf Board for race replays and analysis of the results!

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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 Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.

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