Haskin’s Derby Report: Arch Gallops…Or Did He Work?

This will be an abbreviated report, as there wasn’t much activity Tuesday morning. There isn’t much happening on the track as we await the all-important post position draw tomorrow. No one on the Churchill Downs backstretch could remember a more miserable morning – cold, windy, and rainy. Only a handful of Derby horses were out for a gallop on the sloppy track.

One horse, however, had sort of an unusual gallop, depending on how you look at it. Archarcharch was galloping along smoothly when he was joined on the inside by stablemate Supreme Ruler, who was waiting for him nearing the half-mile pole. The two then hooked up and picked up the tempo. At first it appeared as if they were two-minute licking as they passed the quarter pole and headed down the stretch locked together. It looked like an unusual scenario for a mere gallop. As it turned out, the clockers actually caught them going a half in :52 and put it down as a recorded work.

Regardless whether you considered it a work or not, Archarcharch was striding out beautifully and seemed to be handling the track great. This colt has made an excellent appearance on and off the track and is doing as well as anyone. We’re beginning to like more him each day.

Another horse who seems to be flourishing is Shackleford, who had another strong gallop. For such a big, long-striding colt he is very athletic, even on such a wet track that had a lot of standing water on top. Trainer Dale Romans is beaming with confidence and is hoping to draw more toward the outside where he can sit back a bit and track whoever winds up on the lead.

Following right behind Shackleford was the slop-loving Soldat, who had another powerful gallop. As we mentioned yesterday, he is looking good and is another who is doing well.

Dialed In was out for another of his marathon gallops with his neck slightly bowed and in good rhythm. He has a short stride in his gallops and doesn’t extend it much, but does seem to appreciate the long spins, especially considering how few works he’s had this year.

Comma to the Top, the horse who definitely wasn’t being pointed for the Derby, arrived this morning with the California contingent around 1 o’clock. His coat looked good and he appears to have traveled well. This $22,000 gelding is the throwback of the Derby field, having made 13 starts, beginning back last May in a 4 ½-furlong maiden claiming race at Hollywood Park. In the 12 months he’s been racing he’s made at least one start in 11 of those months, and he’s run hard every time, racing on or near the lead. He has as many victories as half the field has starts. Whether you like his chances or not you have to respect and admire him for his resilience and consistency. And you can bet he’s going to be on the lead, unless he gets a bad start and someone else is intent on setting the pace, which is highly unlikely.

You have to feel badly for the connections of Toby’s Corner, who was beginning to get a great deal of support and who looked be improving dramatically since the addition of blinkers.

Two people who missed out on their chance to run in the Derby this year are owner James Covello, who had Rushaway Stakes winner Swift Warrior fall off the Derby trail, and bloodstock agent and racing manager Nick Sallusto, who had purchased Silver Medallion for Steve Marshall, but lost any shot of getting in the Derby when the colt could only finish fourth in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II).

But Covello and Sallusto do have a rooting interest in the Derby after purchasing a yearling half-brother to Archarcharch, by Silver Train.

Master of Hounds arrived at Churchill Downs this morning, and we’re really looking forward to seeing this intriguing colt out on the track in the next couple of days.

So, with weather finally beginning to clear up, at least for a couple of days, and with tomorrow’s post position draw, we’ll have a lot to report as we get closer to the big day.

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