Haskin's Derby Report: Pletcher on Parade

You want Derby works, boy do we have Derby works. A total of eight Derby horses had their final drills Saturday morning, many of them moved back a day due to the impending rain expected later today and tomorrow.

Heading the day’s activity was the Todd Squad, which is made up of Verrazano, Revolutionary, Palace Malice, Overanalyze, and Charming Kitten, who collectively have won or place in 15 stakes.

Of the Fab Five, Verrazano was the first to work, going five furlongs in company with Authenticity. The big, handsome son of More Than Ready broke smoothly and laid just off his workmate through fractions of :11 4/5, :23 1/5, :35, and :47. With no urging at all, he came home his final eighths in :12 4/5 to complete the five panels in :59 4/5, while finishing 1 1/2 lengths ahead his workmate. He then galloped out three-quarters in 1:13. This was a very good work for him, and as is often the case at Churchill Downs, he looked better than he did in his first work over the track and just seemed to be going smoother over it this time.

One of the top works of the day belonged to Revolutionary, who went off noticeably slower, going in :24 4/5 and :36 3/5 inside stablemate Charming Kitten. Turning for home, Calvin Borel, as is his custom, steered the colt closer to the rail and proceeded to hug the fence. Once he got Revolutionary to settle into stride, he cruised clear of Charming Kitten, who was unable to keep up. Revolutionary, as usual, switched over to his left lead inside the eighth pole, then quickly back to right lead, and finally back to his left lead crossing the wire. The son of War Pass has been doing this his whole life, and despite the lead changes, he flew home his final eighth in :11 3/5 and then dusted Charming Kitten in the gallop-out, pulling some six or seven lengths clear, while galloping out five panels in 1:00 3/5, which means he went :12 2/5 in the gallop-out. Back at the barn while getting his bath he was not blowing in the slightest. What I like most about this colt is how he always wants to do more before and after the wire, as if he’s just getting started.

Following Revolutionary came the tandem of Overanalyze and Palace Malice, who locked horns at the quarter pole, with Palace Malice, wearing blinkers again, on the inside. With Gary Stevens on Overanalyze and Mike Smith on Palace Malice, the two colts matched strides every step of the way. Overanalyze looked to be going a bit smoother than Palace Malice, but both colts were striding out beautifully, coming home their final eighth in :11 4/5 to complete the half-mile in :47 1/5 (clockers actually got Overanalyze, who broke off a bit behind) in :47 and Palace Malice in :47 1/5. Both colts then galloped out an additional eighth in :12 3/5, in what amounted to a good sharpener for each one. Pletcher said afterward that Palace Malice would wear blinkers for the first time in the Derby.

As for the other works, Normandy Invasion was the first one out on the track at 5:45, and he was sharp right from the beginning, breaking off quickly and zipping his opening eighth in :11 4/5 and three-eighths in :34 2/5. After a half in :46 3/5, he came home his final eighth in :12 2/5 to complete the five furlongs in :59 flat., out six panels in 1:11 4/5. This colt has been showing a lot of early lick and likely will show more speed than most people would anticipate. He needs to return to his running style in the Remsen and make his big move earlier, which he appears ready to do. What I liked most about the work was how smoothly he did it, with his ears up.

Right after Normandy Invasion came Mylute, and trainer Tom Amoss said beforehand not to expect anything flashy, just a nice easy maintenance half-mile, and that is precisely what he got. With Rosie Napravnik aboard, he pretty much cruised around there, getting his half in :50 3/5. He is not much of a gallop-out horse, and shuts it down after the wire, which accounted for the 1:05 4/5 gallop-out.

Black Onyx came out between 7 and 7:30 and worked a half in company with jockey Joe Bravo aboard. The son of Rock Hard Ten spotted his workmate a couple of lengths coming into the stretch and methodically wore him down, pulling away at the end, with the reins fully extended as if he wanted to do more. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:02 2/5.

The final pair to work were the Kenny McPeek duo of Frac Daddy and Java’s War, with Frac Daddy on the inside. After fractions of  :24 4/5, :37, and :49 3/5, Frac Daddy took a length lead into the final sixteenth, and even with the exercise rider looking back for Java’s War, he still finished ahead of his stablemate, while under wraps, completing the five panels in 1:02, with a final eighth in :12 2/5. I liked the way Frac Daddy moved over the track, and this looked to be a sneaky good work.

Itsmyluckyday arrived from Calder this morning just past 11 o’clock, while Goldencents got in a little after 1 p.m., along with Kentucky Oaks contender Beholder.


Leave a Comment:


Glad you like Frac Daddy. He caught my eye galloping (yay for streaming) last week and now he's my longshot horse :)

Btw Steve, thanks to your Breeder's Cup blog, the other Gantry girl and I are friends :)

27 Apr 2013 3:31 PM

I'd like to give credit when credit is due, I think Pletcher did a great job getting all 6 horses in the Derby and yes I understand that it's not just him that made it happen, most of the credit is actually to his trusted crew who did all the work handling the horses and keeping them in good shape and healthy but he is the brain of that organization so I have to give credit to him for accomplishing the goals of 6 owners.  He planned their races in a way that they all made it without much of a problem.

Now that I got that out of the way, I hope none except Revolutionary hits the board lol, hoping they are not good enough or that they don't run their race.  I'd like my picks to be the ones that's there in the end.  No malice intended, just want to hit exacta, tri and superfecta in this year's derby.

Steve : I'm glad to see that your assessment of Revolutionary is similar to what I thought this horse is like when he races, I posted in the other blog that Revolutionary runs his races like he never gets tired, it's just seems effortless for him.

27 Apr 2013 8:21 PM
Sail On

Thanks for the nice update. You describe it so well I felt just like I was there watching them work!

I still like Verrazano and Normandy 1, 2. Haven;t settled on the rest of the bunch.

27 Apr 2013 9:49 PM
Paula Higgins

I like Verrazano and Revolutionary, along with Orb and Goldenscents. The next week will be interesting to see how they work. I do not think there is an overwhelming favorite. On another note, I was happy to see John Veitch victorious in this one battle. I hope they have to pay his lawyer's fees too.

28 Apr 2013 12:19 AM

Hi Steve,

With rain in the forecast for Saturday, could you comment on which horses would favor a off track.



28 Apr 2013 6:02 AM
Rusty Weisner

I've got an open question.

Who's won with blinkers, and who's won with first-time blinkers?

Ordinarily I like first-time blinkers, but in the Derby they achieve their opposite effect with me:  I end up looking around.

28 Apr 2013 8:36 AM

The Derby is always exciting I guess.Least wise it used to be that way for me.Over the past five years especially,it's become more of a craps shoot.I will bet it of course and my choise will probably be Normandy Invasion.After all,not the best of trips in the Wood yet he was comming on strong to Verranzano,the likely Derby favorate.And he has certainly taken to the Churchill surface.But even if I loose,I hope it's not a Pletcher horse that wins.

28 Apr 2013 9:24 AM
Linda in Texas

JayJay-could not agree with you more, to get 1 wonderful horse to the Derby is a marvel, much less 5 so that means lots of dedicated hot walkers, groomers, stall spiffer upper's and assistant trainers. It is the behind the scenes people i admire as i have said before. It indeed takes a village to have them all in such great shape. I loved the bath time video for Pletcher's Five that someone took.

Glad Itsmyluckyday made it can't wait to see him. Look forward to watching him and Beholder in their workouts.

Have a great time Steve, we all await and appreciate the photos you take that bring us all right to the rail. Hope you have a chauffeured golf cart to get you to all the barns with your name on the side just above Bloodhorse.com :)

28 Apr 2013 9:34 AM
Linda in Texas

Hearing Siegel say ORB which is not a real fancy name, to me sort of like glug or glob. But he can't help what his name is, may mean something to the one who named him i bet. Nevertheless, i was wondering if there was ever a horse to win the Kentucky Derby with only 3 letters in their name, yes there was when Zev won it in 1923 exactly 90 years ago. So my question is answered. Google Zev and you can see a very old great movie of The 1923 Oaks and Kentucky Derby with music. Great.

28 Apr 2013 2:15 PM
Bethany Loftis

Animal Kingdom won the Derby with blinkers, granted I'm pretty sure it wasn't his first time with them. Pletcher said Palace Malice seemed to work better with them, so we'll see!

I'm so excited for this week, as I'm sure everyone else is also! May all the athletes and connections stay safe, and for those who haven't arrived yet, may they arrive safely!

Thanks again Steve for your updates and wonderful stories!

28 Apr 2013 9:11 PM

Linda, funny you should mention the "3-letter name" thing....I've wondered about that for a while (but have been too lazy to check myself).

I'm completely sold on Revolutionary after everything I've read here and elsewhere on his works.  I haven't wanted to jump on the Normandy Invasion bandwagon because of his struggles earlier in the year, but his last race and what Steve describes here has me reconsidering.

I like too many horses!!!!  Coming up with a wagering plan is going to be impossible!  

29 Apr 2013 10:47 AM

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