Haskin's Derby Report: Let the Works Begin

From Kentucky to New York to California to Maryland, there were Kentucky Derby works galore the past two days.

But before we get to the works, the highlight moment of the day came at 5:45 a.m. when General a Rod went out for a gallop with blinkers n. Because of the colt’s slow work several days earlier when he became distracted by the giant jumbotron screen behind the backstretch, trainer Mike Maker decided to equip him with blinkers for the gallop, which he’s been wearing in his races.

Maker wanted General a Rod to be more focused and aggressive and he was happy with what he saw as the colt came barreling around the turn at a strong clip, galloping between horses.

“He’s more aggressive in this gallop than he was in his work,” said Maker, watching from the trainer’s stand. If that wasn’t good enough news for Maker, he was in for a real treat. As he galloped strongly down the backstretch, he hooked up with of all horses, Will Take Charge, one the best horses in the country, and an imposing presence at 17 hands. You couldn’t have scripted anything better for General a Rod, as Maker broke into a grin at what was transpiring on the track. General a Rod and Will Take Charge open galloped almost the entire the length of the backstretch eyeball to eyeball, with General a Rod not giving an inch and seemingly relishing his new-found competition.

As General a Rod came off the track, Maker kidded with the exercise rider about hooking up with Will Take Charge. Maker continued to feel good about the morning’s adventures when he saw how General a Rod barely took a deep breath afterward.

So, all in all an excellent and eventful morning for General a Rod, who will get one more work in over the track.

As for the works, let’s first back up a day and head to New York for the Thursday works, thanks to the videos posted by the New York Racing Association.

Wicked Strong had one of those old-fashioned Allen Jerkens workouts, going long and pouring it on at the end. The son of Hard Spun went seven furlongs in 1:27 1/5 over the Belmont training track and picked it up past the wire, pulling up a mile in 1:40 2/5. Unlike his races, he held a straight course and stayed close to the rail, and was striding out nicely at the wire. There is no doubt this is one fit horse, who should have no problem at all with the mile and a quarter.

Uncle Sigh, working in blinkers, looked very sharp and focused, working a strong five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 and galloping out strong, getting his six furlongs in 1:13 and a mile in 1:43.. His stride was smooth and he couldn’t have been moving better. If this were any race other than the Kentucky Derby, this equipment change would have much more significance. That’s not to say it won’t help him next Saturday, but equipment changes for the Derby haven’t proven to be successful. Still, he looked great working in them and expect a much improved effort.

Samraat also had a good lung opener over at Aqueduct, working his customary mile in 1:45 4/5. The son of Noble Causeway has been machine-like in his mile works prior to a big race. He did it without being asked and trainer Rick Violette had to be pleased with the move.

As for this morning’s works at Churchill, the standouts were Candy Boy’s five-furlong work in company in 1:00 4/5 and Medal Count’s five-panel drill in 1:00 1/5. Candy Boy took to the surface and was striding out beautifully. What really stood out was his gallop-out, as he went out another eighth in :13 flat.

Medal Count did everything trainer Dale Romans was looking for. He went off evenly and came home his last two eighths in :12 flat. The rider asked him for a bit more approaching the wire and galloped out an extra eighth in :13 and another eighth in :13 2/5 to get his seven furlongs in 1:26 3/5 and finally pulled up a mile in 1:42. He looked a picture back at the barn, and maybe Romans is right when he brags on this colt’s chances. This work stamps him as a potential longshot play. The big question with him was the dirt, and he couldn’t have handled it better.

The works of lesser note were turned in by Vicar’s in Trouble, Harry’s Holiday, and Commanding Curve.

Vicar’s in Trouble, who didn’t do much in his gallop yesterday, didn’t do much more in today’s work, as he breezed his five furlongs in 1:03 4/5. I haven’t seen this horse work before, but he did breeze five panels in 1:03 3/5 at Gulfstream six days before winning the Louisiana Derby, so you have to wonder just how much stock to pun into his work. Let’s just say it didn’t exactly catch the eye.

Harry’s Holiday breezed his five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 under jockey Corey Lanerie, while Commanding Curve, working in company, went five furlongs in 1:02 3/5, without a gallop out of any significance. Again, I’ve never seen this colt work, but supposedly, he’s not the best of workers in general. The important thing for him right now is to get in the race, and then you can assess his work. It’s not going to help or hurt his chances in the Derby. We pretty much know where this colt is in his career. He’s improving and belongs in the race off his fast-closing, troubled third in the Louisiana Derby.

Tomorrow will be busy, with Danza, Intense Holiday, Ride On Curlin, Vinceremos, We Miss Artie, and Wildcat Red all scheduled to work. I’ll also go over California Chrome and Dance With Fate’s works today as soon as I can catch them online.

Commanding Curve

Ride On Curlin checks out visitor on Friday afternoon

We Miss Artie out for his gallop

Danza just glides over the ground

Hoppertunity is another who moves smoothly over the track

Intense Holiday has been improving with chiropractic work

Ride on Curlin paint a lovely picture

Commanding Curve works for a possible spot in Derby field

Commanding Curve finishing off work

Medal count cooling out after his excellent work

Bayern eyeing tonight's Derby Trial

But first Bayern needs a new set of shoes


Leave a Comment:



Love the pics!  Thanks for the observations!

26 Apr 2014 4:51 PM

None of the entrants has really smoked in a workout like Hard Spun in 2007 57.60 for 5f and Barbaro in 2006 half in 46 and change.Steve Haskin maybe you can remember other works that were similar but more recent like in 2013,2012,2011.

26 Apr 2014 5:00 PM

So tell us Steve, who was winning A Rod or WTC?

Thanks for the report. I had read on other sites that Samraat was training well as was Uncle Sigh.

So glad too that Intense Holiday is improving.

I really like Commanding Curve, I think he a very good looking colt who has a lot of heart. So hope he makes the Derby, but not by way of another injured horse. I really like Dale Roman's and hope his Medal Count performs well in the Derby. In fact, I wish all of these colts and trainers the very best of luck in the race. I await your report on Ride On Curlin. ROC and his trainer are also a team that you just have to love. (My heart still belongs to Cali Chrome.

26 Apr 2014 5:32 PM
Steve Haskin

I am unable to post comments from my hotel room, so hopefully Web Production will post them until something can be resolved. So if you don't seen comments posted, you'll know why. I'm on a hotel computer and have no link to Web production. Thanks

26 Apr 2014 5:57 PM

Steve, Hoppertunity appears to have put on weight and looks primed. It must be hard for Dallas Stewart, you want Commanding Curve primed for the 'Derby/Preakness,' depending on which one, or both, the horse will run in. If Commanding Curve misses the Derby, you would want to take full advantage by peaking in the Preakness.

By the way, chance of rain on both Oaks & Derby Days is now down to 10%, the racing gods are smiling. Thanks again Steve, your informative reports are what make the Derby wonderful.  

26 Apr 2014 6:41 PM

General A Rod for the WIN !!!

26 Apr 2014 10:31 PM
Lise from Maine


Gorgeous photos.

Thanks for sharing them.

Will you be speaking about the pedigree of each horse. I am interested.

Thank you!

Lise from Maine

26 Apr 2014 10:45 PM

Hi Steve

What a nice smooth review ~ Thank you so very much.

A note: General A Rod is very noteworthy Steve ~ from the beginning as you have in your early analysis ~ His turn out and no-fear work as described is part of Maker's Magic and reason to be impressed.

The "Shoe Shot" is outstanding!

26 Apr 2014 11:42 PM
Linda in Texas

Hi Steve, funny one about General A Rod and the Jumbotron story, i did the same thing the first time i was in Times Square. Maybe his connections should install a tv in his stall and tune in Alex'sBigFan's favorite antique Mr. Ed Shows!

Bayern looks like a drill sergeant and all business in your second to last photo. And Commanding Curve and Ride on Curlin look like they stayed out past their curfew the night before or you caught them just as they awoke! I love all your photos and stories and always have. I hope Bloodhorse is once again supplying you with a Golf Cart so you can be taxied around the grounds. :) Have a great time. No special pick for me. I love them all. Bayern's disqualification to second was a bummer. They were all bumping. Let's see if that scrutiny holds up next week! I'm praying for Kentucky's predicted rain to hit Texas instead!

Thanks Steve.

27 Apr 2014 12:38 AM

Dear Steve - Thank you for this peek into the workouts.  Just love the photos.  Feels ( almost) like I'm there.  All the horses are so deserving of the chance to wear the roses next Saturday.

27 Apr 2014 1:01 AM
Drinks from a glass !!

uncle sigh is back on my top three....

samraat still there number 1

hoppertunity looks happy ...

cali chrome of course...wicked strong

there's your dollar tri box for 60 bucks

27 Apr 2014 9:07 AM
Rusty Weisner

Steve Haskin,

I was hoping you could elaborate on Intense Holiday's condition after you sum up his work tomorrow.  Thanks for the posts.

27 Apr 2014 9:51 AM

Commanding Curve is one, good-looking horse. Thanks for the comments and great pictures. Any decent pictures of Wicked Strong?

27 Apr 2014 10:43 AM
Linda in Texas

As dawn breaks this 27th of April, Sunday, cannot help but think ahead to next week at this time when we will hopefully wake up to the headlines on Bloodhorse that we have a new Kentucky Derby winner. As today most people no matter their religion are waking up to the news of The Cannonization of Two Popes. We will be able to have two special days, today and next Sunday. Those who will have picked the wrong KD winner will quietly shrink away for a while and lick their wounds and prepare their excuses. I try not to set myself up for a negative so i will just hope and pray the competitors all come home safely in tact and all limbs secured uninjured to their gorgeous bodies and the Jockey's all still safely aboard in their seats!

May the luckiest horse win. And going along with today's Cannonization, I am thinking beware of 'Vicar's in Trouble'. He may be a little guy but he must be made of something special to have the moniker 'Vicar' in his name!  And remember, 'Vicar's in Trouble' is the first 'Louisiana - bred' horse to win the Louisiana Derby since 'Heaven Again' in 1990! Wonder if there is a veiled message here?  Just something to ponder. Thanks Steve, and have a super time.

27 Apr 2014 10:56 AM

Barring a bad start I just don't see how CC will lose this race. If he breaks from the gate alright and gets a good stalking position everything is pointing to a win for him. It reminds me of Big Brown. I think this horse would win from post 20 if he had to.

27 Apr 2014 11:55 AM
Jennifer in Columbia

Steve, as a long time lurker and rare poster, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your Derby Dozen as well as your on-site reporting. It is my favorite thing to read during this time of year.

Furthermore, to all the Derby Dozen posters, I enjoy reading everyone's thoughts on the horses for the upcoming big dance.  It is always incredibly entertaining and informative.

27 Apr 2014 12:05 PM

Well, Steve, your next post should be really interesting. Ring Weekend out, Commanding Curve in, Intense Holiday's great workout and Bayern. Also, would be good to know the impact of Chitu's special shoes for a soft hoof issue. Wonder if that is a concern going into the Derby (for his safety).

27 Apr 2014 12:50 PM
Old Old Cat

Beautiful photos.  I refuse to beleive they are from a Brownie Instamatic you borrowed from Mandy...  Or you are the world's greatest photographer.

27 Apr 2014 1:58 PM
Paula Higgins

Great pictures, great reports. I am still waiting for California Chrome to land/work before I have my final list. I also like Samraat, Wildcat  I don't have Ride On Curlin on my list to win. Maybe 2nd or 3rd.

27 Apr 2014 3:34 PM

The General has impressed me for some time now with his competitive spirit and desire to challenge other colts, so I can't say I'm surprised he hooked up with WTC for a good gallop. He may have been checking out the Jumbotron to see if Steve Haskin was providing one of those excellent Derby reports....so you can't fault him for that.

27 Apr 2014 3:43 PM
Sail On

Great work Steve. But take time out to socialize, and have a mint julep for me!

27 Apr 2014 4:11 PM
Rusty Weisner

Steve Haskin,

What's the nature of this chiropractic work?  

Did you have an impression of Commanding Curve?  Bad luck separated his performance in the La Derby from Intense Holiday, but that was not the latter's best performance.  This horse should be 50-1 but I may be giving him a chance.

This stuff is superb, by the way.  I can't get enough.

27 Apr 2014 4:56 PM

Steve, the 'racing gods' are giving and taking with equanimity, to a certain extent, Commandig Curve is in while, unfortunately, Ring Weekend will face another battle in three weeks time.

Alas, the next hurdle for all the runners will have to overcome is the 'kiss of death' of post position draws. Bob Baffert must be dreading this more than anyone. There was a song by Lene Lovich called 'Lucky Number,' and that number was...1. You wouldn't want to be superstitious in racing, would you? ;)

27 Apr 2014 5:49 PM

Note to self - Use Haskins workout comments ahead of any of the others.  "He hugged the rail on the gallop out."  You can learn something new every day!

27 Apr 2014 5:58 PM

I love your pictures!!!  Ride on Curling is looking good.  It was so neat to see California Chrome on his ride to Churchill.  Keep it coming, Steve.  I've been waiting for this since the very first a Derby Dozen.

28 Apr 2014 8:37 PM

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