Haskin's Derby Report: Morning at The Downs

With the bad weather breaking, cooling temperatures, and the track wet but packed down, Kentucky Derby horses returned to serious gallops Wednesday morning and were feeling good and anxious to get back in action.

Starting things off was California Chrome, who went out at 6:45, jogging once around, working up a mouthful of saliva and champing at the bit. He then schooled in the paddock, and was on his toes, still working on that bit before settling down and relaxing. He stood calmly in the saddling stall on his three visits in there. He then walked through the tunnel to the track and took his first spin around the Churchill oval. First time around he was gawking at things, and there is a lot to gawk at. But second time around he was more focused and got into a nice steady rhythm.

California Chrome checks out track before going out for his gallop.

Chrome on the big screen.

Chrome in action on the big screen.

No one is handling this track and going any better than Medal Count.

Intense Holiday, with all four feet off the ground, is getting better every day.

Wicked Strong was on the muscle Wednesday morning.

Wicked Strong picks it up second time around.

Wildcat Red

If his training and powerful presence are any indication, Danza could be something special. Here he shows off his regal way of moving.


Leave a Comment:

The Doctor

Great "pics" Steve, keep them coming!!

30 Apr 2014 3:12 PM
The Doctor

You actually showed my top three choices, CC, Intense Holiday and Medal Count…Not necessarily in that order. I hope you enjoy a great week at Churchill, I'll miss you on the backside.

30 Apr 2014 3:17 PM

Thanks Steve, great pics and comments on California Chrome.  I've mentioned in the past that he still has some room to fill out.  Watch out when he does!

Your shot of Danza from the back eerily resembles Secretariat.  Wow!

As good as Medal Count seems to be doing I may have to include him--six horses in my boxes? $$$ Yikes!

California Chrome

Wicked Strong


Intense Holiday


Medal Count

Candy Boy

Ted from LA--I usually wait for the draw before I declare a winner but CC, IMO stands above the rest.  Let's see what the draw holds but if CC can't do it, I'll be backed up.  

30 Apr 2014 3:23 PM

3 top horses!

30 Apr 2014 3:53 PM
Sail On

I love the way Wildcat Red's rear is flying on every step.

Apparently Vicar's In Trouble really is flying under the radar, nara a photo of him can be found :(

30 Apr 2014 3:55 PM

Uncle Sigh.......Garden trip from 3-hole!!!!!!!!!!!

30 Apr 2014 5:52 PM
The Deacon

Great photos Steve thanks for sharing. Have you made your final selection yet for Saturday??

30 Apr 2014 5:58 PM

Very, very nice photos and much appreciated Steve! Would love to have seen CC work over this track, although good horses seem to handle most all surfaces. Steve, what was your impression of his gallop today? Danza and Medal Count sure look to be pointing to big efforts and Samraat seems like a good horse as well. The post positions appear fine for the top contenders and the 5 post should suit CC as long as he doesn't walk out.

30 Apr 2014 6:03 PM
Sail On

Ouch! Two of my favorite horses drew #1, and #20! CC is surrounded by speedy great breaking colts. Its gonna be a mash at the rail!

30 Apr 2014 6:30 PM

Steve; I notice you didn't really give your impression of how well California Chrome moved over the track.  I couldn't tell too much from the short video clip I found but wow, did Medal Count look good.  And, he got the pp I was hoping for CC.  5 is a little too inside to my liking; I sure hope he breaks well.

30 Apr 2014 8:49 PM

Medal Count 20-1 ( Key on top)

Danza  10-1     (Key on top )

Candy Boy   20-1 (exotics)

Ride on Curlin 15-1 (exotics)

General A Rod 15-1 (exotics)

Wicked Strong 8-1 (exotics)

Intense Holiday 12-1 (exotics)

Hoppertunity 6-1 (exotics)

30 Apr 2014 9:33 PM

Hello Steve

Seems as though "The Chrome" knows he'll be coming out of post position 5.  Those ears; his stature; his acknowledgement of the track; He's a brilliant colt. He brings so much to this Derby as you bring to us in this picture perfect update as they move into one of the biggest and anticipated performances of their lives.


30 Apr 2014 9:37 PM

Whoa!  I just got goosebumps looking at the picture of California Chrome standing on the track-the one on the big screen-is it just me, or is anybody else seeing Man o' War?  Head, neck, shoulder, look of eagles. As Mi Taylor tells Velvet Brown about The Pie in National Velvet, "got a nasty look of Man o' War about him."

30 Apr 2014 9:50 PM

As a longtime show hunter rider and breeder, with a small side of runners and a deep, abiding passion for the Thoroughbred sport horse ... can I just say that I would not kick California Chrome out of my barn? ;-) What a gorgeous, flashy athlete. Win, lose or draw on Saturday, that is one classy Thoroughbred. Kudos to his crew.

30 Apr 2014 10:57 PM

Great photos Steve.  California Chrome has a regal look to him and nice stance, very poised.  I hope he gets all this gawking out of his system today and tomorrow.  He looks like he is taking in his sourroundings and processing it in his mind.  He's saying, "no estoy en Los Al, seguro."  Or this for sure ain't Los Alamitos! Wonder if he is looking for his buddy, the quarter horse?

Danza, Samraat, and Wicked Strong look great too.  So does Intense Holiday.  

Have to go check the post positions now.

Keep the photos coming Steve.  I love them!

30 Apr 2014 11:17 PM

For a Tri or Super, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if there was a California sweep.  The only fly in the ointment for that would be Danza sneaking in for a piece.  

I can see lots of different scenarios, however.  For sure, I pray for all to have safe trips & I'll be happy for whomever crosses the wire 1st!

I think the long shots could really come in and make our day!

01 May 2014 12:14 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

Thank you, Steve.  Just wonderful photos and commentary.

01 May 2014 12:22 AM
Lise from Maine


Wonderful photos! Thanks for sharing them.

I may be betting on these: Wildcat Red, Chitu, Dance With Fate, General A Rod, and Hoppertunity.

Still thinking about my choices.

California Chrome is just as gorgeous as ever.

Lise from Maine

01 May 2014 7:00 AM

Thank you for all the fabulous photos. Is there any creature on earth more beautiful than a thoroughbred race horse? I marvel at it.

01 May 2014 7:20 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

The quote of the meet just has to be what Ramsey said to Pletcher about running or not running We Miss Artie. I'm sure it wasn't PG rated. I'm sure it was quite colorful and filled with choice words like I got my mouth washed with soap for saying when I was a kid.  "If you ever .... What the hell were you thinking..."  

  "Well I thought you'd appreciate the higher odds. ... Yes sir... Yes sir..."

     I only know one thing about this Derby. There are going to be some monster payouts. There will be some big odds in the top 4. I just don't know who they will be.

01 May 2014 8:16 AM
Pedigree Ann

One thing 'Junior' has going for him is his demeanor. He's not a hot horse, one who gets unreasonably upset over things. As pointed out in another BH article, he had been handled a lot early because of his dam's ill-health following delivery and so likes and trusts his people. A co-operative horse makes everything easier.

Just want to add a note from the Art Sherman interview from the DRF:

Asked what he found different from his first Derby experience all those years ago, Sherman looked at the paved road between barns and said, “It used to be all grass in between. I’d take Swaps out and do figure eights bareback,” he said.

Talk about teaching a horse to be balanced! And changing leads - have to do that in a figure 8 to keep balanced. Always said a little dressage work would do wonders for a racehorse's body and mind.

And the horses could be led out of their stalls for a little grazing without have to look for the equivalent of a dog park. All of it a much more natural way to maintain a horse. (But I bet it took a lot of staff to maintain the grass. Oops, costs too much, say the bean-counters - put in paving. So what if horses slip and fall on paving more often; our bottom line looks better.)

01 May 2014 8:49 AM


01 May 2014 8:49 AM

Get Stormy, love your comment

01 May 2014 9:22 AM

GetStormy, I thought the same exact thing when I looked at that photo, especially with the prominent forechest CC seems to have.

01 May 2014 10:30 AM

Unfortunate news about Hoppertunity, I had already decided to toss him off my tickets but didn't want him to get hurt.   I was just reading an article about his owner Pegram and it must be devastating for him to lose a horse so close to the race.

01 May 2014 11:15 AM

Steve, I read comments from someone who said California Chrome is not looking really good.  Any truth to that?  

01 May 2014 2:10 PM

I agree with those who posted about CC having a Man o' War-esque look to him in the pose on the Churchill screen. It struck me in the same manner as they described...goosebumps. He looks sensational.

01 May 2014 7:05 PM

Love the pictures. They are all too beautiful to pick one.  But I'm sticking with California Chrome.  Steve, I haven't seen one picture or any comments on Tapiture. What's up with him?

01 May 2014 7:26 PM

I'm really happy that everyone has forgotten about my 2nd pick! I will be putting Cali Chrome on top in the Tri and wheeling another horse 2nd & 3rd with the field! I gave out my pick 2 weeks ago. It's on some timelines but I'm not giving it out again. This is THE EVENT folks where you can hit for many thousands of dollars! I've done it in the past with Barbaro among others and I hope that a 90-1 shot runs into the tri along with my 2nd horse while Cali is winning off by 5!!! - RAMMER

01 May 2014 8:26 PM

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