Uncle Mo Todd Pletcher
Indian Charlie—Playa Maya, by Arch
Breezed an easy half in :49 2/5, working behind horses. Looks like his main threat in the Wood will be Jaycito. The more competition the better. Can’t emphasize enough how much he needs to get something out of this race. From this work, the obvious intention is for him to sit off the pace, which is a must this year with so many fast horses potentially heading to Louisville.
Soldat Kiaran McLaughlin
War Front—Le Relais, by Coronado’s Quest
Breezed five furlongs in 1:00 4/5. His races and his works are becoming machine-like. No matter how much you try it’s difficult to find any faults with him. He should be more primed for a big effort than his Fla. Derby foes, who still may be a bit short coming off just one race. As we’ve been saying each week, it’s time to revert back to his running style on grass. If he can be as successful coming from off the pace as he’s been on the lead this year he will have no more questions to answer. Moves up to #2 basically because he’s running this weekend and gets to prove where he belongs before Premier Pegasus.
Premier Pegasus Myung Kwon Cho
Fusaichi Pegasus—Squall Linda, by Summer Squall
Looks like he’ll be a clear-cut favorite in the Santa Anita Derby after his powerhouse performance in the San Felipe. What he has to avoid is a similar type of performance. He needs to get a good test and look a horse in the eye. He’ll meet some new faces and won’t have that pace meltdown this time, so this will be more of an indication of how good he really is. Rankings of #2, 3, and 4 pretty much splitting hairs, so slight advantage goes to who is running this weekend.
Dialed In Nick Zito
Mineshaft —Miss Doolittle, by Storm Cat
Was waiting for his all-important first work back, and he turned in a sharp drill in a bullet :47 2/5, indicating he is right on target for the Florida Derby. Zito said he gets plenty fit from his 2 1/2-mile gallops every day. And those long gallops often do more for a horse than a workout. In his work, he blew past his stablemate, finishing sevens length in front of him. If he should win or finish a close second on Saturday, he will be a red-hot commodity.
Stay Thirsty Todd Pletcher
Bernardini—Marozia, by Storm Bird
Breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01 4/5 and likely will get blinkers for the Florida Derby after getting a little intimidated being inside his workmate. He only needs to be in the top three and finish strong to set him up for the Derby. But he obviously still has maturing to do and has to start doing it in the Florida Derby if he’s going to be able to handle a 20-horse field on May 7. The blinkers better help, because the Derby is not the place for horses who get intimidated easily, for whatever reason.
To Honor and Serve Bill Mott
Bernardini—Pilfer, by Deputy Minister
Breezed a bullet half-mile in :49 at Payson Park for the Florida Derby. No one needs a big rebound performance and a tough race more than he does, considering he didn’t get as much out of his debut as one would have liked to see. Expect some big changes on the Derby trail after the Florida Derby. He will be one of the positive changes if he can return to his form of last fall.
Mucho Macho Man Kathy Ritvo
Macho Uno—Ponche de Leona, by Ponche
How ironic that he loses a shoe in the Louisiana Derby the same day his former jockey Eibar Coa takes his first steps following his near-catastrophic injury. He never seemed that comfortable, drifting in and out in the stretch, and came back with a slightly sore foot that should be fine in a few days. Considering he threw the shoe at the start, it was a good effort and a good foundation-builder, battling hard the length of the stretch. He needed a stiff race in case they decide wait the six-weeks to the Kentucky Derby. How much did losing the shoe cost him? You would think, especially with the sore foot, that it cost him three-quarters of a length.
The Factor Bob Baffert
War Front—Greyciousness, by Miswaki
As of now, he is expected to return to Oaklawn for the Arkansas Derby. Unless someone puts a rabbit in there, no one is going to want to take him on early, but they cannot let him coast out there on an easy lead either. Someone will have to take the initiative and test him at some point. If he does have an easy time of it, there still will be question marks going into the Kentucky Derby. But let’s not forget Spend a Buck and War Emblem.
Jaycito Bob Baffert
Victory Gallop—Night Edition, by Ascot Knight
The Wood Memorial is an excellent spot for him. Even if Uncle Mo runs lights out, a strong second-place finish would put him in good shape for the Derby. Would like to see him closer to the pace and still come home strong. He has to show he has the speed and the closing punch to compete with the top horses.
Anthony’s Cross Eoin Harty
Indian Charlie—Screening, by Unbridled
He’s getting sharp and needs to be with no races since Feb. 12. He will be facing much stiffer competition in the Santa Anita Derby than he did in the Robert Lewis and will need to come home faster than :13 3/5. But with second race blinkers it should be easier for him to relax off the pace this time. His main strength right now is that he’s improving.
Santiva Eddie Kenneally
Giant’s Causeway—Slide, by Smarten
He doesn’t exactly tear up the track in his works. Breezed 5 furlongs in 1:02 1/5. Long layoff to the Blue Grass Stakes, and it now looks like he’s going to have some stiff competition coming from the Turfway stakes. Tough and consistent, but can’t quite get a handle on him yet, alternating between dirt and Polytrack. He likely will not go into the Derby off big speed figures.
Elite Alex Tim Ritchey
Afleet Alex – Catch the Moment, by Unbridled
Despite another defeat, he is looking more and more like a Derby horse and came home his last three-eighths in a swift :35 3/5, while going seven wide. He had no chance to win this race…again. Between his bad posts, one horrible start, and dropping way too far back in his last three races, he still comes running at the end. Remember, this is a horse who won on the pace going 5 furlongs in his career debut at Delaware Park. He now needs graded earnings in the Arkansas Derby, and it's go for broke time. No more seven-wide. He must be given a chance to win or finish second.
Astrology Steve Asmussen
A.P. Indy—Quiet Eclipse, by Quiet American
Sorry, you’re not getting rid of him that easily. There were too many good signs in the Sunland Derby (see the Derby Trail column for full details), and the Kentucky Derby is still very much a possibility. He can either run back in the Arkansas Derby if he’s thriving over the next week or even go straight to the Derby with a long stiff work in company at Churchill Downs. He did run a new high in his speed figures and simply got tired after breaking from the 11-post and chasing a :22 3/5 and :45 flat pace. But he never quit and never showed any signs of the breathing problem he had last year.
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