OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Todd Pletcher reported this morning that Repole Stable’s Outwork, winner of Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial, returned from his efforts in fine fettle and likely will be one of two representatives from his barn, along with Destin, for the May 7 Kentucky Derby.
“He seemed very happy with himself, and I’m pleased with the way he’s come out of the race so far,” said Pletcher. adding that none of his Blue Grass contenders – Zulu, Cards of Stone or Donegal Moon – ran well enough at Keeneland to warrant consideration for the Run for the Roses.
Although pleased with the Uncle Mo colt’s development this year – – going from a sprint allowance to the Tampa Bay Derby to a 1 1/8-mile race over a demanding, muddy track with a quick opening quarter of :22 4/5 and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 93 – the trainer said he still has some learning to do as he moves forward to the 1 1/4 mile Derby.
“He definitely has a tendency to idle,” said Pletcher “In his mind the race was won when he got to the top of the stretch and made the lead. Thankfully, it didn’t cost him the win yesterday. His ears go straight forward and he’s looking around. Hopefully that’s something he’ll continue to mature through and get better and learn how to really polish off his races.”
One of the more satisfying aspects of Outwork’s victory, said Pletcher, was that he made some amends for his sire’s loss in the same race five years ago.
“A son of Uncle Mo out of a mare named after his grandmother, it was really a family win for Mike Repole,” said Pletcher. “It was extra special in many ways.”
Travel plans for Outwork remain undecided, said Pletcher, other than he definitely will not be getting on Monday’s flight to Kentucky.
“There’s another one on the 19th that could be a possibility,” he said. “It’s in the process of being sorted out. We have to work out when he’s going to breeze and where his two breezes will be. One of them could be here, and I anticipate one, possibly two, will be at Churchill.”
Maiden Trojan Nation ‘in consideration’ for Derby
Outran by only a head by Outwork, maiden Trojan Nation has emerged from his near-upset of the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial in fine order, California-based trainer Paddy Gallagher said by phone Sunday morning.
Trojan Nation, owned and bred by Julie Gilbert and Dr. Aaron Sones, has been winless in six starts with three third-place finishes in addition to Saturday’s explosive runner-up performance at 81-1, but now boasts more than $200,000 in earnings and 40 points towards a berth in the Grade 1, $2 million Kentucky Derby.
“He’s a horse that always trains really well, we kind of hoped that he was putting everything together racing wise and it was another big step up,” said Gallagher. “It was his first cross country ship and he got [to New York] early, two or three days out from the race, so he got a chance to settle in real good.”
He added that Trojan Nation, a well-bred bay colt by Street Cry out of 1996 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and Eclipse Award winner Storm Song, will regroup at Gallagher’s training base at Santa Anita, but could well make his next start in the “Run for the Roses” May 7 at Churchill Downs.
“I talked with the owners last night, and he’s definitely in consideration for the Derby,” he said. “We’ve got about a month until the race so he’s going to ship back here back to California either Tuesday or Wednesday and we’ll train him here before making a final decision and deciding when to ship to Kentucky.”
Brown looking to form up contingent heading forward
With a bevy of runners in yesterday’s stakes races from Aqueduct and Keeneland, trainer Chad Brown ended the day pleased with winning performances from Lewis Bay in the Grade 2 Gazelle at the Big A alongside a second-place finish at Keeneland with My Man Sam in the Grade 1 Bluegrass Stakes. He also looked to regroup with Wood Memorial entrants Shagaf and Flexibility who finished in fifth and seventh-place respectively.
Making only her fifth lifetime start in the Gazelle and third consecutive graded stakes race coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Davona Dale at Gulfstream, Brown remains satisfied with Lewis Bay’s development as she remains on target pointing for the Kentucky Oaks.
“I thought she ran terrific, she’s been a real consistent and honest horse,” said Brown. “She’s developed nicely and I thought her race yesterday was great. After she won the [Grade 2] Demoiselle, we set a plan to run in the [Grade 1] Davona Dale then the Gazelle and we hit both marks. So far she looks good coming out of the race and if she remains healthy and does fine this week she’ll ship to Churchill on the 19th.”
Virtually locking a spot in the Derby starting gate after accumulating 40 Kentucky Derby qualifying points with his performance in the Bluegrass, Sheep Pond Partner’s promising colt My Man Sam has earned his way there as long as he remains healthy according to Brown.
“I thought he ran great considering that difficult post position,” Brown said. “He finished strong and got up for second and earned enough points if we want to run in the Derby, which we do, so if he comes out of the race okay which so far he has he’ll also move over to Churchill on the 19th and have two workouts over the track.”
Lastly, Brown commented on Shadwell Stable’s Shagaf, who entered the gate in yesterday’s G1 Wood as the 9-5 post-time favorite only to finish a disappointing fifth over the muddy and sealed track while Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawerence’s Flexiblity would be taken off the Derby trail in another direction following his seventh-place finish.
“Shagaf didn’t really appear to handle the track as well,” said Brown. “He made a good move into the turn, he ran up into a wall of horses and he had to pause. When he tried to re-rally again he was very one paced and tired and encountered a lot of mud and kickback. Irad said the track wasn’t just for him. So far he looks good this morning. If he has a good week, he’ll go to Churchill on the 19th as well.”
“Flexibility was disappointing, Manny Franco said down the backside he wouldn’t handle the inner of the track. He was off the bridle by the midway marker and he had no horse under him at all. We’ll regroup with him but for now he’s off the Derby trail.”
Adventist ‘holding out’ for possible start in a Run for the Roses
Trainer Leah Gyarmati remained encouraged from the effort of third-place G1 Wood finisher Adventist despite another difficult trip encountered by the colt and continued hope for a possible next start in the Derby.
“I thought he ran a huge race as he always does,” said Gyarmati. “Starting out Kendrick had to ask him going into the first turn and then had to ask him again towards the finish after having to move out from the rail four-wide and into the seventh path towards the finish.”
With three straight third-place finishes in New York’s road to the Kentucky Derby in the Grade 3 Withers and Grade 3 Gotham along with yesterday’s finish in the Wood, Adventist currently sits on the bubble for Kentucky Derby starting entrants 32 points in the 20th place heading into next Saturday’s Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, Gyarmati plans to watch what happens before making any final decision towards any Derby plans.
“We’ll let everybody else’s plans dictate the decision we make on the Derby. I haven’t talked to Jeff [Owner] yet, but if it happens that would be great. He came out of the race great, ate up all his feed and we know he can get the 1 ¼ mile distance with the trips he’s encountered so we’ll see.”
Unified ‘his normal self’ after G3 Bay Shore victory
Centennial Farms’ Grade 3 Bay Shore hero Unified is in good shape in his stall at Belmont Park the morning after a three-length romp in his stakes debut on Saturday, according to trainer Jimmy Jerkens’ assistant Kent Sweezey.
“He’s good. He’s his normal self this morning,” Sweezey reported. “He’s an easy horse, pretty laid back.”
Coming into the Bay Shore with an eye-catching maiden score at Gulfstream Park to his credit, Unified’s February unveiling proved to be an apt precursor to this weekend’s follow-up test, where the lightly raced son of Candy Ride dispatched his rivals early and led every step of the way.
“He got a little keyed up in the paddock, but he wasn’t being bad. He was just being a boy,” Sweezey said of the colt’s pre-race energy. “He didn’t sweat a drop and once he got to the track, he calmed down. He got out there and it was like a light switch went on.”
Sweezey said Unified’s connections haven’t decided on the next race for the $325,000 yearling purchase.
“There’s a couple of options for him,” he offered, “but there’s nothing planned.”