Kentucky Derby

Legendary Bloodstock Agent, Clocker Offers Insight to Kentucky Derby 142 Workouts

Lani - Morning Work - Churchill Downs - 042716 - Photo Credit: Churchill Downs/Coady Photography
Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Friday, May 6, 2016) – Gary Young has been clocking horses for more than 35 years and the past week he has been at Churchill Downs observing this year’s crop of contenders for the 142nd Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).

A year ago, the Southern California-based private clocker and bloodstock agent tipped all who’d listen that American Pharoah was one of the best horses he’d ever seen.

“I have been doing this for 35 years,” Young told the Kentucky Derby Notes Team on the Sunday before the race, “and he might be the best horse I’ve ever seen. He’s simply like Michael Jordan and stays in the air like he did in his rookie year. He stays in the air longer than any horse and you get the feeling that there’s not one gear left, but he may have two, three or four gears.”

Young knows what he likes and dislikes and here are his thoughts on this year’s field.


April 30 – :12, :23.40, :47.40, gallop out in 1:13.40 and 1:28.40. The Blue Grass winner was just one of two Derby horses to work Saturday and it was evident he exited his recent victory in fine shape as he showed good energy when he broke off at the 1/2 mile pole. He seemed to lose perhaps a little interest nearing the wire but a light nudge from Tammy Fox got his interest back and he worked nicely to the 7/8 pole. The gallop out was fine and as he entered the backstretch his ears went up indicating he was looking for more. He will get his chance a week from today.


May 2 – :25.20, :38 and :50.60. A mirror image of his stablemate’s work (Gun Runner). He looked fine in this leg stretcher and appears to be coming into this the right way.

May 1 – Galloped with his blinkers on and was strong. He works tomorrow.


May 3 – Danzing Candy had a good first day. His attitude will have a big bearing on his performance but who am I to talk about attitude?


April 29 – :12.60, :24.80, :37.40, :49.60, 1:01.40, gallop out in 1:14.20 and 1:27.40. Worked outside of recent impressive allowance winner Stradavari and proved best despite appearing to lose some focus past the wire. He did not get washy as he has been known to do in the past, and bested a top prospect. Given eight weeks since his last race by design, he gives Pletcher another contender in the Derby.


May 3 – Exaggerator had decent energy in his gallop.

April 30 – :12.80, :25.20, :37.80, 1:02.60, gallop out in 1:15.60 and 1:29.60. Somewhat lanky colt eased away from the 5/8 pole and caught his fluid stride while going easy throughout. This was an appropriate work considering he’s exiting a very powerful win. It was your typical “don’t leave your race on the track work.” He also threw his ears up as entered the backstretch. Like so many others, I’m anxious to see if what we saw in the Santa Anita Derby was a result of a wet surface and a wicked pace or whether he is truly an emerging star and I was hoping to get a clue to that today but such was not the case. We will learn the answer in seven days.


April 29 – :12.20, :23.60, :35.40, :47, gallop out in 1:00. Much the best beating an overmatched workmate. He will need a defection to crack the starting 20. I’m still trying to figure out why Stanley Gold got the ax as his trainer…


May 2 – :25 :37.80, :50.40, gallop out 1:04.40. Typical final work for his trainer. He was on his own throughout and has been moving like a happy horse this week. We find out Saturday if he is good enough.

May 1 – He also galloped well for Asmussen. Like the favorite (Nyquist), he got a little sweat on his neck but this is of little or no concern. He also will have his final drill for the roses tomorrow.


May 3 – The “Iron Horse” with a mind and a will of his own entered the building at 8:35 a.m. He had the same look on him as Russell Crowe in “Gladiator” as he entered the Coliseum. The plan was to break off at the 3/4 pole if the beast so desired. He declined. This is a prime case of the inmates running the prison but by the time he saw the 5/8 pole he decided to work. He went smoothly throughout in :24.40 and :36.60 and got to the wire under light coaxing in 1.01. He may lose the Derby but it won’t be because he’s undertrained. After he pulled up from his work, he came to a walk and was asked to walk another lap around the main track. I’m starting to believe his toughness and attitude is the stuff Godzilla was made of.

May 2 – Lani is one of the most oddly trained horses I’ve seen in my 35 years at this wacky occupation. He went around three times this morning before working down the stretch in :25.20. He was on the track for 45 minutes this morning. I wish I could train that long on the elliptical machine. In theory, after he leaves the barn the groom could take a mini-nap, grab some breakfast, read the paper and still have plenty of time to clean his stall and prepare his bath water. He did not seem near as interested in mounting another horse today and it will be very intriguing to see how he behaves and performs this Saturday.

May 1 – Continues to appear to have his mind on things other than roses as he has been a handful since he got off the plane. He has won a major prep, and being by Tapit, he will surely go to stud one day. I hope and pray the night before he breeds his first mare that his handlers get a good night’s sleep…


April 29 – :12.80, :24.80, :36.80, 1:01.40. Was the final work of the morning for Derby horses. There was no smell of roses in the air as he past the Twin Spires…


May 1 – Rangy colt galloped twice around and looked fine. He certainly is due for a good trip and could be live at a price Saturday.

April 29 – :12.20, :24.40, :48.60, gallop out in 1:02.20 and 1:15.40. Tall narrow colt has been a victim of two well-publicized trips recently and looked decent in a “not so serious” looking drill. Before he got stopped in his last race, he was moving with picture perfect action coming around the turn. One of many 10-1 and up types that have some sort of look.


May 3 – Needs to chill out and calm down.

April 29 – :12.60, :23.80, :47.40, gallop out in 1:00.80. Two months ago he was the “flavor of the month” but after a woeful effort in the Florida Derby he has been dropped like a hot potato. He is certainly not a stout horse and was pulling going to the pole today. His ears were laid straight back as usual, and while I believe there is talent there, I don’t care for him next Saturday.


May 2 – :23.60, :35.40, :46.80, :59.80 and 1:13.20. Left the 1/2 mile pole about a length behind his workmate Jimbo Fallon and was a much easier animal to control than in his previous work. Gary Stevens was just along for the ride and the adjustment in blinker cups seemed to work very well. One of many in this year’s edition that could wear roses if Nyquist loses the puck.

May 1 – Very leggy colt galloped through the wet surface and, though he looked fine, I get the feeling he will appreciate the return to a dry surface that is predicted to be in place for the Derby.


April 29 – :25.60, :49.60, gallop out 1:02.20 and 1:14.80. Standard modern day “final work” as he worked outside of workmate and went on his own. The gallop out was good. He appears to be a stayer but the lack of pace could compromise him and many other deep closers in this year’s edition.


May 3 – Galloped well, the occasional swapping of leads is normal for him.

May 2 – Jogged two miles this morning and looked fine.

May 1 – The Derby favorite got his first feel of the Churchill strip with a jog and looked fine and was moving freely. He accumulated a little lather on his neck but it was his first day in new surroundings and there was still some humidity left from last night’s rain. He looks good.


May 2 – Had a good morning and seems to be peaking.

April 29 – :13, :37.40, 1:01, gallop out in 1:13.60. The “work of the day” as far as this observer saw it. This massive colt broke about a length behind Azar and blew him away down the lane with Johnny V. just sitting still. He worked behind horses nicely in his last work, according to those who witnessed it, and followed it up with a very good drill today.


April 29 – :24.20, :47.80, gallop out in 1:00.20. Just when everybody, myself included, was ready to bail on him he comes with a pretty darn good Derby work. Maybe he didn’t like the track at Aqueduct, maybe he’s just starting to figure things out, maybe we are all confused by a horse that has been highly thought of for a long time by his connections. He went good today.


May 1 – Exited his very positive work on Friday with a light jog and looked happy as a clam.

April 29 – :35.40, :59.60, gallop out in 1:13 and 1:28. This colt would get my 1st runner up to Outwork as far as today’s works. He was equipped with a shadow roll and looked very nice throughout. He’s another one that could be affected by a seemingly moderate pace picture but I couldn’t knock this work.


April 29 – :24, :35.60, 1:00, gallop out in 1:14. Smallish-sized colt proved best while working inside of workmate in first Derby work of the morning. He has shown ability at Oaklawn but the jury is still out on him being a 1 ¼-mile colt.



April 29 – :24.20, :36.60, :49, gallop out in 1:01.80 and 1:14. This filly worked very nice and figures to be one of the many possible beneficiaries of Songbird’s absence.


May 2 – :24.40, :37 and :49.40. Has trained like a beast all week and looked good in her final tune up. Because of the herpes quarantine at Payson Park, she will need two defections to make the starting gate of the Kentucky Oaks. But wherever she runs this weekend (Eight Belles), she will give a good account of herself.

Churchill Downs

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