Whitham Thoroughbreds’ McCraken (Ghostzapper), who started his career with three consecutive wins over the Churchill Downs main track, breezed under the Twin Spires for the first time this year Tuesday, covering a half-mile in :47.80 under regular rider Brian Hernandez, Jr.
The bay ‘TDN Rising Star’ clicked off splits of :12.60, :24.60 and :36.40 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00 flat and three-quarters in 1:13.40. The move was McCraken’s first major activity since finishing third as the favorite in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. Apr. 8 at Keeneland, his first career defeat.
“He felt great,” Hernandez said after the breeze. “Once he was a little settled going to the pole, he worked great. His gallop-out was very nice and he’s right back home at Churchill where he likes it.”
McCraken captured Churchill’s Street Sense S. and GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. as a juvenile and started his 3-year-old campaign with a score in the GIII Sam F. Davis S. Feb. 11 at Tampa before his Blue Grass setback. Trainer Ian Wilkes, who plans to work his colt two more times before Derby day, was pleased with Tuesday’s spin.
“The main thing is I wanted to see him finish, but finish without riding himself while doing it,” Wilkes offered. “I got everything I wanted to see today.”