Wednesday’s Derby Report: Justify Embracing Leading Role

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Justify | Sherackatthetrack

By Steve Sherack

LOUISVILLE, Ky – e Five Racing’s Bob Edwards and retired Hall of Fame jockey and two-time Derby winner Chris McCarron helped jumpstart another action-packed morning at Churchill Downs Wednesday, joining Ed DeRosa and Joe Kristufek on the backstretch set of the popular Kentucky Derby Morning Show.

A mostly cloudy and humid morning with temperatures in the high 60s greeted the Derby/Oaks horses at the 7:30 a.m. training window with the unbeaten ‘TDN Rising Star’ Justify (Scat Daddy) once again headlining the production.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert watched on the track by the gap as the GI Santa Anita Derby hero visited the gate and turned in another powerful 1 1/2-mile gallop beneath Humberto Gomez, who had his hands full of horse for the second straight day. The ‘First Saturday in May’ can’t come soon enough for the stunning chestnut.

Streaking GI Santa Anita Oaks heroine and potential GI Kentucky Oaks favorite Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute) immediately caught the eye as she entered the track and jogged along the outer rail. Sporting a pair of red front wraps, the dark bay galloped like a very happy horse and was met on the track by co-owner and former rider Jeff Bloom while heading off.

The Pletcher quartet were all in action again during this time frame, including ‘TDN Rising Star’ Noble Indy (Take Charge Indy), who was equipped with a pair of white WinStar Farm blinkers. He captured the GII Twin Spires.com Louisiana Derby while sporting the hood for the first time last out.

His stablemate Vino Rosso (Curlin) took a nice look at the large crowd assembled along the rail, which included Mike Tirico of NBC Sports, as he exited the track.

The lightly raced GI Florida Derby runner-up Hofburg (Tapit), a half-brother to millionaire Emollient (Empire Maker), has generated plenty of chatter on the backstretch with the way he’s been training here throughout the week and he continued to live up to the billing Wednesday. This year’s ‘wise-guy horse’?

It was all smiles back at the barn as two-time Grade I winner Bolt d’Oro (Medaglia d’Oro) was walking the shedrow following his 1 1/4-mile gallop and trip to the starting gate.

The Spendthrift team, including owner B. Wayne Hughes, Ned Toffey and Mark Toothaker, all seemed in good spirits as they chatted with owner/trainer Mick Ruis. Bolt d’Oro will carry the orange-and-purple silks of Spendthrift for the first time in the Derby and will stand at the Lexington, Kentucky, farm upon his conclusion from racing.

Stabled in the Chad Brown barn along with e Five and Stonestreet’s champion Good Magic (Curlin), the duo drew a very nice audience, including Bill Farish of Lane’s End Farm, while out for their morning baths. Three-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey and Bolt d’Oro pilot Victor Espinoza was one of several onlookers with their camera phones out snapping away.

Stay tuned for Thursday’s report, which will include an update on intriguing G2 UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy), who is expected to train over the surface for the first time after clearing quarantine.

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