Busy Saturday Morning for Kentucky Derby and Oaks Workers


Pioneer of Medina (Outside) & Charge It (Inside) | Coady

It was an action-packed Saturday morning at Churchill Downs for GI Kentucky Derby and GI Kentucky Oaks workers.

At 5:15 a.m., the Brad Cox-trained duo of GI Arkansas Derby winner Cyberknife (Gun Runner) and GII Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby runner-up and 'TDN Rising Star' Zozos (Munnings) worked six furlongs together in 1:11.20 (1/4) and 1:11.40 (2/4), respectively. At 7:30 a.m., GIII Stonestreet Lexington S. winner Tawny Port (Pioneerof the Nile), with newly named jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr., worked five furlongs for Cox in 1:01.60 (30/57). “There's a lot of excitement leading into these final Derby works,” Cox said. “You start to get a little anxious as the days near closer to the Derby. Things went very smooth this morning.”


The Kenny McPeek tandem of GI Toyota Blue Grass S. runner-up and 'TDN Rising Star' Smile Happy (Runhappy) and GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks S. winner Tiz the Bomb (Hit It a Bomb) worked a half-mile together in :48 (28/130).

“I like that this is a home game for us,” McPeek said. “Both Brian [Hernandez, Jr.] and Corey [Lanerie] have been around this oval all their lives, and both are solid journeyman riders. I don't have much concern about them finding their way around there. Both Corey and Brian are due a signature horse, so maybe one of them's got it this week.”


Todd Pletcher breezed the trio of GII Wood Memorial S. winner Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo) (four furlongs in :48.60) (55/130); and GI Curlin Florida Derby runner-up and 'TDN Rising Star' Charge It (Tapit) and Louisiana Derby third Pioneer of Medina (Pioneerof the Nile), who worked a half-mile together in :47.40 (9/130).

“From here, we'll do the usual stuff–like visiting the gate and galloping. We'll be galloping up to the Derby,” Pletcher said.


Other Derby horses on the worktab Saturday include: Arkansas Derby runner-up Barber Road (Race Day) (four furlongs in :48.80) (67/130); GII Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner Classic Causeway (Giant's Causeway) (six furlongs in 1:13.20) (3/4); and GII Rebel S. winner Un Ojo (Laoban) (four furlongs in :47.60) (14/130). Happy Jack (Oxbow), a distant third in the GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, covered a mile in 1:39.60 (1/1) at Keeneland. Florida Derby winner White Abarrio (Race Day) breezed a half-mile in :48.28 between races during an impromptu workout on Saturday afternoon's program at Gulfstream Park. “Wow. That's all I can say is 'wow,'” trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. said. “He worked super.”


Four Kentucky Oaks candidates had their final works Saturday morning at Churchill Downs: Bourbonette Oaks heroine Candy Raid (Candy Ride {Arg}) (four furlongs in :48.80) (67/130); GI Central Bank Ashland S. runner-up and 'TDN Rising Star' Cocktail Moments (Uncle Mo) (five furlongs in 1:00.80) (15/57); unbeaten GII Gulfstream Park Oaks winner Kathleen O. (Upstart) (four furlongs in :47.80) (20/130) and GIII Gazelle S. heroine Nostalgic (Medaglia d'Oro) (four furlongs in :48.60) (55/130).

“She's not necessarily a strong morning worker,” Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said of Kathleen O. “So, we're very pleased with what we saw today. I'm excited. We're excited. We got through today and we know she always shows up on race day. This morning was right up there with some of her best. We're glad to be back in Kentucky with her and we're thinking with her running style she'll appreciate the longer stretch here [at Churchill Downs].”

Desert Dawn (Cupid), upset winner of the GII Santa Anita Oaks, worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 (19/53) at Santa Anita Saturday.

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.

Liked this article? Read more like this.

  1. Gunite Returns to Winner's Circle in Maxfield
  2. Upstart's Green Up Romps in Boiling Springs
  3. Life Is Good, Olympiad Headed for Whitney Clash
  4. Monday's Racing Insights: Pricey Gun Runner Filly Debuts at Churchill
  5. Stars Align for Cody's Wish and Namesake Cody Dorman

Never miss another story from the TDN

Click Here to sign up for a free subscription.