Confidence Game Works, Rich Strike Preps For Return

Confidence Game wins the GII Rebel S. | Coady Photography

With three weeks until the GI Kentucky Derby, trainer Keith Desormeaux has accelerated Confidence Game (Candy Ride {Arg})'s work pattern, as the dark bay colt put in a mile breeze in 1:38.20 from the starting gate on Friday morning at Churchill Downs.

Jockey James Graham began his mount's training session by breaking inside of an unraced 3-year-old workmate. Around the far-turn, after the Derby hopeful completed five furlongs in 1:00.20, fellow stablemate Giant Awakening (Mor Spirit) was waiting for him around the 5 1/2 furlong pole. Running in concert, Confidence Game finished his work around the sixteenth pole and galloped out an extra quarter mile.

“At first when I looked at the final time, I was a little disappointed,” Desormeaux said. “Then I got back to the barn and went through the splits and I had a renewed sense of confidence–for a lack of a better term. He really started to pick it up late in the work even when he went fast early during the work. The gate works at Churchill are timed when the doors open so if you take into account that during a race there is a little bit of a run-up before the timer starts, he worked really well. I was definitely looking to get a lot of out of the work and I think we accomplished that. He needed it.”

Owned by Don't Tell My Wife Stables and Ocean Reef Racing, the GII Rebel S. victor completed splits of :24.60, :36, :47.80, 1:00.20, 1:13 and 1:25.60, with a gallop out of 1 1/4 lengths in 2:05.80. Desormeaux opted to bypass Saturday's GIII Lexington S. at Keeneland to train up for the Derby and said the colt would likely work back next Saturday.




Rich Strike Looks To Return Soon

RED TR-Racing's Rich Strike (Keen Ice) continued to prepare for his 2023 debut by working five furlongs in :59.80 early Friday morning over a fast track at Keeneland for trainer Eric Reed.

With Gabriel Lagunes aboard, the 2022 GI Kentucky Derby champ posted fractions of :23.80, :47.80, :59.80 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.40.

“Gabe said he was perfect this morning and worked the way he did before the Derby,” Reed said of Rich Strike, who is nominated to the 92nd running of Keeneland's GIII Ben Ali S. on Apr. 22. “I want to get him as tight as I can before his first time out against horses that have been running. If all goes well, that will point him for the GI Stephen Foster.”

Reed said the Ben Ali is in the mix for the 2023 debut along with next Saturday's GII Oaklawn H. and GII Alysheba S. at Churchill on May 5.

“I'll talk it over with [owner] Rick [Dawson] the next couple of days,” Reed said. “The Alysheba is probably the most likely spot. He would work again in nine or 10 days, and it would be at Churchill Downs.”

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