Derby 150 Countdown: Quiet Morning at Churchill Monday

T O Password | Renee Torbit/Coady Media

After a busy weekend of works, it was a relatively quiet morning for the 20 contenders for Saturday's GI Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs Monday. Only two Derby horses are expected to have published workouts this week, with Forever Young (Jpn) (Real Steel {Jpn}) and T O Password (Jpn) (Copano Rickey {Jpn}) scheduled to work Tuesday morning. A day before those works, both Japanese runners followed similar routines Monday, warming up in the mile chute for a half-hour before galloping a mile and a half and then returning to the chute to cool down before walking back to the Quarantine Barn.

Trainer Brad Cox's Derby trio, GII Louisiana Derby winner Catching Freedom (Constitution), GIII Stonestreet Lexington S. winner Encino (Nyquist), and GI Toyota Blue Grass S. runner-up Just a Touch (Justify) all returned to the track Monday to jog an easy mile following Saturday works.

“All three horses exited their works in good shape,” Cox said. “They'll gallop the rest of the week and be ready for Saturday.”

Jockey Florent Geroux, who won the 2021 Derby via disqualification aboard Mandaloun (Into Mischief), will be aboard Just a Touch Saturday and was on hand at Churchill to watch the colt train Monday.

“I'm really excited about his chances,” said Geroux. “He's light on experience, but he's a very talented colt. I think he's ready to run a big race.”

The Chad Brown-trained duo of Sierra Leone (Gun Runner) and Domestic Product (Practical Joke) also returned to the track Monday following Saturday works. Both jogged the wrong way once around the Churchill Downs oval during the 7:30 a.m. training period.

While Blue Grass winner Sierra Leone has garnered most of the attention, Brown said not to overlook Domestic Product, who will be making his first start in the Derby since winning the Mar. 9 GIII Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby.

“The horse has really been giving a great appearance here at Churchill, he's really glowing and beaming with energy,” Brown said. “I couldn't be more pleased with both of the Derby colts. Knock on wood they just go into the race this way. Domestic Product, he's a hell of a nice horse. He just looks terrific.”

Granpollo Stables' Grand Mo the First (Uncle Mo) galloped two miles t 6:30 under Amel Macias for trainer Victor Barboza Jr. An expected longshot in the Derby, the colt is coming off a distant third-place finish behind likely favorite Fierceness (City of Light) in the GI Curlin Florida Derby, but Barbazo sees a different scenario Saturday.

“This time it will be different, a different race,” Barboza said. “The pace will be quicker this time. The last time, nobody fought him. He got away with :24 and :49 and nobody fought him. This will be different.”

Ribble Farms, Michael Eisterman, Earl Silver, Kenneth and Dave Fishbein's Honor Marie (Honor Code) galloped 1 1/2 miles at 7:30 a.m. Monday under regular rider Maurilio Garcia.

The bay colt, second in the Louisiana Derby, will be the first Derby mount for jockey Ben Curtis.

“I came over to North America in November and I never thought I'd be riding in the Kentucky Derby,” said Curtis, a native of Ireland who was riding in Europe. “It's a fantastic opportunity on a horse who I think could show up brilliantly on Derby Day. His stamina is there, his pedigree is there and everything he's shown to this point says he will stay for the 1 1/4-mile. There's question marks on others in the race, but he crosses off a lot of those question marks.”

Curtis continued, “He's a very laid back, professional horse. A lot of the good ones are. They know how to keep their cool and use the right energy when it matters when the gates open. The way he goes through a race he likes to warm up into it. He puts himself in the right spots. There's a long stretch here and I think it will suit his running style very well.”

Honor Marie won last year's GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. under the Twin Spires.

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