Now that most of the contenders are stabled at Churchill Downs, I will start posting the workout notes daily. Check back for the latest news.
AFLEET ALEX - Cash is King Stable's Afleet Alex returned to his two-a-day training regimen on a clear Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.
With exercise rider Salomon Diego up, Afleet Alex left the barn at 6:15 for a two-mile jog with trainer Tim Ritchey alongside on a pony. Upon returning to Barn 41, Ritchey was forced to run an end around to avoid traffic congregated on the road back to the barn. Afleet Alex was unperturbed by the detour, nor was he affected by the surge in human traffic when he came out a second time at 8:30. "If I ever retire this pony, I will donate him to the New York Police Department for crowd control," Ritchey said as Afleet Alex parted the crowds heading to the six-furlong gap.
This time out, Afleet Alex jogged a mile and galloped a mile and a half in what Ritchey described as a "controlled exercise." Afleet Alex will exit post 12 under Jeremy Rose in Derby 131 on Saturday. Ritchey used the second pick in the draw sequence to secure the 12 hole after 15 was taken.
"I didn't want the one, two, three or four, or the 19 or 20," said Ritchey, who was able to sneak in nine holes of golf Wednesday afternoon at Valhalla Golf Club, site of the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championship and the 2008 Ryder Cup matches. "I could have played all 18 but had to come back for the draw,"
Ritchey said with a laugh. "It's a great course. I am not a serious player, but it is nice to have a little diversion." MEDIA ADVISORY: Ritchey has requested that media members with questions about Afleet Alex gather at 8 a.m. (EDT) Friday. Afleet Alex is stabled in Barn 41.
Kinsman Stable's Bellamy Road, the morning-line Derby favorite, visited the paddock and galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Carlos Correa. Bellamy Road will break from post 16 under Javier Castellano in the Derby.
The Live Oak Plantation's High Fly, who will exit post 11 under Jerry Bailey, visited the paddock and galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Maxine Correa.
High Fly could be part of an historic weekend for Live Oak, as stablemate In the Gold is entered in Friday's Kentucky Oaks. An Oaks-Derby double for an owner has been accomplished three times, but not since 1952.
"I think that would probably be the ultimate of ultimates," said Charlotte Weber, the head of Live Oak. "It's really exciting. It's my wish, obviously, and then go on and pick up the big Visa check ($5 million for sweeping the Triple Crown)."
My Meadowview Farm's Noble Causeway visited the paddock and galloped a mile and a half under Carlos Correa. Noble Causeway will break from post four under Gary Stevens.
Tracy Farmer's Sun King visited the starting gate and galloped a mile and a half under Carlos Correa. Edgar Prado, who has ridden Sun King in his past four starts, has the Derby call and will break from post three.
Prado will be going for his own Oaks-Derby double with the Oaks mount on morning line favorite Sis City. No rider has swept both races the same year since Bailey in 1993. Sun King enters the Derby off a fourth-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) on April 16 at Keeneland. "The Blue Grass is definitely a throw-out," Prado said. "We had planned something, and it worked out the other way. Nothing went our way. You did not see the real Sun King that day, and hopefully we see him Saturday."
Prado first rode Sun King to a third-place finish in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Lone Star Park, and he likes the progression he has seen in the Charismatic colt in 2005. "He ran good when he first came back at Gulfstream (Park on Feb. 26), and he galloped at Tampa when he won the Tampa Bay Derby (GIII)," Prado said. "He was training super before the last race and Nick is very happy with his works and training."
Robert LaPenta's Andromeda's Hero galloped Thursday morning at Keeneland under exercise rider Megan Smillie and was due in Zito's barn at Churchill Downs around noon. Rafael Bejarano will ride Andromeda's Hero in the Derby and break from post two.