DON'T GET MAD - B. Wayne Hughes' Derby Trial winner jogged two miles the opposite direction just after 6:30 a.m. with exercise rider Shane Borel in the saddle. Trainer Ron Ellis said that all signals are "go" for Saturday's Derby despite only a single week between starts for Don't Get Mad.
"He's eating good, acting good and is an all-around happy horse," Ellis said. "That's all you can ask for." Besides winning the Derby, Ellis' biggest challenge may be accommodating family and friends who want to attend the Derby. His wife, Amy, is a Louisville native and the demand to see Don't Get Mad run in the Derby has been strong.
"We're trying to get everyone taken care of," Ellis said. When asked how many ticket requests he's received, he joked, "About 52,000...but everyone's been very patient and gracious." Jockey Tyler Baze will ride his second Kentucky Derby when he takes his seat Saturday aboard Don't Get Mad, who will break from post 17 in the "Run for the Roses."
GIACOMO - Owners Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss were on the scene at Churchill Downs this morning to watch their Giacomo as he familiarized himself with his new surroundings prior to the 131st Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
Trainer John Shirreffs, a Derby first-timer, sent Giacomo to the track under regular exercise partner Frankie Herrate for a gallop and visit to the starting gate. "He seemed fine this morning, not too upset with the new track," said Shirreffs. "He just went through his regular routine." Giacomo will break from the number ten post position Saturday. "It's a good spot," said Shirreffs, "the one Mike (jockey Mike Smith) wanted. He's in the middle where he should be OK after the speed clears off."
Asked why Giacomo remained in California until mid-Derby Week before arriving, Shirreffs said, "It had mainly to do with the weather which was rainy in Kentucky last week and he didn't miss a day of training in California, so it worked out perfectly." Giacomo, fourth to Santa Anita Derby winner Buzzards Bay, with whom he traveled from California Wednesday, is one of several Kentucky Derby entrants scheduled to school in the Churchill Downs paddock prior to the second race today.
GOING WILD - Bob and Beverly Lewis' Sham Stakes winner galloped a mile and five-eighths this morning under exercise rider Derek Smith. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas reported that everything was well in his camp, but it was an eventful morning around Barn 44.
As Lewis family members and well-wishers were posing for pictures with the Hall of Fame trainer, backside visitors scurried for cover as a loose horse came barreling through the barn area. As the gray horse came into view, Lukas realized it was one of his own and checked immediately to see if the exercise rider was OK and the horse was corralled. The two-year-old Giant's Causeway colt Gray Star (a half-brother to 1997 Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Free House) was the unruly youngster. Gray Star came to a halt at Barn 47 not far from the Lukas stable and was unharmed.
As for Going Wild, he will break from post 19 in the Derby and have jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr. aboard for his second career Derby mount.
GREATER GOOD - The Bob Holthus trainee galloped a mile and a half before the renovation break under exercise rider Betsy Couch. "He went really good this morning," Holthus said of the Intidab homebred who will be ridden by John McKee and break from post eight in Derby 131.
Greater Good schooled in the paddock Wednesday afternoon. "He didn't turn a hair, so we are going to let him rest today," Holthus said. "He is done schooling. We just hope we can get him through there (Saturday)."
On hand as he has been most mornings this week was Lewis Lakin, owner and breeder of Greater Good and also the owner of the 2005 Hummer often seen parked by Barn 32. Would a win Saturday pay off the Hummer?
"Probably, yeah," Lakin said with a laugh. "But I have another one in there; Sort It Out, whom we bred in New York."
That could make for a banner day for Lakin if that exacta hit, plus the trophy to the winning breeder. "I'm just happy to be here," said Lakin, who like Holthus is 70. "It's an honor to be here. We are part of folklore. We never dreamt that we could get here. We started six or seven years ago with my partner Becky Thomas."