May 7


Trojan Nation


Entered the Derby picture when running a bang up 2nd in the Wood after catching a very favorable pace scenario. I've always thought there was talent here and bet on him a couple of times early in his career but he's unlikely to catch the same set up today and draws the dreaded 1 hole. Good luck to him, he'll need a miracle.




Another deep closer that will need a faster pace than is projected, his work here was terrific when a shadow roll was added. His post won't help him but I can definitely see this guy hitting the board and causing some big payoff in the exotics. He will get the distance




Yet another colt that comes from "downtown", his work for the race was typical of a final drill for his Hall of Fame trainer. His gallops since have been picture perfect and he is by no means a throwout in this wide open Derby.


Mo Tom


Lanky colt has encountered much publicized traffic in his last 2 runs. The work I witnessed at CD was just ok but the video of his previous one was good. He also would be aided by a fast pace and obviously, he's due for a clean trip. I can't toss him, but would have liked to seen a better drill in his final prep.


Gun Runner


The other Assmussen entrant has a much better style than his stable mate and figures to be mid pack or closer in the first half of the race. The final work was strictly a maintenance drill. If I had to choose between the two for Steve I'd lean to Craetor, but not by much.


My Man Sam


Another one that comes from the clouds, he closed well in the Blue Grass to get second. He too, would appreciate a faster pace than many expect. He galloped out well in his last work.


Oscar Nominated


We are not at Turfway today and this race is not on synthetic. Next!!




Has seemingly logged more miles than my first car in the last week. He may cause the walk over to become like "the running of the bulls", and could scatter a few people in the paddock. The UAE Derby was not a pretty race visually and I can't see him being a factor.




Comes in off an 8 week layoff by design. He outworked a highly regarded colt of the Godfathers in his work for the race while looking decent. He's supposedly not the greatest work horse and if you like him, don't let that deter you as he often gets sweaty. Horses are like people, some perspire more than others.




Another guy that will try to be "dropping from the clouds", his local work was good while best in company. There is definite talent here but the way he finished in his 3 Oaklawn preps is concerning when it comes to the Derby distance.




Ultra impressive SA Derby winner had an easy work over the track and has followed that with some positive gallops. He should get the 1 1/4 mile trip and appears to be able lay closer than some of the other late runners. Is he as good on dry land as wet/ That is the question that will be answered today.


Tom's Ready


Trained by a man that has triggered many huge exacta/trifecta payoffs recently, I think he will get hot and dirty today.




Many people have been looking for a reason to go against him, and though he won't be my top pick, it's strictly because he is 2-1 as I type this report. His work was normal for him and the fact he jogs instead of gallops on some mornings is as well. If there was a gun to my head and I had to choose the winner it would be him but there isn't and I've made my living betting prices.




Has relaxed somewhat since having a figure 8 added to his equipment lately but does not seem to have a Derby winner look to him.




A massive beast, his work was as good as anybody  and his subsequent gallops have been very positive as well. The Wood was not a visually impressive stretch run but he was the only pace horse anywhere around at the wire. He was close to being my pick.




Much heralded colt won his first 2 races as a 3 year old in workmanlike fashion then came up empty in the Wood. Just when I was ready to toss him, he came here and trained terrific. It's put up or shut up day in some respects for him.


Mor Spirit


To see him gallop on wet tracks since I've been at CD it's a wonder he ran 2nd twice on them. He seems very tentative on them. He will not have to be concerned with that today. His final work here was "lights out!" Over the past 25 years I've seen many Baffert horses work like he did in their final work and, trust me, they fire many more times than not.

On a personal note, he is ridden by Gary Stevens who is a close personal friend of mine and has been since he came to California in 1984 and went straight to the top of a jockey colony I'm certain the likes of which will never be seen again. Not here. Not anywhere. We woke up on Derby morning 22 years ago today convinced we were going to win a Derby together. Then they sprung the latch and he got left 5 lengths. We will go to our graves haunted by that day,convinced that edition had our name on it and fate did not smile on us.

We will never see any athlete, in any sport, take 7 years off and compete at the level he has since his return. Not a chance.

Nevertheless, as Charles Barkley says, father time is undefeated and one does not  need an abacus or degree in higher mathematics to realize this might be his last Derby. All this has nothing to do with making him my pick, but if you don't think it'd be cool to see him get one more Derby on his way off into the sunset, you don't have my values. Let's roll Hick.






Brody's Cause


Another deep closer, his work for the race was good. The question about how strong his winning prep for the Derby will be answered today.


Danzing Candy


Ultra impressive in his races leading up to the SA Derby,he dropped the ball that day and those that observed him before the race could see it coming. He was mad at the world the day before the race when he paddock schooled and threw a fit in the gate right before the man sprung the latch. He has acted composed since he made Louisville and will be on the lead. If,and it's a big IF, he is allowed to set a slow pace and he relaxes he could be a major player. Michael Earl Smith has not won a ton of major races by accident.


1) Mor Spirit

2) Nyquist

3) Outwork

May 4




Jogged and schooled at gate and paddock Wednesday and looked sound and his coat looked good, his eyes were bright. He might not be my top choice because, by natural gambling instincts I always look to throw long passes, but this is not a weak favorite this year.





Was allowed to gallop at a faster than normal rate and seemed to enjoy it. He's not the most robust horse in the field, but his body and length of legs should get him the distance. Is he as good on dry as he is on wet? That is the question that follows him Saturday.




Was much more subdued for today's gallop. He spent the track surface renovation break in the paddock and his handlers had him very chilled Aside from a minor one second panic attack (I get those all the time) crossing the wire soon after he galloped off, he went around there slightly faster than a normal gallop with silky action.




Had a good gallop and his head was bowed perfectly.




Gallops continue to catch the eye. He's a beast of a horse. I wish I could get results from my training that he gets from his.


Danzing Candy


Has had 2 good rather calm days since arriving and let's hope his trainer has too....



If Mo Tom played for his owner's football team (NO Saints) he would be a wide receiver. He's due for some positive luck. Galloped good.


Suddenbreakingnews continues to throw encouraging signals and could hit the board, causing for many happy people at the "signers" window.


By now I'm sure many of you are wondering what Lani did today and may I report that he was given a much deserved day off from training. Here's hoping the Big Man thoroughly enjoyed his sleep in, that he didn't maul his groom because he didn't train today, and that he doesn't have to make up for today's non activity by going 6 times around tomorrow.....

May 3



The "Iron Horse" with a mind and a will of his own entered the building at 8:35. He had the same look on him as Russell Crowe in "Gladiator" as he entered the Coliseum. The plan was to break off at the 3/4 pole if the beast so desired. He declined. This is a prime case of the inmates running the prison but by the time he saw the 5/8 pole he decided to work. He went smoothly throughout 24:2 36:3 and got to the wire under light coaxing in 1.01. He may lose the Derby but it won't be because he's undertrained. After he pulled up from his work, he came to a walk and was asked to walk another lap around the main track. I'm starting to believe his toughness and attitude is the stuff Godzilla was made of.




Needs to chill out and calm down. 




Galloped well, the occasional swapping of leads is normal for him.


Danzing Candy


Had a good first day, his attitude will have a big bearing on his performance but who am I to talk about attitude?




Had decent energy in his gallop.

May 2


Gun Runner  25 37:4 50:2 g/o 1.04:2


Typical final work for his trainer, he was on his own throughout and has been moving like a happy horse this week. We find out Saturday if he is good enough.



Creator   25:1 38 50:3 


A mirror image of his stablemate's work, he looked fine in this leg stretcher and appears to be coming into this the right way.



Mor Spirit   23:3 35:2 46:4 59:4 1.13:1


Left the 1/2 mile pole about a length behind his workmate Jimbo Fallon and was a much easier animal to control than in his previous work. Gary Stevens was just along for the ride and the adjustment in blinker cups seemed to work very well. One of many in this year's edition that could wear roses if Nyquist loses the puck.


Carina Mia  24:2 37 49:2 


Has trained like a beast all week and looked good in her final tune up. Because of the herpes quarantine at Payson Park, she will need 2 defections to make the starting gate of the Ky. Oaks, but wherever she runs this weekend, she will give a good account of herself.




Jogged 2 miles this morning and looked fine




Had a good morning and seems to be peaking.




One of the most oddly trained horses I've seen in my 35 years at this wacky occupation. He went around 3 times this morning before working down the stretch in 25:1. He was on the track for 45 minutes this morning. I wish I could train that long on the elliptical machine. In theory, after he leaves the barn the groom could take a mininap, grab some breakfast, read the paper and still have plenty of time to clean his stall and prepare his bath water. He did not seem near as interested in mounting another horse today and it will be very intriguing to see how he behaves and performs this Saturday.

TURF TALK: Kentucky Derby Clocker Edition Day 3

May 1


There were no works by any of the Oaks or Derby contenders this morning and most of the contenders that worked Friday jogged clockwise in their first day back on the track following the final tune up for what is up til now, their biggest test.




The Derby favorite got his first feel of the Churchill strip with a jog and looked fine and was moving freely. He accumulated a little lather on his neck but it was his first day in new surroundings and there was still some humidity left from last nights rain. He looks good.




Galloped with his blinkers on and was strong. He works tomorrow.


Gun Runner


He also galloped well for Asmussen. Like the favorite, he got a little sweat on his neck but this is of little or no concern. He also will have his final drill for the roses tomorrow.


Mo Tom


Rangy colt galloped twice around and looked fine. He certainly is due for a good trip and could be live at a price Saturday.



Mor Spirit


Very leggy colt galloped through the wet surface and, though he looked fine, I get the feel he will appreciate the return to a dry surface that is predicted to be in place for the Derby.





Exited his very positive work on Friday with a light jog and looked happy as a clam.




Continues to appear to have his mind on things other than Roses as he has been a handful since he got off the plane. He has won a major prep and being by Tapit he will surely go to stud one day. I hope and pray the night before he breeds his first mare that his handlers get a good night's sleep.....

TURF TALK: Kentucky Derby Clocker Edition Day 2, Nyquist on track

April 30


Brody's Cause  12  23:2 47:2 1.00:1 g/o 1.13:2 1.28:2


The Blue Grass winner was just one of two Derby horses to work Saturday and it was evident he exited his recent victory in fine shape as he showed good energy when he broke off at the 1/2 mile pole. He seemed to lose perhaps a little interest nearing the wire but a light nudge from Tammy Fox got his interest back and he worked nicely to the 7/8 pole. The gallop out was fine and as he entered the backstretch his ears went up indicating he was looking for more. He will get his chance a week from today.


Exaggerator  12:4 25:1 37:4 1.02:3 g/o 1.15:3 1.29:3


Somewhat lanky colt eased away from the 5/8 pole and caught his fluid stride while going easy throughout. This was an appropriate work considering he's exiting a very powerful win. It was your typical "don't leave your race on the track work.' He also threw his ears up as entered the backstretch. Like so many others, I'm anxious to see if what we saw in the SA Derby was a result of a wet surface and a wicked pace or whether he is truly an emerging star and I was hoping to get a clue to that today but such was not the case. We will learn the answer in 7 days.

TURF TALK: Kentucky Derby clocker edition with Gary Young--Saturday, April 30

April 29


Whitmore 24 35:3 1.00 gallop out (g/o) 1.14


Smallish size colt proved best while working inside of workmate in first Derby work of the morning. He has shown ability at Oaklawn but the jury is still out on him being a 1 1/4 mile colt.



My Man Sam  25:3 49:3 g/o  1.02:1 1.14:4 


Standard modern day "final work" as he worked outside of workmate and went on his own. The gallop out was good, he appears to be a stayer but the lack of pace could compromise him and many other deep closers in this year's edition.



Outwork  13 37:2 1.01 g/o 1.13:3 


The "work of the day" as far as this observer saw it. This massive colt broke about a length behind Azar and blew him away down the lane with Johnny V just sitting still. He worked behind horses nicely in his last work, according to those who witnessed it, and followed it up with a very good drill today.



Destin  12:3 24:4 37:2 49:3 1.01:2 g/o 1.14:1 1.27:2


Worked outside of recent impressive allowance winner Stradaveri and proved best despite appearing to lose some focus past the wire. He did not get washy as he has been known to do in the past, and bested a top prospect. Given 8 weeks since his last race by design, he gives Pletcher another contender in the Derby.



Mohaymen 12:3 23:4 47:2 g/o 1.00:4


2 months ago he was the "flavor of the month" but after a woeful effort in the Fla Derby he has been dropped like a hot potato. He is certainly not a stout horse and was pulling going to the pole today. His ears were laid straight back as usual, and while I believe there is talent there, I don't care for him next Saturday.


Majesto 12:4 24:4 36:4 1.01:2


Was the final work of the morning of Derby horses. There was no smell of roses in the air as he past the Twin Spires....


Sudddenbreakingnews 35:2 59:3 g/o 1.13 1.28


This colt would get my 1st runner up to Outwork as far as today's works. He was equipped with a shadow roll and looked very nice throughout. He's another one that could be affected by a seemingly moderate pace picture but I couldn't knock this work.


Mo Tom  12:1 24:2 48:3 g/o 1.02:1 1.15:2 


Tall narrow colt has been a victim of 2 well publicized trips recently and looked decent in a "not so serious" looking drill. Before he got stopped in his last race, he was moving with picture perfect action coming around the turn. One of many 10-1 and up types that have some sort of look.


Shagaf  24:1 47:4 g/o 1.00:1


Just when everybody, myself included, was ready to bail on him he comes with a pretty darn good Derby work. Maybe he didn't like the track at Aqu, maybe he's just starting to figure things out, maybe we are all confused by a horse that has been highly thought of for a long time by his connectios. He went good today.


Fellowship  12:1 23:3 35:2 47 g/o 1.00


Much the best beating an overmatched workmate. He will need a defection to crack the starting 20. I'm still trying to figure out why Stanley Gold got the ax as his trainer...


Lewis Bay 24:1 36:3 49 g/o 1.01:4 1.14


This filly worked very nice and figures to be one of the many possible beneficiaries of Songbird's absence.