Trainer Mike Harrington called Creative Cause's workout "perfect in my book" after the gray/roan colt covered a half mile in :47 4/5 at Churchill Downs April 30 over a fast track. It was the final serious training move for the 3-year-old son of Giant's Causeway prior to the May 5 Kentucky Derby.
Creative Cause's splits were :12 3/5, :24 3/5, and :36. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 and looked comfortable doing it. There appeared to be no negative effects from the loss of a shoe during his plane ride from his California base to the Bluegrass State.
"I figured he would go in :47 and change, so that's good," Harrington said. "It was just a maintenance work, but we wanted him to go fast enough to show that he's on his game, which he definitely did. He did that fairly easily; he could have gone a lot faster."
Exercise rider John Cisneros was aboard for the breeze, which followed the 8 a.m. (EDT) track maintenance break. Creative Cause, who wore blue bandages on his forelegs and a blue shadow roll, stood in the starting gate for a while before working. His ears were pricked as he headed down the backstretch following his effort.
"If the track is like it was today, he'll love it," Herrington said.
Last year, in his only race so far at Churchill, California-based Creative Cause finished third behind champion Hansen and Union Rags in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
"It [the track] was a little wet in spots that day; today it wasn't," Harrington said. "That day I thought the track was not even all the way across. I'm not making excuses; I got outrun. But I don't think it was an even, fair track. [Hall of Fame jockey] Mike Smith won two races coming down the outside, so the track obviously wasn't even that day. I'm hoping Saturday [for the Run for the Roses] it will be even.
Owned by Heinz Steinmann, Creative Cause has run three times this year, with his performances including a third-place finish in the San Vincente Stakes and a three-quarters of a length victory over Bodemeister in the San Felipe Stakes. In his most recent outing, Creative Cause finished second, beaten a nose by I'll Have Another, in the April 7 Santa Anita Derby.
"He doesn't like to be crowded," said Harrington of Creative Cause. "In deep stretch [in the Santa Anita Derby], those horses were crowding him and then when the inside horse dropped off, he [Creative Cause] leveled off and actually came back on the winner. But when all three of them were head and head, he didn't like it that much. He got smashed and annihilated at Del Mar in the  Futurity and it's affected him; he doesn't like crowds, but obviously he'll have to deal with it [in the Kentucky Derby].
"People don't realize how much those things bother horses and how much they remember them," Harrington continued. "I had a horse one time that won his first out impressively. I took him to Bay Meadows and he got annihilated. He never [really] ran again well he did win at Los Alamitos the other day. But it just left an indelible impression on him that he did not want to run because he was afraid he was going to get hurt."
The ideal trip for Creative Cause in the Kentucky Derby would allow the colt to relax just off the pace in the early going, according to Herrington.
"This horse is a stalker," the trainer said. "He hasn't got a deep close. When he moves, he moves about three-eighths of a mile and that's it. He's not going move five eighths of a mile, so hopefully he can wait until the quarter pole and at the quarter pole he can move."
Out of the Grade 1-winning Siberian Summer mare Dream of Summer, Creative Cause was bred in Kentucky James Weigel.