Fox Hill Farms' Normandy Invasion had the first of his two scheduled works leading up to Kentucky Derby 139 on Sunday morning, covering a half-mile in :48 1/5 over a fast track under exercise rider Javier Herrera for trainer Chad Brown.
Working on his own after the renovation break, Normandy Invasion posted fractions of :11 4/5 and :23 2/5 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01 3/5. The move tied for the seventh fastest of 81 at the distance.
"I am very happy with the work," Brown said. "I wanted him to go in about :48. It was basically a maintenance move. He has had a nice week of gallops here and he is plenty fit and I just want to maintain what we have."
Runner-up to Verrazano in the Wood Memorial in his most recent start, Normandy Invasion is scheduled to work again next Sunday, weather permitting. Brown has not determined whether Herrera or jockey Javier Castellano would be aboard for that move.
Brown, who has not had a Kentucky Derby starter, is pleased with the progress Normandy Invasion has made this year.
"I like that he is fresh coming into the race and he has proven he can overcome difficult trips," Brown said. "He has gotten sharper as the year has gone on and today you saw part of that when he broke off a little sharper than he has been."
Normandy Invasion arrived at Churchill Downs last Sunday, and will have nearly three weeks of preparation over the track before the Derby.
"The little time I was at Churchill Downs before with Bobby Frankel, I observed other trainers to see what worked for them here," Brown said of coming in early. "I am going to give him every chance to be successful."
Louisiana Derby runner-up Mylute recorded his third work at Churchill Downs since arriving in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 2, and breezed four furlongs Sunday in :47 4/5 for trainer Tom Amoss.
Working on the fast main track at 6 a.m. (EDT) under jockey Rosie Napravnik, Mylute recorded fractions of :12 1/5, :24 1/5 and :36 1/5 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01 3/5. The half-mile time tied for the second fastest of 81 at the distance Sunday.
Amoss was surprised with how quickly Mylute worked.
"We went right when the track opened and it was very fast," Amoss said. "It was very fast, but very safe. He's usually not that into it, to be quite honest with you, when he's by himself. But he was never asked and I know it was a work that Rosie was impressed with.
"So, I don't think [the quick work] is an indication that he's gotten overly aggressive, I think it's an indication that he's enjoying his work and coming into the race the right way."
GoldMark Farm LLC and Whisper Hill Farm's Mylute is scheduled to work another half-mile at Churchill Downs next Sunday.
Willis Horton's Will Take Charge continued his preparations for Kentucky Derby 139 by working a mile in 1:41 3/5 after the morning renovation break under jockey Jon Court.
Winner of the Rebel in his most recent start, Will Take Charge joined stablemate Channel Isle at the 5 1/2-furlong pole and finished well in front while posting fractions of :13 3/5, :26, :38 3/5, :51, 1:03 4/5, 1:16 4/5 and 1:29 2/5 with a 1:56 1/5 gallop-out time for 1 1/8 miles.
"The work went very well, it was good," four-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. "I was pleased. I told Jon coming off the track that this horse could cost me a lot of sleepless nights because I am getting excited. He wasn't blowing at all when he came off the track."
Lukas will be sending Will Take Charge into the Derby off a seven-week layoff.
"I worked him a mile the last time and I might do six or seven (furlongs) next week," Lukas said. "He is 17 hands, like a big, gangly kid. I gave him a light month to give him some time to fill out."
Calumet Farm's Oxbow, who is scheduled to work Monday with Gary Stevens up, galloped 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Rudy Quevedo when the track opened for training.
"Oxbow is entirely different from Will Take Charge," Lukas said. "He shows up every day and tomorrow will probably do more than we like, as he does every morning."
Lukas compares the buildup to the Derby with the NCAA basketball tournament.
"In the tournament, you have teams coming from different conferences and for the Derby, you weigh which races were stronger -- are the Florida horses better -- is it a down year for the California horses," Lukas said. "But this is a great time and it keeps us young."
So, with the recently completed NCAA tournament that was won by Louisville, who does Lukas feel the hoops equivalents are to his Derby hopefuls?
"Oxbow would be [Final Four participant] Wichita State," Lukas said. "Will Take Charge would be [Final Four participant] Syracuse. Capable of getting it done, but sometimes the matchup zone didn't work."
In other Kentucky Derby news:
After Sam F. Davis winner Falling Sky finished fourth in the Arkansas Derby, his connections were uncertain about running the bay son of Lion Heart in the Run for the Roses, but trainer John Terranova confirmed Sunday that Falling Sky "is a go" for Kentucky Derby 139.
"It was up to the owners," Terranova said. "Right now, they are happy to point to the Derby as long as everything is going well with the horse and right now he's great."
Newtown Anner Stud, James Covello and Joseph Bulger's Falling Sky, who galloped beneath the Twin Spires under exercise rider Cassie Garcea on Sunday, is no stranger to the Churchill Downs surface. Prior to the Arkansas Derby, Falling Sky breezed a bullet five furlongs in :59 3/5 over the fast Louisville track.
"He worked fantastic over the Churchill surface and takes to the track beautifully," Terranova said. "He'll breeze next weekend on Saturday or Sunday, depending on the weather. As long as he breezes like we want him to breeze, then we'll stay on target for the Derby."
Jockey Luis Saez will have the Kentucky Derby mount.
Pick Six Racing's Vyjack, third in the Wood Memorial, in his most recent start, passed through the Churchill Downs stable gate at 4:10 a.m. Sunday after vanning from Fair Hill, Maryland.
"We had a good van ride, no problems," trainer Rudy Rodriguez said. "He will just walk the shedrow this morning and probably go to the track tomorrow. We usually go out early at home in New York."
Sterling Racing's Black Onyx walked the shedrow at Barn 41 a day after clockers caught the Spiral winner in 1:25 for six furlongs in a strong gallop.
Magic City Thoroughbred Partners' Frac Daddy, runner-up in the Arkansas Derby in his most recent start, and Charles Fipke's Java's War, winner of the Blue Grass, had regularly scheduled walk days at trainer Ken McPeek's barn according to assistant Phil Bauer.
Fipke's other Derby hopeful, Golden Soul (25th on the leaderboard), galloped before the renovation break under exercise rider Emerson Chavez for trainer Dallas Stewart.