LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The news that Eskendereya would not run in this year's Kentucky Derby overshadowed anything that happened on the racetrack here Sunday. Activity was limited to a five-furlong workout by Dublin just minutes after the track opened at 5:45 a.m. and the usual rush of gallopers following the renovation break nearly three hours later.
The track was officially listed as "muddy" for the early training session before being upgraded to "good" after the break. A fairly stiff headwind prevailed through the stretch.
Dublin (five furlongs in 1:02.88): After creating a bit of a stir here Saturday morning, when he attempted to bolt on a couple of occasions on the far turn during a routine gallop, Dublin returned before dawn for his final Derby prep, which came in company with stablemate Luv Guv.
With jockey Terry Thompson aboard, Dublin broke off about three lengths behind his partner but quickly narrowed the gap while in hand through an opening eighth and quarter-mile of 12.42 and 24.50 seconds. But it became apparent that Thompson had his hands full with Dublin leaving the three-eighths pole as he attempted to bear out around the final bend. The little wrestling match slowed Dublin to a 37.56 three-eighths split, after which he leveled off a bit better once finally straightening away for the run down the stretch. With a little tap of encouragement, Dublin gradually began to pull clear of his mate and probably did his best running through the final sixteenth of a mile, although for the second time in less than a week, his gallop out was nonexistent(six furlongs in 1:18.22).
The sudden propensity to drift out around the turn and the failure to gallop out with any serious energy cannot be taken as positive signs less than one week out from the big event.
Make Music For Me (five furlongs in 1:02.40): There was not much to like about this move for the horse who now is first on the earnings bubble. He completed his final quarter in a lackluster 25.73 and like Dublin didn't gallop out very well, pulling up six furlongs in 1:17.79.
Backtalk (five furlongs in 1:01.60 at Keeneland, according to track clockers): He shipped to Keeneland, where he breezed five furlongs in company with stablemate Sangre Frio. It's starting to look like Backtalk now qualifies for the Derby lineup following Pletcher's defections.
Several Derby contenders slated to work Monday were impressive galloping over the drying out surface on Sunday morning, including Lookin At Lucky, American Lion, and Line of David, who changed leads on cue through the stretch after failing to do so over the wet track the previous day.
I was a little concerned by the recent lack of activity from Endorsement, who did not come to the track to train Sunday after jogging each of the two previous mornings.
Jackson Bend was the only Derby horse to train before the renovation break. He tossed his head several times and appeared to want to drift just a bit while galloping to the inside of his unidentified stablemate.