This is the first of what will be our series of training updates for the Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) and the Kentucky Oaks (Grade 1).
These reports are based on a combination of news releases from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and on reporting and analysis by HorseRacingFLA.
The Kentucky Oaks will be run on Friday Sept. 4 and the Kentucky Oaks will be run on Saturday Sept. 5.
As of Thursday afternoon, many of the Oaks and Derby runners had not yet arrived at Churchill Downs.
Among Thursday's training highlights were gallops by Swiss Skydiver, winner of this year's Gulfstream Park Oaks (Grade 2) and three other "Oaks qualifying" stakes races, and King Guillermo, winner of this year's Tampa Bay Derby.
Rain is forecast to begin overnight Thursday and continue into training hours Friday morning with more rain predicted to begin Friday afternoon and continuing through Saturday morning.
SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – Likely starters in the 146th running of the $3 million, Grade I Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve to be run for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles on Saturday, Sept. 5 (in order of preference): Tiz the Law (jockey Manny Franco); Authentic (John Velazquez); Art Collector (Brian Hernandez Jr.); Honor A. P. (Mike Smith); Ny Traffic (Paco Lopez); King Guillermo (Samy Camacho); Thousand Words (Florent Geroux); Caracaro (Javier Castellano); Max Player (Ricardo Santana Jr.); Enforceable (Adam Beschizza); Major Fed (James Graham); Storm the Court (Julien Leparoux); Attachment Rate (Joe Talamo); Sole Volante (Luca Panici); Finnick the Fierce (Martin Garcia); Winning Impression (Joe Rocco Jr.); Necker Island (Miguel Mena); Shirl’s Speight (Corey Lanerie). Possible: Dr Post (Tyler Gaffalione); Rushie (TBA); Money Moves (TBA); First Line (TBA).
Here are updates on Tiz the Law and on five other horses that raced at Gulfstream Park and/or at Tampa Bay Downs and, in our view, have good chances to hit the superfecta or higher in the Kentucky Derby.
TIZ THE LAW – Sackatoga Stable’s Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz the Law is scheduled to breeze Saturday or Sunday at Saratoga before his Monday arrival at Churchill Downs. Tiz the Law this year won the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park and the Travers at Saratoga. All are Grade 1 stakes. Manuel Franco will again ride the son of Constitution for trainer Barclay Tag.
NY TRAFFIC – John Fanelli, Cash is King and Paul Braverman’s Ny Traffic is scheduled to work at Saratoga Friday and arrive at Churchill Downs Sunday, according to trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. In his most recent start, Ny Traffic was gaining at the end and finished second by a nose to Authentic on July 18 in the 1 1/8 mile Haskell at the speed-favoring Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.
CARACARO – Global Thoroughbred and Top Racing’s $1 million Travers Stakes (GI) runner-up Caracaro is slated to have his final breeze prior to the Kentucky Derby Saturday morning, according to assistant trainer Gustavo Delgado Jr. Caracaro's home track is Gulfstream. He is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs Sunday.
KING GUILLERMO – Victoria’s Ranch’s King Guillermo continued his training toward the Kentucky Derby Thursday at 7:30 a.m. with an easy gallop under exercise rider Edgar Medina. King Guillermo is slated to have his final breeze for the Derby on Saturday, according to Medina.
SOLE VOLANTE – Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Andie Biancone’s $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (GII) runner-up Sole Volante is scheduled to van from his South Florida base to Churchill Downs Sunday, according to senior director of the stable area Steve Hargrave.
DR POST – St. Elias Stable’s Haskell third-place finisher Dr Post appears doubtful to run in the Derby, according to trainer Todd Pletcher. The colt could target the Jim Dandy (GI) or the $1 million Preakness (GI). He won the ungraded Unbridled Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream on April 25 and finished second by 3 3/4 lengths to Tiz the Law in the Belmont on June 20.
Here are updates on three horses that have not raced in Florida and are generally regarded as top threats to Tiz the Law.
ART COLLECTOR – Bruce Lunsford’s Art Collector made his first reappearance over the Churchill Downs surface Thursday morning and galloped 1 ½ miles with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. in the saddle. Trainer Tommy Drury reported Art Collector will have one more local work prior to the Kentucky Derby. Hernandez will have the call. He has a front-running style and won this year's Blue Grass (Grade 2) at 1 1/8 miles at Keeneland.
AUTHENTIC – Spendthrift Farm LLC, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables LLC and Starlight Racing’s $1 million Haskell (GI) winner Authentic is scheduled to arrive Monday at Churchill Downs.
HONOR A. P. – C R K Stabe's Honor A. P., winner of the Santa Anita Derby (Grade 1) is scheduled to work Saturday at 12:45 p.m. PDT at Del Mar and slated to arrive at Churchill Downs Monday.
SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY OAKS – Likely starters in the 146th running of the $1.25 million, Grade I Longines Kentucky Oaks to be run for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on Friday, Sept. 4 in order of preference (with jockey): Swiss Skydiver (jockey Tyler Gaffalione); Speech (Javier Castellano); Bonny South (TBA); Shedaresthedevil (Florent Geroux); Project Whiskey (Paco Lopez); Donna Veloce (TBA); Gamine (John Velazquez); Hopeful Growth (Manny Franco); Dream Marie (Joe Talamo); Bayerness (TBA).
Here are updates on Swiss Skydiver and on three top contenders that have not raced in Florida.
SWISS SKYDIVER – Peter Callahan’s $600,000 Alabama (GI) winner Swiss Skydiver turned several heads Thursday morning during the exclusive Derby/Oaks training session at 7:30 a.m. as she wore her bright yellow Kentucky Derby saddle towel for her 1 ½-mile gallop.
“We were just trying to have some fun,” trainer Kenny McPeek said. “People keep taking things so seriously but we just did it to mess with people. She’s still aiming for the Oaks and will have one final work (Friday) at 7:30 a.m.
Swiss Skydiver will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione in the Oaks. He rode her in her recent win in the Alabama (Grade 1) at Saratoga. He also rode her in her first two starts---a second place and a win at Churchill last fall.
Her other stakes wins were in the Fantasy (Grade 3) at Oaklawn Park and in the Santa Anita Oaks (Grade 2).
She finished second to Art Collector in the Blue Grass, as the only filly in a 13-horse field..
GAMINE – Michael Lund Petersen’s likely Kentucky Oaks (GI) favorite Gamine is scheduled to arrive with her stablemates from the Bob Baffert Barn Monday on a flight from Southern California to Louisville.
Gamine is coming off fast and front-running wins in the one-mile Acorn (Graded 1) at Belmont Park and the seven-furlong Test (Grade 1) at Saratoga.
The Kentucky Oaks will be her first race around two turns.
Swiss Skydiver has on gate-to-wire and by stalking fast paces.
So, this is one of the most heavily anticipated runnings of the Kentucky Oaks in recent years.
SPEECH – Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Madaket Stables’ Speech galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Osman Cedeno at 7:30 for trainer Michael McCarthy.
McCarthy arrived in Louisville Wednesday night, the first time he has been back at Churchill Downs since 2018 when he came in a week early to give City of Light a work over the track before winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI).
Winner of the Ashland (GI) at Keeneland in her most recent start, Speech may work Friday depending on the weather. She finished second by four lengths to Swiss Skydiver in the Santa Anita Oaks.
BONNY SOUTH – Juddmonte Farm’s Alabama Stakes (GI) runner-up Bonny South had a routine 1 ½ mile gallop Thursday morning at 7:30 with exercise rider Gustavo Abrego up. She is scheduled to work Friday morning, according to trainer Brad Cox.